The Juxtaposition of Tears

TW: Assault, rape and other icky things.

Crying has a long human history. One of the oldest recorded stories of tears is the Goddess Anat crying at the loss of her brother Ba’al. It is said she drank the tears like wine. When I was a child, I related to the story of the woman who cried at Jesus’ feet and dried them with her hair. I had atypical internalized guilt for someone so young. Tears were penance for my sins.

Today in my Facebook feed, this video popped up more than once (warnings if you don’t want to watch a video related to some pretty brutal assaults):


In this video, convicted rapist and former police officer Daniel Holtzclaw weeps as he learns that he has been found guilty of half of the charges laid against him. He faces, potentially, 200+ years in prison.

I watch the video and I see something achingly familiar.

As a victim of sexual violence that went on for years, I see what happens as the body copes with the idea that its autonomy is not sacrosanct. I see the agony of learning that your plans for the form you were given will not be honoured.

I see the slow dismantling of hope as each verdict is read, much like the way hope erodes each night when that door opens again. I know what it is to cry in a way that threatens to turn you inside out.

I am inside out and backward, all the raw bits out so long that they’ve scarred over. I don’t cry much now, even when I want to cry, when I need to cry. I am self-contained like a strange human eco-system that poisons itself, but tries not to let it spread.

I understand his tears, just as I know he will never understand mine.

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