42. Crying

When I was little, my mom cried a lot. I would find her in the basement behind the water heater and the flower press, crying. It was terrifying to see her crying, but there was an intimacy in sitting with her as she did. Those were emotional days. There was a lot going on. My mom was pregnant, working full time, and taking care of my brother and I. There was a lot of family drama, too.

Anyways, when I was a teenager I was introduced to the idea that crying was a form of manipulation. Crying is what women did when they wanted to evade responsibility for something they had done. Crying was weakness, it was fear. These messages came from all over. Some of them were direct, as in actual words coming out of actual mouths of actual, albeit confused, people. They came from all walks of life. Some of them were power hungry, others were limp and defeated, but then again both were just different sides to the same coin.

Sometimes negative messages about crying came indirectly. The crying woman at the bank was crazy. People avoided her. People cried alone. In movies, it was a very pretty thing, this crying. But in reality, crying made you ugly. Your makeup ran. You retched if it was bad enough. So when the lump rose in your throat and your eyes began to water, people were always responding anxiously. “Don’t cry,” they were always saying. “Don’t cry.”

Well, screw it.

It’s my life, and I’ll cry if I want to.

I’m a born crier and so are you.

You were born crying, that is how you took your first breath. Your cry sent the power of life into your lungs. That should be the message we learn about crying- it comes to us in birth and throughout our whole lives it is a method of re-birth. Breathe, let go, cry your heart out.

To cry is to surrender. It is the most humbling thing you can do. It is not shameful. We all have weakness. Our strength comes in acknowledging this weakness, in allowing it to exist, and in letting it leave us. When it leaves us, when we cry, strength comes. This is why sometimes, if the cry is good enough, you feel good after you cry. It is catharsis. You have surrendered, recognized the child that still lives in you, forfeited your petty claims to power, knelt down to the earth, and howled. In doing so, you hand over the burdens that don’t belong to you, which are weighing you down. You admit you can’t carry them, and they leave you. Sometimes you pick them back up again and then later, you cry more. People go their whole lives picking up their burdens and laying them down. Sometimes they pick up different ones and sometimes they pick up the same ones, but they keep on going in the same pattern. Picking them up, laying them down. Whether you want to continue picking up your burden is up to you. But everyone, at some point, must stop for a rest and put it down. Everyone cries.

It’s not shameful to cry. It takes immense courage. The whole world is built on the illusion of strength, but strength needs weakness, and vice versa, to be sustainable. Everything needs renewal. Everyone has burdens. When you lay them down, you can smile more brightly and see more clearly.

Manipulation comes in all forms and yes, sometimes people use artificial tears in this way. But whatever. Leave them to their own woes. They are miserable because they are powerless, they have surrendered their power but to someone else. Crying for manipulation puts your power in someone else’s hands. If that someone else responds to your tears, you get what you want. But if they don’t respond, then you don’t get what you want. And in the meantime, people are hardened to tears because they have been misused.

Follow your own emotions. If someone has fooled you with tears, then so what. That is on them, not you. It is not shameful for a person to respond to something so instinctual and human as crying. Be proud that you feel your heart, that you are a fool. There are enough clichés in the world to teach you about the wisdom of the fool.

But keep in mind that it is not your duty to comfort someone who is crying. They are putting down their burdens. They are releasing. Leave them be. You do not need to come up and take their burden, you do not need to help them. They are helping themselves simply by crying. They are brave. Don’t pity them or patronize them to get them to stop crying. Don’t fear crying. If their tears move you, then you can cry with them. But don’t give them sympathy and don’t manipulate them to get them to stop crying.

Crying is movement. Go with it. Go it alone. This doesn’t mean you can’t cry with company, but when you cry be alone. In a room full of people, be alone. Turn inward and let what is going to happen happen to you. Whatever leaves you is not yours. Let it go. Whatever stays put is maybe not ready yet. Keep waiting. It will leave when it’s ready.

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111 thoughts on “42. Crying

  1. I cry a ridiculous amount, I actually cried so much today I felt sick… I cried last night and I had no reason to cry… I definitely cry at least once a week – last week it was over someone not opening the door when I had my hands full and this week its because I’ve been so tired!

    Crying usually makes me feel better though which is a plus and I don’t find it embarrassing, but there are moments when a tear running down my cheek is the last thing I want.

    I have cried so much in front of my boyfriend that he doesn’t react to it anymore, dreading the day I am genuinely sad around him.

    Thankyou for this post, Fenya

  2. I’ve always gotten mad at girls when they start crying because the conversation is then over and I lost… but I have to admit it’s not just manipulation going on, although with some girls I think it is, but even then and especially your average girl is crying because she really does feel some sort of crushing emotions. For the guy though it seems like you’re giving up on trying to solve whatever is the matter and that signals that you don’t care. This is an area where men and women are coming from such different places that it’s really hard to understand the other’s perspective.

  3. This is beautiful. Thank you. I’m known to be a “cry baby” by many but I’ve stopped taking offense. Manipulative crying is tricky, though.

    Great post!

  4. So true, when someone is laughing we smile and sometime join in, however if we someone crying more often than not it makes us feel comfortable. I attribute this feel of comfortableness to societies attitude towards crying. If and when these attitudes change we will be better equipped to cope with crying and all that it entails.

  5. great post ;) It remebered me Henry Maudsley’s words : “The sorrow which has no vent in tears may make other organs weep.” Sometimes, we really need to cry at least to make our souls feel better .

  6. A great post! For me crying is a natural release for frustration when I no longer have access to words. It means ok now I have had enough and now my body is taking over. It is like the ultimate surrender to overwhelm. Or this moment is so beautiful my heart needs to express it. It is another form of language. Thank you so much for your thoughts.

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