I am someone who cries a lot. “Too sensitive” is what I have heard growing up. All of us handle things differently, in our own ways, and my way is to cry through the experience. It is my first response to anger, frustration, or any form of stress. People say that it is good to cry but I feel they haven’t cried as much as I have and if they did, they wouldn’t say that. It feels bad to cry, it’s so external, it’s very public, it doesn’t feel like a private moment at all. There is no privacy in crying, I feel. I thought I would cry less after going to therapy but nope, still the same. If you haven’t guessed by now, let me break it down for you, I hate crying.
I hate it so much that not all the words in the world would be enough to describe this animosity I have towards this act. I only hate it because the people around me didn’t like seeing me cry, they hated it, so I hated it. It’s something that happens in childhood I am told, something around mirroring what our parents have felt. I don’t blame them, it must feel tough and uncomfortable to see your kid cry at the smallest of things. And also, kids don’t know what is a big or small thing to cry about.
Another assumption about crying: people think you are weak and they say that to your face as well. I don’t want to counter it by saying, “oh no, crying actually makes you strong.” Nobody who has ever cried has felt strong while crying, trust me, I have cried enough, I somewhat know. It feels helpless when you cry, especially if like me, you were never comforted afterwards or during. The least it has done is that I look stunning with teary eyes.
So yeah, I have a complicated relationship with crying, and I thought it will be a great exercise to list all the places I have cried at. The list is not chronological, I try to be less paranoid when I am sharing/submitting my vulnerable moments to the Internet.
Also maybe take a shot of whichever alcohol you prefer whenever you read the word “cry,” if you’re not shit drunk by the end of the post, drinks on me.
My hostel bed: The first night I stayed at my hostel during my post-graduation, I cried in my bed because I missed my family. I didn’t even get to say goodbye to them because the admission process happened too fast. My dad and I shared a moment where he cried and I cried and he told me something around: don’t trust everyone. The second reason to cry was that I had no roommate, I was alone in the room, pretty sure I wouldn’t have cried if there was another person nearby me. Another time I cried in my bed was when a boy broke my heart. I cried in front of my ex-best friend, she comforted me with soothing words and I kept telling her that I don’t think I can ever move on. This was six years back, I have moved on.
The chair at my Dad’s table: The is one of those memories which still tugs at my heart. I was fresh out of therapy, and later on I had an unreasonable argument with my sister (I was in the wrong, I admit), so I took off to the bathroom to cry. But I couldn’t stop crying. I came back to the room and I kept crying, in fact, now these were loud sobs. I was starting to feel scared for myself. So then I went to the vacant room outside the hall, I sat on the chair and I cried. My Mom came inside (there is no point in closing doors in an Indian household) and she was pretty shocked. She kept asking me what was wrong. In hindsight that was a wrong question to be asked because I bawled. For hours. All the while hugging my Mom. It was a breakdown of some kind, I learnt later on. My mother started praying for me, honestly I was very scared because I just couldn’t stop crying. She also told me very calmly not to cry, but that didn’t help.
Thinking about this moment now, it feels like I was crying for all the pain I had felt since I was a kid. Every moment was accounted for, every tear was shed as proof of that.
Eventually, I did stop crying and my mother made me a cup of coffee, it felt like a reward. I was in awe of her and of how she handled me, I couldn’t have asked for anything better. This was three years back and thankfully I have not had that kind of a breakdown again. In my therapist’s words, “breakdowns pave the way for breakthroughs,” lovely sentence but the pain involved is off the fucking charts.
The bathroom: If you have ever lived in government quarters, the bathroom is the one private space you get when you live with your family, and no, you don’t get your own room unless you’re a single child. So many tears have been shed in my bathroom for past boyfriends, school exam results, and concerns camouflaged as insensitive remarks. There is a ritual involved here actually, you go in, do your business and come out as if nothing earth shattering happened to you. Then you wash your face, luckily my eyes have learnt not to seem too red after a crying episode. Because if there is evidence that you cried, then there will be questioning on why did you cry in the first place and then there will be more crying. In order to avoid that, you need to wash your face well and go do something else which will put a thin veil on your pain. I used to believe that nobody needs to know that I cried. I really don’t believe that now, I mean, look at me writing all of this here.
I took a small writing break before venturing into this one, and here we go.
The last time I was on a flight: I was coming back to Delhi after presenting a paper at IIT Madras and I should have been feeling pretty chuffed about my academic excellence but instead it was the same day which brought me a lot of unhappiness. The cause of it: ending of a childhood friendship. Far too many people have spoken that losing a friend hurts more than losing a lover and they are absolutely right about that and yet, it doesn’t feel like enough people have talked about it. The grief is so heavy, that you can’t carry it alone, I couldn’t. Sitting at Chennai airport, I tried to distract myself with Krispy Kreme donuts, selecting the perfect coffee to go for it, and finding a seat for myself.
My body knew though, it instantly knew that I was about to cry and hence all these distractions were necessary. I sat down and started looking at the people around me, will they notice if I cry? The odds weren’t high. You see, crying at a public space involves a lot of mental gymnastics, at least my mind was doing it. I couldn’t hold it in any longer and one tear slipped out of my eyes as I was sipping my coffee. I felt doubly betrayed. Quickly I wiped it off, nobody needs to see me cry. I still believe that.
Finally the boarding announcement was played, and there were no more tears. I took my window seat, and a part of me was almost excited at the prospect of crying while looking outside. It was dinner time, and I tried not to think about my friend, her self delusion, and how marriage changes women. Unfortunately my thoughts couldn’t be contained but to be honest, thinking is so much better than crying.
I finished my food and again, I could feel the urge to cry. Just when I thought there is no turning back on this one, I picked up my dessert, it was a bread custard. And I kid you not, it was the best thing I could have eaten all this while. The custard distracted me, I didn’t feel like crying anymore even though one look at the window and the clouds outside, I knew some tears fell, I just didn’t want to acknowledge them.
This is Part One of this post, I had to divide it because even writing this much made me feel overwhelmed (imagine reading it then, oof).
I don’t know when I will become the person who champions crying and feeling all emotions, I am at a phase where I can say this much: it sucks, but it also helps.
Thank you for reading, and have a cry-free week!
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