No woman, no cry? No, please do, you should (we all should) once in a while……Occasionally, it’s actually necessary.
The other day I worked with a woman who was grieving for the most recent loss of her dog. I have mentioned that I am not entirely a dog lover, but I understand the relationship people have with their animals – it is one of unconditional, familial love. So, no doubt, she was really sad.
In fact, she preempted the booking with this information and a warning that she should be in a room where she won’t disturb other clients in the case that she does in fact, howl. Heavy.
But, actually. Healthy.
However, when we met she kept apologizing for crying, or for the fact that she might cry. She worked hard to hold it in and resist the urge to let it out or, more importantly, to simply feel the emotions of mourning. “Cry it out sister!” I wanted to shout. Please, cry it out. Cry until your eyes are bloodshot and puffy and you make silly faces. It’s OK. It’s called being a compassionate, loving, human being.
Actually, it’s just called being sad because your dog died. Reasonable.
When did it become socially unacceptable to not just cry in public, but even cry in front of someone in private? I’ve said before, sorrow simply reminds how much we can love. And isn’t that what makes the world go around? When did crying become a sign of weakness? I’ll admit, crying does hinder activity sometimes insomuch as you can’t do anything else but cry until it’s done. So, say, a soldier in battle might not be the most valuable person if he went all Tom Brady on his battalion while in the middle of war, but on his return – a few tears shed would be healthy. No? In fact, maybe it would do us all a lot of good if we saw more of the effects of war in this way.
Or, if you’re still crying over an ex years later it is probably an indication that there is something deeper, unable to attach to reality, going on and you might want to consult a professional. I am not saying crying is always healthy – or necessary, there are extremes to it of course, as evidenced below:
But, kudos to the kid for having no fear – or shame…or any social filter for that matter.
I am not afraid to cry in public (much to the embarrassment of some family members, and some ex-lovers I am sure). In fact, I’ve cried in subway stops, on many a busy corner in Manhattan, on the phone in a bar, over spaghetti, over vodka, in a yoga class (more than once), at a concert and of course, my personal favorite – at the airport. Oh, and there has been the drunk/hung-over cry – but we can leave that one alone for now.
I found myself wiping tears off my cheek on a packed train listening to Krishna Das on my iPod the other day (it wasn’t the same train I was sitting on with my eye rolling neighbor), not because of anything completely sad, but more because of the overwhelming love I feel in his music. Some might consider this too emotional, and I’ll agree – so long as you take out the ‘too’ part. What does that mean – too emotional? Who holds the tear barometer? It felt good to experience so much emotion I shed a little tear.
I have come to discover that I am feeling more – and this is a good thing. It’s a good thing because our feelings are really our true barometer of where we are (and where we are not). Our society holds a lot of weight on thought, we are taught to think our life into existence and that is good when you’re dealing with economics and logistics but is it useful, without feeling, in relationships? Maybe we’re thinking a little bit too much in them. I get the sense that so many of us often feel something but then think it’s not a good idea to share it ( or worse, think ourselves out of the feeling), this isn’t always healthy. It’s strategic.
I also wonder, what experience are we denying someone (or ourselves) when we are holding back from a good cry? Would you ask someone to stop laughing? Essentially they’re both an innate reaction to something touching right? Something that speaks to us, whether emotional or humorous. Who hasn’t laughed until you’ve cried, or cried until you’ve laughed? I sort of feel like each could be the others bookend.
On a scientific note, an emotional tear carries toxins far different from a tear induced by an onion. Researcher, William Frey found that stress-induced tears actually remove ‘substances’ from the body. Yep, a good cry just doesn’t feel good because it releases emotional baggage; it actually releases things that aren’t good for you. Another point for crying.
Back to my repressed crying client. In the end, I gave her hug – I started there, she cried. Then I loaded her up with tissues, and the gesture made her cry more. I treated her and by the end of the session she was smiling. Not because she had released all her tears, but she had released something and that felt good enough for now. Sometimes grief happens in layers, but it’s important to let it happen.
This is a much more layered topic – there are deep psychological reasons that some people don’t have the emotional capacity to cry and I am not qualified to address that but if you’re a person who simply holds back – why not shed a tear or two because, after the tears, in the words of Bob Marley ‘everything is gonna be alright’