“Don’t cry over spilled milk” is a saying less commonly used today, but something I heard from time to time when I was a bit younger. Sometimes you might spill some milk and cry, but it doesn’t even have anything to do with the spilled milk itself. It might just be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Crying is an interesting thing to think about. I suppose what intrigues me most are the many different reasons for crying, the many purposes and the beauty of it in general.
Babies cry…and cry and cry and cry. They cry for attention, or for pretty much anything. I’m sure most parents are pretty convinced babies just cry for no other reason than to drive them crazy. Children cry when they are scared, when they “think” they are hurt or “should” cry. People of any age cry, and for so many different reasons. There are tears of joy, tears of sadness, and tears that we can not always explain. Some people cry at the drop of a hat – weddings, birthday parties, your kids’ school plays, and even the humane society’s public announcements showing those adorable dogs in need of new homes. Some people may be the type who can’t even remember they last time they cried. Either way, crying often catches both the often teary eyed, or the usually stoic off guard — striking at a time or place where you don’t want to weep. It may start with a quivering lip, or maybe blinking faster and faster to keep the wetness from escaping. Before you know it, you’re getting teary and then they begin to flow.
I can say, for the first time in quite a while, that I have been feeling great for quite some time now. Going from crying every day to handling stressful situations without a flinch, is a pretty big deal. Aside from recent tragedies around the world that have caused me to tear up from time to time, I don’t actually remember the last time I cried. Unless I am experiencing some sort of depression, it isn’t very normal for me to cry, that’s just me. But today I cried…nothing terrible happened, I wasn’t physically hurt and I could have stopped myself, but I didn’t.
Yes, I excused myself, and went to a place to be alone for a second before I did it. But when I stepped out of the room I just let the tears flow, and after a few seconds I felt some relief. The reason I am writing about this today is because there are so many people who purposely avoid crying, and for a variety of reasons. I do it also. But today for my own sake, I chose to cry and then reflect on it. I don’t feel weak, I know I am not weak, I just had a moment – I am human. I went to bed late, my son was awake before I wanted to wake up, breakfast needed to be made, the dog needed a walk, I burned a couple pancakes, my son cried over something, etc. etc. and before I knew it I just felt like I was going to cry. The point is, I did it, I’m not embarrassed about it, my reasons for it may not be significant enough to warrant crying in others’ opinions, but it was something I needed to do. I feel like there are just so many things that are not accepted and sharing stories about things helps other people feel like they are not alone, that you’re human and they’re human.
The “why” of crying may seem obvious and straightforward: You’re either happy or sad. But that is too simplistic. Crying is an emotional response to certain feelings. It serves an emotional purpose: it’s a release when there is a buildup of energy with feelings. It can also be a survival mechanism, signaling a need to address something. On top of that, crying has a biochemical purpose. It is believed to release stress hormones or toxins from the body. Also, let’s not forget its social function: winning support or sympathy from others, children using it to get their way or its general use as a tool for manipulation.
Over the years, crying has been generally recognized as a sign of weakness. Since we all know we’ve done it, why do we think that way? It’s kind of like farting…it smells gross, it’s embarrassing, we have the urge to poke fun at others for it – but who has never farted? Most people, when asked, will tell you that they felt better after a cry than they did beforehand. I bet most people would agree their stomach felt a lot better after letting a good ole fart rip once they got into a private space to do it. People often have a similar behavior when it comes to crying.
Crying is an uncomfortable thing when you know other people are watching you, and yes other people can get uncomfortable too, but is any of that worth the misery of trying to bottle it up? In my opinion, crying is a lot less embarrassing than a fart, but hey, maybe that’s because I’m a girl. I don’t always want others to see me cry, but the more often people do something openly, the more accepted that thing can become. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable can help others to see that things like crying are normal and ok. You don’t need a socially acceptable excuse for it!
So when you spill some milk and you find yourself crying, it may not even be the spilled milk, it can be anything and everything. Cry it out, everyone does it and there is nothing wrong with it. You don’t need a reason to cry, it’s no one else’s business why and once you do you will feel better. Some may ask “why cry about it?” what I am asking is “why the hell not?”