The cleansing power of a good cry

At the earliest age of my life I was told I was a boy. I was not supposed to cry except in those certain circumstances where it was deemed acceptable. Despite this so-called warning by the adults around me, I fount myself crying quite a bit over the years. Most of the time I was ashamed to do so. 

When I was 19 or 20 I attended my sister Candy’s wedding. It was a very humble ceremony in a chapel at a casino close to where we lived. Even though I was conditioned crying was a sign of weakness I felt an uncontrollable urge to shed tears for my sister. I was overjoyed at her happy occasion while sad I was losing my sister to some guy I hardy knew. The worst part of that experience was trying to suppress those tears for no good reason. 

I can’t tell you how many times I felt a strong and powerful urge to cry I had to suppress. I did what most guys, or AMAB’s do while still presenting as male do, I turned it into anger. Anger is such a quick and dirty emotion. Because men and boys are not only allowed to express anger, they are quite often encouraged to do so by their adult mentors, they often do so unnecessarily. It becomes second nature to push down a healthy feeling and bury it under a pile of angry tension. This only causes further distress on the mental state of the person doing it, so I discovered. But anger was okay, tears were for girls. 

I lost count how many times I was embarrassed about crying. While watching a sad movie, listening to a beautiful love song, or even at my uncles funeral. It was okay to cry for grandma but Uncle Jim was a soldier, he got a full military funeral so had to be tough couldn’t show weakness there. It was such an awful part of my experience it is no wonder men are so damn aggressive.

Human’s need to cry. It is a release when our minds, souls and bodies have had enough pain. If you hold it in, you are bottling it up. Funny thing is this is the exact argument they use when telling boys they have to, as in need to release their anger so they don’t bottling it in until they explode. Well what happens when a man who has bottled up all that pain inside and only buries it with anger? I don’t something that looks like every abusive man in the history of the world perhaps?

After I started taking hormone replacement therapy to transition into the female body that aligned with my brain, as in becoming the true me, I found myself crying at all sorts of things. As someone who experienced both sides I can tell you this is what I learned. Women do not feel more emotions than men, per se. Where they are different is they were allowed to feel those emotions, and be defined by them, their entire lives. This allows women, for the most part, to be better in tune to those powerful emotions men suppress. If you suppress a feeling long enough you become desensitized to it and the ability to feel diminishes.

The first time I let myself cry freely as a woman it was liberating. I have always been, and assume the same is true for cisgendered men, a very emotional individual. I was taught to manage those emotions in a very unhealthy way. 

I remember watching an episode of a TV sitcom called “Everybody Loves Raymond,” in the show there is an episode were the wife, Deborah, stays home alone while her family goes out on a playdate, just so she can sit on the couch and cry. She explains how she quite often needs alone time to let herself have a good cry. I, too, have found myself doing this quite a bit. I cry for all sorts of reasons. Whenever I read a sad news story about an 11-year-old Mexican boy who died of dehydration in the Texas desert while his dad, a U.S. citizen held him in his arms. I cry when I watch Mystic River and I follow Julia Roberts on a quest to find her own romance. Or when I watch the tear jerker The Notebook if I am in a mood for a brutal cry. The point is I don’t bury or hide my emotions any more. I don’t run from them or ignorantly try to replace them with anger. Truth be told I had a lot of anger, most directed at my condition, but that’s a story for another day.

I have begun to realize I was deprived a very basic part of the human experience because other people put immense pressure upon me to live up to an impossible standard. Human beings are made to cry. In fact it is the ones who opt not to who are showing the most weakness. Because all they are doing is causing harm unnecessarily to themselves, and the world around them as a result.

Last week I cried and posted on Twitter I felt like a failure because my writing career was deadlocked and I found myself stuck in an office job. Last month I cried at my nephews wedding because it was a joyous occasion then went into the woods and wept for the planet as I hugged a tree older than everyone in my life put together. Earlier this week I cried watching the fourth installment of the Twilight Saga as a werewolf, sworn enemy of the vampires, made a sacrifice that saved the life of a new born child. It’s a good thing to be able to weep. The shortest verse in the Christian New Testament is simply, “Jesus wept,” you know the male role model all me are told they ae meant to emulate and he was often see crying. I don’t know why we act like it is unhealthy for men to cry in our society but it’s actually unhealthy not to.

The most intense cry I have had in a long time came about last week. I met a trans person on social media I had bonded with quite well. We chatted daily. One day this person up and disappeared. I was distraught because they were talking about depression and other stuff. I went on a mini crusade asking all my friends on social media to ask around to see if anyone knew what had happened to this person. I finally remembered they followed me on Instagram and so I reached out. A few days went by and my worry intensified. Then one day they replied. I won’t go into their struggle, that’s not my place. But I cried and cried for days because I felt like I had lost a friend. Not to death, suicide, or anything else, just they had to go away from social media for their mental health. I am relieved they are alive, happy they are getting help but still, even now, I cry at the loss of a friendship I was very much enjoying being a part.

The best part of transitioning from male to female is I can cry in public and not care. I can cry in front of my loved ones and not bat an eye. I can sit in my room and cry freely without having to drudge up something to be angry about. Crying is healthy. It is cleansing. To use an academic word, it is cathartic. It is a good thing to cry, especially when things are bad. Won’t you join me now in a good cry? It’s okay, I won’t judge.

Published by

Stephanie Bri

A transgender writer who also does podcasts and videos.