In the Land of Tears, Do Not Touch

I’m sitting in a men’s circle in Brisbane, Australia.  Across from me is a man talking about how his father abandoned him, his mother, and his sisters when he was 13 years old.   He stares without blinking at a singular spot on the tiled floor in front of him; his words thick with a lifetime of sorrow and bitter disappointment.  I feel the dead weight of his cross, but inwardly I smile, for across from me dawns the heart of a man of courage.

Each word grows heavy with emotion until he can say no more.  The room is quiet, as if time is suspended for the work of this man’s heart.   Tears slip silently down his face soaking his shirt, and slowly his shoulders begin to quake as he erupts with sobs.  He is now in the land of tears.  I am in awe of his strength and the beauty of this moment of timeless grace.

Suddenly, a man reaches over, puts a hand on the weeping man’s shoulder, and it is over!  Like a door slamming shut, the man draws back from the uninvited intrusion and he stops crying.

In navigating the masculine journey, the land of tears is not accessed through the intellect, analysis, or abstraction.    When a man is walking in the place of his heart, touching him or speaking to him is a quick way to cut him off from his feelings.

Rule #1: when a man moves from words to tears, DO NOT TOUCH him.

Rule #2: when a man is in the land of tears, or is moving toward them, DO NOT INTERRUPT him with talk.

If he needs contact, he will reach out for it.  If he needs clarity of thought, he will ask for it.  Simply remain present and let him show you what he needs.

Categories Blog Post | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on February 16, 2013

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  1. by Ari

    On February 16, 2013

    Great insight…for deep heart sharing, the healing comes as the tears flow. Stopping them in any way arrests the healing. Let’s not be too quick to halt anyone else’s healing, by understanding the purpose of tears is to release the pain, invigorate the soul, and get back in touch with the truth of the body’s senses.
    I’ve been taught to make an offer to comfort, although after reading this blog, I think I’ll wait till the moment ends fully, before reaching out to offer solace

  2. by Patrick O'Connor

    On February 16, 2013

    Thanks Ari. You write so well of the healing that comes with tears.
    And, you’re right to wait till the process is over before you make the offer of solace. Most men don’t want pity. We want to be understood, we want to be heard.

  3. by michael

    On February 19, 2013

    I have been guiding others towards healing for over 30 years. I like what you have written.

    I wanted love. I got abuse. I like to cry and I do it often.


  4. by Patrick O'Connor

    On February 19, 2013

    Good for you, Michael. Men helping men heal is an honourable thing – and needed terribly. Thank you for your comment. Yes, I think a lot of men, and women too, want love and get abused/used/taken advantage of. You are blessed to be able to cry; glad you like to! :)

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