Today I cried in a coffee shop while watching a video of a woman being adopted by a cat. She picked up this massive grumpy brown cat, and it immediately started nuzzling itself into her neck. It looked like it was hugging her. I immediately created a story in my mind about how this lost and tortured soul endured a life of rejection at the shelter all before laying eyes on this woman and knowing it was its new mom.
I have no idea if that was the real story. It was just a 6-second video. But either way, I lost it.
I’ve been apart from my fluffy baby for almost a year, and every black cat I see brings a nostalgic tear to my eye.
Last week, I cried while watching YouTube clips of The Voice. All four coaches turned their chairs around to notice it’s a 13-year-old girl singing an Aretha Franklin song with the passion of a 55-year-old. Her parents cried in the back room, and I cried in the kitchen over my salad.
I cry when I’m happy. I cry when I hear a song that I like in a place I would never expect it to be playing. I cry when I see someone else cry. I cry at happy endings with the same ferocity I cry at heartbreak.
I cry when my Sims die, even though it’s my fault for not buying the fire alarm in the first place.
I cry when I’m embarrassed and sad and happy and excited and scared. Sometimes my heart is so full of love that it feels like it’s exploding and that’s what’s coming out of my eyes.
Don’t even get me started on crying at work. I work from home now, so I’m free to cry whenever I want, but crying at work was tough. Hiding in the bathroom and trying to stifle and control my sobs so that no one heard me. Even worse than that was trying to stop my eyes from getting puffy so that no one would ask me what was wrong.
I’ve always been embarrassed, which probably stems from the fact that I used to get in trouble for crying. It was an unacceptable form of expression in my house. When I would get in trouble, I would cry and then I would get in trouble for crying and it would cause me to cry anymore.
I used to apologize when I cry. Like many people, I was raised to believe that only babies cry. My parents would tell me that no one likes a crier.
Ever since then, my self-worth was dependent on being able to control my emotions. I was robotic for a long time.
Most people aren’t exposed to a natural range of emotions, so emotions make them uncomfortable.
I cry because it’s how I express myself and I think it makes for a better time than rage or violence, which I also feel, which also prompt to cry rather than acting on them, which I’m grateful for.
As I’ve dug deeper into personal development and becoming more aware of myself and the emotions I feel, I’ve grown to understand that crying just one of the ways I express emotion. And then I’m more likely to cry when I don’t feel like I’ve been able to express something the way that I wanted to.
I’ve also had to let go of a lot of the shame that I associated with crying. It helps that I have a supportive partner who doesn’t bat an eye when I cry, even at the most inappropriate of times.
It still gets difficult not to view crying as a weakness. It’s taken a lot of reconditioning and sitting with uncomfortable emotions to fully realize this.
My initial reaction when I felt myself starting to cry was to immediately act to suppress it so that I stop crying. I still do this frequently. I don’t like crying in public because people still don’t really understand, want to know what’s wrong, or will just give you weird looks. Most people are still pretty afraid of seeing raw emotion being projected and don’t know how to handle it.
But I’ve learned to be more self-aware about my crying. Sit with it, and just let it happen when it needs to happen because after it it’s just a natural human emotion.