Men often discuss how they’ve been conditioned not to cry from the time they were young boys, but what’s often not talked about is the fact that some women don’t allow themselves to cry either. I know because, at times, I can be one of them. While I will allow the customary tear to fall during a funeral (all while scrambling to wipe it away before a church usher draws attention to me by rushing over with a box of Kleenex), when it comes to crying as an expression of anger or even joy, I’m prone to keep tears at bay at all costs.
I haven’t always been successful in this endeavor. There have been times I’ve had a full breakdown in a bathroom stall at the office or had to completely remove myself from a situation to let go. But I knew for sure I had a problem when I was watching a reality show On Demand a couple of weeks ago and as the man on screen shed tears over his deceased mother I felt myself getting emotional. Instead of going with that feeling, I legit paused the episode, turned on some trap music, rapped a verse or two, and then went back to the regularly scheduled program. Afterward, I laughed at myself, thinking, “why did I just do that?” and then I realized that’s usually what I do when I’m thinking about something at home and I begin to feel overwhelmed. I don’t cry it out and release the frustration; I hold it in and engage in mindless behavior to distract me from the emotion I’m feeling.
I thought about that behavior pattern today while listening to Tamera discuss allowing herself to cry on “The Real.” The wife and mother of two shared, “Sometimes I just let it all out ‘cuz, ya know, I have two kids, under 5 — y’all know that — and I’m a working mom and sometimes it can just be a little overwhelming.”
Recounting the last time she had a good tear session, Tamera talked about being in her daughter Ariah’s playroom, saying, “At one point my son was crying, and then my daughter was crying, I was like, ‘oh well we should just all start crying.’ And we all, all three of us had a really good cry.”
In the presence of her babies, I’m sure Tamera, who’s regularly on the verge of tears on the talk show, had no shame. But, as demonstrated by the story above, even in my own home by myself I don’t always allow myself to cry. There’s still something about the act that makes we feel weak and not in control of my emotions. Something that makes me feel like tears aren’t going to fix the problem so why indulge them? Something that makes me and my propensity to hold things in a health issue waiting to happen.
Crying, on the other hand, has a number of health benefits, with helping to relieve stress and improve mood being the most relevant to this conversation. So, no matter where you stand on the crying acceptability spectrum, just know every once and a while we should all take a page out of Tamera’s book and just have a really good cry.