For Difficult Times a Brave Face

A tall order when you really think about it.  How many of us have not faced devastating moments in our lives when we want nothing more than to curl up and forget about the world or stick our heads in the sand and keep it there.  It’s only human nature to want to minimize pain, physical or emotional.

But what about actually facing problems head on without pretense or denial?

Many would say that is the true sign of leadership, guts, confidence or a host of other very affirmative personality traits.  I don’t think so.  Sometimes it takes more guts to face a problem with the drama.  To not wear a brave face.  To embrace and express our heartache and personal pain.

How else would people know to reach out to us?

I’ve had my share of heartache and pain in the first three decades of my life and I’ve also seen the suffering of many others.  Some very near and dear to my heart.  At times our brave faces have made us appear strong and determined to forge ahead regardless of the adversities we were overcoming but more often than not these same masks have kept our pain silent and growing.

The image that immediately comes to mind is my mother crying and yelling at the top of her lungs as she expressed her pain while kicking and gyrating on the floor of our home during my senior year of high school.  I’m still haunted by that episode to this day and when I think of the moment it always makes me want to cry.  Not only because it was difficult to watch, but because in that instant I felt so helpless and hopeless.

For my mother this was the moment she finally realized, after spending every waking hour and penny of her time, that our family would be no match for the judicial system.  My brother would spend two years of his life incarcerated  regardless of what the curanderas and phony lawyers promised.  It was a devastating moment for all of us.  None more so than for my mother and until that point she had been the pillar that kept us together.  We knew she was in pain, but not that it would escalate to this.

The months that followed until he was released she was a shell of her former self refusing to enjoy anything life had to offer  so long as her child remained in that prison.  In a sense she created her own jail cell on the outside.

I’ve learned that sometimes it is just easier to let it out.  To cry until your tears dry up and your throat becomes soar.  And even then, to continue feeling your pain, to accept the sadness and not be ashamed.

Men do cry.  Maybe not often, but when we do it’s like flood of rain that streams, builds into a river and releases us from weeks, months or even years of bent up emotions and sadness.  And when you’re done the feeling is so cathartic.  As if you’ve been through war without having had to raise a fist.

It feels good.

In some instances a brave face may be just what the doctor ordered, but let’s give raw emotion a chance too.