Wednesday, February 25, 2009

To cry or not to cry, that is the question.

I believe we cry in relationship to our greatest injury. I first saw this watching my daughter as she grew. When she started walking she might cry if she wobbled and sat down with a thump. Later, if she bumped her elbow on the coffee table she would cry, but not if she sat down unexpectedly.

The first time she scraped her knee she cried a lot, but no longer cried for other, smaller bumps and scrapes. Then, after the first time she spectacularly wrecked her two-wheeled bicycle and got those serious scrapes and that one good gouge (from the pedal – remember how much those hurt?!) she didn’t cry for those smaller injuries any more.

I think this holds true for emotional injuries as well. We cry over those first small hurts because that is the worst pain we have ever known. Then as we progress in the world, gain love and loved ones, lose love and loved ones, and suffer the pain and vagaries of life, we weep for the greater hurts we suffer, but perhaps not so much for the smaller ones.

Unfortunately, if we are hurt enough, we may eventually stop crying at all. This may be a survival mechanism, both since tears make us appear weak and vulnerable, and since they are often a ‘reward’ to an abuser, prompting or prolonging the abuse.

Do you know someone who you never see cry? It doesn’t mean they don’t, of course; they may just shed their tears in private. But some of us suffered so greatly that the ordinary ‘slings and arrows’ of life are just minor stings to us. But I don’t think this is a healthy state of being.

I spent a long time healing my mental and emotional injuries and I thought I was doing quite well. I didn’t consider the fact that I still rarely cried, and never in front of other people. Then I met Lionheart, the man who would become my (second) husband. Somehow, and I don’t yet understand it, he made it both okay and possible for me to cry again. One evening, quite early in our relationship, I spontaneously burst into tears. It actually frightened me; this was just not something I did, and to make it worse, I didn’t even know why I was crying.

Then this amazing man took me in his arms and gave me his thoughts on why I was crying. And as I listened I realized he was right. And that it was okay. Everything was okay. And the world didn’t end.

I still don’t cry very often but when I do it feels okay now – that it is safe to do so. And sometimes he still has to help me figure out why I’m crying, but that’s okay too. This is a journey he is willing to share with me.


Do you know someone who never cries? Have you ever asked them why?

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