Cry baby… It’s my party, and I’ll cry if I want to… Big girls don’t cry… Tears of a clown… Don’t cry for me Argentina…. Crying over you…

There are so many songs about crying and tears. Country western music has broken hearts by the pickup truck-full. From the laid-flat classic, “I’ve got tears in my ears from lying on my back in my bed while I cry over you,” to the GPS-specific, “Billy broke my heart at Walgreens and I cried all the way to Sears,” nothing beats country music for getting it all out there.

But I’m no country western gal. I’m a fairly tough New Yorker — tears were never high on my profile. Not since my father would send me to my room — “I can’t talk to you when you’re crying. Come back when you’ve stopped” — and I learned to put a plug in it. My friend Karen told me her mother admonished with the ever popular: “Stop crying or I’ll really give you something to cry about.” The message was loud and clear: no whimpering.

Even PMS couldn’t bring me to tears. I was suicidal, homicidal, many -cidals, but I never cried. On rare occasions, like watching a sad movie or listening to a sad song, they might leak down my cheeks, but not for long. I’d convinced myself I’d never be a weepy person.

If there was a crisis, it was Robin to the rescue, Robin in charge. No tears — no time, too much to do — just the facts, decisions, action.

We all know people who fall apart if they lose their favorite pen — those are the drama queens and kings, who seem to always be in tears about something. Then there are others who are barely affected by the death of a parent. Let’s put these groups aside and focus on the rest of us — the majority of us who, while not emotionally dead, prefer to keep emotions in check, particularly when it comes to sadness.

I lost a lot a few years ago: my marriage, my job, my mother, my daughter moved 3,000 miles away, I had to move, and then I lost my beloved dog, Lola. I’ve written about it. I was sitting alone in my apartment, minus everyone — and I started to cry.

Then I couldn’t stop. The floodgates opened. And I didn’t care.

For many years, on those rare occasions when I cried, I’d get a headache. But when the grief is so intense, the tears wash over and seem to take out all the toxins and pain; at least that’s my non-scientific analysis. I felt lighter. No one loves the sound of a baby crying, but once they’re done crying, they look so peaceful, so relieved — or maybe that’s the parents that are relieved, but it does seem to be a part of the natural order of things.

So often in caregiving/grief groups I’ve attended (where my crying looked more like bawling), I’ve heard many people share, “I don’t want to cry” or “I’m afraid to cry.” I’ve also heard, “I don’t feel like crying,” which is perfectly appropriate, but my experience with crying has led me to love it. When I was younger, if someone cried in my presence I felt awkward. Now I sit with them and just try to be there in the privilege of that moment.

I spent years in therapy NOT crying, talking about antidepressants and wanting whatever new one I’d heard of. “Don’t you think I should try Wellbutrin? What about Celexa? That sounds good.” My therapist would say, “Okay, if you want to. But I don’t think you really need to.” Eventually I tried an antidepressant for a year or so, and it helped, but I gained weight, and I couldn’t feel much of anything, and I had no sex drive, so I went off the medication and continued to search for a newer, better drug.

I don’t think I ever used more than a few tissues in many, many years in my therapist’s office.

And then, my life fell apart and I used all the tissues. I sobbed through entire deluges, while my lovely therapist, Mike, nodded and smiled. “This is great, Robin, this is really good.”
 
What?

“This is probably going to turn out to be one of the best periods of your life.”

Are you crazy? I’m drowning! I can’t stop!

Eventually the river flowed to a stream. Slowly the tears trickled to a stop.

And in their place came:

Relief.
Gratitude.
Aliveness.
Joy.

And most of all: empathy… compassion… for everyone in the world who is suffering. Everyone. I want to go to the Congo and stop the fighting and the rape. I want to go to the Middle East and get people to talk about their anger and their sorrow. I want people to wail their pain and share it and not worry about how they look. I want people to listen to each other instead of screaming and fighting.
In other cultures people weep together — they believe in the power of a good cry. Why aren’t more of us angry about the state of this country and the world? I don’t know. I think maybe we’re all trying not to feel.

Tears on my pillow… tears in heaven.
Cry me a river. Let it wash me clean.

2 Thoughts on “Tracks of My Tears – Latest Huff Post

  1. Hey Robin,
    Great posts. I read all of them. So glad you have surrived the storms of your life! My niece lives in Brooklyn and has been updating us throughout Sandy. Such a difficult time for so many people. It does put into perspective, one’s own troubles.
    I liked your post on crying. I have astounded myself with the amount of crying I have endured so far. It seems like it does come in waves. I look back on the day when I lay in bed at night and sometimes say, ‘I only cried once today’. But mostly I cry several times. I don’t reconginize myself sometimes. What is that sound? Oh, It’s me crying out loud!
    Keep writing, you’re a gem!
    Charlotte

  2. Charlotte, I am so sorry that you are in the middle of this journey – but the truth is “the only way out is through.” I can honestly say, as painful as that first year was, it was also incredible, I felt like life was elevated in some way – everything felt realer, more intense, if that makes any sense.

    Yesterday, after the storm I decided to go back to Friends In Deed and everyone was feeling very stressed out from both the storm and the election. And Robert said, “You know, all of you have been through so much – and you made it through. So you know you can do it and you just don’t know how.” I know you can do this and I am so honored that you have found my writing and that it helps a bit. Make sure you get some good hugs! I’m sending you one from NY as we struggle through today and the next storm that is approaching. xxx robin

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