Why do we stop ourselves crying, or try to hide our tears? Why do others tell us to stop crying, or wipe away our tears? We are encouraged to laugh and smile but persuaded that big boys and girls don’t cry.
Tears are social pariahs.
Tears are an outward sign of our inner body language. They speak to how our bodies are responding to internal and/pr external stimuli. Mostly we assume they are a sign of sadness, but we see that sometimes they are also a sign of joy. We cry at weddings as well as funerals.
Tears are deeply intimate and ultimately this is why we are uncomfortable with them.
I cry a lot.
I cry when I arrive and I cry when I leave. I cry for love and I cry for death. I cry for me, I cry for others. Films, TV, music, books, theatre can all make me cry.
I have tried to hide my tears my whole life. I have been proud when successfully stifling back tears. When I have thought I had fooled those around me by flooding my tears back inwards, drowning me inside out. And that is exactly the feeling, by not crying we feel flooded.
Even the happy tears became something to be ashamed of.
HOLDING OFF TOMORROW’S SORROW
Shame is the key.
We are normalised into wiping tears away before they fall. A tear drop has become almost impossible to look at. Impossible to feel. As if wiping it away wipes away the emotion. Resolves our response to the pain or happiness we are feeling in that moment.
Wiping away is an act of trying to wipe out the motion of the emotion we should be connecting to. Emotion is after all energy in motion (e-motion).
My tears come directly from my body. So even though the eyes are pockets of the brain my tears come from my throat mostly. My tears don’t just fall from my eyes. But also my mouth and my nose. Crying is not typically beautiful. When we really allow ourselves to cry most social conventions of beauty are broken.
Crying involves tear, bogey and saliva. But crying is beautiful.
All the muscles in our faces are engaged when we cry. Our whole bodies are involved whether we are crying gently or sobbing. For me, it starts in the throat and moves up but the feeling also moves down, into my gut and out into my thighs and shoulders.
I feel whatever I am feeling entirely viscerally when I allow myself to cry. Even when the tears are just watery eyes.
I wipe away my tears because I feel exposed. Because I feel that the intimacy is too much. Because I feel that I am too much. In contrast I was recently told that I am at my most compelling when in these moments of intimacy, that I am my most masculine when I allow myself to cry.
See, boys at least do cry.
I am learning that there is a diversity in tears that I need to explore. Put simply we all cry when we are happy and we all cry when we are sad, but there is something much more intricate to get curious about here.
Tears are not just simple cyphers of basic emotions. They can tell us much more about ourselves, about how our bodies work and about the primal visceral knowledge we all hold within us.
Mine are a physical sign of my connection to my inner world, the world of those around me and the spaces we create in between. Tears leave an indelible mark on all of the above.
I am learning to be more comfortable with this. I am learning to see the power, strength and compelling authenticity of tears. I know this is true for all of us, I believe it wholeheartedly for all of you. And I am at the beginning of really knowing it for myself.
OVER TO YOU
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I coach people who struggle with anxiety, who yearn to live a fulfilling life but feel trapped or at a crossroads so that they can experience a calmer more purposeful life. If this sounds like you, get in touch.