When Crying Is Hard But Essential for Mental Health
The water that sheds from our tear ducts, down our cheeks and onto our shirts… yeah, that doesn’t happen to me. When I was a kid, if my body went through that process, my parents usually took me to the emergency room. Crying was not and isn’t really “my thing.” Those who are “normal” don’t understand why I don’t cry. In some respect, I cannot control my inability to cry. My body has numbed out — I use other skills and escapes when it comes to feelings. Gross… that word, feelings, still makes me cringe. Let me give you perspective of my non-crying condition.
My mom died when I was 15 years old, and I cried for one day and haven’t really cried much since and that was nine years ago. Trust me when I say I love my mom and I miss her dearly, but tears don’t solve the problem. Now wait, don’t be upset with me, I’m not bashing on the process of crying. It helps a lot of people, but not for me. Why? Well, you know how you follow in your parents’ footsteps when you are a kid? You eat what they eat, watch what they watch and believe what they believe? That’s not our fault. Our brains are still forming from mushy play dough to strong silly putty.
Here are the three myths about crying ingrained in me as a child.
1. I was told that crying makes you weak and is a waste of bodily fluids.
2. I was told that crying is for kids, and it is just an attention-seeking behavior.
3. I was told it was a negative bodily function. I didn’t know the body had such a thing… Well, maybe farting, but that’s beside the point.
*Spoiler alert!** Crying is good for you. Hear me?
I’m a big girl now; I’m 24 years old and can make decisions for myself. So why haven’t I decided to start crying in response to sad stimuli? Because I’m a work-in-process, and I still don’t know how! It doesn’t feel safe to me and as a result, I use art processing, journaling, talk therapy and deep talks with friends to work through the things that upset me.
What are my negative coping skills from the results of not crying? Well, I have dabbled in drugs/alcohol, self-harm in the form of cutting and even some outward rage. That is embarrassing, but when the feels get intense, the emotions literally must leave my body. Crying sheds the guilt, shame and embarrassment, and I think that’s just a pure dose of incredible. Isn’t it?
I want to cry. I do. Truly. I’m not lying. I do not think crying is bad. I’ve reconciled that and worked through many things in therapy. So, what do I do today to get to that place of internal processing and a healthy emotional release? I get in my onesie (yes, I know, I know…), brew some calming tea, turn on some sad music/or movie, and/or get some memorabilia or objects that relate to my sadness, close my eyes and connect with my chest. That combination usually does the trick. When I cry, man does the water flow. It’s good for me because I connect with emotions I have never processed. It feels different, but it also feels good. The process of crying is forever a work in progress for me.
If you are like me and have a hard time crying, just know that it is OK to cry, it is safe and you are not weak. We are meant to cry, and today, I encourage you, shed a tear and feel the feels. I promise you that the moments after your tissues have dried, you will feel better.
I believe in you! Stay strong and stay Mighty!
Getty image by Natalypaint