Do Big Girls Cry?

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As a little girl, I remember sitting on our back steps, sobbing about something.

“Dad,” my brother said, “can you die from crying?”

My father, perhaps fed up with my waterworks, answered,”I suppose you could.”

Instantly, I stopped crying.

But I can promise you a day or two later, I cried about something else.

Can you remember your cries? I can, lots of them.

A brother’s teasing. Anger at a parent’s restrictions. The friend fights. The cruel boss. The marriage conflicts. The loss of a pregnancy. The illness of a parent. The death of pet.

Sometimes we cry  for no precise reason, just because life piles up and topples over. Those cries often feel the best.

Can you remember the places you’ve cried?  I can.

On the floor by my bed at age ten. In the hall at high school, hoping no on noticed. In the shower in the dorm, where no one could notice. On a walk. In the car. The middle of the night on the couch, when the rest of the household is asleep.

When menopause set in, my crying stopped. Life was calm then, so perhaps that’s why, but for a while I thought it was the change in hormones.

And you know what? That lack of crying felt odd to me–almost like I’d lost a part of myself.

I shouldn’t have worried. Two years later, the tears came back. I don’t cry like a preschooler or a high schooler or a thirty-year old, but I’m back to crying if it fits the bill.

So I guess the answer is, big girls really do cry. And we’re glad of it! Crying has both psychological and physical benefits. Scientists promise us that tears have a happy purpose.

What about you? Do you cry more or less now that you’re older?

Here’s an interesting article about crying on the website How Stuff Works. The writer points out that many men find themselves starting to cry at midlife. Scientists suspect this is a lowering of testosterone combined with the lack of inhibition that can strike when men are in their fifties and sixties.

Photo: I snapped this photo when I toured the Durham Performing Arts Center a few years ago. I wrote about the tour on this Friend for the Ride post.  I suspect the signatures are members of the Four Seasons. Love this song!

8 responses »

  1. I find myself crying more as I get older. I especially cry out of frustration or when others are upset. Movies!! I cry way more at movies now. I have been one of those people that never liked to cry in front of others–except at funerals. But I have decided now to just let my tears flow whenever and wherever. It’s ok. And like you said, it may have many benefits for us.

  2. Fascinating post Barbara. I remember my first cry. I was standing on my porch and my mother burst out crying when our dog was hit by a car. I couldn’t even process the feeling, I was too young, but I modeled the crying. That said I was taught never to cry in public. I remember MTM going into the bathroom and turning on the water to mask her crying. It’s a fairly cultural thing don’t you think?

  3. Great post Barb! I do cry but far less than I did when I was younger. I’ve never cried as much since my divorce. I knew I had to row my own boat alone and I was afraid if I fell apart, I would never get myself put back together! So, yes, I cry but it is infrequent. There are times when I wish I could cry and can’t! It is a release when I do however. A cathartic release which usually feels good! Never in public though! 🙂

  4. Hi there! Well I cry a lot less these days, and I’m fine with that as I did my fair share in my twenties and thirties – talk about angst, and my hubbie hated it which of course made it worse. Since I got rid of quite a lot of my inner conflict and processed some unexpressed painful feelings from childhood, I find tears don’t come these days when they might have in the past. Very interesting post, Barbara, and I do believe in the cathartic nature of crying.

  5. Do ‘big girls cry”? Yes!!!

    I also love that song by the Four Seasons!

    But, I find that my crying now when it happens is different than my crying in earlier days. Peri-menopause brought many kind of emotions for me, more the “crying” and feeling sadder, more depressed, and more “out of control.” But, also, the more angry emotions, too.

    Now, as a very post-menopause woman, any crying on my part, feels hormone-unrelated, and genuinely brought forth by emotions of overwhelming dimensions – whether they be appreciation for others’ strengths, or fear and sadness over whether my time with loved one will continue.

    Looking back to earlier times, a lawyer once told me that I should show my doctoral program chair (etc.) that I did have emotions. Don’t be afraid to show these emotions, even if you cry!

    Fat chance!! I don’t think the women in my doctoral graduate program thought that women crying (in any way) was a “gold star” on your Curriculum Vitae (ok, vitae not written yet, and in my case never would be!)

    Now lets go back to high school and earlier. I didn’t cry. I couldn’t. Because, if I did I wouldn’t have survived.

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