Sunday, March 28, 2010


In thinking about going back to work on Monday, I was in tears. Actually, I was fighting tears since Chris and I crossed the County line on the way back from our Spring Break travels- and I really don't know why.

Most Sunday nights I fight tears. This is weird for me because I do not hate my job. There are certainly hard parts to my job... but I have no logical or real reason why I'm in tears each Sunday night or when I hit the county line.

Then Chris and I watched the Discovery series Life this evening - and I was nearly in tears over the poor newborn elephant stuck in the mud and the young elephant mother who didn't know how to help. I was getting emotional over the poor school of Anchovies trapped in the shallow water while Sand Tiger Sharks ate them when Chris finally broke the news to me, "Brooke, sometimes animals die."

The next hour, we got sucked into the Undercover Boss - which was awesome, but you guessed it - water works for me throughout the show, especially at the end.

Well, once I start crying, it is hard to stop. The Undercover Boss emotion led to the uncertainty about the future emotion, which led to the sadness about tomorrow being Monday emotion and the mixed emotion about there are only 10 (or so) weeks left to school - a VERY exciting fact - and a very daunting fact at the same time. The results are all the same: Tears.

That led me to do some research -- why am I crying?

Wikipedia told me that there are several types of tears but that most scientists agree that humans are the only animals that exhibit emotional or psychic tears. These tears are called crying or weeping. The average man, wikipedia told me, cries about once a month and the average woman cries about five times a month. All bets are off, however, when a woman starts her menstrual cycle as she can then cry up to five times as much as she normally would -- no explicable reason necessary.

Emotional tears are not only an expression of pain or sadness but also of joy or happiness. For this reason, a few researchers believe that tears are linked to a feeling of helplessness. This concept caught my attention.

Just now I glanced at the clock and knew that I should already be in bed... and I started to get choked up -- time is passing and I am helpless...

The researchers said that when something happy but unexpected happens, possibly the joyful tears are an expression because something has happened and the person cannot control the result - they are the recipient, therefore, helpless.

I cry when I'm anxious - I feel out of control.

I cry on Sunday nights because I am helpless - Monday is arriving and I have to go to work the next day. Most of the time my job is out of my control and almost completely consists of how I react to what happens around me - I feel helpless.

What most causes me to agree with the link between tears and helplessness, however, is the fact that I cry when I pray. I feel so helpless and lacking control when I am talking to God. I can't think of the last time I've prayed when I haven't been crying. It's a little embarrassing.

It reminds me of something my sister and I used to talk about - when many things are stressing you out but you don't cry until you trip on the sidewalk or lock your keys in your car or break a nail. Has that ever happened to you? Someone asks you why you're crying and you are crying because you just hit your head getting into the car? It didn't really hurt and that's not really why you're crying... but that was the straw that broke the camel's back and, sure enough, you're crying because you stubbed your toe. It has happened to me many times. Well, the helplessness theory makes sense. You're handling all the stress... and then you hit your head, or break a nail, or forget your purse - that small event compounds the fact your perceived helplessness and you start to cry. It's not about the pain or the fact you forgot your purse - it's feeling helpless (period). This makes a lot of sense to me.

I'm really liking this explanation that humans cry when they feel helpless. I may still feel helpless and I may still cope by crying, but at least now there is some rationale behind my dwindling supply of kleenax and moist pillow.

Thanks for listening.

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  1. I'm listening! I cry when I pray too. It's the complete surrender aspect. Letting go and handing it over to God is very difficult yet incredibly comforting at the same time. But the men cry 1x a month. I'm not so sure about that.
    I'm so glad you had a fantastic trip!! Your students were probably thrilled to see you today.

  2. Sorry, I have missed the last couple of posts. I just went back and read about Chris. So happy for you. Do you know I was praying God would bring someone into your life :) So happy for you. Hoping you had a good day back, I know it is hard to start back after a great break.


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