Tear Ducts of Steel

I rarely cry.  Is that weird?

I know people who cry at everything from sad movies to diaper commercials (apparently, the babies are so cute they can’t emotionally handle it).  Tears of devastation and rage are shed in the wake of global tragedies and tears of joy flow forth when reunited with loved ones.  There are tears for everything–tears of frustration, of deep sadness, of the messiness of everyday life.

And then, there’s me.

I don’t know why I’m not able to cry easily.  Maybe it’s a family thing–my mom frequently refers to her own infrequent tears as a lack of tear ducts.  The first time I saw her cry was at the funeral for my best friend’s dad, who passed away when I was fourteen.  In the ten years since, I think I’ve only seen her tear up a few times.

At times, I thought that maybe I’m just cold hearted.  Maybe I just don’t feel the way other people do.

But the thing is… I DO feel.  There are times when my feelings–rage in global tragedies, frustration of my smallness, manufactured heartbreak from sad movies, pain of being separated from loved ones–are so strong that I can hardly bear them.  I feel the emotions boiling up inside me, rising closer to the surface, waiting to pour forth in salty, glorious tears.  I feel a slight sheen on my eyes and then… nothing comes.  I think I only cry around five times a year (mind you, I’ve never actually counted).

Something I’ve learned from my tear ducts of steel is to savor the tears when they come.  On the morning I left L’Abri this past March, I was on the verge of becoming a human hosepipe from the moment I got out of bed to the moment I set foot on the train that would take me away.  As I said goodbye to my beloved international family, my eyes flowed and, despite the deep sadness and grief, it felt so, so good.

In a way, when it comes to movies, I think that my tears are an indicator of quality.  Only four films, one episode of television, and one stage play have ever made me cry.  When I tell people this, the immediately ask–“Which ones?”–as if any media that can break my tear ducts of steel MUST be worth seeing.

Sometimes, I get envious of the people who are able to express themselves through tears.  It’s such a visible expression of emotion and I wish that I was wired that way.

But I’m not… and that’s okay.

Maybe that’s why I’ve always been drawn to writing and art.  In the absence of crying, I find other ways to express myself.  The words pour out, one after another, vocalizing what my internal self cannot seem to express on its own.  I pick up a paintbrush and find my emotions splayed in an array of colors, landscapes, and folds of clothing.  And, in a way, it’s beautiful.

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