How do you cope with emotional pain? How often do you cry alone, and how often do you do the same in front of other people? I would like to get readers’ feedback on this because I am curious if my “straight face” approach to life’s difficulties is a common thing. Feel free to send me an e-mail about this.
If you see hidden tears as a big mistake, I’m afraid I don’t have much to brag about. I’m not exactly a role model as far as dealing with emotions is concerned.
My default life emojis mostly have silly faces and confused facial expressions on them, with a couple of smileys in between. Little frowny icons are not as common, but when they come, they usually have desperation on their face or blue, teary streams under their eyes and over their cheeks.
In my life, during these thirty-three years, I’ve only cried four times in someone else’s presence, and on two of those occasions, my mom was the only person around.
The first time this happened I was actually pretending I had the sniffles to get my mother to ask me, “What’s wrong?” My goal was to tell her there was a chance I could receive a bad grade on an exam, but I didn’t have the guts to initiate this topic. When she finally asked me what was wrong, the unexpected happened — I actually did start crying for real and out of control.
She told me everything would be OK no matter what, and guess what — the next day, I got a B on that very exam. Just for reference, I was ten years old then, but the attachment I had to my parents was more comparable to that of a five-year-old. I was falling far behind on that front.
The other tear-dam broke in a similar time frame, but on this occasion, pain was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I had to go through a certain procedure more than twenty times in four years, all without anesthesia, and on one occasion, the pain was so unbearable that I exited the room in tears, and I walked towards my mom as she approached me to give me a hug. I tried so hard but was unable to hold my tears back.
I’ve cried fifteen or twenty times in my life, but in a vacuum. Too often, I fought that lump in the throat, which happens to be muscle tension as your glottis is trying to stay open but gets forced close every time you swallow. (I just googled that!)
I also found out that crying as a coping mechanism was possibly formed as a sign of submission, as it would be more likely that an attacker would spare the life of a whiny victim.
It’s one of the theories, but who knows, maybe that’s the reason I’m fighting it. Maybe I’m rebelling against ancient genes as I don’t like the feeling of being vulnerable. Maybe I would rather get beaten to death than stay alive because of the mercy of others.
Maybe it’s just a guy thing.
I can tell you this, though — no sane person will think another person’s tears are shameful. So if you feel like crying your heart out, do it and give it absolutely all you’ve got. Ignore the theory mentioned above.
Crying is a social thing, a social cue to people around you, a sign that they should give you a hug, care, and attention. And in the opposite scenario, you should give your attention to others when tears are streaming down their faces. So react, give, and you shall receive. This is solid advice I just presented, but the irony is that many of you are probably more ready to put it into practice than me. Still, to this day, I would rather suffer through on my own, as I feel others have their own issues to deal with. My first instinct is to avoid being a nuisance, but I did make some progress with this. Being a bit more open, as it turns out, makes things a lot easier.
It seems like I am stating the obvious; it probably is a “duh” thing to say, but because of that, it’s really a great shame that so many people hold their stuff in or leave the most important stuff out while interacting with others. We know what we should do; we just fail to practice it.