04/12/2012 03:01 EDT | Updated 06/12/2012 05:12 EDT

No Manly Man, No Cry


When I was four years old, I heard my mother crying for the first time. She was hiding in the washroom, running the taps so I wouldn't hear her, lying in the bathtub, and crying. I pushed the door open, and climbed into the bathtub with her. I hope I told her that I loved her, because I do. She shouldn't have needed to hide, but I can understand the desire to appear strong for another person, because it's something we all do, everyday.

Two years ago, I arrived in Paris, exhausted and deeply hung over, hauling what remained of my worldly possessions neatly packed in to a carry-on bag, and a stow away knapsack. Surrounded by masses of immaculately dressed strangers steadfastly refusing to understand my Joual. At nine in the morning, without a place to stay, without a phone, without any idea what the hell I was doing coming half way across the world to go to clown school, I found myself staring at the east end of Notre Dame. So much stone and yet so delicate. Flying buttresses like filigreed brass. Arches like blown glass. I felt my bags falling from my hands, and I began to weep.

I wept for a woman who would never love me as I did her, and for the naive romantic in me who thought that my love for her could ever make up for that. I wept for my grandmother slowly losing her mind and I wept for her daughter who raised me single handedly. I wept for the trees, oceans, and the sky of my home so far away. I wept for a friend who hadn't gotten whatever it was that she needed, and decided to hang herself in her parent's basement. I wept for my dog, long passed away. I wept that the kids in school had said mean things to me. I stood, surrounded by children and soldiers, and I wept.

I was surprised. Not that I was weeping, but that I was still saddened by these things. We carry in us so much grief that we try to ignore, or push down, or get over, but we can't. It stays with us, this scar tissue of the heart, and I had been pushing mine down for so long that I had forgotten it was even there. But it was. Without my consent or permission it lingered, and my inexpressible grief expressed itself. In my anger, in my self destructive habits, in everything, like a shadow of my shadow.

Its shameful that anyone would give another human a hard time for crying. It's one of hardest things in the world to do. Forgetting the whole gender role kerfuffle, crying is terrifying. It leaves you completely vulnerable to everyone around you, you lose control of your own body and you get boogers. Crying sucks.

Its also one of the most important things one can do. The ability to acknowledge our grief, say hello to it, and then send it on its way, is a human necessity, and though it is easier to pretend that we are invincible, we can't afford to behave this way. If we do, our souls turn into onions, layer upon layer of grief, with no end in sight.

It's harder to cry than it is to not cry.

So good on you Bubba.