Tears welled up in my eyes as I watched the recent video of United States veterans kneeling in front of Native Indigenous Tribal Elders and begging forgiveness for the heinous acts perpetuated against them since white men first arrived in this country. I could see in the short video clip that I was not alone, men and women, young and old shared the sentiment that opened the floodgates of moist eyes. In the same week, tears came for other reasons, including mending a fight with my siblings, pain from hitting my head, and tears of pure exhaustion in dealing with my fit-throwing son. No matter how you slice it, or for what, a good cry always bestows a blessing.
Scientists say that crying reduces stress hormones, detoxifies the body and reduces bacteria in the eyes up to 95%. Always great to hear that science is catching up with common sense and the natural order of things, isn't it? The facts remain that a person willing to cry can avoid much of the illness and negative mental chatter that someone unwilling to cry can. This is because someone who does not cry is not admitting that they can be hurt or deeply affected, and therefore denying part of themselves, hiding behind false facades and pretending to be okay or unmoved when it is not the case.
In my work I assist individuals in clearing past unprocessed emotions that have actually become lodged in the body as a sort of energy block. Almost 100% of the time, when working deeply enough with a client, various layers of trapped “cries” are revealed. We've all done it, let's admit it. Those times you felt the tears well up, but you chose to hold them at bay:
- at work when a co-worker asked you how you were, just after the worst day of your life
- at a family reunion when a relative asked you how you were and you felt you had to hide it
- that moment a loved one spoke wounding words but you couldn't bear to show them how deep they cut you
- when the break-up came and you were in public
- the fight that happened over the phone while visiting good friends
- the frustrating moment with children in the store where you almost couldn't take it anymore
The list goes on and on.
We all know there have been times we have wanted to cry and didn't, or times we did cry and wish we hadn't, but everyone can agree that a good cry feels pretty amazing – no matter how embarrassing it might be in the moment of its happening. When the dam's got to break, it just does.
This past summer, I traveled to Ireland to track down an old flame – like 13 years ago old. When I got there, not only did I find the opposite of what I hoped to unveil, I had roommates who emptied my back account to zero while I was traveling in a foreign country and they were care-taking my young child. The overwhelm of panic, sorrow, shame, embarrassment, anger, lostness, regret and fear overtook me. I was without a room and sitting in a coffee shop at a table on the patio – alone, and I lost it. The tears came, the sobbing followed and luckily a good man sat and walked me through one of the most uncomfortable moments of my life, but I will tell you what....that cry was EPIC.
I cried for every relationship I'd ever lost, for every love gone incomplete or failed, for every mistake I'd foolishly made, every choice I wished I had made differently. I cried for my child at home, for my ego on the floor, for my disillusionment and for believing in something that simply did not exist. And then I cried some more. And do you know what? I felt lighter with every layer. Gradually, and with every progressive sob, the story became more and more humorous and my center, easier and easier to find.
Crying not only helps us move through life blocks and emotional issues, but physical issues as well. Several years ago I was bitten by a spider. I am pretty sure it was a hobo spider, but never did confirm it. All I know is that the bite started eating away my flesh and my legs broke out in a terrible rash that would not stop itching. I was miserable! I tried everything to remedy the situation and NOTHING was working. It went on for nearly 6 weeks and the wound had grown enormous. I was losing my mind, I could not imagine what else I could possibly do – and then it happened.
I had a complete and total cry fit. A tantrum actually.
I sobbed and weeped and howled and moaned and let it all out, all of it. It became strangely reminiscent of tantrums a child would have – completely unreserved and unashamed. I let loose, I let it all go, I wailed and cried and then sobbed some more. Luckily I had one most amazing sister there at my side who supported me 100% in fully letting it out. She cheered me on “yes, good! Let it out. Wonderful.”
Cries turned into whimpers, turned into laughter and then uncontrollable laughter and then itching that wouldn't stop. And I didn't care – I scratched until I didn't want to itch anymore. And do you know what?
The next day, everything cleared up. Permanently.
I've always known that physical ailments weren't just physical, that they always root from something emotional, unexpressed or denied. That day this theory proved itself to me with great amaze. For even though a spider did bite me, the reason why I could not heal was not because of the spider or the severity of the bite, but because what I had held back and did not express. The spider bite was simply a catalyst to get me to go deep, to surrender big and to cry HUGE.
It seems the tears we don't cry actually keep us from seeing the truths we are longing for and waiting to discover. We lie to ourselves telling our heart or mind that we are okay, and we don't need to emote, but the truth is – without the cry – we miss the treasure.
Like a tidal wave that washes away all debris and garbage and unstable structures, a good cry is a leveler – it levels everything and reveals what still stands. What is strong enough to weather the storm of the great purifier.
Sometimes people say “he cried like a baby” - which I believe is a healthy thing. Have you ever seen a baby with emotional problems? Most infants are free and clear of any baggage. They let it go – daily, hourly sometimes. They have no shame to let their tears out.
Often boys are discouraged from crying, while for girls – well, it's just part of our nature. The result of this flaw in the perspective of our society is that we have hundreds of thousands of emotionally repressed males and an equal amount of women who have no trouble at all detoxing emotionally and mentally. This has created a great schism in this culture where women have become hundreds of times more emotionally mature than their counterparts. This is a problem. A problem that can be remedied by more people crying. More men crying, specifically.
Now, by advocating that everyone start crying I am in no way suggesting that the world hold a pity party for themselves, no. But it certainly is time that humanity at large both look at and embrace their unresolved issues, and yes – this often means a good cry is in order.
Beyond this, our leaders need recognize that it is not a weak soul who lets out a cry, but an authentic one, one who is in touch with their heart. These are qualities this world desperately needs, and in droves if we are to pull ourselves into the future and progress beyond the travesties and incomprehensible actions that permeate this globe with ill effect.
Individually, the cry liberates you from toxins, stress and baggage that weighs you down. Globally, the big cry could free countries and end wars. Imagine if soldiers, instead of blankly staring at one another as less than human, put down their weapons and cried together – cried for lives lost and communities destroyed? Imagine if leaders of nations could come together – as did the U.S. Veterans to the Indigenous Tribal Elders in Standing Rock this weekend – and apologize, hold themselves accountable for dishonesties and wrong actions and simply allow the tears to roll. Imagine.
To fear revealing one's vulnerability by resisting the tears that must fall one only perpetuates a false reality of lies and made up security. We must let down our guards as humans and reveal the heart, for this is the only place from which true healing, individually and globally, can occur. A good, honest cry is always a blessing.