For some of us, crying comes readily. For others, like me, crying seems impossible.
I won't speculate on feelings about crying by those that can, other than to say I've observed they seem to find it a burden at times. For those of us that find it difficult, sometimes it seems like the crying gene is absent and other times it's a fear that the tears won't stop if they begin.
A few years ago I was trying to learn to cry. I wanted to move forward in my life and felt that crying was part of my journey. I found a trigger and erupted with tears each time I cued myself. I spent more than six months, almost daily, bringing myself to tears with emotionally salient provocation. I cried until the trigger no longer evoked tears.
Two years later it seemed I could not cry at all. In fact, I could only remember crying once in more than two years. I feared my heart was two sizes too small, like the Grinch. I started envying those that had a tearful capacity. I feared I was missing out on something and lacking a valuable quality. I wanted to cry and couldn't.
Friends shared commercials and programs that caused immediate tears for them. They cried as they told emotional stories. Sometimes my clients cry as they self-reflect and uncover profound insights. I could be with my friends and clients and empathize but could not find my tears.
A person close to me tried to console me; he said tears will happen with the right impetus, and that just hasn't happened yet. "Be patient, I've seen you cry and know you still can," he said. He surmised that the more I worried and tried to force tears, the more I was halting a natural process.
So I let it go. I stopped giving it my attention.
Then, I watched 'Where The Wild Things Are' with the same person who said he believed in my capacity to cry. I had not seen the film, but of course, remember the book. At the end of the movie, I cried along with the person watching it with me. I cried because of the central character's journey — I could see my children in his experience. I cried because of the grief he needed to endure to move forward in his life. I cried because characters learned the value of others and the impact they had on them. I cried because some of the characters almost lost everything they valued and instead learned to take responsibility for their actions. I cried seeing the unconditional love of a mother. I cried because unconditional love knows we're all flawed, and living without each other is harder than forgiving foibles. I cried because the person next to me was crying. I cried because I felt safe. I cried because of our shared vulnerability. I cried because I felt happy.
It turns out he was right; with a fitting plight, my tears found their way out. And as they say, my small heart grew three sizes that day.
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