I am not one to shy away from femininity, but there are those times, like my sister says, when being just that really lets you down; you know, like when you want to speak out, express yourself, then all of a sudden, that little quiver on you lips simply lets go.
Not that I mind crying....out of sadness or sympathy. A couple of times, I’ve surprised myself by crying for joy. What I hate most is crying when I am angry.
At a time when you have to win the battle, those unwitting tears start flowing, earning you in the bargain sympathetic glances and consoling hands round a shrugging shoulder.
Truthfully though, don’t you always feel better after a good cry? After the emotions, you think more straight and are able to defend yourself in a more appropriate manner; well, of course amidst regrets of why you didn’t do this or say that.
As is said, this typical feminist attitude is what has helped many a man and woman tide over very difficult situations and through traumatic experiences.
This year’s theme for the genocide commemoration is on trauma counselling. Part of this I believe, is on handling post traumatic anger, which in itself can lead to more traumatic experiences and depression.
When anger is suppressed, other incidents, however small, add to the trauma and can build up to mental instability or irresponsible behaviour.
Young children who have had traumatic experiences could easily end up unnecessarily aggressive and anti-social adults. Adults who have gone through unresolved trauma could set out on a vengeful trail, treating badly those who cross his path, fighting half the time, and feeling the world is against him.
If not treated, such a person could easily traumatize unsuspecting victims, leading to what you could term as the continuous circle of trauma.
Pradeep K Chadha, a psychiatrist and author of The Stress Barrier-Nature’s Way To Overcoming Stress, reveals that most of the time, individuals who suffer with depression, have learnt to hold back their anger, sometimes, over simple things like parental strictness, neglect, rejection and lack of expression; with other life events building up to an already existing crisis.
I call these simple because they are nothing compared to the trauma experienced by a person being hunted to kill, and witnessing senseless killings like it happened during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Trauma Counselors have been providing guidelines on how to identify and treat trauma victims. So how do you sit and talk or calm an embittered survivor of the genocide? How do you say you understand based on survivor recounts, television captions and memorial site visits?
Perhaps the worst part is how to ensure that the anger, bitterness and potential depression have been overcome by the victim with no other repercussions or retributions that could yet start up another circle of trauma.
Quite often, it’s been said that the best therapy for a distressed person is to listen, and talk less; most of all, provide a shoulder to cry on. This shoulder is what many of us fail to provide, over and above the cash or other in-kind support.
We are often advised to get close to genocide survivors, not pretend to understand but at least be there. It is quite interesting how just a few leading questions subtly brought into a conversation, could easily open up a person and allow him or her to talk about suppressed issues.
While talking and as anger builds up once more, the natural tendency is to cry and cry it should be, since bit by bit, the suppressed anger is reduced with each good cry.
Listening to radio today, a debate was going on with regards to seeking for and giving forgiveness to a person that killed your family or friend. Whether or not this is genuinely done, the trick was to start the process of expression, and this has to a large extent been done.
It became easier for the embittered to express their feelings and fears towards their aggressors, and for the aggressors to face square their crimes. Of course there is a lot more to trauma counseling than crying or talking, but half the job is already done when emotions are expressed and heard.
Thinking more on this issue, don’t you marvel at how well the genocide issue was handled by the current government? No one would have believed that such a horrific incident didn’t bring about worse repercussions.
Instead, we have seen incredible reconciliations and just about a normal state of affairs in the country. This emphasis on trauma handling is therefore timely in the healing process.
To the genocide survivors and those affected by it, we pray your wounds will completely heal, although the scars remain.
In the meantime, it’s okay to cry and let it out.