I’m not saying that I’ve never been one to cry. I’ve shed my fair share of tears. I cried randomly and uncontrollably in the first years after I was attacked, and again after my college girlfriend broke up with me in what seemed out of the blue to me. You know, times when we expect to cry, when we accept tears.
And yet, as I got older, I found that I developed an automatic shut-off feature in my tear ducts. Whether happy or sad tears, once they started, my body would instantly go into alert and my breath would deepen to calm me, my gremlins would make suggestions of stopping in no uncertain terms, and the wonderful release that is tears would get shortchanged.
I still experience that shut-down protocol but I’ve made progress. I cry more easily and readily. I’m more conscious of the internal drive to hold it in even when I can’t override it.
When I decided that a movie would be just the thing on Saturday, I asked specifically to watch something emotional; Theresa was kind enough to narrow my suggestions down to one of my favorites, one she had watched most of but never completed, Moonlight. It’s packed with all of the reasons to cry: Hope, desperation, violence, and the most incredible tenderness and compassion. Here’s the trailer:
I have other go-tos for provoking tears that feel bottled up within me – a handful of songs and the StoryCorps podcast and videos of retuning military surprising kids and parents and dogs – but what I need most of all is my own permission to feel all of my feelings, and to accept them as a part of the wholeness of a full life.