The tears weren’t sobs of sadness or waterfalls of happiness. The waterworks were simply an overdue release of pent up stress and ignored emotions. They weren’t a sign of weakness or an outpouring of self-pity, yet rather an opportunity to cleanse myself of unhealthy toxins that had built up within me as a side-effect of my aversion to being emotional. Crying was never a ritual I partook in growing up and it definitely wasn’t something I did when I entered young adulthood. Between the societal image of being weak if you cried and my own self-made ideas around the act of crying, I had never really allowed myself to shed any tears unless they were of pain. I imagine I am not the only one who is wired this way. And I suppose, even further, is that men feel this way even more than women.
So, back to my question, I cried today, but did you? If so, how did you feel afterward? Also, are you lying and saying no you didn’t cry but in fact you did because you feel ashamed of your tears? I’m sure many of you would answer this question with an affirmative response because you’ve been wired and programmed to feel as though the act of crying is shameful, or weak. But in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Being able to show your emotions and work through your emotions – whether alone or around others – is actually a sign of strength and confidence in one self. It is also a very healthy and productive release of emotions. It is not a “female” act or something only “weak” people do. Rather, it is a way to connect with oneself on a deeper level, a way to allow yourself to express what you are feeling, something that scares people because we don’t talk about the normalcy of being emotional.
With mental health issues on the rise and emotional well-being often ignored, we must change the narrative around how to deal with our own feelings. We must learn to talk about what we are going through, ask for help when we can’t walk through it on our own. To help us deal with our stress, anxiety, self-doubt we must be ok to seek out the expertise of those who specialize in this arena and we must lean on our friends and family to help us through the darkness. We must remove the stigma that society has placed on crying and being “emotional.” Because if we don’t then depression will cloud the lives of too many more people, depression will overtake the joy that life can bring, and depression will win in a space that it has no place being in.
So, if you didn’t cry today, do you need to? Do you feel comfortable doing it? They can be tears of sadness or tears of joy. You can do it in the shower or in a room with your dog for comfort. It doesn’t matter where you are, but just know that if you need to cry, you aren’t the only one. I did and so can you. I promise, you’ll feel better afterwards and it will be worth it in the end.