It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a grown man cry. Excluding myself of course, I cry like a child regularly. Much longer even, since one cried for a relatable reason, unlike the end of carnival or their soccer team losing. I am guessing it was my father at the time, and considering the heart wrenching shit he’s been through in his life, I’m sure he had a valid reason.
Just like this man. He came to tell us something, and knowing he was under stress, we asked him how he was doing. We had no idea how much though, and we startled as we watched our question hit home and break him like a twig. He bowed his head and try as he might, lost control over his emotions.
The others had known him for decades. They rushed over and hugged him, making a ball of arms and care with him in the middle, the yolk in the egg. Me, I turned and walked away.
There are many reasons why I did that, I feel like. I haven’t figured them out fully but I think I’m on to them.
I’m sure, given time and closeness, we would become good friends. If for no better reason, because he is one of the most kind-hearted people I know and I look up to him strongly. Even the dumbest things he does, you can easily trace back to an ocean of warmth he seems to carry inside. If life was fair, he would have it all.
But it isn’t, and we’re not close. We just meet once in a while, and I always keep my distance because I tend to. For me to jump in and hug him there, would just make it awkward and pathetic. Even though I wanted nothing more. If I could carry him through this, I would, but that’s not the nature of our relationship.
I walked away to let him retain his dignity. His friends were there for him, and I was not, so he would have his privacy in a world that seems strongly convinced that showing weakness makes you any less of a person. If asked, I could even deny noticing. When he emerged after me, a few minutes later, he looked fine and we continued on what we were doing.
Another reason is because I had a job to do. The work that needed done was one of his burdens to carry, and I could help him with that. So that whatever worries he might have, the job at hand was not one of them. That was my support, and my way of helping.
This isn’t the first time that I do this, working with many people of all walks of life, I see people break down sometimes. And while I am of marginal help emotionally, if I can help through the work that I do, I will. Friends are there to catch you, and I’ll hold the fort until they recover.
Thirdly… I just suck at feelings. I am a little weird with hugs so I rather not do that, and I just really don’t know what to say either. It’s different if they’re my friends, but even then I tend to find the nearest pet and stuff it into their arms before I’ll say or do something that will actually make them feel better.
Thing is, they’re often right. Whatever it is they’re crying or upset about… It’s probably true. It’s probably just as terrible as they’re showing it, likely worse.
The world is a shit place. Throughout the years, I’ve become more and more convinced of this: Life is beautiful, but the world we live it in is fucking rotten and the best we can do is protect each other from it. The filth we eat, the lies we live, we are torn apart by inhuman things that all want something from us and the way to be happy is to arm ourselves against it.
And sometimes we fail. And when others do, I don’t know what to say but, “Yes. You’re exactly right.”
So I don’t say anything and try to help around it. At my best, I can carry some of their burden until they’re strong enough. I wish I could do more, but I can’t. I’ve got myself to keep alive in this hellhole. And frankly, when I’m down and out, I might have more use for physical support than emotional.