You know when a girl is emotionally distraught over a tragedy and her boyfriend awkwardly drapes an arm over her shoulder and is at a loss about what to do so he mumbles “it’s okay, it’s okay?” Yeah, I’m that boyfriend. Don’t believe me?
Age 20: favorite great-grandmother dies. Uncle dies 3 days later. No sobs from me.
Age 17: schoolmate dies in a violent car accident. I must have chronic dry eye.
Age 16: accidently drove over an orange kitten. A kitten for goodness sake! I didn’t drive again for two weeks. Not a single tear.
Age 13: landed nose-first on concrete slab. Okay, so I can cry. And bleed. A lot.
Age 10: realized my horrible wickedness and was filled with the Holy Spirit as the final C chord dissolved into the crisp Oregon air. The most momentous and emotionally-charged moment of my life and…nothing. Nada. Zip.
Suffice to say, for the longest time I thought I was seriously messed up. I mean, I’m a Christian, so God should have fixed me by now, right? Weep with those who weep and all that jazz.
My Christian friends weep over powerful sermons. My non-Christian friends have a good cry on a monthly basis. My own mother will start bawling her eyes out at the drop of a Titanic. And then there’s me and my dysfunctional tear ducts.
At first I blamed the shock factor. I felt empty and raw, like a pumpkin whose insides were scraped out with a metal spoon, but I’ll cry later when reality settles in. But it doesn’t.
I look around at my grief-stricken friends and relatives, sticking out like a middle finger. I start to wonder if they loved Granny more than I did. Maybe I didn’t love Granny much after all. Obviously, if I truly loved Granny I’d cry for her like everyone else.
I would stay up all night praying fervently for one, just one drop of watery sadness. My prayers would float away when I realize that I’ve never even cried for my savior.
It was at this moment that doubt would begin to pile on my chest like rocks, a good old psychological stoning. Am I a Christian? Clunk. Am I some kind of psychopath? Clunk. Am I a terrible monster-Spock who can’t love anyone? Clunk. Am I human? Crunch.
I’m sure some of you are thinking, ‘Someone call the nice young men in the clean white coats to take her away, that girl’s crazy!’
Maybe a few of you, deep down, understand what I’m talking about, a fellow Familial Dysautonomiac. Or you may be saying to yourself, ‘Sheesh, didn’t anyone ever tell this woman that it’s not a big deal if you don’t cry?’
Well, no actually.
I’ve listened to plenty of sermons and conversations about how it’s acceptable for men to cry, but for the first nineteen years of my life no one even hinted the gender-related opposite: that it is okay to be a female who doesn’t cry.
My mom, the person who ultimately told me this, was amazed at how much this tormented me.
Here’s a newsflash for those of you who may be like me: there is no ratio of tears to love.
Weep with those who weep. Mourn with those who mourn. Open the floodgates of heaven. Reminisce over fond memories. Punch a wall. Cry out. Pray. Sit in empathetic silence with a loved one.
We all mourn in different ways. Just make sure you get it out.
tamara knowles says
I am pleased you were able to learn that crying is not the singular criterion to ‘femaleness’, or even ‘humanness’. Simply put, it’s one of several expressions of being human. It’s great that you understand a non-emotional (or internal)response is acceptable, and human!