Sunday, May 31, 2009

What Kind of Tears do you Cry?

My friend Beth crying Daily Bullshit Tears combined with Tears of Elation after discover  she wouldn't be held entirely responsible for her recently deceased husband's thousands of dollars worth of hospital bills.

Have you cried today? This week? This lifetime? Crying is the most amazing internal pressure valve. An emotional baptism, a mental waterfall. No prescription required.

Here are your options:

Daily Bullshit Tears are pretty self-explanatory. These commonplace tears drop when your health insurance won’t cover an expensive procedure or when an old woman slams on her breaks in the middle of Route 72 and you know you’ll be held responsible (though it was clearly her fault). DBT's roll down your face silently with little fanfare while the officer hands you a ticket and swaggers away.

Bitter Tears sting and burn. They’re often birthed from scorned love and dashed hopes. The refrain “Why me?” pairs nicely with them. These tears are cathartic but can also contort a situation so you feel the maximum amount of victimhood. They’re most commonly released after a nasty break-up or upon receiving a careless zinger from a friend. Beware! These tears are increasingly caustic and can turn into Endless Tears. [See below.]

Endless Tears are the inspiration for tunes like “Stop your Sobbing.” These gushers seem to replenish themselves from a never-ending source. And while crying is a an amazing self-cleansing act, excessive crying can drown you. Dry those eyes and drag yourself outside if you find yourself overcrying. (The light of day hurts a little at first, so be prepared.)

Nostalgic Tears fall when a memory from the past floods you, making it feel like it just happened. These waterworks remind you of the breakneck passage of time. They can be caused by regret and remorse, for words never spoken, even for pleasant times that simply don’t exist anymore. Perfect to shed when revisiting a painful family memory or missing a dead pet.

Soul Wrenching Tears are released when dealt with a devastating blow, like a death. They often come with an animalistic cry meant to reach God’s ears. My mother cried Soul Wrenching Tears when she found out my father died. The sound of her cry is what I remember the most.

Hysterical Tears are rare and special. They manifest when laughter meets sheer terror. I experienced Hysterical Tears during a difficult rock-climbing adventure. Midway up a very steep climb, I looked down and became seized with fear. I couldn’t climb any higher. Above me, my friend urged me upward. I started laughing and crying at the same moment. Two crazy emotions clashing wildly together.

Empathy Tears fall when you feel the pain of others acutely. These tears are ideal while watching the news or seeing an animal in distress. They remind us that we all share similar pain and grief. By shedding Empathy Tears, we are for at one for a moment or two.

Misplaced Tears occur when you’re going about your business and something as stupid as banging your head causes an overflow of childlike emotion to gush forth. Misplaced tears are often provoked by something trivial but represent deeper internal shit that needs released.

Frozen Tears are often locked inside many men. We live in a landscape where they aren’t supposed to cry but are still expected to be emotionally available. Frozen Tears can lead to a wealth of health issues or a state of emotional deadness. Frozen Tears are often surprisingly easily dislodged by a touching movie or sad song, so there’s hope.

Tears of Elation are happy tears that explode right out of you. These sweet and salty drops wake up the little child inside all of us. They’re perfect when we’ve given up all hope and something magical suddenly happens. Or when romantic love prevails in the end. Or when a child is born. Tears of Elation heal the depths of our souls and give us reason to live.

Tears of Laughter. Saving the best for last. It’s amazing how a good cry feels like the emotional equivalent of a gut-wrenching laugh. But these laughs are often hard to come by these days. People just aren’t as funny as they used to be. Sometimes you have to rely on a funny TV show or movie.

How do you know if your tears are good for you? You should feel better afterward, not worse.

And remember, if someone cries in front of you, don't freeze up. Shouldering another person’s pain is a privilege. Hug them. Let them pull away first. Heal yourself by healing others.

Quotes on Tears

I cry a lot. My emotions are very close to my surface. I don't want to hold anything in so it festers and turns into pus - a pustule of emotion that explodes into a festering cesspool of depression.
~ Nicolas Cage (Bitter Tears)

Oh, I am very weary, Though tears no longer flow; My eyes are tired of weeping, My heart is sick of woe.
~ Anne Bronte (Endless Tears)

"Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.
" ~ Dr. Seuss (Nostalgic Tears)

Where grief is fresh, any attempt to divert it only irritates.”
~ Samuel Johnson (Soul-wrenching Tears)

I always knew looking back on my tears would bring me laughter, but I never knew looking back on my laughter would make me cry.
~ Cat Stevens (Nostaglic Tears with a hint of Hysterical Tears)

"I laugh because I must not cry. That is all. That is all."
~ Abraham Lincoln (Frozen Tears)

"Those who do not know how to weep with their whole heart don't know how to laugh either."
~ Golda Meir (Tears of Elation)

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