Don’t Tell Me to Stop Crying

I’ve noticed that in the moments when my eyes are full of tears that haven’t yet spilled, the world looks different.  Everything vibrates and blurs together, the light sparkles, the colors sear.  I like to live in this place when I happen upon it.

On more than one occasion I’ve cried so hard and for so long that my lips have swollen to numbness.

On feeling better after crying: 

Sometimes I do, more often I don’t

Because it gives me a horrible headache

But then it also gives me release

When I look for books about crying, why are nearly all of them for kids?

I’ll never forget the first time I saw my dad cry.  Same with my mom.

I was pretty young.  She was in the laundry room, and I walked past the doorway and saw her there. Likely I turned right around and went back into the house.  

Sometimes witnessing someone cry feels like an intrusion. Sometimes it feels like an opportunity for trust.  

I grew up painfully shy and easily embarrassed, and whenever this happened my face would ignite and turn tomato-red, my eyes filling with tears. I did everything in my power to ensure they wouldn’t spill over.

Now I sometimes find myself desperate for the time, the space to cry, only to be left empty-handed.  

Each time I start seeing a new therapist, I tell them that “I’m fine—I just cry a lot” as I cry through every session. I wonder what they think of that. And I wonder why I can’t seem to stop.

Perhaps when we cry, we’re trying to remind ourselves of the love and care we received as infants, if we were so lucky. Sometimes in yoga we come into fetal position after savasana, and that always makes me want to cry a little. And there I cry because, reminded of my vulnerability, of my worthiness of love, I recognize how horribly I treat myself.

Making music requires such vulnerability that I would often cry during elementary piano lessons, and sometimes during voice lessons in college. Not because I felt the music so deeply but because I so desperately wanted it to be good, to be right. I was so ashamed to cry during a freshman lesson with a GTA that I told her there was something in my eye, while I was continuously unable to sing because of the wavering in my throat that always accompanies tears.

Later in college my music colleagues remarked that I knew how to make people cry with my performances. It wasn’t for show—after all, I knew the feeling so well, and I would often end up crying, too. Eventually I learned how to cry and sing at the same time.

I do love it when books make me cry. And music. And art.

I’d like to highlight three books about tears and crying—two of which I’ve read and loved, and the last of which I look forward to reading upon its October release date. 

The Crying Book

I give full credit to this book for my modern pro-crying philosophy.  Here’s my review from when I read it last fall: 

When, where, why do we cry? How is it that some are predisposed to cry little and others to weep endlessly? Why does it so often feel shameful? When does it relieve us, does it trap us in depression? Peaceful and powerful, The Crying Book is a poetic examination of the art of weeping. Poet Heather Christle meditates on tears, grief, in a graceful mourning song held together by personal experiences, scientific insight, and her most beloved—poetry. In the face of great loss, Christle’s account is crystalline and mystical, a necessary embrace for the bereaved, a validating manifesto to the tearful.

Why Do We Cry?

I’ve fallen in love with this picture book.  It gorgeously illustrates many of the different reasons why people cry, with touching symbolism throughout, and even includes facts and activities about tears at the end.

WHITE TEARS/BROWN SCARS: HOW WHITE FEMINISM BETRAYS WOMEN OF COLOR

I’m looking forward to reading this book, which is set to be released this October.  The phrase “white tears” can refer to the tears that white women shed to incriminate Black folx, or in a broader sense, it pokes fun at those who take offense when their white privilege is threatened.  This book details how white feminism has oppressed women of color through historical and modern day examples.

-Mary Wahlmeier Bracciano is a Youth Services Assistant at Lawrence Public Library.

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