Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Why do We Feel the Need to Apologize When We Cry?

Today's Slice of Life was inspired by IMANLILYSAAD's "Crying in a Green BMW" post. In my response to her post, I shared that I have been that woman crying in her green BMW. Why? Because crying in my car is safer than crying in front of people.

And this thought took me back to a conversation I had with one of my sisters, in which I questioned society's stigma over crying. Have you every wondered why we feel the need to apologize to someone when we start crying? We see it on TV when people are interviewed. We experience it firsthand when we talk to friends during an emotional time.

People try to hide their tears by wiping them, dabbing a tissue at the corners of their eyes, or shielding their faces from view, as if releasing our tears in public is a shameful act - an act of betrayal. IMANLILYSAAD touches on this in her post when she notices the woman in the green BMW was "crying without the need to wipe off her tears".

I, too, have experienced this sense of uninhibited freedom while crying in my car, not thinking anyone will notice. It feels really good to cry and not feel ashamed, to not feel the need to try to stifle it or apologize for it!

We also pass this stigma down to our children by apologizing to them when we cry. I was guilty of doing this just yesterday! I thought I had overcome this stigma when I went through my divorce. During those painful months, I used to walk my dogs around the marina, sobbing out loud, without a thought or care as to who might hear me. I didn't care if I showed my "ugly cry" in public on those walks; I was healing my insides, the tears washing away the toxicity of betrayal, failure, and guilt.

So, maybe it isn't that our tears betray us, but that they represent what, or who, has betrayed us. And, maybe that's why we try to hide them.

Pondering this stigma, I realize that I want my son to grow up being comfortable in the presence of his tears. I want him to know it's perfectly fine to cry, and that there is no shame in shedding tears. I am going to work on not apologizing for crying, whether I'm in the safety of my own home, driving in my car, or in public. I'm going to embrace my tears, just as I do my laughter, because both are healing!

6 comments:

  1. I just loved these wise, wise words: "So, maybe it isn't that our tears betray us, but that they represent what, or who, has betrayed us. And, maybe that's why we try to hide them."
    I had never thought of it this way...but now I see that you are so right. You are raising a wise, wise, son, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Tara! As a first-time mom, I am learning as I go :-)

      Delete
  2. I'm going to second Tara's words - the same line jumped out at me, with much poignant wisdom in it. We want to hide the betrayal, the hurt. Very interesting! Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome, Maureen! And, thank you for stopping by :-)

      Delete
  3. I hate crying in front of people. Really. It is so embarrassing to me. Even good friends. Next time I cry (which is likely to be soon - I'm very emotional), I will think of your post and I will not apologize.

    I hope you do raise your son to be a man who is not afraid to cry. Vulnerability is very becoming. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, Dana, there is strength in vulnerability! By the way, I am very emotional, too, which is why the green BMW post caught my eye :-)

      Delete