“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief…and unspeakable love.” – Washington Irving
We renewed our marriage vows in mass yesterday. You know, the “Who’s married? Please stand up so we can bless you and give you an opportunity to renew your vows” type of thing. I’ve never seen that done before but was happy to participate. I tried so hard to make it through without crying but the tears started to flow out of the corners of my rapidly blinking eyes when they met my husband’s anyway.
At my shower, as I opened up one of cards from a close friend and the book she got me right after, the involuntary tears started forming. I had thought I would cry at my baby shower but I had forgotten the reality of it until I was sitting there on the couch, starting to read the words of this little book. So they fell, one by one. Happy tears, in front of my friends. To be in an unbelievable place and sharing it with them. Happy tears of joy and thanksgiving.
Happy tears. Then there’s the tears that come when I think about my friend’s miscarriages (I hate that that’s plural) or that come from listening to a song with special significance. When I read adoption stories that unite selfless love with less than ideal circumstances that showoff our best characteristics in the worst scenarios. Or the tears that used to come from the unbearable sadness that would hover over me every day, threatening my future life. Or the tears that come when I picture Mary at the cross, holding Jesus, not understanding but blindly following in faith.
Tears that reveal our humanity and our humility.
When I cry these days people say “Oh, its because you are a hormonal pregnant woman, its OK!” as if its not OK to cry otherwise. Maybe that’s true for some people, but for me, I know I cried plenty beforehand. Probably even more so. While I didn’t just waste them on any old situation by overreacting, if they happened to come out while talking about something with someone, I’d try not to be ashamed by them.
In interest of full disclosure, I used to be crazy with the tears. Again, unintentional, but I’ve been known to cry at just the thought of talking to a teacher when I was younger. I think I had less control over my emotions then, which is maybe what crying or not crying is related to. I did it once my first month of grad school and after a hard lecture from my adviser, never again. I was more frustrated and upset at myself than anything and the result was unfortunately tears. I understand why tears aren’t good in a professional setting (since they offer a sort of alternate way of communicating that’s not explicit as verbal communication is), but what about in personal relationships?
I think it is a good thing to be so in touch and aware of your emotional state of being that you’re not ashamed to have others know it as well. There is an openness about it that is respectable, like, I own this feeling, this is where I’m at. I think a big reason its not more accepted to cry in front of people is because of our nature to just want to fix things. So people don’t cry because others maybe don’t know how to react to tears. They are scary, powerful things. Emotions so strong that they take their own physical shape. But ultimately, being open is the best way to have effective relationships, even if that means tears are involved, right?
And just for good measure, its humbling, to be seen crying. Because no one looks good crying, right? I’m the worst. Red splotchy face. Bloodshot eyes. Instantaneous runny nose. Kind of hard to hold onto your pride when you’re fumbling for a tissue.
I realize not everyone thinks like this. In fact, maybe I’m in the minority. I have friends and I’ve read from others how people don’t cry in front of people or worse, they prevent themselves from even considering thoughts that are bound to elicit tears. So they just don’t go there, just because they don’t want to cry – either by themselves or in front of someone else. Somehow I can’t think that’s emotionally healthy but the truth is its such an involuntary thing for me and it comes much more naturally to me to be open and transparent about my feelings that I really don’t understand it when others aren’t. It hurts me more to hold it in (to a fault, but that can be another post….).
So I’m curious, what are your thoughts on tears? Do you not ever cry or do you just not let people see you cry? Has infertility or motherhood changed the way you regard tears? Do you ever see your husband cry? Just wanted to throw that one in there for curiosity ;)