Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Emotional Digestive System

I’ve been crying recently, only on Sundays, for the last four to five weeks. Admittedly, I’m going through a tumultuous period of my life. One with a lot of highs and lows. I’ve made some strides professionally. Certainly this blog has been a positive development thus far. It appears I'm being well received as a new voice/writer. Yet, at the same time I've probably never felt more alone. I've never felt more distance from my family than at the current time. And it seems I've lost my close circle of friends, friends who, in many ways, represented my life until a year or so ago. These friends who've known me more than half my life are now becoming memories... and that's sad.

When I think about it, I feel like the crying is a problem. Like there must be some sort of issue with me. If I could choose to cry or not cry, I would choose not crying. But the reality is that I tend to feel better after I’ve cried. Like I just released toxins. Like I took an emotional shit, and I’m ready to shower up and go out, or to sleep, or, you know, whatever. I'm ready to move on.

This made me think about how closely we monitor our digestive system. How we take care to eat, and subsequently shit every day. Drink, and subsequently piss. And those of us who care, we try to watch what we intake.

It seems to me we also have an emotional digestive system. Interaction is how we ingest food. Stimuli is our food and drink. Then we laugh, cry, react and express. The two fundamental means of release are laughing and crying. So perhaps like shitting and peeing, we should be doing them once a day. Or at least once every couple days.

Crying is such an incredibly repressed emotion. It’s weak, vulnerable, unevolved? At the end of last year I had an interesting run where on three consecutive occasions, girls I had relations with cried. And all three occasions were, for the most part, our first physical interaction or hanging out. First time encounters.

The story made an interesting conversation-piece at parties and bars. Was I attracted to crybabies? Was I doing something that warrants crying? To cut a little deeper, was I attracted to an emotional instability? Do my pheromones contain the essence of all the mistakes women have made with regards to guys over the course of eternity?

The stories were discussed, poked and prodded. But no one ever really came to the defense of the criers. Sure, some suggested it might be my fault. We joked about me needing to stop with the punches to the kidney. Or shave. Or try deodorant. Harty har-har (I've since gotten some Axe *cue female moan*). But no one ever asked, what’s wrong with crying? Some said they've experienced dates crying, but never on a first encounter. First encounter crying was most certainly judged as taboo.

And I think in general most of us would raise eyebrows if someone cried on a first encounter.

But you don’t really raise an eyebrow if they take a piss or shit in front of you (might raise an eyebrow for #2). Which, though not desirable, per se, and might even represent a major deal-breaker for some, would be understandable, and not likely mandate a severing of ties for most people. Everyone has to piss and shit, right?

Maybe the problem is you're not supposed to emotionally relieve yourself in public. If the person can’t have the dignity to go to the bathroom, relieve themselves in private, then maybe they deserve to feel that shame. I’d certainly run away from someone who just started peeing or taking a shit on my bed. But if they excuse themselves, and come back obviously “less heavy” … might as well move on right?

Crying holds so much power over us. Crying represents our unknown. We don’t embrace it. It represents our fears. Our lack of confidence. Our lies and deceit. Our loss. Our mortality. Our humility. Our inability to overcome. Our paradox. Our confusion. We hide it. Behind closed doors and sheets of tissue paper, we bury our tears, far away from prying eyes. There's no crying in baseball. The boss can't cry. The only people who cry are overwrought bloggers trying to rationalize their gayness (no homo) via herby posts that are not so much "poignant, as they are thinly veiled attempts to bait females with some generic brand of "emotional cheese" ... etc. etc. etc.

But maybe we can get more comfortable with the crying thing. The release of toxins. What's the big deal?

"Oh Sam? He's just taking an emotional shit. We'll get this meeting underway in just a bit."

And maybe once we get comfortable with it, we can do it more. And maybe once we do it more, we'll find ourselves feeling less emotionally constipated.

Ok. I think that's the extent of the thought for now.

I'm going to go take a crap. A real one.

Please cry for me Blog-entina?


