Do you know anyone who cries when running?
I do. Not I know someone, but I am the one who cries.
I used to run races on a fairly regular basis, and inevitably I would cry during the race. There would be a right or left turn, and a slight downhill on the course, and I would look out over the sea of runners, and tears would spring to my eyes. I didn’t feel them coming. They just arrived.
I don’t just cry while running, either.
At the beginning of this school year, the elementary school was facing crowded classes because the state had closed one of the classrooms. The parents held a small “protest” in front of the school. I went, and, you guessed it, I cried.
Once, I was once at a conference where I was learning how to become a better public speaker. At one point, I stood up and asked a question about how I could become an effective public speaker when I cry so easily. I cried while asking the question about my crying.
I cry when I am passionate about an idea.
I cry when I am consumed by emotion of any sort.
I cry when I hear of other people being consumed by emotion.
I cry when I see other people crying.
I cry for all sorts of reasons.
Growing up as a child, I was often told that I was too sensitive and that I should “buck up.” As a result, I often considered my crying as a bad thing and something that I had to suppress. This idea became even more apparent and more pronounced when I entered the work force and became a leader because “leaders don’t cry.”
I had a choice to make; either I could get a handle on my crying so that I could be a leader, or I couldn’t be a leader.
Luckily, I discovered a crack in this belief when after one particular crying incident, a man came up to me and told me that my crying was a “gift.”
A gift? Really? Could my crying be a gift?
Since this comment, I have been looking at my crying in a different way. It is no longer something to shun and push away. Instead, it has been something to get curious about and explore. As a result, I saw new patterns that I hadn’t seen before. One such pattern is my tendency to cry more easily in front of large groups, when talking about the struggles and the possibilities that lie within each of us.
Then, last December, I re-read Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown and it HIT ME. I don’t cry because I am sad, I cry because I feel CONNECTED.
In Braving the Wilderness, Brene devotes a whole chapter to the importance of finding collecting moments of joy and pain, so that we can remind ourselves of our inextricable human connection. When we do, we are able to stay in love with humanity. “Not only do moments of collective emotion remind us of what is possible between people, but they also remind us of what is true about the human spirit.”
So that’s it.
My crying isn’t something to feel shame around. Instead it is something to CELEBRATE because it shows how important true connection is to me.
I can now put my own permission slip in my pocket;”Permission to cry with others.”
Learn. Grow. Connect. Emerge.
Theresa Destrebecq is the primary author, with additional contributions from book circle members.
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