DM168 Op-ED

Some wear it on the outside while others keep it under wraps — a pro-tip guide to expressing your feelings

The author argues the importance of expressing one's feelings through tears but acknowledges that the process is different for everyone. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

The end of the tether will always be the end of a tether, but each end is noticeably different.

When some people reach the end of their tether, they can cry quite easily. Without a second thought, or even what seems like the most minor attempt to hold back the tears, they cannot. They simply just weep. And weeping is very effective. It says all the things that need saying without you having to say it.

You can see how someone feels when they cry. You can read the key of a cry — is it an angry one, is it a sad one, is it a disappointed and hopeless “I give up on life” one? God, a cry is a good tool to have. A weapon, in fact.

You cannot bring words to a cry fight. However, if you are not a crier, if the end of your tether doesn’t look like tears and instead looks like a blunt-edged, single-use butter knife, you’re screwed. You will never have the weapon of tears, and you will always be ill-equipped to win the battle of weeps.

Just because you’re not collecting cups of tears while water rolls from your eyes and onto your cheeks does not mean you are not, in fact, crying. We all cry. But some cry on the inside. And the “inside” criers are less equal than the outside ones. Our tears do not speak, or make a noise, or play a note that can inspire a reaction or any form of understanding. They just sit there, welled up.

Our tears collect inside of us until we feel like we either want to run abdomen first into a very, very sharp object — like a Samurai sword — so that it just bursts out of us. Alternatively, we just become heavy and ill and fatigued at the thought of crying or laughing or anything else, really.

This is a horrible feeling.

Of course, not all tears are worth the same. White women’s tears hold a lot more equity. Black women’s tears, well, it’s been 600 years. First, we have cried in secret enough, and second, our crying doesn’t really matter, mostly.

Here are some things you can try to get those teary ghosts out of your system:

Do something that makes you sweat. I don’t care how long it takes you to sweat. I don’t care how much you have to suffer through a spin class or how torturous it is to run up Table Mountain without shoes. I don’t care if you have to punch a bag and do burpees until you throw up. Just do it. Torture yourself to tears!

Walk around the shitty part of your day and its struggles with really bad shoes — like actual shoes. Choose the ones that pinch that sciatic nerve, that have absolutely zero heel or arch support for that matter. Pair the wetness on the inside of your soul with the wetness of a soggy sock while wearing said shoes. This may not inspire the spilling of tears, but at least something will drip.

Watch a film once more that’s guaranteed to get those grimy tears out. For me, it’s The Color Purple. In fact, as I write this, after the week I have had, I simply cannot believe that it is not playing on repeat in my household, over and over again while I stuff the spiciest peppers in the world down my throat for good measure so that people can see my feelings. DM168

This irreverent respite from reality is brought to you by author, journalist and podcast producer Haji Mohamed Dawjee.

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for R25 at Pick n Pay, Exclusive Books and airport bookstores. For your nearest stockist, please click here.


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