Jo Sea­gar

Be­ing quick to cry is an in­di­ca­tion that we are in touch with our feel­ings, and it can even be good for us, says se­rial weeper Jo Sea­gar.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - CONTENTS -

sheds a few tears

The end of a spe­cial re­la­tion­ship, frus­tra­tions at work, Aunty Edna’s pass­ing or even just a poignant episode of Call the Mid­wife… any of these and I’m first to turn on the wa­ter­works. Quite often I find my­self hav­ing what I call a re­fresh­ing lit­tle weep.

Ross is a fre­quent flyer in the cry­ing club as well, so you can imag­ine how many tis­sues we go through… they’re a fixed item on our shop­ping list.

Sad movies are par­tic­u­larly trig­ger­ing in our house­hold, and don’t even get me started on the emo­tional Olympic games or in­ter­na­tional rugby matches – the mo­ment a na­tional an­them, es­pe­cially our own, surges out, down come the tears. I cry at other peo­ple’s air­port re­u­nions, soppy ads on TV, baby an­i­mal doc­u­men­taries, lovely thought­ful ges­tures by friends, and the word­ing on sym­pa­thy cards. Even when the go­ing doesn’t get all that tough, I can be counted on to open the flood­gates and pro­duce a good buck­et­load of tears.

Ac­tu­ally, I don’t think it’s a bad call – pos­si­bly the com­plete op­po­site – as I al­ways feel so much bet­ter af­ter these re­fresh­ing lit­tle weeps. I find cry­ing very ben­e­fi­cial as a stress buster. My tears purge all that neg­a­tive en­ergy, al­low­ing the empty space to be filled with new, pos­i­tive vibes. Well that’s the the­ory any­way, and I can al­most phys­i­cally feel this men­tal cleans­ing tak­ing ef­fect.

Some­body – and for the life of me I can’t re­mem­ber who – said, “Like soap for the body, tears are for the soul,” and I agree. I’ve al­ways in­her­ently known this, but now I see there’s a se­ri­ous study of this at univer­sity level – maybe I could help with their re­search!

Ap­par­ently, as well as let­ting out all the de­mons with the felling of tears, you also re­lease quite a few chem­i­cals that would raise your stress hor­mone, cor­ti­sol, and yes, this is a good thing. Cry­ing it out helps us process par­tic­u­lar sit­u­a­tions, even if it is just spilt milk, and there­fore to per­haps ben­e­fit from them.

Homo sapi­ens is the only species that ac­tu­ally cries emo­tion­ally. Of course, poke any­thing in the eye and pro­tec­tive tears come to flush out the ir­ri­tant, but burst­ing into tears at, say, a wedding or grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony or even a sad movie – these emo­tive tears are very much a hu­man thing to do.

I can hear you ar­gue how many an­i­mals go to the movies or a wedding, but I’m sure you fol­low my drift.

All hu­mans – all cul­tures and all races – cry, yet our close cuzzies apes and chim­panzees, who can laugh and gig­gle like us, don’t have the abil­ity to cry. Maybe it’s our unique ca­pac­ity to ex­press in­tense emo­tion and com­pas­sion in tears that sets us apart and there­fore higher up in the bi­o­log­i­cal rank­ings.

A good ses­sion of sobby cry­ing can even be en­joy­able. Watch­ing a Ti­tanic re­run, Leonardo sinks out of sight into the deep blue depths once more and Kate goes on and on to be saved by a lifeboat, while I soak an­other 27 tis­sues… but wasn’t it great?

These tears are dif­fer­ent from the phys­i­cal-re­ac­tion wa­ter­works you ex­pe­ri­ence when chop­ping onions or from the ac­ci­den­tal prod of a mas­cara wand. Emo­tional tears can show what words often can­not ex­press – they un­der­score the im­por­tance of feel­ings.

I think hav­ing re­fresh­ing lit­tle weeps when things don’t go as ex­pected is a very de­sir­able at­tribute. It cer­tainly re­lieves the pres­sure and helps you get back on an even keel more quickly.

Con­fronting your emo­tions re­quires strength in the form of vul­ner­a­bil­ity. But be­ing vul­ner­a­ble is per­haps the best way to grow closer to a per­son. Although, hav­ing said that, sad movies are not so good on a first date – think sniffy han­kies, red blotchy eyes and run­ning make-up, which is not a great look when try­ing to make a good first im­pres­sion – so save this for the im­por­tant date two!

Restora­tive bouts of cry­ing are also good for tis­sue sales and – red alert! – there’s go­ing to be a peak in sales at our lo­cal su­per­mar­ket. Sadly, the vet has just rung to say there is noth­ing more they can do for Tid­dles… and there she flows.

Homo sapi­ens is the only species that ac­tu­ally cries from emo­tion.

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