sob weep blubber snivel whimper bawl howl wail shed tears mew
Last night, I cried. I cried some tears that I have been holding on to for a while. For days now, they have been waiting for the permission to run from my eyes. The tears bubbled up from somewhere inside, became lodged in my throat and resisted any attempt to swallow. They made trails down my cheeks and leaked into my hair and ears…they pooled in the hollow of my throat and traced my collarbone. I could taste the salt on my lips.
By the time we are adults, many of us have cried too many times to count. So I started to think, of significant moments where I have cried. Besides those times when I fell and bumped my funny bone, I cried when I watched my friend get married and then when I got married. I cried as I held my weeping Aunt in the hospital room when her husband died. I cried when I broke somebody’s heart and when mine was first broken. I cried when I graduated high school and I cry whenever I see military personnel returning home. I cried when I had my first orgasm while making love. I cry every time I leave Puerto Rico. I cried when I gave my dogs away. I cried when my Dad would yell at me. I cried when I left home, but also, when I found a new one.
Happy or sad, humans are mammals that shed tears for very emotional reasons. Evolutionary theorists have suggested crying to be a mechanism at one time useful for survival. They might have protected us from predators being able to see where we were looking. Emotional tears show others that we are vulnerable and may have stood as a signal for our willingness to trust.
Whatever the reason, we know that tears flow for one of three reasons: to lubricate our eyes, as a reflex because we are cutting onions or have just sneezed, OR due to an emotional stimulus.
Some interesting facts about tears:
- You can feel better or worse after a cry. It depends on when, where, and with whom you cried. Studies have shown crying to be both cathartic which leads feeling better, but also feeling worse because of shame or embarrassment about the act of crying.
- Women’s emotional tears reduce sexual arousal in men
- Emotional tears have a different chemical composition that other types of tears.
- Mainly tears = water, salts, antibodies, and lysozymes. Emotional tears tend to have more protein-based hormones (prolactin, andrenocorticotropic, & leucine encephalin which is a natural pain killer)
- Decorative tear bottles or lacrimals were fairly common in Roman times and were used to collect the tears of mourners. They reappeared in the Victorian era with stoppers that allowed the tears to evaporate and signify the end of the mourning period.