  1. Anonymous2/22/2006

    Congratulations, TAN! You have discovered what women have known since the beginning of time. It's GOOD to cry sometimes. I stress sometimes. If things are getting you down, cry it out, baby. If things aren't getting you down, rent some cry-porn like The Notebook, or the 1992 version of Wuthering Heights with Juliette Binoche & Ralph Fiennes. Let it all out. But you don't need to cry daily. If you are crying daily, get some medical attention.

  2. Anonymous2/22/2006

    This'll read like a tell-your-secret site, but I can't cry. I wish I could, but I can't. There's a parking brake frozen in my tear duct or something.

  3. Anonymous2/22/2006

    Ah, and I forgot to add: great post.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Damn it TAN you took another idea for a future post. But I’ll let it slide.

    A man crying in our society is seen as definite social taboo, especially in our urban communities. You grow slap boxing on the streets and you get hit a little too hard what are you going to do cry like a little bitch? You play B ball and someone dunks on you and puts their sack in your face, you definitely can’t cry in that situation. So we are taught that crying as an emotion is a feminine trait. We never learn how to use this god given emotion, we repress it and it manifests into another form usually anger. That is to say the emotional release you speak of does come out one way or the other. The only two times it’s ok to cry is if someone close to you dies or your wife divorces you and takes half. Luckily I grew up with a single mom and two sisters and every time I made a mistake my mom would beat me until I cried. She finally stopped when I was mature enough to stop messing up in life. So I got beat till I was 24, mom dukes got a mean left.

    I don’t cry that much but you’d be surprise the emotional relief one gets from porn

  6. Damn fine post. Makes me glad I put you on the ol' RSS aggrevator.


  7. I have had a fair share of men cry in front of me, never really knew what to do.

  8. Lucifer2/22/2006

    I found that getting weeded and listening to Del The Funkee Homosapien has the same effect.

    People have different ways of venting their emotions. When i strap on my headphones and if im feeling the artist in just the right way (no homo!) i get engulfed in the snares, drum-kicks and lyrics of the song and at the end of it all i find myself feeling greatly relived (nullus).

    If you choose to cry, that cool, i would never ridicule someone for that. But when i need my emotions vented, i'm able to listen to the right song and then i can get on with my day.

  9. Damn, TAN - I cry often. For nothing. For everything. I was just blogging about being dissatisfied with life and thinking maybe I should be a rapper. We should get together and vibe. Or cry.

  10. I just re-read that "punches to the kidney" shit. Brilliant. That makes me cry every time!

  11. If you're crying and it's Sunday, blame "Extreme Home Makeover" -- that show short circuits my cheesey-dar and leaves me bawling every time. Damn that show and their tear duct exploitation!

  12. Very thought provoking. I applaud you for leaving the door open during your emotional shit for all of us to see...Don't forget to spray.

    But really, for folks who are pretty even-tempered, crying in front of others tends to elicit a jaw-dropping, eye-rolling, loud gasping response akin to public defecation.

    I used to cry about as often as Haley's Comet came around, but now it seems like the waterworks can start anytime, anywhere. My niece's ballet recital. Ice Cube's soliloquy at the end of "Boyz in the Hood." In the middle of an Edward P. Jones short story -- one of the FUNNY ones!

    I used to think it was because I'd gotten older. Now, I'm pretty sure it's the extra hormones in this birth control patch. So much for sensitivity!

  13. Whoah, is Axe considered lame now? Dang, and here I was thinking it smells pretty nice actually.

  14. You know what's called for now, don't you? I bet this is the first time one of your commenters has laid one of these on you:


    And look, I did it without winking.

  15. "sensitive thugs, y'all need hugs."

    having never ever cried in my whole life, it's a little hard to relate to this post. however, i gotta say the intended poignancy is slightly undercut by the inclusion of that very wack drawing. WHAT IS THAT?

    were you thinking, "well, i'm glad i got that off my chest. only, i don't know if people will understand the subtle tugs of loss and regret that weave through the tapestry of this post. i think an image would underscore my thoughts nicely, and i have THE PERFECT ONE. a crying sad face drawn by a kid with down's syndrome." young jeezy's snowman has more detail than that.

    i love you and i am only trying to help. keep your word count up, p.

