Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Are We Just Crybabies?

If you’re anything like me there has been a time or two (ok maybe more) that you’ve sat in a room and just cried.  Maybe you didn’t have a “Dark Night of the Soul” like Elizabeth Gilbert describes in Eat, Pray, Love, but it may have felt as devastating.

I’ve written about the experience of crying in previous posts because some will say it’s a cleansing of the soul.  There have been other accounts about our tears being the wave of emotion that we finally release.  I guess there are a lot of interpretations and reasons we cry; but the bottom line is we cry.

I’m currently reading Doris Lessing’s book, The Golden Notebook.  There’s a part in the book when one of the characters is in a therapy session and the therapist says to her, “The tears we shed in our sleep are the only genuine tears we shed in our lives.  The waking tears are self-pity.”  I read that and was stunned, even taken aback.  It made it sound as if the tears we cry when we’re awake are self-indulgent.

Obviously it has caught my attention and I’m still pondering this question about the benefit of crying.  I think about what happens when little kids fall and you hear parents say, “Don’t cry…you’re not hurt”.  I guess what I’m wondering is should we be saving our tears for those times when we’re about to emotionally or spiritually explode?

I guess what I’m asking myself as I venture through the crying jungle is if something touches us so deeply that it evokes tears; what are we going to do to change the situation.  I’ll give you an example.  I’m in San Antonio working in a job not related to my calling…but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.  I watched the video on YouTube, pink glove dance, and it made me cry.  I’m clear that these tears were self-pity because in the end it made me even more determined to keep on my pilgrimage in the world of health and healing.

The tears were a spark, a reminder of the gap between what I want and need and what I’m doing.  Obviously there are things I have to do to support myself, but those tears reinforced my calling, my dream and the service I hope to be to those facing a chronic or other life-altering illness.

After you next cry, and you know there will be one, sit back and think about where the tears come from.  Pinpoint their origin and find what each tear represents.  Even if we go under the assumption that tears are self-indulgent; they can still serve a purpose.  They can be the thing that gets us moving on our journey to wellness.


I've lived my life in service to others. I'm focused on mental health and how it impacts our relationships, culture, and society. Through creative expression and narrative I believe we can impact change.

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