There have been a lot of things that have changed for me since my Dad died, some of them good, some of them bad, and some of them that I’m probably not even aware of. Recently I became aware of a change in myself, that I’m not so sure is a change per se, but more of a reversal of my previous attempts at suppressing my own perceived weakness.
You see, as a child I was always very empathetic and probably the sort of child that would have been described by the adults around me as “highly sensitive,” and had a horrible tendency of crying a lot. And I mean a lot. One of my earliest childhood memories was of being kicked out of class whilst watching Stuart Little for crying too much and disturbing the rest of the class.
I still remember why it had upset me so much as well. The cat was lying to Stuart, telling him that his family didn’t love him and that they were out having fun without him, when in reality they were looking everywhere for him. I didn’t understand why the cat was being so mean, why he was intentionally trying to hurt Stuart’s feelings, and that whole situation upset me.
However I quickly learned that such displays of emotion were generally frowned upon, information that was made clear from me from all sides. Just as I’d been told to leave the classroom when we were watching Stuart Little, my parents similarly banned me from watching The Lion King, because I cried so much every single time when Scar kills Mufasa.
As I got older my tnedencies for tears led me to be ridiculed and teased by other people. I remember distinctly my Dad taking the mick out of me as I cried at the ending of Taming Andrew. I also got the usual kind of mick taking from my peers as well, most notably from the boys in my class, something that hit even harder because I tried so hard to emulate the boys. Eventually I learned to suppress those emotions, to stop those tears from falling. I still had the occasional emotional outbursts, but they tended to be few and far between.
When my Dad died however the tears fell freely, and regularly. I didn’t try to stop them from falling, well except for when I was giving my speech in front of a room full of people at his funeral, though that’s more because I’m not sure I’ll ever fully get out of the “crying in front of others is weakness” mindset. However, there were points at that time where I wanted to cry, I wanted to ball, and the tears just weren’t there or refused to fall.
Since that time though, I’ve found myself crying at things much more easily, especially when people or animals have died, been about to die, or saying their final goodbyes, regardless of if they were fictional or not. I’ve always been sensitive, but now I feel even more attuned to the emotions of others in those moments.
It’s something that I hadn’t really really thought about or even properly noticed until last night as I was sat watching Star Trek: Discovery, and felt hot tears rolling down my cheeks.