“Is she crying again?”
“She is just being emotional.”
“Boys don’t cry.”
When I think of being emotional and crying, these are some of the responses that pop into my head. I think of my family ridiculing me for being emotional. I think of all hurts being swept under the rug or boxed tightly inside for fear of someone seeing tears fall. I think of little boys being told they need to be manly and that men don’t cry. In fact, everything I think of when I think of crying is negative. It is ingrained in us not to be “sissies” or worse. In our culture, crying is seen as weak. It is a deep-rooted belief that starts get drilled into us when we are young.
I was having lunch with a friend recently when she told me her mother suggested she go see a doctor.
“Why?” I asked as I looked at her across the table.
“Because I’m so emotional,” she said with tears welling up in her eyes.
What? Seriously?! Aside from more stress recently and the struggles of enduring a long, cold winter without enough sun, what problem did her mother think was causing tears that a doctor was going to fix? This astounded me as my friend is a well-adjusted, loving, strong woman. Why is her feeling emotional lately a problem worthy of going to the doctor? Why does crying need to be cured?
I had another (male) friend tell me that he feels men aren’t allowed to feel emotions, and they are definitely not allowed to cry. So my friend walks through life enduring hardship, hurts, and stress and stuffing all these feelings down, fearing crying even in private. He and other men feel that it is never okay to just breakdown and let it out.
I’ve written over and over about being an emotional person and so you could accurately assume that this means I am also a crier. It’s true, I am. I cry when I feel sorrow, I cry when I become overstimulated, I cry when I’m happy. It’s just how I am. This was something I was ashamed of when I was younger and I used to get so angry with myself when I cried and couldn’t control it. I’ve been thinking lately though, why does our culture so staunchly dislike crying?
Crying is cleansing. It’s a great release and relief of emotions. It’s almost like pushing a reset button. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to embrace the need to cry and the emotional relief it brings me once I’ve done so. Because of this, I often encourage others to let it out. As we fear crying, I almost don’t understand why. Think about this; once it starts, no matter how hard you cry, it always comes to an end within moments. You feel better. You feel some relief. Then you can dry your eyes, wash your face, and you’re set to take on the world again.
As a lover of human beings, as a mother, as a nurturer by nature, I encourage you all to be supportive of those around you that need to let it out. I encourage you to allow your boys to cry when they need to. I encourage you to allow your girls to cry. I encourage you to be supportive of humans and the need to cry in general. We naturally feel like we can’t change the world, but we actually can. By changing ourselves, we change the world for those around us. This is how we change the stigma that goes along with crying in our culture.
May peace be with you all this week.