I’ve been close to tears all day. I haven’t been able to put my finger on one particular reason…maybe there isn’t one. I was close to getting my composure until my Facebook notifications flashed a message from a dear friend asking, “Why does it still hurt? It’s been 32 years and I still cry”…and that was all it took to produce sobs…a shared pain due to loss.
I’m a crier. Tears come easily to me. I’ve cried every type of tear you can imagine; happy tears, sad tears, angry tears, sentimental tears, empathetic tears, fearful tears and sometimes no-good-reason tears…you name it, I’ve cried about or in response to it.
When I have needed a good cry and the tears wouldn’t come, I made a list of tear-jerking movies that I would pull out. Movies like Beaches, the Champ, The Notebook, Ghost, and A Message In A Bottle. By the time the movie was over, I was bawling! Sound strange to you? I read recently that there are clubs in Japan that get together to watch movies, TV shows or read sad books in order to induce a good cry. Maybe, I’m onto something? I’ve roped some of my friends into my own little tear-inducing club. My BFF and I convinced her husband to watch A Message In A Bottle with us once. As the three of us sat with tears streaming at the end of the movie, he vowed, never again.
There have been times in my life when I didn’t think that I would get the tears to stop flowing. I was heart broken over a series of events but was ill-equipped to deal with the pain my heart was feeling. One event began to pile on top of the previous. Unable to cope with the emotions, I would suppress them until they erupted into a fountain of tears.
If there’s any constant to crying as a result of painful experiences, it may be a search for a return to balance, an equilibrium. Whether a baby sobbing for its mother, or a teenager weeping at a friend’s betrayal, or a woman mourning her dead husband, the common thread is a longing for happiness once had but lost. Tears are our response to life’s unfairness. We cry to try to make things right.
An employer once told me that I needed to get my tears under control. He witnessed appropriate tears (my marriage break down), inappropriate tears (meetings with him that began by welling up to the point that I could not speak), and down right weird tears (when pulled over by a policeman for a broken tail light). He was a kind man who wanted me to feel strong enough to handle life situations with confidence.
I accepted his advice and…went to the other extreme. I refused to cry. Once again, I was suppressing the emotions I was feeling…the result was an eruption of anger.
This was not working!
As I’ve learned emotional coping skills, tears are manageable but I still enjoy a good cry at times. Tears are one way I release stress and pain. I watched a video a friend posted this week about an adult slapping, pinching and utterly tormenting a defenceless infant- I could not control my tears. I was angry and outraged. Another time, my daughter texts me a congratulation on my success of raising her and her brother-I wept with joy and gratitude. I’m proud to say that I can now speak to a police officer without melting into tears but am also thankful that my heart remains empathetic enough to cry with a friend or family member who is broken hearted. I will, also, well up with tears when my heart is full and satisfied.
I find tears comforting and cleansing.
However, when tears begin to roll, they can ignite the atmosphere with a great deal of tension. Let the water works begin to flow and people can become confused, uncomfortable, or scared.
Reactions to tears range from “stop that or I will give you something to cry about!”; to “PLEASE, don’t cry! I’ll do anything if you just stop crying”; to jokes and shaming or edging away with a look of panic in their eyes. Most people are uncomfortable with their own emotions; dealing with someone else’s expression of emotion can be unbearable.
There are scientific theories that state tears release stress-related toxins from the body. It has also been proven that stifling emotions is can be dangerous to our physical well-being. The key is to find a healthy balance. The ability to manage and work with emotions helps us maintain healthy emotional well-being.
Crying is as critical a part of emotional well being as laughter (and in my case sometimes tears) is in response to joy and happiness.
1. Vulnerability brings you closer to others. If you are not ok, don’t say that you are fine. Although you may not be able to cry with everyone and in every situation, opening your heart and expressing your true feelings brings us closer to the people we care about.
2. Confronting what you feel can help you move on and move forward. Just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. A good cry can be a step to help you release your past. The sooner you confront your past, the quicker you can move toward a better future.
3. Expressing emotion can increase creativity. Do you realize how much creativity evolves out of emotional situations? Think of the songs, movies, books, dance and other art forms shared from personal experiences that inspire others.
4. Tears can help end your suffering. While crying won’t end your troubles, it can help you come to terms with them.
5. Crying can reduce stress. Crying is a release. Even when you don’t know why you feel like crying (just as I didn’t understand today), the tears can lead you to a reason. Once you find the source of what you are feeling, you can begin to work on a solution to what is causing you stress.
6. Tears can make you feel better. There is a Jewish proverb that says, “What soap does for the body, tears do for the soul.” I don’t always know why, but tears make me feel cleansed and refreshed.
7. Tears can make you stronger. You might think tears are a sign of weakness but really being brave enough to cry is a sign of strength. It shows that you are unafraid of facing your emotions. “There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” – Washington Irving
When was the last time you had a good cry? Have you been holding back the tears attempting to hold your life together? Is your heart broken, desperately longing for emotional healing…
Then give yourself permission…to cry…
Don’t worry, your smile is not too far away and will be waiting for you when you are finished.