I’m A Cry Baby (And Proud Of It)

You know what else is true about criers? We laugh harder than most. We experience everything actively—with our whole hearts. The good and the bad, the fun and the sad.

Most people understand the logic behind a good cry when things go badly, or when we’re mourning the loss of a job or loved one.

What happens when we cry over a newspaper article about the political climate in sub-Saharan Africa?

Or an old episode of Love Boat?

What then?

What happens when we find ourselves happy, fulfilled, and yet we cry…a lot?

As men and women get older, we all tend to cry more. Men typically cry over major losses, responding with anger to other disappointments and frustrations. Females cry more when all of these emotions erupt.

Many scientists believe that men cry less because they sweat more, since sweat allows them to remove toxins from the body. According to The Daily Journal, emotional tears consist of prolactin, which controls breast milk production, adrenocorticotropic hormones which indicate high stress levels, and leucine-enkephalin, which works as a pain-reducer and improves our mood.

I’ve been running and sweating my ass off for years now, and I still cry several times a week. I once thought holding it in, that old cycle of avoiding and denying, would make the tears go away.

Right now, Dr. Oz fans are shaking their heads.

Most doctors, scientists, and daytime talk show audiences will tell you that holding it in is dangerous. Letting go and crying it out can actually lower our risk for heart disease, hypertension, colitis, and ulcers.

Therefore, maybe the answer is acceptance.

And it couldn’t hurt to invest in a tissue company.

I’ve always been the type to get teary-eyed from time to time. Tears are a reasonable response to pain, a sad movie, or poignant Taster’s Choice commercial.

That’s what I’ve always told myself.

When my kids were born, tears flowed more frequently. If I saw or read something touching about children, heard a sad song on the radio, or couldn’t get a stain out of a favorite blouse, it was Niagara Falls down my face.

I chalked it up to hormones and sleep deprivation.

Those crygasms are getting progressively more intense, and sometimes I barely recognize myself.

On some level, genetics are to blame. My Nana and mother were both criers, and my cousin Tommy once said, in our family, bladders are near our eyes. I come by it honestly.

But now tears are triggered by anything I feel deeply about. Which is a ton of stuff. Worldwide suffering, lost friendships, how 50 Shades of Grey besmirched the entire BDSM community…all of a sudden there’s a lump in my throat and wobbly vocal inflections. It’s not a full-on sob fest, but close enough and a bit embarrassing.

When I was young and felt a crying jag approach, I could leave the room. Blame allergies. Repeat my social security number silently over and again in my head until the feeling subsided. That doesn’t work anymore. I try pinching my finger, to distract myself, and that doesn’t work either.

My face gets blotchy, my blue eyes are suddenly red, and I need a hug.

Remember Holly Hunter from Broadcast News? Her tough-as-nails character unplugged her phone and sobbed for about five minutes each day. I tried that, hoping morning sessions would free me up for a tears-free workday.


Buddhist friends believe tears evolved as social signaling—indicating someone is in pain and needs help. They agree with scientists and counsel against judging ourselves and denying emotional release. It doesn’t help our health, or our journey toward enlightenment. We must simply recognize and observe the breakdown as it happens.

Not only does this kind of mindfulness make us healthier, it allows us to look upon the world with more compassion, and help others on their journey as well.

No longer interested in hiding it, I told close friends and family members the truth about my frequently teary eyes. My son Jacob wanted to know why I was turning into my mother. My dear friend Michael pointed out that tears indicate creativity, artistry, empathy…allowing me to organize, write, parent, and love the way that I do. My husband Marc said that anything increasing our capacity to care makes us better parents and better people.

You know what else is true about criers? We laugh harder than most. We experience everything actively—with our whole hearts. The good and the bad, the fun and the sad.

It’s exhausting and awkward, but healthy and cleansing. Like life. Yes, acceptance is definitely the way to go.

Please pass the tissues.

Catherine Durkin Robinson co-parents twin sons, organizes families for advocacy purposes, writes syndicated columns, mentors kids, runs a few races, and is now known as the town crier. Follow her on Twitter: @cdurkinrobinson.

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