“It is such a secret place, the land of tears.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery
I hate to cry. No. I don’t think you understand what I am telling you. I actually despise it. The big, red nose, the swollen eyes, the waggling chin, the choking sobs, the snot, the whole nasty business of it. I will go out of my way to avoid it at all costs. If I hear a movie or book is a tear jerker, I say “no thanks” and then find myself a nice comedy. And when I feel tears looming, I scurry off to the nearest hole to hide so that nobody has to witness the god awful mess that happens when these waterworks let loose. When the phrase “ugly cry” was coined, they were actually talking about me.
So imagine my surprise when, several years ago, it became apparent that my daughter, Em, absolutely loves to cry. Now don’t get me wrong. She doesn’t enjoy physical or emotional pain or anguish. But she just adores watching a sad movie, reading books with tragic endings and listening to those minor key songs that make me want to plug my ears and sing Henry the Eighth I Am I Am at the top of my lungs to stop from hearing it.
Em, by nature is a happy person. For most of her 17 years she has had a smile firmly affixed on her pretty face. She loves to laugh and enjoys life to an enviable degree. Even during the angst ridden teen years, she has managed to dodge the moody bits and has continued shining this amazing joy wherever she goes.
But. Give her a rainy afternoon with nothing to do and I can guarantee she will be found cuddled on the couch, surrounded by wads of soggy tissues, sobbing her heart out as Jack and Rose take the big plunge. Titanic, which she has watched at least 118 times, is a movie I sat through once, and ended up having to apply cold, wet washcloths to my eyes afterwards in order to pry them open, that’s how swollen they were from crying.
Why oh why do people do this to themselves? Cry on purpose? It is sheer madness!
Or is it? As with all things philosophical, scientific or spiritual, when I have a question I turn to the source of all knowledge: Google. And here is what I have found…
Did you know that:
1. Crying is good for your eyes? Not only does it lubricate them, it also washes out any nasty bacteria that might have gathered while staring unblinkingly at your iThings. Tears literally help us to see more clearly. (There has to be a metaphor hidden in there somewhere).
2. Shedding tears actually helps our bodies to shed the toxins that accumulate due to stress. These toxins, when left unattended can build up and cause all sorts of disease and nastiness in our bodies. Tears help to shed stress. (And they are free, which is considerably cheaper than wine).
3. Tears can help to lower levels of manganese in a body. What is manganese, you may ask? Well, I have no idea, but according to my googling it is some nasty stuff that increases our levels of anxiety, nervousness, irritability, aggression, fatigue, mood swings and a whole great big can of worms that are better left unopened.
4. Allowing tears to flow can bring us emotional release and catharsis. Once that snotty dam bursts, all of the pent up emotions that we carry around like unwanted, overpacked baggage, can flow far, far away and we can breathe easier, let the sun shine in and feel light enough to smile again.
Alright Google. You win another round. I will stop stopping myself from having a cry now and again. I will bring extra tissues, and dark glasses and go sit through 12 Years A Slave. God willing I won’t run into anyone I know.
Did I mention my ugly cry? *shudder*
“I’ll never let go, Jack. I’ll never let go.”