The other day I was talking with some people about crying. We debated the pros & cons of crying when you’re sad. All the usual objections came up; it can be embarrassing, we want to be perceived as strong, we don’t want to lose control. Then someone said they didn’t understand the purpose of crying. After all, it doesn’t do anything to change the situation or communicate information about our experience to others. As I thought about the sometimes automatic experience of crying, I sort of understood what the person meant. Tears can come even if we’d really prefer they didn’t.
Then someone else said that we cry to express emotions that we don’t yet have words for. I believe that’s exactly right. Sometimes we just can’t use words to express our pain. The words aren’t enough.
As a writer, that’s frustrating for me. Words are not only the primary way we relate to the world, they are an important coping tool for me. And I am not a happy camper when my usual and customary coping tools don’t work. The good news is that once you’ve cried things get a little clearer. We might just need that catharsis to enable us to articulate what our pain is about and then discover if there is anything we can do about it.