Who do you let see you cry?

“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 ;)

11 thoughts on “Who do you let see you cry?

  1. Not many people have seen me cry. Though I do cry plenty, usually in the shower or at Mass and most always during Adoration, and very often when I blog. Sometimes I even worry that my lack of tears make me seem as if things that are painful are not or things that are happy aren’t maybe happy enough.

    Very few people (maybe only The Man?) have seen my tears of IF – though I think you have heard them on night on the phone. And even less (I’m thinking no one?) ever saw my tears over my parents divorce. It seems that which hurts me the most, causes me to steel myself the most in the presence of others. But, interestingly enough it is not a conscious effort to be strong, in fact, I sometimes wish the tears would come because I know I give off the impression that this journey (like my parents divorce) doesn’t hurt worse than I ever imagined it could.

  2. I don’t like crying in front of people but I do cry in Mass sometimes. I don’t mind that as much as in other situations… like when Elise gets her vaccines tomorrow, I’m hoping I don’t cry in front of the nurse. (Last time, she was ok for about two hours and then SCREAMED for 2 hours and I eventually cried bc it was so sad :-/)

    Becoming a mom has definitely made me cry more – and my husband sheds a LOT more tears now, too, shhh don’t tell ;)

  3. Crying? Me?

    I’m the kinda gal who can cry at a commercial or a quote or hearing a beautiful song. But when it comes to opening up about IF…there’s only been a very small handful of people who have seen those tears…

  4. I am a crying fool! I cry about everything and I’ve always been that way. IF has made my emotions more raw and at the surface, so I’m sure that my emotional state has gotten worse. Mr JB always says that I won’t get an ulcer since I hold nothing in!

  5. I’m with Rebecca on this one. And while I can’t relate to those that do cry at the drop of a hat, I understand that to be a part of their temperament and their personality. I think many factors go into this.
    As I’ve said before on my blog, I literally have not let myself “go there” to express outwardly how infertility and childlessness makes me feel during a typical day. I will allow it only when I know I don’t have to be “presentable” in a certain amount of time afterwards, etc. (though this didn’t really work on Christmas when the ILs came over and I had to play sick). To me personally, wearing my emotions on my sleeve is a sort of pride, wishing for others to know how much pain I am in and console me. I know it’s not that way for everyone, but for my temperament, that’s how I role ;)
    In the long run, now I have found peace. I still experience pain from time to time but it is no longer all-consuming. People who know me in real life, if they have never read my blog, have no idea how much pain I have endured. I’ve tried to model this after my confirmation Saint, Therese, in my journey to find joy in suffering.

  6. I cry at almost everything, and my husband cries at almost nothing. In seven years I think I’ve seen him cry maybe three times. I have always been a crier, but interestingly, not often in front of my family (parents and brothers) because nobody really cried much in my house growing up, so even now I always sorta feel like I can’t cry in front of them. But in front of DH, ALL the time. He’ll attest to this. At this point the tears, for some reason or another, are pretty much daily.

  7. I can be very emotional at times but not many people see it. My immediate family and closest friends…that’s about it I think.

    I seem to cry at weird times, and seldom for happy reasons. I also don’t cry often at things like funerals and I feel like the lack of tears, especially from someone like me, is judged or misunderstood more and that tears would be the accepted and appropriate response – it just doesn’t happen from me.

  8. I cry all the time, at any emotion. It’s my bodies prefered method of relieving stress. :) I made a very, very concerted effort not to cry at work. There were many times I had to leave for the bathroom.

    But for instance, I just finished watching Parenthood and when their son with aspergers invites his “new friend” over to play and he has spina bifida and his parents tell them that their son is his first ever friend … yup. Cried. Or, a friend posted on fb yesterday that her son took his 2 year old sister to school for show and tell and told his class that she was special because “she came out of his mama’s belly and she’s beautiful.” Yup. Teared up.

    Or when I heard the baby’s heartbeat at 5w 5d … yup. Lost it. Cried. The stenographer was a little unprepared which just reminds me that most people try NOT to cry. Not me. I cry.

    I will probably cry again at the next sono if everything comes back normal. The level of stress and anxiety I’m carrying around with this pregnancy just makes it impossibly not to be incredibly, incredibly thankful when things keep working out. So I’ll probably ball.

    So in short, I think everyone needs a good cry. It’s good to prevent uclers.

    I cried all through my wedding too. And his proposal.

    You know the one time I really didn’t cry? When my son was born. Wierd huh? I was so awestruck, I didn’t cry. I teared up a bit, but I was just in awe. And relieved. And making sure he was breathing. Not crying probably says more for me than crying anyway.

    I have only ever seen my husband cry once.

  9. I’m a crier. Sad movies, happy endings, death, being overwhelmed. I don’t try and cry … if its in public, I try and think of other things and detatch myself a little so people won’t see that side of me. I think crying communicates so much more than speech does … especially to my in-laws about IF.
    My husband crying … I call it “moist eyes”, cause that’s all he usually gets … I’ve only seen him literally cry one time when I was so unhappy and bawling about being-infertile-and-how-much-longer-do-we-have-and-why-does-your-brother-and-wife-have-to-be-pregnant-and-not-me cry. I felt horrible afterwards.

  10. I like how you put it about tears being so powerful an emotion that they take shape. I’ve always thought of them as an outward cleansing of what’s within. I cry for all sorts of reasons, happiness, sadness, inspiration, frustration….all of it. I always wished I could turn it off, but now I think it’s beautiful.

  11. I cry in front of no one unless they make. Ex. Someone tells me something sad (your dog is dead, you brother is going to die etc.) And actually forcefully keeps me from running away. I have never cried happy tears, over horrible things in history or fictional sad stories. I feel sad I just dont cry.

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