I’m going to keep this one short (ok, even I don’t really believe that – but I’m going to TRY).
One of the biggest lies perpetrated in our culture today is that tears are weakness and never/very rarely crying is a sign of strength.
No. No. NO. Nope. No.
Now – I will preface what I am about to say with this disclaimer: everyone is different. There are some people who simply aren’t big criers. If that’s you – cool – you aren’t who I’m talking about.
I read a lot, and, especially as we approach summer, I like to read stuff that’s just fluffy and fun. I’ve said before that I usually read Young Adult fiction because I find it more imaginative and clever (and less dependent on sex and/or gore for the plot). I want CHARACTERS. I will drop a book mid-chapter if they don’t flesh out their characters or if the characters suddenly change personality or magically develop skills they never had before. I do this with movies too – but I don’t watch many movies.
So, one of my favorite summer reading authors is Nora Roberts, who does not, in fact, write young adult fiction. She writes romantic fiction for adults. I like her stories because they often have a paranormal bent, and she doesn’t get to graphic in the bedroom scenes (don’t have a moral objection, just not my thing). I also like her because her stories are totally predictable after you’ve read a few, and quite frankly I like that. I like not being super surprised by my light summer reading. I don’t need twists and gasps. Just entertain me and don’t hurt my brain.
I like it when the good guys prevail, evil loses, and love wins. I know that’s now how things always happen in the real world, and I don’t care – I read to escape!
(Side Note: Game of Thrones is HUGE right now since the show just ended, and yes, I am super obsessed with it. I never watched a single episode of the show, never read one of the books. Nope, too gory. Otherwise its right up my alley. I may, at some point write a whole other post about being a side-line fan. I know GRRM’s big thing is subverting expectations. Cool – still not gonna read it. Partly because of that. I need the good guys to win, man.)
Ok, I’m back. So, as I’m doing summer prep at home I end up listening to audio books – especially in the kitchen. I just finished a couple Nora Roberts books and find myself itchy and irritated by a few assumptions she makes.
One of the main ones – adhering to my theme here – is that crying is weakness. Characters will say or think things like ‘I/She never cry/cries’, or ‘crying pisses me off.’ Lots of variations on the theme.
Its really everywhere. I have noticed it mainly in female characters or observations of women in real life – but I think that is due to the fact that everyone just ASSUMES males shouldn’t cry (this is extremely destructive, by the way). Its in our culture, deeply embedded. Crying is a weak, womanly thing to do. Men don’t cry, so by extension, strong women don’t cry.
This idea is so dumb it makes my head hurt. Tears are a sign of emotion. We are, in fact, emotional creatures – as our well-developed limbic center can attest. Emotions are what connect us to one another – they form the bond that we need to survive (and I’m talking about actual survival, in the biological sense). Emotions signal us when something is not right (anger), clue us in to the loss of connection (sadness/grief), and reinforce positive life experiences (happiness).
When we banish tears as weakness, we are saying we cannot embrace emotion and be strong. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, we cannot ignore/repress emotion and be truly strong. Its like storing vats of acid in the basement. Sooner or later the vats are going to leak, destroy your foundation, and the house is going to come crashing down.
Emotions are like waves. Good surfers learn to ride the highs and lows. They see the fluctuation as just part of the natural order of things. No one ever learned to be a good surfer in calm seas. They learned by riding the highs and lows. And like the sea – you can’t embrace the highs and avoid the lows. They are so inextricably linked that if you repress your tears, you repress your ability to feel joy.
Ride the waves. Cry when you are sad, cry for joy, ignore the idiots who tell you its weak, and flip the bird at destructive cultural norms.
Emotions don’t always feel good. But they feel ‘whole.’
Ok – its not short. But consider liking and sharing anyways.