I have had so many more reasons in life to cry rather than to smile; however, during some difficult situations, that emotion never came, and I kept asking myself why?
Was it because I was black, stubborn and proud? I would say to myself, girl, don’t let these tears come because you cannot let anyone see you falling apart. My coping mechanisms were distressed towards everything. I took this very normal emotional expression, packed it on ice, and left it there frozen in time.
For three long years, I didn’t have a good cry or show emotion. It wasn’t because I never felt sad, pain, grief, loss, or disappointments because they had occurred. During this time, I lost close family members and my grandmother, whom I cherished beyond words, and yet, I couldn’t shed a tear. I didn’t want to be seen as an emotional weakling. I didn’t want to feel shame, humiliation, or called a cry-baby, so I held it all in.
In my mind, I viewed crying as a form of weakness. There was no way I was going to be vulnerable, so I held this emotional expression inside. I remember crying on my wedding day in 2000, I couldn’t contain it, but my husband called me an ice queen thereafter.
The next time he saw me cry was in 2003 when I laid eyes on my son lying in his casket at his funeral. I remember how cold he was when I touched him. As a mother, it was my responsibility to warm and protect him.
In that moment, the three years of built of tears exploded, and I felt free and normal again. I cried for weeks and months, and to this day, my lip quivers, my eyes fill with tears and they roll down my cheeks, re-living this memory.
My biggest floodgate of tears came the day of my father’s burial. I entirely lost it uncontrollably. It was the kind of deep down heartache where you would switch places with the person in the blink of an eye, but you know this was his time.
Today I have mastered the art of crying, not in a depressing way, but more of what is viewed as a norm. Now, I find myself crying when I am happy, sad, heartbroken or even disappointed. Other days I cry when I make it to the mountain top with joy and excitement. There are days I cry when I’m in a bottomless valley.
By far, the best tears are those of gratitude for the little achievements and big ones too. I can genuinely say my ice has thawed to becoming an emotional being.
Tears are not a sign of weakness. They are a way of cleansing, renewing, and empowering you. When you feel them coming on for whatever reason, embrace them and do not hold them in. A good cry never harmed anyone.