Anatomy of a Cry
I consider myself an intrinsically happy and cheerful person. Mostly because I practice gratefulness…I consider my health; my family and their health; the roof over my head; and the food on my table; all, reasons to be thankful. Lately, however, I find myself crying a great deal. All good and loud cries. Rest assured that I am not, nor have ever been diagnosed to have clinical depression.
I also consider myself a self-aware person and truly can’t think of any reason as to why my tears well up and work their scenic route down to my chin; but it happens more often lately. Other than the grim world events, we’ve had no recent deaths, diseases, or major disappointments in the immediate family. (Thank goodness for that)
So, what is wrong with me? I honestly don’t think I am even sad because all I could think about while crying is the goodness in my life. As I cry, I think about my robust faith in the idea that Life is FOR me. I dwell on my purposeful life and the opportunity to do the kind of work, I always dreamed about. I think of how wonderful my friends are and how grateful I am to have them in my life. I also appreciate that I live in a place, where self-actualization is a common theme, and meeting basic human needs is not.
As a child, teen, and even an adult, like every mother, my mom could not bear watching my tears. She would get angry when I cried. Instead of hugging me and letting me cry on her shoulder; she would give me a speech on how blessed I am to have my parents around and would continue with a long list of all my blessings. In retrospect, I think she wanted to turn me into herself, the solid, resilient, yet versatile woman that she was.
I shared this recent crying phenomenon with few receptive friends, and they said they too were tearful lately. May be, what we all went through during the pandemic, is just hitting us. Like how a mother rushes to save a child and while helping, she fights like a lioness, but once things are safe for the child, she sobs like crazy? I think we may be waking up from a long nightmare called the pandemic.
Another idea that came to mind as why I cry so often lately, may have to do with the war that is happening in Ukraine. All these mothers who must look strong for their children and don’t have the privacy to cry and need to keep a smile on their faces. Maybe, we are carrying their load.
I did some research on the anatomy of a cry. An article stated that crying actually has a lot of benefits. When you cry, your body releases endorphins and oxytocin. These hormones can help relieve pain, boost your mood, and improve general well-being. Another paper, published in 2020 in the scientific journal Psychotherapy (Bylsma et al.), provides some additional insights about crying, like:
There are five reasons we cry: loss, helplessness, physical pain or discomfort, empathy for others, and extreme positive situations (tears of joy).
On average, adult women cry 2 to 5 times per month while men cry 0 to 1 time per month.
People with high empathy cry more easily in both positive and negative situations.
People in wealthy democratic countries cry more often than those in other countries.
People who cry are perceived as more empathic, reliable, sincere, and less aggressive. At the same time, crying also has a negative effects as the person is seen as less emotionally stable.
Crying in the workplace is generally seen as more negative than crying in a private setting.
About 50% of people feel better after crying.
About 10% of people feel worse after crying.
Crying helps regulate extreme emotions
The bottom line here folks is that I found out that it is OK to cry. It may even be beneficial to you. If you feel the need to cry, don’t hold back your tears as they are a normal human response to emotions. But in my case, what if there are no emotions that would justify my tears? The mystery made me think of a short story by Bal Natu in his book called: Conversations with the Awakener. (Pg. 6-7). Here is an excerpt:
“It was a period of crisis — a long period that drained all my energy. At one moment, when life and death seemed to hang in the balance, I was shaken and felt afraid. I could then not help but let loose the floodgates of my heart — I wept and wept. I felt as though I was walking on a thin, frayed tightrope across a dark chasm…
…On several occasions, I tried to keep up a cheerful front, telling others, "I am fine, I am fine." But this did not last long. As soon as I found myself alone, streams of tears started rolling down my cheeks.
I felt ashamed and crest fallen. I hid my face in my palms and sobbed. When I tried to wipe away my tears what a surprise awaited me!
The touch of those tears gave me an intense feeling that they were not my tears. The tears were not mine. They were Yours — of Your Love. What compassion!
With a choked throat and in an inaudible tone, I mumbled, "Sorry." I felt that through these soothing tears You were asking me, "Don't you trust Me?" Somehow, I managed to say, "Please forgive me, I could not help it." I was sorry that I had made You suffer for me. But at that instant fear vanished like a mist before the bright shining sun, and I became my normal self.
Those sacred tears surely cheered my dying spirit, and my whole being reverberated in wonder!
It was a revelation that whenever I weep, the eyes are mine, but Yours are the tears!”
Perhaps, my eyes are also tools for someone else's tears.