Do you ever crave an ugly cry?
I can’t say I gave much thought to crying until recently.
I used to think crying was a sign of weakness—something to avoid at all costs. Certainly not something to ponder. More like something to conquer.
The absence of tears wasn’t noticeable until I needed them. I needed the release. But they wouldn’t come.
There’s No Crying in Quarantine.
Nine months ago, the stay-at-home order sent me into a tailspin.
I didn’t know how to create an engaging learning environment for my children, stay productive at work, and be the wife and mother I needed to be.
Like many of you, I embraced a new mindset. I made it my mission to embody a gratitude attitude.
So, I blocked the pain. I held back all the feelings. But, looking back, I can see how I needed to just f*cking cry.
My tough chick mentality wouldn’t allow me to cope with the circumstances in any other way than to avoid the darkness.
I couldn’t cry. That was pretty typical for me.
Even after my mother’s life-threatening heart attack right after Christmas, my eyes were completely dry.
I was aware of the disembodied feeling, but some invisible force pushed them down every time the tears would bubble up.
There was just lots of numbness. Which I thought was healthy compartmentalization.
After all, this technique has allowed me to succeed in my career without fearing rejection. It allowed me to compete as a collegiate athlete without feeling broken when I didn’t set a personal record at a swim meet.
My dry eyes had always served me so well, or so I thought.
About two months into quarantine, I took up guided meditations. I needed a guide because, God forbid, I sit in stillness with my thoughts. No, no, no. That was way too much of a labyrinth.
I pressed play on a 21-day meditation challenge and the flood gates opened. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed.
For days as I pressed play on the challenge, the tears came.
The 21 days came and went. Sadly, not too long after the challenge finished, I went back to being blocked.
Funks would come and go. Tears were always under the surface, waiting for me to let go.
Now that I had a taste of the sweet surrender, I craved the ugly cry.
I didn’t know how to get them back.
- I Googled “how to induce crying.”
- I crowdsourced on social media.
- I found some sappy playlists and pressed play.
- I also found research, like this time’s article on the science of crying.
But still, I couldn’t cry, and I craved that release.
The Ugly Cry.
Then one day, I walked onto my front porch and saw a package that surprisingly wasn’t from Amazon.
It was from my neighbor of 10 years. No, not just my neighbor—my framily (friend-family).
She is my kids’ educational advocate, the mother of my daughter’s future boyfriend, my friend, and my confidant. She also happened to be moving away that night.
The package was a mug she had made for all of us. It had a photo of all of the neighborhood kids on the first day of school from last year.
My son said, “look, mom, that’s when we all went to the same school.”
The sub-text was, look, mom, this was when we were all allowed to go to school—allowed to be children—allowed to be innocent.
And then they came—all the tears. The feelings I had been blocking.
I let go. And I let myself feel all the feelings.
I realized “How to Cry” is a futile Google search. No playbook or listicle can induce crying.
You need to let the emotions move through you as a cloud moves over the sun, temporarily blocking the light — providing shade when you need it most.
Let me know if you’re Team Cry or Team Dry Eye?
I am sending you all my peace, love, and tears.