My tears can begin almost anywhere...in the car when I am driving alone, or when I try to sing at mass, or even when I am in the middle of my workout on the elliptical machine.
I think I was born overly sensitive because there are moments in my life when I literally cannot stop myself from bursting into tears. At times it comes from a deep sense of gratitude, other times I conjure up all of these awful things that could happen to one of my family members and then I think about how I would handle such a situation...and sometimes I have no idea why I cry.
I feel embarrassed. Then I think to myself, why am I so embarrassed by my tears?!
Why am I so afraid of honestly showing emotion?
Who or what conditioned me to believe that when I cry I am weak, or that it is something to hide, or something to be embarrassed about?
I have to say, the worst is when my eyes well up at church. Once and a while I can catch myself early enough to bite the inside of my cheeks until the feeling passes. Often I am not that lucky and I have to play the blinking game until I can get myself under control.
I believe this happens when we are at mass because we go as a family and I know we are participating in something positive together. In addition, I see our family as being a small part of a larger community of people who have come together to sing and pray and to worship God.
The feeling can be overwhelming.
In a few short weeks, my two oldest sons will be home for the holidays and we will attend mass together...simply writing about it now brings tears to my eyes.
Because I know I am SO lucky to have my kids, my husband, my health...
When the tears come as I drive along in the car, it is no big deal. Usually a song on the radio gets me thinking and the waterworks start. Especially this time of year, when the local stations are playing Christmas songs like the one about the boy needing to get shoes for his mom before she meets Jesus...might as well pass me a box of Kleenex when that one is playing. And yet I always listen until the end of the song.
On a number of occasions I have become emotionally overwhelmed while doing my thirty minutes on the elliptical machine at our neighborhood fitness center. I know it is a combination of the music I am listening to and my gratitude for being physically and mentally healthy enough to actually BE working out.
One morning last week I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a woman I know who began to cry on the elliptical machine next to me. My first thought was to ask her if she was okay, then remembering my own habits I decided to let her be as maybe everything IS okay, and that was why she was crying.
Sometimes everything can be RIGHT in the world and the tears flow.
My husband was cleaning out the garage today and found this old email I received from my long time friend Gail. I thought I would share it here because this so eloquently puts woman and their tears completely into perspective.
WHY WOMEN CRY...author unknown
A little boy asked his mother, "Why are you crying?"
"Because I am a woman," she told him.
"I don't understand, " he said. His mom hugged him and said, "And you never will."
Later the little boy asked his father, "Why does mom seem to cry for no reason?"
"All women cry for no reason, " was all his dad could say.
The little boy grew up and became a man, still wondering why women cry. Finally he put a call into God. When God got on the phone, he asked, "God, why do women cry so easily?"
God said, "When I made the woman she had to be special. I made her shoulders strong enough to carry the weight of the world, yet gentle enough to give comfort.
I gave her an inner strength to endure childbirth and the rejection that many times comes from her children.
I gave her a hardness that allows her to keep going when everyone else gives up, and take care of her family through sickness and fatigue without complaining.
I gave her the sensitivity to love her children under any and all circumstances, even when her child has hurt her very badly.
I gave her strength to carry her husband through his faults and fashioned her from his rib to protect his heart.
I gave her wisdom to know that a good husband never hurts his wife, but sometimes tests her strengths and her resolve to stand beside him unfalteringly.
And finally, I gave her a tear to shed. This is hers exclusively to use whenever it is needed."
"You see my son, " said God, "the beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart...the place where love resides."
Tears are beautiful and healthy and cathartic. If you run into me at the gym, at church, or even at a stoplight and my eyes are leaking, don't worry, there is nothing wrong. I am merely allowing myself to show honest emotion.
For, there is no shame in tears.