  16. You know, I never cried until I took ecstasy for the first time. And it wasn't like I cried when I took it, but after that, it happened once in a hwile. Usually at Sports movies like Seabiscuit and Miracle.

  17. The last time I cried, actual shit came out of my eyes. Ain't goin' there again.

  18. Tan.
    Its called the Sunday Night Blues.

    I usta allways get that shyt, till I started watchin' netflix, sewing skirts and baking ziti on Sunday nights.

    Crying is cathartic though.
    Unfortunatly our CULTURE says that it is is illegal for boys to cry.

  19. Really great post, TAN.

    Had the crying thing with new galpal once. Yep, she cried our first time. Come to find out it wasn't about me a tall. She already had a boyfriend at the time.

    She ended up stalking me; I had to move outta town 'cause of her.

    So I'm thinking croc tears for her and just how foolish I was.

    I wish I could cry more often, but I almost never cry; too much brainwashing against it as a kid, I guess.

    Again, great column. Got me thinking.

  20. For the record, I cried on a first date once. It was a weird situation--I had just slept with someone who evaporated right afterward; and the guy I was out with that night just kept asking all these really personal questions. It turned into this whole introspective mess, which had me completely in my own head until he kissed me.

    Poor guy. Wonderful human being; really bad kisser. (For the record, men? Lips first, THEN tongue.) And the combination terrible kiss/mess inside my head/frustration that I was not, in fact, attracted to this wonderful human being just kinda made me implode. So yeah, I cried. And then fled posthaste, totally mortified.

    So I'll tell you what I told him: don't take it personally. It's not you; it's us. Though three criers in a row is weird. Maybe you made them feel comfortable enough to open up and let it out. Or maybe it was the donkey punches. *shrug*

  21. Good post TAN (btw, you disappeared on me, poor form!). I grew up with a depressive mother who to this day will cry at commercials. my old college roommate/best friend cries if you tell her about your childhood. and my last boyfriend - the "2005 regret" cried like a motherfucker, once he even cried trying to get ME to cry.

    Me - i get angry. I get so angry that I cry which just makes me angrier that I'm crying like a sissy. i can count on one hand what ive cried at: my mother's illness, my internal demons, people stricken with poverty and/or other losses and the pregnancy i terminated...and i guess now, babies, too. And i'll tell you one thing, i always do feel better when i let the pipes flow...crying not pissing..though i guess that, too.

    warning, maybe don't see Brokeback - it'll have you bawling for hours.

  22. Love the crying=emotional shit metaphor. I guess as a guy you perceive a big taboo about crying in front of others, but it's funny how guys can be more prone to rage and violence, so crying seems like a reasonable altenative. All that emotion has to come out one way or the other, and with guys anger is a-ok as far as society goes.

    The thing about women crying after a first encounter--I can relate. If you've ever seen the movie the 25th Hour (great film btw), there's a scene where one of the characters asks the lead's girlfriend: "Why is it that women always cry after really great sex?" So maybe it's a total compliment. Certainly better than indifference!

    Really good post.

  23. Anonymous2/23/2006

    I saw your post on college humor and let me say that the jews have been through much harder times than the blacks. Dumb ass.

  24. O yeah, i meant to add, i've cried after my best, most emotional, intimate sexual encounters. sometimes it's just a release, like you say.

    ..also, wtf with this anon?

  25. Cryin' is just a thing, man, it's good for you, like apple pie and Nyquil (not together).

    My advice: Buy Puffs with lotion. Awesome for crying jags....

  26. Lucifer2/23/2006

    >>>I saw your post on college humor and let me say that the jews have been through much harder times than the blacks. Dumb ass.

    I'd like to see you explain this. Along with an explination of its relevance to the topic at hand.

  27. Brown baby, I too have cried after bone-shakingly good sex. About as happy as I get, and yet the sobs just come unbidden. I guess that's called tears of joy. (I also got misty at the end of Brokeback. But also found some parts of that flick arousing, as should any redblooded woman or man.)

