The light streams through the blinds and tickles my eyelids. I am slowly pulled from a nasty dream brought on by last night’s wicked storm. The faint melody of birdsong rouses me to full consciousness. I waken refreshed and renewed. With a slow lumbering yawn and cat-like stretch I move closer to the window. The streets are still wet with last nights revelry. They glitter and shine in the morning’s surprise sun.
The world seems fresh and new after a long rain. As the sun shines it graces everything with a wee bit of hopefulness. It’s as if the sky has had a good cry and is now sporting a beaming shiny bright smile.
I myself always feel good after a good cry. I suppose that is why it is called that: a good cry. I have always been the sensitive type; prone to cry easily and at times for what I will later deem silly reasons. I used to be ashamed of my sensitivity. I hid it well behind a veneer of fake indifference but now I am proud of my sensitive nature. I know I am far from the only one who feels the way I do.
Crying is basic. It is humbling and very human. It puts us in touch with our very basic of needs. It makes us vulnerable. It is generally thought of an activity of one who is sad but sometimes the act of crying can denote joy.
I have cried at the birth of both of my children. The first time this took me by surprise as tears of pure joy often do. I have also shed tears for the normal reasons of loss and rejection….misfortune, unfairness and at times simple frustration. I have wept at the loss of loved ones and upon witnessing the death of a tiny bird on my front steps.
Music makes me cry, certain songs do it every time. These I generally avoid, except on certain rare occasions.
I always feel better after I do. Crying is good for you.
And this is not just in my imagination. Many scientists agree with the theory that emotional crying is the body’s way of ridding itself of toxins and waste products that build up in times of elevated stress. The phrase “having a good cry” suggesting that the act can make one feel better physically and emotionally better is not far off the mark.
Crying is a great way to release pent up emotions, frustrations and stress. It restores the mind to a quieter place. Holding your emotions in can be dangerous over the long-term. In fact, research indicates that stifling emotional tears can cause elevated risk of heart disease and hypertension.
The Three Types of Tears
“In fact, three types of tears exist, all with different purposes. Basal tears are omnipresent in our eyes. These constant tears are what keep our eyes from drying out completely. The second type is reflex tears, which serve to protect the human eye from harsh irritants such as smoke, onions or even a very strong, dusty wind. Reflex tears are generally found to be about 98 percent water, whereas several chemicals are commonly present in emotional tears [Source: The Daily Journal. First is a protein called prolactin, which is also known to control breast milk production. Adrenocorticotropic hormones are also common and indicate high stress levels. The other chemical found in emotional tears is leucine-enkephalin, an endorphin that reduces pain and works to improve mood. The third type of tears is emotional tears. It all starts in the cerebrum where sadness is registered. The endocrine system is then triggered to release hormones to the ocular area, which then causes tears to form. Emotional tears are common among people who see Bambi’s mother die or who suffer personal losses.”*Courtesy of HowStuffWorks.com
I think society treats males unfairly when it comes to the issue of crying and emotions in general. It is crazy, nonproductive and downright unrealistic to think that boys and men do not have feelings. Men may deny they have them to each other but we mothers and wives and sisters know better.
Having emotions are not exclusive to one gender but showing and sharing them is. In most societies, tears in men are seldom acceptable. Boys learn early on it’s not kosher to show emotion, as it is considered a weakness and thus they grow up to be men who are cut off from expressing emotions of grief that can help them heal from emotional wounds. Anger becomes the preferred emotion because it is considered to be more “male”. (I don’t need to tell anyone how that is all working out.)
We as a people are in constant change. We have evolved and adapted to our circumstances. I do think we as a species are on the road to enlightenment but is a long one. Despite the harshness of the state of the world and apparent accelerating violence everywhere, I do believe that on a one-to-one individual basis people are growing kinder, gentler and more tolerant. In my own experience living on this planet for 44 years I have noticed this trend and it is encouraging. The acceptance of the showing of emotion is just one aspect of this shift.
“Those who do not weep, do not see.”
“Some people say, “Never let them see you cry.” I say, if you’re so mad you could just cry, then cry. It terrifies everyone.”
― Tina Fey
References, Related Articles and Interesting Tidbits
Do animals cry? (news.discovery.com)
Why Cry? Evolutionary Biologists Show Crying Can Strengthen Relationships (Sciencedaily.com)
Why is it so hard for men to cry? (psychcentral.com)
How Crying Works _Hoyt, Alia. “How Crying Works” 02 July 2008. HowStuffWorks.com. <http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/crying.htm> 17 February 2014.
Why do People Cry? (wisegeek.com)