In all these years, being a woman, and being the one who does cry, I have been at the receiving end of many taunts, irritability, judgments, complaints and even violence, at the end of my tears. So, I came to believe that we must cry privately. My tears were only for me.
Most of the people equate crying to weakness, lack of spine, and helplessness.
I think the most common perception around crying has a lot to do with weakness, lack of spine, and helplessness. When I was growing up, crying was not allowed. And I took to crying silently, looking at my reflection in closed spaces. At 12, the bathroom mirror was my preferred crying spot. I would stand there for as long as no one knocked and watched my face contort as I cried. I cried when I was sad. And as a child, I was very sad.
I began to relish that feeling. It became a release for so much that words couldn’t say, but more importantly, it felt like crying wouldn’t need an audience. It felt okay to cry alone. At 15, crying began to represent other things. Now, I cried because I was angry. I was angry at my mother for not saying enough. I was angry at my father for not caring enough. I was alone, and I was angry at myself for not being enough.
At 21, crying became sad again, as I felt lost and failing. I believed that given the life choices I was making, I would not find love that lasts or people who last, as I was not worthy of it. I cried over heartbreaks, lost children, abandoned relationships, cancers, bruised souls, loneliness, among many other things.
In the years that followed, I mustered the courage and allowed the tears to flow in front of a few people whom I had grown to befriend and love. As it turned out, not everyone was intolerant towards my tears. Tears were now comforted with hugs, holding of hands, and words of respite. Slowly, I gathered the strength to tell my stories in rooms full of people who I didn’t know, knowing that this vulnerability would free me.
At 27, crying is now only a momentary release. It doesn’t represent any prolonging feeling because there are none. Whenever I cry about anything or burst into tears, the only thing it represents is that I care. I care about sexual assaults, lonely kittens, broken children, wounded women, injustice, and inequity. The only thing my tears tell me is that I care and that I have compassion. And that it is a good, good thing.
I hope to be kinder to people who cry. They are the ones who would make our world a place filled with more love and compassion. So the next time you see someone cry, hold them close, offer them water, sit by their side, let them cry it out and most importantly, understand that they care, so should you.