Nearly every day for the past few weeks I have had a meltdown. This is when I weep, usually to a supportive family member, for an hour (or two or three). This morning was a doozy. It almost sounded like I was in labor. My husband was my doula. For I don’t know how long, I sat on my parents’ bed (my husband stood in front of me), and I rested my head on his stomach, letting myself sob and sniffle and make sounds, so many tears gushing from my eyes.
But I’ve started noticing something about these meltdowns: I usually feel better afterward. This shouldn’t be a surprise, I suppose. I learned at some point in the past few years that tears really can actually create a measurable shift in a person’s mood and physiology.
In a Psychology Today article, Judith Orloff, MD explains:
After studying the composition of tears, Dr. Frey found that emotional tears shed [stress] hormones and other toxins which accumulate during stress. Additional studies also suggest that crying stimulates the production of endorphins, our body’s natural pain killer and “feel-good” hormones” (Source).
It is healthy to cry. Crying is good for us.
It’s easy, when I’m in the middle of one of these pain-filled meltdowns, to see my sobbing as evidence of my lack of strength. I frequently say things like, “I can’t do it anymore,” and “I’m just not strong enough for this world,” as I weep. But Dr. Orloff disagrees: “To stay healthy and release stress, I encourage my patients to cry. For both men and women, tears are a sign of courage, strength, and authenticity” (Source).
I think tears can be both… strength and weakness… simultaneously. We are human, we falter, we struggle, we battle with our own failings and weaknesses. But when we cry, it’s like a surrender, an acknowledgment and acceptance that we aren’t perfect, that life isn’t perfect. And in our acknowledgment and surrender, we let go of attachment to the idea of being perfect or of life being perfect. And that letting-go invites our hearts to find beauty in the imperfection and to recognize the strength that is still present, despite the imperfection.
So I sobbed this morning. And then I felt a little better.
Tomorrow I will probably cry again. And the next day. And that’s good.