Welcome to Thrive! A weekly advice column for creatives and the generally confused.
Every two weeks I jump up here and I ask you to be vulnerable and brave and to explore deep regions of yourselves and your art. It’s not really fair if I don’t do the same, so this week I want to talk about the power of a good cry and the joy that comes from it.
I didn’t know it, because I don’t tally these things out in my planner, but I hadn’t cried in about two years. When I say cry I mean the deep sobbing that I just got involved in last week. Sure I teared up over some ridiculous Super Bowl ads and I wept a little when I left for Japan in October, but I hadn’t let myself really just lose it in a good cry. The kind of crying you can’t stop, even when you try. The one that leaves snot running down your face and your eyes puffy like you’ve just had an allergic reaction to feelings. One that makes your entire body move with it, like your only purpose on this earth is to be crying. Last week I had this cry and wow, did I forget how good it feels.
I was a super sensitive child, I cried a lot when I was little and I mostly got teased for it. BY EVERYONE. I mean family, friends, teachers… It was a never ending parade of people telling me to “suck it up” and to “get over it”. I admit, this general attitude helped me a lot. Crying over an ice cream on the floor isn’t really worth it. But what happened is that I started turning off my sensitivity altogether. If a friend was cruel to me, I accepted it and cut a joke if I could. Humor became a great way to prevent the tears from welling up. After break-ups I’d go out dancing and laughing like nothing had happened. I faced bad grades with an eye roll and a joke at my own expense. I figured if I could take things lightly, then I’d never have to feel anything.
After years of doing this, it caught up to me, and over the past couple of them I’ve been able to regain some of that sweet sensitivity I was born with. I didn’t wait to hear “I love you” from my boyfriend, I told him first. I use feeling statements, for example “I felt like you were being too critical” when someone’s being a bit mean for no reason. More importantly, I recognized and deciphered feelings within myself. A shift that was probably imperceptible to most, but one I felt every day.
The missing piece of this work was the crying. It wasn’t intentional, it just never came. I was healing but trapped behind this wall of goodness was a leaky pipe. Exhaustion led me to finally lose it (I’ve been absolutely torn apart at my day job lately) but what I cried about were my fears of never really “making it” as an artist. “Where did that come from?” I thought to myself. It’s only been a couple of days but I already feel more level-headed, refreshed and joyous. Sometimes letting it out is the best way to move on.
I recommend it to all of you. Don’t force it! Just don’t hold back when you feel the waves coming…