“You could sooner ask me to stop breathing than to stop crying.”
-My friend at lunch the other day, during a Super Serious Conversation.
Crying is something that every single person has done in their life (even if you never cry now you cried when you were a baby. ADMIT IT). Many of us cry often, and yet the only place that seems to be safe and acceptable to cry in our society is in the privacy of our own homes (or closets, or bathroom stalls) so that people who don’t love us unconditionally need not see it/hear it/know about it.
…which is super weird. Imagine if we had the same taboos about laughter as we have for crying. After all, laughter is a very similar physiological process to crying (breath, diaphragmatic movement, and facial expressions are often indistinguishable), laughter sometimes leads to crying (and vise versa) and both are universal, basic human emotions. Sure, there are occasions during which laughter is frowned upon, but as a whole laughter (unlike crying) is acceptable in every social sphere. Laughter (unlike crying) is not considered unprofessional. And laughter (unlike crying) is not considered to be a gendered activity.
WTF? How did we, as a society, arrive at this strange relationship we have with crying? Who made these rules? And why do they persist? Why do I cry a million times a week but my husband only cries once a decade? How do people on opposite ends of the cry spectrum negotiate a relationship? If crying is a universal, basic human emotion then why does half the population seem to suppress it almost entirely!? Why is it that when I don’t want to cry I can’t stop crying, but when I want to cry (hi, I’m and actor) I can’t make myself cry?!?! WHO BUILT STONEHENGE?!?!?!?
Well, I don’t have the answers, but I’m hoping that by asking the questions and sharing my experience that I can arrive at something helpful. Or comforting. Or make you feel less alone, or more validated. Or help you understand why the person you love is crying, and what you’d like to do in response.
Not crying isn’t an option. So let’s make the best of it.
Until next time,
The Cry Babe