Crying is physically painful for me. Others speak of a release when crying, but the most it does for me is create a giant headache and cause a choking feeling in my throat. It can occasionally bring about a seizure, more because of the stress it causes. The headache and choking feeling come from the desire to control (swallow back) the tears. If I let go and let the tears come, I cry so hard that I throw up. Pleasant, no?
The compulsion to hold back tears comes from lifelong behaviors. When my mom would punish me, she would get unreasonably angry when I cried. I learned to be still and quiet, no matter what she was hitting me with (belt, spoon, hand....one time she spanked me with one of my dolls =/. She wasn't gentle about spankings, either). Her lesson was to be still and take the punishment I deserved. So, I learned to hold back the tears. I would only cry when I shut myself in my closet and stuffed a pillow to my face so she couldn't hear me. My grandma had her own methods as well....she was not a corporal punisher, but she used psychological tactics. "Ladies do not cry." "Crying is weakness, stop being weak." So I had to bottle it up to avoid being admonished. My ex-husband would become disgusted with me when I cried. The man who beat me unmercifully that fateful night became more enraged when I cried. From these events, I learned that tears were bad, and I stopped crying altogether. For over a decade. To be fair, a tear or two would trickle when I experienced something sad (a sad movie, for example), but never full-out crying.
My therapist is trying to teach me that tears can be good. Every session that I cry is so exhausting that I can hardly drive home afterward. I can't find any comfort in the tears. Perhaps EMDR therapy will solve that problem for me.
Last night, I feel like I crossed a barrier of allowing emotions to be expressed. I am still holding back (mostly to avoid throwing up and/or causing a seizure), but the tears are flowing. Nearly to the point that I can't stop them, which is annoying. I still find no release in them, but maybe I'm on the path. I just don't want to break down sobbing when a butterfly hits my windshield. Please, universe....some balance.