It is possible to feel beautiful when crying. For me, it’s when the tears emerge without sobs and roll hot and drop off a determined, uplifted chin. When the emotion is safe and cleansing, an expression of freedom as beautiful as music. As long as I am able to put into words my love and frustration with certainty and with dignity, I find I am able to cry without shame.
Unfortunately, this does not happen often.
I constantly wish that I were unable to feel. I’ve tried to talk myself out of fear — one while lying on a hospital bed before my blood was drawn — to determine whether or not being strong is simply a choice (it kind of is and kind of isn’t). I’ve tried to ignore anger when it’s become too complicated to deal with, half as a survival mechanism and half to avoid confronting truth at all. I am exhausted by sadness that doesn’t correspond to logic, by frustration even when I know it’s temporary, and by discouragement in situations which may not even matter in the long run.
I hate being a woman who cries in a society that sees tears as a mark of weakness. And inferiority.
However, this entire series has reminded me that being able to feel is to possess a different strength.
Without empathy and interest for every one of my students, I could not teach because I simply would not care. Without seeing the details in the world around me, I would not be able to write — or, at least not in the same soul-searching, passionate, and honest way that I tend to.
Many of you have shared reactions to this series, which has been really helpful to me — not only to hear who you are but to understand that these reflections have not just been for me. They’ve been for you, too. Knitting us together, and showing all of us where our strengths have their place.