My mother tells me that I was born with a frown on my face. I came into the world silently, narrow-eyed and my mouth set in a grim, straight line. Apparently, when the doctor gently smacked me on the bottom to get me crying, my mother said I made a tiny whimper then glowered at him, like the two of us were about to fight like men. This makes sense, as most of the toddler/adolescent photos of me consist of two expressions: (1) frowning and (2) coolly eyeing the camera, like the two of us were about to fight like men. Continuing on, as a teenager and then a young lady, my mother repeatedly told me to stop looking so “fierce.” All this considered and as such, I wasn’t much of a crier.
What a difference 30 makes. Something funny happened to me when I reached 30 a few years ago. The floodgates, so long ignored–except for the first day of school, K-12-college–were unleashed, rendering me into an emotional, utter basketcase. I found myself crying at everything. Not just moments that deserve tears, like rainy days, Mondays, and This song. Everything. Happy moments. Commercials. Television shows. Friends talking to me on the phone. Everything. Four years later, now and today, this odd, strange exercise in shedding so, so many tears hasn’t changed. It’s worse.
What is it? Weird hormonal stuff? Sad estrogen? It’s not that I mind it, per se, being that, to me, shedding tears is part of shedding skin, letting out, accepting, cleansing. But what do any of the latter things have to do with an Oreo commercial? Or someone telling you how good you look in a dress? Or just driving? Seriously, I cry like a madwoman behind the wheel. Just random moments of endless tears with no real cause (traffic gets more of an endless pounding on my steering wheel, in case you were wondering).
I remember an old friend telling me the following: “You know, [Kitten], sometimes a woman just needs a good, long cry. For no reason. Just a good, long cry. I cry all the time and so should you.” At the time, I was 19 years old, and although I was slightly enamored of her awesomeness, I still decided, however intriguing those words were, that she was a giant weirdo. “A good, long cry”? Why? For what? Even when, during my senior year in college, I threw myself on our kitchen floor and bemoaned all the classes on my schedule that semester–to which my mother succintly informed me to get up, I would be fine, and that I was on the precipice of a bleeding ulcer if I didn’t stop; did I mention how much I love my mother?–I don’t recall crying about it. I just bemoaned. Little did I know how I would take my old friend’s words to heart when 30 came, except all the crying occurred more frequently than not, and seemed to be against my will.
According to this article, there are four main reasons why we cry: natural emotional response; survival mechanism (in other words, something in your environment needs to be addressed); biochemical (a release of stress hormones/toxins); and social function (you draw support from those who see you cry). None of these really explain why the kid in the Cheerios commercial makes me weep. Of course, the article stressed that whatever the reason, don’t suppress it. Let it out. I agree, even if I don’t always understand the triggers.
So, go on and cry, my dears: in your car, into your soup, over that Cheerios commercial, when you find that sweater you were looking for, because it’s Thursday, in the morning, and at night. I certainly will.