When I was growing up, one of the first lessons learned from my parents and sisters was not to cry at school. I believe it had something to do with survival amongst my milk-fed classmates and never letting them see me vulnerable. If you fell and skinned your knee, you sure as hell didn’t let your eyes well up. Were somebody to call you an awful name, you’d be sure to let not a tear touch your cheek.
The real bummer when it came to the “no crying” thing was that even in dire straits, you also didn’t have the option of excusing yourself. If you got in an emotional fight and then ran away from the playground, you would be giving up your territory. If you left school to go home simply because you got twelve stitches in your hand, you might appear weak. So, what to do? Don’t cry, don’t be sad.
This mentality worked rather well for most of my life. But there have been cracks in the system–I busted myself all sniffly and drippy during an emotional reality show moment three months ago and demanded an answer from my boyfriend: “WHAT ARE THESE WET THINGS ON MY FACE?” Wisely, he shrugged his shoulders, unwilling to take the blame for “spreading the disease” of tears. But, I insisted, I would never do this kind of blubbering out in public or Jesus, in front of my family, never.
But a month ago, as I sat rolling along in my mom’s black luxury sedan with my dad riding shotgun and one sister in my side, I found myself sobbing, trying to explain to them how the recent, tragic and sudden death of my other sister’s baby dog occurred. Instinctively, I found myself trying to hold in the heaves until I realized that everyone else in the car was crying, too. And both of my parents leaned over to me and said quietly, “It’s so sad. It’ll be okay.”
They’ve come around. It’s possible.
Which is why I was so delighted to see reports that an actual company in Japan has offered to their employees days off for personal relationship-grieving. That is, a person can take a day off to nurse the wounds of a bad breakup–which seems about right, especially because people tend to look like shit after throwing wine glasses at their boyfriend until 3am.
But what really surprises and gives me hope is the idea that maybe all of us come around eventually. Maybe we all just need to be reminded that sometimes, when your heart hurts, it’s okay to cry.
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