Making Virtue of Necessity

Sometimes, you need to cry.

Sometimes you feel like crying about something long after it would be reasonable to stop crying. A dead grandmother, an ex-boyfriend, a collapsed institution--and then, months later, suddenly you find yourself crying. Nothing immediate has triggered it--you're boredly watching In the Heat of the Night, or vacuuming a hallway. And then, voila, tears.

It's not even always clear what you're feeling, when you cry. I'm not the first person to remark on this, but sometimes the crying is a thing unto itself--when someone asks, "are you upset?" you don't know how to answer them at first. The emotion you're experiencing isn't sadness, per se, although clearly it's somehow related.

If anything, sometimes I think you need to cry because you don't know what you're feeling.

I used to suppress religiously such tendencies in myself, regarding them as a sign of weakness. I was going to be strong, and stoic, and Not A Crybaby.

And then it gradually dawned upon me that no one cared. Few people even noticed when one of these inexplicable impulses to cry occurred--I'm already reasonably competent at making sure most of my strong emotions happen in private, anyway. Nobody was going to hand me a gold star for being The Best At Not Crying. The Almighty noticed, I'm sure (that's a whole other topic in itself), but there's no commandment against inexplicably delayed tears. If anything, I guess you could argue that suppressing them was an especially ridiculous kind of pridefulness.

Like a lot of things I've been writing about sadness, I'm not really clear where this is going or how it should end. However, I'm going to write about it anyway because I think this is all part of falling off the bike, picking yourself up, and getting back on.

Sometimes, you need to cry. And that's not some kind of moral crisis--it's just a thing that's happening. So you have crying time. And then you have bed time, or whatever. And then you get up and get back to work.

World without end, amen.