Sobbing. Boo-hooing. Bawling. Weeping. Bursting into tears. Blubbering. Wailing. There are so many names for the act of salty drops of fluid flowing from one’s eyes as a response to an emotional state.
Crying has many monikers and is the result of a plethora of different feelings. Some are sad, others happy. Sometimes the result of a delirious state following a sleepless night with a sick baby. Other times the reaction to the pain dropping a television on one’s bare foot or the relief that a loved one is safe. Tears can form in times of stress, happiness, anger, hopelessness, excitement, panic, grief, frustration, loneliness, hilarity, pride, and about a thousand other emotions.
Your nose starts getting stuffed and then turns runny as your sinuses sense that something is about to be unleashed. A lump forms in your throat as big as the jaw breaker you once tried to devour when you were six. Eyes start to stare at objects in a fruitless attempt to ward off the excess moisture that is suddenly threatening to spill out over your lashes. The muscles in your face tighten in order for your face to keep its composure.
And then you lose it.
The floodgates open and you become a sappy, wet mess, reaching for the nearest handkerchief to dry your eyes and hide your face for the shame of falling apart. But damn does it feel good to have that release.
In the comfort of a darkened movie theater or my own apartment, I am one to give into my tears until it becomes practically unbearable to hold in those emotions any longer.
I am not ashamed to admit that there are several movies and television episodes that make me cry no matter how many times I’ve seen them. I cried when the Crocodile Hunter died, when Princes William and Harry walked behind their mother’s casket, and when President Obama hugged Rep. Gabrielle Giffords at the State of the Union address shortly after she announced her resignation. There are certain events in the human experience that my body responds to in weepy ways and I often have no willpower to stop it.
In private, I am at ease blubbering away. In public, it is another story completely.
There have been time where I have excused myself to the ladies’ room when the work day has gotten the best of me and I just need a few minutes to collect myself. I have screamed with tears streaming down my face while driving home from the latest man who had rejected me. I have become completely unglued when asked about a family member who had just passed away. I have laughed so hard that I could barely breathe while salty drops flooded my face. I have needed to be hugged, pat on the back, kissed, and left alone when on the brink of showing emotion.
Sylvia Plath described how I have so often felt in The Bell Jar,
I didn’t want my picture taken because I was going to cry. I didn’t know why I was going to cry, but I knew that if anybody spoke to me or looked at me too closely the tears would fly out of my eyes and the sobs would fly out of my throat and I’d cry for a week. I could feel the tears brimming and sloshing in me like water in a glass that is unsteady and too full
Most people I know believe that to be strong is to hide emotion, to forbid the tears to fall. I disagree. Don’t get me wrong, I do my damnedest to never allow people to see me in that state—and very few have—but there is something powerful about unabashedly expressing one’s feelings. It’s that feeling of yielding to one’s emotions that is so unnerving. To get past it is to truly be in charge and accept that there are times when composure takes a back seat to emotion.
Author Albert Smith once wrote, “Tears are the safety valve of the heart when too much pressure is laid on it.” Crying can, and does, catch up to you. We need it if only to feel human.
So hand over the tissues.