Tuesday, May 27, 2014

That Most Feminine Affliction

Being a woman can be decidedly suboptimal. I'm not talking glass ceilings and work-life balance; it's biology that gets me. The reproductive system generates most of the problems. But there's also the inability to pee easily outdoors, the natural tendency to throw like a girl, and the one that bothers me the most--tears.

I wish I had a circuit breaker on my tears ducts. I'd be so much more credible.

I have no problem showing certain emotions with tears. If I'm sad, I'll cry. If I'm happy, I'll cry. If I'm touched by something, I'll cry.

The tears are not limited to my own life experience. I'll ugly cry over a book, I'll happy cry about a friend's good news, and I've been known to shed a tear over particularly manipulative but touching television commercials. Nothing to be ashamed about.

What gets me are all the rest of the tears. The angry ones. The anxious ones. And my personal favorite, the overwhelmed ones (see Motherhood).

There is no way to remain credible while crying in any of these scenarios. Get misty-eyed and it's over.

The worst was crying at work. I vividly remember my first bathroom stall work cry. I'd been in the copy room when I was paged. I picked up the nearest phone and got an earful from the CEO and Vice President of my client company (for something I hadn't done). I kept it together on the phone, scuttled to the bathroom, and cried. Only when I got myself together did I talk to my boss about what had happened.

That was the first hide-in-the-bathroom cry at work, but it wouldn't be the last. I have many male friends, but not a one has ever confessed to crying in the bathroom at work. I think it's fair to assume that most of my female friends have. It's just not fair.

Now that I have no professional life to make me cry, my most annoying tears happen when trying to talk about important issues with my husband. Whether we're having a disagreement or making big decisions, I'm bound to start crying. And I hate it. Hate it, hate it, hate it.

I don't cry because my feelings are hurt or because I'm upset. I cry because I experience emotions. Decisions about our children, our jobs, our home--our lives--are big ones. They cause me anxiety. They make me feel overwhelmed. And I have strong feelings about them. So I cry.

Weepy at home is no less credible than weepy at work. The first tear undermines every reasoned point I try to make. After many years together, I hope my husband knows to disregard these somewhat meaningless tears, but it doesn't make me hate them less. I am a strong, intelligent, reasonable woman who ought to be able to experience an emotion without involuntary weeping.

And yet I don't. Even within my own home I perpetuate the myth of the weaker sex. It's frustrating. And there's not a damn thing I can do about it.

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