I can be made of steel and counted on in any crisis. But I do not feel badly when and if I cry, too. Why is it that the moment we begin to cry — especially men — we apologize? When did we learn that crying makes us lesser in some way? In the past few months I have heard too many times, “I have to stop crying, this is the last time, I promise.” Why?
There is a whole lot of emotion out there these days for me. Riding on my sleeve, face, heavy heart and yes, tracking down my face in the form of tears. Did this wave start on November 11, 2016? Crying on election night was a first for me. Hard tears. Maybe.
But I also cried when I saw the first spring heron on Green Lake and the first hyacinth bloom, when I heard a friend’s diagnosis and watched Davey’s #CRUS11TOUR team cross the Boston Marathon finish line yesterday. I have been crying for happy, for sad, for pride. The tears felt necessary and the aftermath felt, well, good. I honored the moment that way. I honored the feelings that way. I honored these people with my tears.
Wait. Aren’t we supposed to buck up, stop crying, pull ourselves together, don’t be a baby, time to stop crying and get on with it, be a grownup, go it alone?
By crying, letting those tears fall, swiping them with your sleeve or my proffered handkerchief, maybe even adding a hug, we demonstrate several things to the people around us: trust, intimacy, vulnerability, friendship, to name a few. Consider the baby crying. Consider happy tears at a wedding. And consider, for a moment, how painfully difficult it is to hold back tears because someone said you should.
Since November I have had many unexpected reasons to laugh and to cry, more than any other time in my life. I don’t know about you but those tears — that welling, salty water filling my eyes, floating behind my eyelashes, spilling down arbitrarily, often in front of other people — just seems to be what my body needs to release and express and shed with others. Maybe I am spilling my emotions out all over the place but I share them unconditionally with you, friends, because I trust you.
And know that if you cry in front of me, I consider that a great honor.
There is always an extra hankie in my pocket, just in case.