Cry Baby!

I don’t remember when I stopped crying in public…or even why I stopped crying in public…especially at work. I had a reputation to uphold and “emotional” was not a part of my professional profile. I hated crying, mostly because I was never sure how long nor how hard I was going to cry, or what weird noises I was going to make (trust me, my “wail” is matched by none other than my crying “ugly face.”) I felt vulnerable and often ashamed when I cried. “Big girls don’t cry,” is all I would hear ringing in my ears.

I don’t remember when I stopped crying in public, but I do remember when I started crying again. I had been through some things (as we all have); it felt like it had been one disappointment after the next, loss compounded by loss, and a string of perceived failures. I was home on FMLA for seven whole weeks recovering from a surgery – that’s a long time to spend most of your time alone – and suddenly, it hit me; not a specific thought, memory or emotion…but a flood of emotionS (plural). Instantly, there was a stream of tears, low moans and, of course my infamous “ugly cry!” It happened so quickly I didn’t have time to grab ahold of my emotions and compose myself. My body shuck so violently, I eventually gave way to the enormous wave of emotions that engulfed me and I just laid on the floor…and cried…and wept…and wailed! I wasn’t in control; it wasn’t pretty; I didn’t have a plan and I couldn’t strategize my way out. Have you ever cried so long and so hard that your head starts pounding, like louder than your heart? Yea…I was there!

I don’t remember how long I laid there, even after the tears rescinded. I do remember, however, a strange yet beautiful sense of peace began to flow over me. This peace…it seemed to start at the very core of my being, right in the center of my belly, and it spread to my toes and to the top of my head; even my clinched fists slowly released whatever intangible tangible pain and angst I had grown accustomed to holding.

I don’t remember a lot, but I do remember thinking, “Jesus…I needed that!” I said all of that to say, “ go ahead and CRY! I promise you’ll feel better!” We walk around bottled up all day; and sometimes days turn into weeks, and weeks into months, and months into years. I’m not saying just cry whenever the urge strikes (maybe don’t cry during family dinners this Holiday Season…unless of course, there’s a point to be made). What I am saying is we do our bodies a disservice when, in our attempt to appear “strong,” we evoke poor stress management mantras like, “Don’t be a cry baby!” or “Suck it up!” and we simply hold it in. God created tears and crying for a reason. When we consistently resist the urge to cry, we may experience more irritability, more anxiety and even greater insomnia or sleeplessness.

Did you know emotional tears (the “ugly cry” kind) contain three beneficial hormones?

  • Prolactin — regulates your stress level and your emotions.
  • Adrenocorticotropic — is symptomatic, or a clear indicator of high-stress levels.
  • Leucine-enkephalin — reduces your pain and improves your mood.

In other words, crying reduces stress and pain, and actually makes you feel better. So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and CRY! Schedule it! Watch a sad movie or TikTok (you know the ones with that sad background music)! Do what you must…but let it go! It’s time.

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