These days, lots of things have been making me cry.
I’m definitely a person who cries and laughs a lot, perhaps more than the “average person” (whoever that is). And, during 2013 (which I’ve designated as a year where I work on the process of letting go of judgment), I’ve been crying more than my own personal average (whatever that is).
There are lots of reasons why I’ve been crying more this year. Since Monday and the Boston Marathon, I’ve got more reasons.
I feel like I’m learning a lot this year. Some of these lessons are wonderful and hope-inspiring. Some of these lessons are terrible and painful.
I think I’m learning more this year — partly because I’m paying more attention. I’m paying more attention because I’m doing work I’m passionate about (group and individual therapy at a major Boston hospital), where listening and watching are really important.
I’m also doing these blog posts, once a day, and that process is causing me to pay more attention — within myself and outside, in the world.
So I’ve been paying more attention to things, some of which are more inherently painful. So it makes sense — doesn’t it? — that I’ve been crying more.
And one thing I’ve been noticing and learning lately:
Kindess can make me cry, even harder than cruelty does.
I noticed that, last week, when some of my co-workers were incredibly kind and supportive to me, as I was struggling personally.
I notice that when I read the amazing and kind comments that people leave here, on my blog. (Like the long one, left by an old high school acquaintance, at the end of this post.)
I noticed that this morning, right before I wrote this post, when I read this portion of an on-line article about people’s kindness to others in the aftermath of the Boston bombings.
In Michigan, Hamilton Elementary School students created a “finish line” by standing on either side of the hallway so their principal could finish the marathon interrupted by the cruel blasts.
“We felt bad that she couldn’t finish the 26.2 miles. So, we decided that we would help her finish,” fourth-grader Ryan Smalley told CNN affiliate WDIV.
The students cheered for Principal Pam Mathers as she dashed to the finish line, high-fiving the students along the way. Some teachers watched, tearfully.
“You know what? I may not have gotten the medal but I’ve gotten many many more rewards from you,” Mathers said Wednesday. “All of you are my medals.”
I see that in other people, too — that kindness can make them cry, even harder.
I see that in group work, when somebody receives authentic, kind, and encouraging words from other people in the group. Sometimes that person cries, pretty intensely.
How do I make meaning of that, right now?
Perhaps kindness can make us cry harder out of …. relief. Being surprised by kindness when we’re so aware of cruelty.
Perhaps kindness can make us cry harder out of …. grief. Being opened up to old losses in a new way.
Not sure I can figure it all out this morning.
But I wanted to share it, with you.
Thanks for reading.
I’m no sociologist, but I’ve noticed some people have a tendency to cry more as they age, especially if they’ve held tears back in the past. The stereotypical crotchety old (wo)man may be just that. Nostalgia, wisdom/perspective, appreciation, a softening of the heart; these can all assist emotions in coming to the surface. My dad was very emotional. He’d cry while watching TV, and my sister and I–kids at the time–would look at each other and smirk. Now we’re exactly like he was, of course. I cry so easily that I sometimes have to laugh–be they tears of happiness, grief, connection, sadness, gratefulness… Crying is a gift providing great emotional release and healing. I’m happy for you.