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  • Writer's pictureSlightly Bald Teacher

I second that emotion ...

Why show emotion when you can use an emoji!! Why hug when you can give a virtual hug? I'm an emotional conundrum. I often show raw emotion but I struggle to hug and tell people I love them.

I've always been a crier but it almost seems like a wall to hide behind. It was my physical reaction to any sort of confrontation. I never liked people arguing, I could never argue my point without getting emotional. I have improved but if I face confrontation, I still feel it bubbling up like a Berocca after a night out. I expect many of my ex's did wonder where the waterworks came from.

When I was growing up I went to one of the toughest schools around. Recently, it came bottom nationally for GCSE results. I loved the school but the levels of confrontation and violence were unbelievable. And that was just the staff (I'm not joking!). I did my best to avoid all this. I think that is why I became an expert at dealing with extreme emotion, confrontation and violence in the classroom. Nothing would phase me, and I could keep a calm head under any situation.

Now, I know that I am a unique male when it comes to tears but as for dealing with my emotions, I feel I am amongst a huge percentage of the male population who struggle. My wife looks at me and shakes her head when I get teary about a song that's come on the radio,

or when I sobbed when England won the cricket world cup. One Thursday in 1999, I was on a school trip to Normandy. I was tuned into the European Cup Final on a tiny radio, and I was in the depths of despair. Man United were losing and one of my dreams was dying. Then, in 3 fateful minutes, the emotional pendulum swung from abject misery to pure joy. My screams had children running from all directions, to see me collapsed in a tearful, heap of joy.

Then we come to things that matter. The real important things in life. Until my wife fell pregnant the things that worried me were, in hindsight, trivial. Jobs, possessions, money, cars, etc took a back seat the moment that line joined up. Not that we had been expecting it. It wasn't planned. But the emotions it brought were uncomparable. Fear, joy, and a bit more fear! I thought it couldn't get any more tangible. Then at 12 weeks, we went for a scan. The joy of the day a few weeks previously, was annihilated by the words of the sonographer. "I'm sorry, I can't find a heartbeat." The next few days were a blur, but the following Sunday I went to play football. At some point in the game, I broke. A player kicked me and I lost it. At the end of the game, I crouched on the pitch, in the pouring rain, and sobbed. This was as raw as I thought emotion could get.

Now the rest of the story is a rollercoaster of emotions. Anger, fear, joy, panic, pride. You name the emotion we felt it. I was 34 when it started and I'm getting things under control now. I have four perfect kids, a loving wife, who is a wonderful mum and although I'm constantly knackered, they bring me joy every day.

But I never enjoyed one moment of any pregnancy, birth or early days. My wife and I lost three other children, she had two eptopics and had most of her reproductive organs removed before we were given a 10% chance of having children. Therefore, what we managed is an amazing achievement. I am thankful for it every day (mostly lol) but I grieve for all those joyful moments I couldn't share. My wife hid the pregnancies from me. She went to scans with her sister to protect me, until things were viable. Every kick and twinge filled me with fear rather than joy. I know this is all irrational but my emotions were and still can be a mess. My wife always felt in control, I, on the other hand, was like a runaway train careering ever onwards.

It came to a head about six years ago. It was February half term and my youngest had had a cold and was being generally grumpy. He was 6 months old. At bedtime, his temp was up and my wife was getting worried. She called a friend who was a pediatric nurse but before she arrived she came pounding down the stairs to tell me to phone an ambulance. The next few hours blur somewhat but I can remember standing in A&E watching at least four doctors and numerous nurses fighting to save my son's life. I knew they were superheroes before the current lockdown and my wife had worked on ICU for years, so I knew the miracles they could perform. I have to say this was the strongest moment of emotion I have ever felt. It is hard to explain that fear. But that then balances out with the relief and joy when after a few days he pulled through. One hour later and we would have lost him to sepsis.

Now all this has been a cathartic journey. When I started writing this, I had no idea what would come out, and I know I could add a few more instances of extreme emotion, but I now feel somewhat emotionally drained and I am reaching for the wine bottle. (Done in moderation.) This lot gives me hope, joy and as we enter week four, they make me laugh and cry in equal amounts. It is good to feel emotion. But I wish I could control it a tiny bit more.

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