On Being a Cry Baby

“Some people say, ‘Never let them see you cry’. I say, if you’re so mad you could just cry, then cry. It terrifies everyone.”

-Tina Fey

I came across this quote the other day and it spoke to me on about a million different levels.

The thing is, I can always cry. Not on command or whatever, I ain’t no actress, but I just happen to cry a lot. About everything. Happy? Sad? Angry? Hungry? I cry about all of them.

Normally, it’s no big deal. I tend to feel everything about a million times more than is really necessary, so I believe it’s just my body’s way of coping with being overwhelmed. It’s actually very helpful. Once I cry for a bit, I end up feeling what I’m supposed to feel – level one instead of level one million.

The problem is when it happens in public.

I can remember several specific times when I have cried in public. I could go into the details, but I don’t want to put you to sleep, so I’ll just summarize.

Movies are always a problem, whether I’m at a friend’s house, on my own, or in a theater. They don’t have to be sad for me to cry about them, but if they are, hoo boy it’s like freakin’ Niagra Falls up in here. I can remember several different movies off the top of my head that I’ve seen in theaters where I cried a lot.

Music often moves me to tears, too. Once again it doesn’t matter where I am or what the song’s about. Sometimes just a pretty melody will set me off. Though, like movies, if the song is sad, I’m far more likely to act like a broken water pipe. So I have cried at a few concerts. Next to complete strangers who were probably close enough to get my tears on them.

Books and plays will cause trouble, too. I listen to audiobooks while I work and I remember crying for an entire chapter. There I was, sitting at my computer, typing away, with tears streaming down my face. Fortunately, nobody walked by and saw me. And plays? Once I went to see Les Miserables at Hale Centre Theatre and I cried through the entire second act. (To be fair, Les Mis has both a sad story and incredible music, which is basically a double whammy.)

I think you get the point.

In nearly every instance, someone had something snarky to say about it. Perhaps this is why I have always been embarrassed about how much I cry in public.

And that’s why this quote is spot on. It does terrify people. I think that’s why they tend to scoff at it. It makes them uncomfortable when a stranger cries over something they view as unimportant, like a movie or a song. It also makes them uncomfortable when a stranger cries because they’re in pain.

People who know the crier are also terrified, but usually because they don’t know how to help.

So listen. It’s okay, you know? If you’re the one who’s shaking in their boots about a public display of emotion, just chillax. Everything is going to be okay.

If a stranger is crying, it isn’t your business. Unless they look like they need help, leave them alone. In my case, I just need to let it out. I’m just overwhelmed. I’ll be fine once I’ve stopped. I don’t need a stranger making snide comments or giving me weird looks. The only thing I want is to cry judgment free so I can feel better.

If it’s someone you care about, just be nearby. You don’t always have to fix it. Sometimes there’s nothing to fix. Once, I started crying for no reason and I just couldn’t stop. I was living with my parents at the time. I went upstairs for dinner, told them I couldn’t stop crying, and attempted to eat my soup without sobbing into my bowl. When the tears finally slowed down enough for me to think, I realized I was just overly stressed because I had been working overtime every day for the past several weeks. It became too much, I was overwhelmed, and my body responded. In a situation like this, the crying person doesn’t need you to fix anything. They just need to get out their stress.

There can be times when something really is wrong, but let the person cry before you try to work it out. When I’m crying, I don’t need someone trying to talk to me logically about an actual problem. I’d be fine with a hug or maybe a rum & coke, but save the problem solving for after I’m done dehydrating myself. I’ll be far more likely to actually hear what you’re saying.

In fact, unless I ask you to stay with me, leaving me alone, letting me cry, and not judging me are the best things you can do for me in that moment.

Most of my family and friends already know this because they’ve experienced these instances over the years. I’m mostly writing this with the hope that some non-criers will read it and perhaps understand us criers a little better, whether it’s someone they’re close to or a complete stranger.

Strangers are the only ones who have made me feel bad about crying, though, so I guess it’s mostly for them.

I normally wouldn’t care except that I’m already a puddle of emotional goo when this happens so when people get judgy it makes me feel like I will never amount to more than a weak puddle of goo.

So listen up you emotionally intolerant mother truckers! Quit doing that. My crying ain’t none of your business. And I’m not sorry for causing you discomfort with my emotions. If feelings make you uncomfortable, you need to re-think who the weak one in this situation is. Just do it somewhere else so I can cry in peace, got it?

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