Writing from the Heart: Crying … a lot

Sometimes the tears can take us someplace new.


I’ve been doing a lot of crying lately. 

I don’t know if it’s post-, post-menopause, or the state of the world or change of life or climate change or changing channels between Fox, where they never mention climate change, and MSNBC, where they used to but not so much anymore. 

Among the many “did the best they could” mistakes my parents made, they did one thing very right; they cried. There was no shame in sobbing in our family.  

We also laughed. Laughed to the point where we all went running to the bathroom at the same time. 

When I met my husband (in 1965), and we were just dating, he had a bit of trouble with my tears. I had to tell him he didn’t have to fix anything, come up with any solution, that the tears would end. I don’t know how I knew (and I didn’t know factually), but somehow I knew that sadness was marinating in my body and that was not healthy. 

Still, in those early years, when I would cry (which I admit was often), I could feel his discomfort.  

One day I said, “I know you love me. I know if a bear were about to attack me, you would wrestle him to the ground to save me. I know you would lift a car off me. I know you would buy me all the cashmere goats who provide all the cashmere for all the sweaters in the world. But I am asking for something I need, but it seems to be harder for you; instead of leaving the premises when I cry, can you just hold me? ”

He looked shocked, as if he’d been holding me all these years. He said, “Of course.”

A few days later, we were in line at a buffet or something, and I watched an old guy, who looked the way my father would have looked if he’d ever lived to get old, walk over to a woman who I figured was his daughter. The way they greeted each other  just socked me in the gut. I felt the tears welling up, and there was my husband,  with his arms dangling uselessly at his sides. I could feel him struggling, thinking, “Uh-oh, there’s something I’m supposed to be doing.” I let go of my tears and said, “Babe, now would be a good time to try out your new thing.” We both laughed.  

And we returned to business as usual. I would start to tear up, and he would tense up.  

One day we were in the car on our way to Squibby. I had “Women Who Run with the Wolves, Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype,” the book by Clarissa Pinkola Estes (not exactly beach reading), by my side.  

I got a text about an old friend whose ALS had progressed, and I started weeping. The tension in the car was so thick you could cut it into flank steak cubes and marinate it right there in the front seat. I said, “Ya’ know what? Honestly. This is just too hard for you. Obviously this is not something you can do.” And he said, “I can, I can, but you cry all the time.”

And I said, “And I swim and I read and I write and I knit (oh, that’s right, I don’t knit. I want to knit), and I cook and I eat and I walk. And yes, I cry.”

It’s part of my healing.  And he said, “Well, um, when will it end? ” I barked, “You want an exact date? ” He said, “No but … ” And I said, “Look, it’s not fair of me to ask this of you. I have my sister, my mother, and my girlfriends who can hold me. You are off the hook. Really.” And I meant it.  

“No,” he said, “I want to. I will work on this.” “OK,” I said, “but I can count you out and it will be fine.” “No,” he insisted. “Count me in.”  

We got to the beach, and I opened the book to a random page. The chapter title (there must be a God) was: “Battle Scars: Membership in the Scar Clan,” and the first line was, “Crying is a river that takes you somewhere. Tears lift your boat off the rocks, off dry ground, carrying it down river to someplace new, someplace better.”  

I know that secrets are embedded “not like jewels in a crown but like black gravel under the skin of our souls.” 

So even though I have been crying a lot, I know these tears are taking me someplace new. 

A few weeks after the “Women Who Run with the Wolves” incident (by the way, my friend Gerry calls the book “Women Who the Wolves Run Away From”) my sweet husband saw my face fighting tears, after I got the news that my friend had died. He got up, came over, reached for me, and gingerly put his arms around me, and just quietly held me. No words. No fixes. No discomfort.  

So now, after all these years, after seeing me cook and read and hike and write and swim, not knit, and cry, my husband, whose arms definitely don’t dangle anymore, knows it too.


  1. Hello my muse, I know how you feel. Part of my cancer treatments is hormone therapy that kills testosterone, so I’m way over on my feminine side. Crying at the drop of a hat, hot flashes, l even went into a shoe store and couldn’t find anything I liked . I don’t know how you women stand. It. I much more appreciate the strength of women. Most men would be basket cases. Love bop.

  2. What a moving heart felt gut wrenchingly BEAUTIFUL love story ! As always when I read anything from you so many feelings kick up, I’m at a loss for words basking in the all too fleeting delight of your vibe . I just want to say thank you for being the rare , precious gift to this world that you are – funny, wicked smart , real, humble, honest , gutsy and brave. You’ve got it all girlfriend and then some! Much love from Woosta MA

Comments are closed.