    Lucifer, getting baked and listening to Del The Funkee Homosapien is like my definition of happiness. Are you talking tears of joy, too? What about Del makes you weep?

    TAN, you are fucking awesome. This post made up for every "no homo" you've ever dropped on us. Crying is a totally essential human activity. Everybody needs to do it once in awhile, and I think if you don't it fucks you up. (The excretion metaphor is apt here.) My dad can't cry because it has been drilled into him that men don't, and that is really really sad.

  28. thank you for sharing...I enjoy reading your blog. Personally, i wish i wasn't afraid of crying because so many times that's all i've needed. workin on it though. take care

  29. Anonymous2/26/2006

    Why do you think that women tend to live longer than men...? I think that the mere fact that they don't bury their emotions is a strong contributing factor to their longevity. Here is a poem by Iyanla Vanzant that speak to this topic:

    Yesterday I Cried


    I came home, went straight to my room,
    sat on the edge of my bed,
    kicked off my shoes,
    unhooked my bra,
    and I had myself a good cry.
    I'm telling you,
    I cried until my nose was running all over
    the silk blouse I got on sale.
    I cried until my ears were hot.
    I cried until my head was hurting so bad
    that I could hardly see the pile of
    soiled tissues lying on the floor at my feet.

    I want you to understand,
    I had myself a really good cry yesterday.

    Yesterday, I cried,
    for all the days that I was too busy,
    or too tired,
    or too mad to cry.

    I cried for all the days, and all the ways,
    and all the times I had dishonored,
    disrespected, and
    disconnected my Self from myself,
    only to have it reflected back to me
    in the ways others did to me
    the same things I had already done to myself.

    I cried for all the things I had given,
    only to have them stolen;
    for all the things I had asked for that
    had yet to show up;
    for all the things I had accomplished,
    only to give them away,
    to people in circumstances,
    which left me feeling empty,
    and battered and plain old used.

    I cried because there really does
    come a time when the only thing left
    for you to do is cry.

    Yesterday, I cried.
    I cried because little boys get
    left by their daddies;
    and little girls get forgotten by their mommies;
    and daddies don't know what to do, so they leave;
    and mommies get left, so they get mad.

    I cried because I had a little boy,
    and because I was a little girl,
    and because I was a mommy
    who didn't know what to do,
    and because I wanted my daddy to be there
    for me so badly until I ached.

    Yesterday, I cried.
    I cried because I hurt.
    I cried because I was hurt.
    I cried because hurt has no place to go
    except deeper into the pain that
    caused it in the first place,
    and when it gets there,
    the hurt wakes you up.

    I cried because it was too late.
    I cried because it was time.

    I cried because my soul knew that I didn't know
    that my soul knew everything I needed to know.

    I cried a soulful cry yesterday,
    and it felt so good.

    It felt so very, very bad.

    In the midst of my crying,
    I felt my freedom coming,
    Because Yesterday,
    I cried with an agenda.

    (Iyanla Vanzant,
    from her book Yesterday I Cried:
    Celebrating the Lessons of Living
    and Loving)

  30. Methinks crying is underrated, at least in moderation.

  31. Touching post, TAN. If crying is cool, consider me Miles Davis. I cried looking at LAME!

  32. i feel ya

  33. Anonymous3/03/2006

    I cried for six hours straight 2 days ago. I sobbed on his shoulder and snotted on his jacket. And then at a concert last nite, I thought I was having fun until I burst into tears. And now at my desk at work. I just broke up with my boyfriend and his picture is still sitting here at my desk. I miss him. He misses me, but we can't stay together and I'm sad. So sad. What can I do?

  34. Apparently emotional tears are very different from say lubricating or reflex tears (like when dust gets into your eyes). The former contains more protein and hormones, which translates to different things for different scientists, one being that it's ridding waste and another that it's a means of communication. It's more interesting when you look at newborns particularly, who cry usually as a reaction to something negative and seek attention and care from someone else. This perhaps stays with us as we grow older and [crying] manifests itself in similar cases. Even when we're crying alone, don't we secretly want someone there to console us?

