When did we decide that crying was something to be ashamed of? When did we decide that sneezing, coughing and yawning are all totally acceptable public behaviours but people in tears need to be quarantined into bathroom stalls, alley ways, or dark, messy bedrooms?
I’ve recently learned to appreciate the fact that I’m a bit of a crier. It’s taken some time.
But before I go into that, here in all its glory is the top nine list of places/situations in which I’ve shed tears:
- Yoga class (you already know about that)
- At my singing lesson
- The stock room at Aritzia
- The stock room at American Apparel
- On OC Transpo (where I was comforted with Kleenexes by a lovely woman who invited me to her Jehovah’s Witness info night. I politely declined.)
- My grade 7 math class
- While watching “Never Say Never”
- My desk at work (every week during the summer I was hired.)
- In the dentist’s chair, right before I got my wisdom teeth out (during the procedure, however, I was so high on laughing gas that I cheered loudly every time they pulled a tooth.)
I’m proud to say I get it from my momma. She’s never afraid of my emotions because she has them too…especially when it comes to math.
For the longest time, I was so deeply ashamed by how emotional I was. I knew I had no reason to cry and yet the emotions were still there, full force. So often the result of hormones and also the anxiety I’ve learned to control through relentlessly throwing myself into uncomfortable but “good for me” situations and taking very, very great care of myself when enough is enough.
Even at my early sessions with my life coach, which is probably the best place to cry, I would get so angry at myself for inevitably bursting into tears any time we went to that place I was avoiding because I knew my response would be messy and wet.
I was afraid to feel. I was also ashamed to feel. I was embarrassed by how sensitive I was, unable to see how much sensitivity had helped me in understanding others – a gift I’ve always been very proud of. To lose the tears would be to lose my gift as well.
Crying is actually, scientifically, a body’s gift. Or perhaps medicine is the more appropriate word. A quick Google search will tell you that stress hormones get excreted from the body through crying. It’s a physical and emotional release with intense, magical healing powers. It’s the body’s DIY-get-better method.
People who cry are people are also incredibly courageous. They are willing to dive head first into feeling something deeply. They are unafraid to risk being seen as weak by others. Once I realized how much strength I saw in people who were open about their weaknesses, proud of their weaknesses even, I started to become a lot more forgiving of my own weaker moments.
Don’t get me wrong, there are times when crying is not appropriate and I’ve definitely honed my “keep it together, Sarah” skills over the years. One thing I do is physically remove myself from the thing setting me off and go to a different area (often the closest bathroom, or if I can, I go outside). Once there, I decide if I’m actually being set off by this issue, another issue, or a history of issues that has made me react in a certain way that is not reflective of this issue necessarily, but an ongoing theme of issues. I’d give this about an 85% tear prevention rating.
The other thing I’ve noticed is that crying less frequently, and just generally reacting less frequently has been a positive side effect of learning to embrace my messiness and not getting as angry at myself as I once did. I’ve also learned that taking better care of myself: eating well, sleeping well, not overloading my plate with experiences and commitments (this is still a challenge for me…) and just generally putting myself first comes hand in hand with drier eyes.
And if none of that works, and the tears keep coming, I know I need to ask for help.
Another thing I’m working on getting better at is accepting that whether I like it or not, sometimes the tears will just come and there’s no use in feeling like that’s any reflection of a failure. Life is worth crying about! And I am no robot.
I have to forgive myself. If I don’t forgive I will just get stuck. I have to be patient with myself if I want to move on.
So I say cry on if you feel the situation calls for it. You’re doing yourself a big favour. Anyone who disagrees or sees you as weak either doesn’t get it and is not worth your time, is jealous of your courage to feel, or is fighting a personal battle that has sucked up their ability to empathize in that moment.
Here, have a Kleenex.