January 29, 2013

A Tear's Worth

Today at work, I held a crying woman in my arms.

She works for me, and is one of our best sales girls. But, being fiercely competitive, she'd gotten into a fight the day before with another sales associate, who is even more territorial than she is, and somewhat mean-spirited about it.

"I am not that strong..." she sobbed.

"What we make per hour is not worth your tears," I urged her, as I pleaded with her to stop crying. "A five dollar commission is not worth crying over. This just not worth getting this upset over!"

I remember former bosses at my former jobs telling me the same thing, when I burst into tears over the mundanities of the music industry, which seemed to me at the time to be earth-shattering. I've learned to pace myself at work now. I've learned to weigh what matters against how hard I am working, how exhausted I am getting, and how much I am upsetting.

This is true not only at work but also in life. I used to cry all the time. I was a non-stop bawler as a baby, and a terrible tantrum-thrower as a toddler. For my entire childhood, I cried myself to sleep every single night, often after having cried nearly all day long at the hands of my mother.

In New York City, I sobbed on the subway. I let tears stream down my face as I perched at any number of bars, not even bothering to wipe them or their tracks away. I wailed as I walked home from the train or the bus, in the dark, alone and cold, defeated. I bawled in bed on Sunday afternoons instead of living, breathing, basking.

I don't cry so much anymore. I often feel like crying, but the tears don't come. My eyes hoard them selfishly, suspiciously, drying my ducts despite my bitter, deep desire to open the floodgates for old time's sake.

Did I wise up? Have I learned to value the currency of my tears, and not shed them foolishly for fools? Or have I just given up so much that I can't even succumb to my own emotions anymore?

I rather miss my outbursts.

Are my tears really so precious to keep inside my head?

On New Year's Eve (a frequently tear-soaked holiday in my past), I made Michelle promise she wouldn't get all upset over a guy, but shortly after the clock struck, so did the tears. Her face winced. And I, like the terrible, heartless friend that I am, yelled at her for breaking her promise and not being happy to just spend New Year's with her best friend.

Few guys are worth crying over. Most of them are the equivalent of a minimum wage job at the mall. But we seem to always justify crying over all of them.

So who is worth crying over? What is worth crying over?

What is a tear's worth?

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  1. I have alternately seen crying as a weakness and then a strength. I have spent years dry as a bone, and a few years (tellingly, the ones after the dry spell) filling an ocean. Fo a long time I felt like my crying was at a good, adult level, not often, but here and there. A sad movie, a death of a distant relative, a build up of frustration at work or in my relationship. Last Spring I suffered a big loss and was thrown again into a tissue box a week habit for a few months. Now, I kind of few it less as something with worth, and more as something that relieves physical tension for me. My tears are mine, and what I cry over has nothing to do with them, and everything to do with self-soothing. I cry a lot less now that I've reclaimed my tears as mine.