Today, at school, I cried in the bathroom. I walked out of class because I was embarrassed over the most ridiculous thing. I cried because “no one understands me” and “today was a shit day”. I also cried because I was angry. Angry at people, angry at myself for taking things personally, and furious because I was sitting on the bathroom floor sobbing. As I sat on the floor between a locked stall door and toilet, I kept asking myself, “Is it okay to cry? I’m a spoiled, privileged, young person. I have a great life! Why am I crying? Why? Am I overreacting? Why can’t I stop? Why should I not be able to cry when I want to? Why do I keep crying? I need to toughen up!” This continued for an hour and thirty minutes. Time I will never get back.
I was in a public bathroom, so I tried my best to contain the sobs, hyperventilating, and snot as ladies peed, washed their hands, and checked their faces. Out of the dozens of people who entered and exited the bathroom, three acknowledged my pity party. The first lady asked, “Hey love, are you alright?” She showed her concern to the best of her ability. I could hear the nervousness in her voice and felt the mutual awkwardness. The next lady asked, “Are you alright?!” She was making sure nothing “extreme” happened to me. When I reassured her I was “fine” she told me, “It’s okay. Sometimes you just gotta let it out.” The first lady came back after awhile and was surprised I was still there. She offered me a hug, but I declined. Sitting on the floor behind the locked, gray door seemed more comforting to me than a hug. Finally, the nice custodian lady came in with the rolling trashcan and began to sweep the floors. That was my cue to dry my face and get up and leave. I exited the stall, we made eye contact, and immediately she was concerned and offered a hug. I took the offer and sobbed in her ponytail.
It was a pity party for sure. I know. It was frustration, shame, and sadness as well…I wanted someone to care, but then again I just wanted to cry. I thought this blog entry would tie solely with gender norms and crying (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/media-spotlight/201311/crying-shame), but I want to understand, when is it okay to cry?
Based on the information collected in the article, boys and men can “get away with” crying when something evokes sadness. If they do want to cry over, let’s say, someone pushing their buttons, they cry privately, or maybe not cry at all and just get physical….not the good kind. As for girls and women, we are more “free” to cry openly because it is viewed as a feminine attribute. People cry over the silly things, the big things, the small things, the things that don’t matter, the things that only matter to us…..we cry!
If I cry over pretty much anything, am I weak? Why do I feel embarrassed or guilty because of the way I happen to express myself? Because it IS a form of emotional expression! Even when I try to use my words during various situations, good or bad, I feel my throat closing up and my eyes drowning. It has always been this way for me.
In the car going home my mom told me the world is a tough place and if I am crying now, how could I possibly handle the real world? I am living in the real world, Mom! BUT, I know what she means. I’m in the comfy zone. I have the loving parents, the opportunities people would die for, food, clothes, and freedoms blah blah blah. Is it time to try to change the way I react in stressful situations? Yeah it could help. I know for sure I need to stop taking things so personally. That would be helpful too. It would. Instead of asking when is it okay to cry, I should ask myself, “Is this *insert event* something to cry about?” But then this question varies because everyone is different. Situations and cultures vary. Maybe there is no right or wrong answer. Maybe it is what it is……just crying simply because that’s what one wants to do at the moment.
It takes energy to cry, and I want to spend my energy crying over people hearing for the first time, sharing the pain of loved ones who are burdened, dogs who survive abuse, or being so happy I could pee on myself….because in the great scheme of things I am a crybaby. Will I cry over nothing and have pity parties?…Yeeesssss….because sometimes I gotta just let it all out. It is what it is for me. Will I have pity parties for an hour and thirty minutes anymore? No. What a waste of my time. Ten minutes tops!