My life improved when I accepted crying as a body function – like blowing your nose or peeing. I never worried that someone might think I was a wuss because I blew my nose. So, why is water coming from my eyes considered a weakness and peeing is not?
I got to pondering this enigma after a major depression that followed the death of my parents – 16 months apart – and then the death of my dog 8 months later. It took a couple years after these losses for the depression to really kick in. But when it did, it kicked in hard.
What I learned in my recovery was that I hadn’t grieved properly. When sorrow smothered me, I stuffed it. When sadness came on me at work, I flung myself at a project to stop the tears. I was not going to cry – at least not in public. Of course, it’s okay to cry right after someone dies or at the funeral. But not two months or two years later.
Get a grip. Suck it up. Enough already.
Right now I am facing another huge loss – the death of a very dear friend whom I have known for over 40 years. I was talking to a mutual friend the other day who said he recently had to leave a get together when our friend’s illness came up and he started crying.
It broke my heart that he felt he had to leave those who I’m sure were also on the verge of tears and would have loved to have comforted him and each other. But he felt crying was a sign of weakness. He said he felt he had to “keep it together.”
Why? I don’t know. Somewhere, sometime, somebody made fun of someone crying and from then on – boom – crying is for babies. In reality, babies know how to do it right.
Here’s how I cry: I cry when I NEED to cry – which is when I feel tears welling up in my eyes. I cry as hard and as long as I need to cry. I will cry with a scrunched up face and snotty nose if I need to, because just like other body functions – you need to get that out of you!
Sadness, sorrow and crying demand respect. Ignore them and you will pay the price. It might take a couple of years, but you will pay the price. Muzzled tears come out sideways as anger, binge eating, insomnia, high blood pressure, sciatica, drinking and drugging. Emotional constipation and then…depression.
Indulge your tears. The more you do, the fewer there will be. They come in waves and when you lease expect them. Sometimes I am having a grand time and then I see someone in a maze and blue Michigan sweatshirt or hear a certain song and the tears are on my cheeks before I knew I was even crying.
This is not to say I actually cry like a baby – anywhere, anyplace, anytime. I find a place to cry – as comfortable and private as is available. I do it as soon as possible. Gradually, the tears come less often and are less intense – like the ocean after a storm.
Don’t be fooled into thinking there will be only one Cat 5 storm in your life. All you can do is prepare and ride it out. Eventually, the storm ends and hopefully, you will have time to prepare for another one.
Today, I cried at the gym. I cried on the back porch and on the floor, hugging a puppy. I am probably going to cry again tonight, I’m sure of it. I am ready. I have plenty of Kleenex and a safe place to cry with my dog. That’s all I need right now.
Tear on cheek image available from Shutterstock.