I never used to cry.
I would gulp back my tears and sternly furrow my brow and deny myself even one drop of salty water. Instead, I would find myself snapping at loved ones, eating chocolate and miring in my present displeasing emotion. I never used to cry, neither during the sad parts of films, nor for the heart-wrenching, beautiful moments of life.
My crying began gradually, it began to seep into the special minutes of my day, into the quiet introspective moments driving alone in my car. I knew that I had truly become a woman of crying when I would find myself laughing through my tears and finding an unbelievable amount of lightness in this release.
Slowly I began to accept this part of me. This acceptance grew into a tentative pleasure, and today has flowered into a great love. I love this part of me. I love sitting and watching a play with tears streaming down my face. I love the tears that seep out onto my cheeks when I do my gratitude practice, like gratitude spilling into the corporeal, the warm and salty me. I love my ocean goodbyes.
What I have learned is that not everyone knows how to be a crying partner. When I cry, I do not wish to identify, I do not wish to explain. When I cry, I am cocooned in the experience of my sniffles and sobs. What I want is for others to be the branch onto which I can suspend myself until I emerge, butterfly-style. I do not need them in my cocoon.
As we cultivate the art of crying, natural partners will emerge. These partners may be a girlfriend, husband, mother or brother. Sometimes the best partner is our dog. Sometimes we need a human.
I’ve created a list of five things that I would like anyone who wishes to become a partner-in-cry to be aware of:
1. Please don’t ask me what is wrong. Often it is in these moments of mid-sniffle that things are the most right. Other times, I may not know the cause of my tears yet. If I do want to talk about it, we will, but let’s save it for after the cry.
2. Please don’t hand me a tissue. Even though the gesture is meant to support me and it can feel good to keep my hands busy as the snot and tears run in a little river over my lips, don’t. The message that is conveyed in this gesture (even though it may not be the intention) is to dry my eyes—I’m not ready yet.
3. Please do hold me close. Please do let me soak the offered shoulder and listen to a calm and steady heartbeat.
4. Please do tell me you love me, with your voice, or with safe silence. With the way a tender hand traces spirals on my back, or with sympathetic eyes, and kisses (both applicable to humans and dogs.)
5. Don’t always assume that if I am crying that I am sad. Sometimes I am sad, but other times I’m simply overwhelmed with feeling. Sometimes it’s just a crying day. We all have those.
Be a safe place for me and I will do the same for others.
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Assistant Editor: Andrea Charpentier/Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photos: Carlo Mirante via Flickr