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It’s a Crying Shame

You know how therapists aren’t supposed to cry in sessions? Well, I do all the time. Not in defiance of this rule or anything. I just can’t help it. And it’s not like I’m sobbing uncontrollably–just a couple of tears that escape, despite my best efforts.

Like, if a client cries because they’ve told me something they’ve never admitted to anyone before, I cry, too. Or if they’re proud of themselves for taking some risk that they didn’t think was possible. I try to hide it, but not very effectively. I once had a client who said she was going to get a t-shirt that says “I made my therapist cry.” I think she thought this was a good thing, although I have no idea why.

And you know the other crying rule about how you’re supposed to be strong when you’re talking to someone who is sick? Can’t do that one, either. When my dad was depressed, I cried in front of him all the time. And while I was on the phone with him. And when we went shopping, because he was so indecisive, it would take him forever to pick anything out–which broke my heart. Sometimes it would be so bad I had to leave the room and sob and then come back.

He always knew, of course. Apparently he told my brother that he needed to get better because he was making me cry all the time. Which makes me cry right now, just thinking about it. But it worked; he got better. So maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing in that case, either.

Clients often come to session trying not to cry. I tell them it’s OK–that’s what the Kleenex are for. Then we talk about why it’s not a bad thing.

Who came up with all these rules, anyway? Crying makes you weak. You need to have a good reason to cry–like death. Maybe losing a big game like the Super Bowl. Boys don’t cry.

It was probably the same person who said that stoicism is the best remedy for pain. Probably some guy.

Why have tears if we’re not supposed to use them? Why not do something that is free, readily available, nonhabitforming, and makes us feel better?

I’m not saying there isn’t a place for stoicism. I saw “American Sniper” this past weekend, and it was absolutely necessary for Chris Kyle not to cry in order to do his job. He was supposed to be a machine. But if he had been able to cry when he was home and no longer on duty, I think his wife wouldn’t have been as worried about him.

But who am I to judge someone for what they do or don’t do when they’re in pain? I’m biased, too. So I don’t tell people that they should cry. And I try not to think less of them if they don’t.

All I ask is for other people to do the same for me. Just don’t try to shame me out of crying.

crying

About Christy Barongan

I didn't know it at the time, but I wanted to be a psychologist so that I could figure out how to be normal. I think many people come to counseling for the same reason. What I've come to learn is that feeling good about myself is not about trying to be normal. It's about trying to be me. But it's a constant struggle for me, just like it is for everyone else. So I thought I would approach this task with openness and honesty and use myself as an example for how to practice self-acceptance.

8 responses »

  1. I think “I made my therapist cry” is kind of funny. I’m not sure why. I’ve never made a therapist or psychiatrist cry. They just shake their heads.

    Love,
    Janie

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  2. Great story. I never mad my therapist cry either, Not real sure how I would have reacted if I did. The problem for me is I cry when I am angry and it is mistaken for “being hurt” which makes me even angrier. It seems that the only safe emotion I could express during childhood was either happy smiles or crying. Go figure… at least the ones close to me know enough to ask me which is it. 🙂

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  3. ropafadzoprecious

    Crying is the best therapy for a bad day. It takes all the tension away! I have noticed a lot of people who hardly ever cry are the most depressed (obviously with exceptions). We are emotional beings and a certain amount of crying is necessary. And I think your clients seem to like your crying, lol. Personally I find it emotionally connecting. You know that saying, cry with me? Ok, there is no such saying. But all am saying is, if you can laugh with me, why not cry with me? It’s kind of the whole point of human relationships.

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  4. I learned is that its alright to cry if when it comes to such. It’s a form of expression, healing, and realization. No shame in crying whatsoever for any reason, especially if its a huge change….it’s a feeling that can be natural. Also the shirt concept about making their therapist cry is unique…

    Liked by 1 person

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