  35. tenpin3/13/2007

    I have noticed this keenly lately. .. the sense of huge release post deep-honkin-true-cry.

    I thought I liked TAN's page, but this brought it to a whole new level.

    Thanks for putting the links to your old gems up front. I'm finding many a ripe trail, thanks to you.

    As for

    "thinly veiled attempts to bait females with some generic brand of "emotional cheese" "


    "Please cry for me Blog-entina?"

    Didn't Madonna have it bad for a crying black jesus dude once upon a time in a video?

    Just went back and watched it. Holy shit. White People. This after looking into the whole Norman Mailer "White Negro" thing last night due to your Quest for the Negro Hipster post. Lord, white people (head shaking), me among them... If we're not hatin, we're lovin in some weird way. I've preferred many a black person, especially guys, to many a white person since I was in third grade. It's always seemed so true and innocent (even after going through two years of study with a radical Argentinian feminist philospher who deconstructed race and gender til I didn't know which belly button hair to look behind anymore), but now I'm wondering. It's seeming more like a shy white girl tying to get/learn Cool via the Source.

    How'd I get off the tears track? o, the Madonna vid. So, TAN, during those Sunday sessions, did you render tears quietly down a stolid, grieved face, or did you bust up and wrench some? It's only really the later that I've found to be cathartic. But I'm female. Maybe silent streams could be cathartic for a guy.

    I wonder if you'll come across this... the original post was so long ago.

  36. nowiknow6/01/2007

    so i learned this lesson the hard way. I am a female and not a total hard ass, i use to cry @ oprah and the notebook, but it wasn't until my last semester of undergrad that i learned to cry for my self. my parents are planning to get divoreced, i know my dad is cheating, my best friends/ love of my life was moving away from me, and i had teh worst grades of my life ,in addition to dealing with a serious illness. Then one day i just broke, snotty nose, red eyes, hyperventalation, the whole sha-bang! It felt great, i mean i still had all that shit to deal with but i had to question myself and ask why i just never cried before and let myself go?

    Fabulous post & metaphor, i often feel bad for my guy friends when i know its all going down and they look like they wanna cry but i know they won't

  37. lpost..i cry once every month.. for mostly dumb reasons :D

  38. i have dry eyes. my ophthalmologist suggested to put plugs in them to keep tears on the eye surface, thereby slowing the rate of drainage. it turns out, though, they don't make those plugs in my size. too tiny. who knew there was a size for that. who knew there were plugs for that, as a matter of fact.
    still, dry eyes and all, i can cry like there's no tomorrow.
    glad to c you're not feeling like crying anymore, though.

  39. Anonymous3/16/2008

    First of all let me just say that I am a huge fan of crying, and I agree that it really does feel like a surge of toxins has been released afterwards. It always bothers me when people are uncomfortable about crying because I think it is a very healthy way to deal with certain emotions within reason (not sure crying ALL the time is best...that would be more like emotional diarrhea).

    Anyways, I had an epiphone while on the toilet a few minutes ago, and I found this blog while Googling around to make sure I didn't steal it from somewhere (not positive yet). At any rate, I thought I would share with you my realization: crying truly is like taking an emotional shit!

    1) Sometimes it's just a little trickle, and sometimes it's an all-day job.

    2) It doesn't always come at the most opportune time or place.

    3) It tends to make people a bit uncomfortable when it happens in public.

    4) Holding it in all the time can turn you into a tight-ass.

    5) But sometimes you just gotta get some crap out of your system, and doing so can make everything just a little better in the end.

    ...I blame it on the pepperoni pizza I had for dinner (the thought, not the crap...well, maybe that too) :D

  40. Anonymous3/16/2008

    On a more serious note though, I don't think crying is an's just a way of dealing with them. What about when people laugh? Or scream, swear, open their eyes wide in surprise, or just shut the door because they want to be left alone. Aren't these in essence the same thing? You can't always control the way you feel, and why should you try? Why is it MORE acceptible to scream at someone who cuts you off in traffic then to cry about it. Maybe we just have a vast repertoire of tools to express our emotions so we're not using the same ones all the time...and making use of var


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