Reading an awesome post by my lovely friend Gemma (and don’t let her fool you – she flew to my rescue back when she barely knew me, and she is an amazing friend), something stirred, reading her words about crying.
If you knew me before the age of 26, you have probably both seen me cry on more than one occasion, and categorised me under “friend who turns on the waterworks at any available moment”. Which is not to say I cried on demand, or out of any kind of manipulative desire, simply that I cried a lot, very easily, about a lot of things.
Discovering the existence of the highly sensitive trait, and that I am in fact an HSP (highly sensitive person) myself was a revelation. This essentially means that I and others like me have sensory processors that are more attuned and sensitive, and so we experience the world more physically and overwhelmingly than most people.
Suddenly I understood why I cry at parts of films that never upset my companions, why I fid news stories devastatingly upsetting, and why loud noises and crowds make me physically flinch. It certainly explained the extra crying!
If you’ve got to know me in the last few years – congratulations, I cry a lot less! I still cry when it’s warranted, and when I’m sad, and when something moves me (often to happy tears – at least half my tears these days are happy ones).
But why do I cry so much less these days, and why are they happier tears when they do arrive?
Partly, I think, it’s to do with being an adult – yes, we’re not expected to fall apart at the slightest provocation, though I don’t give a flying fuck about that really. But actually, as a functioning adult with my own home and car, two cats to look after and a wide selection of friends & family to care about/for, a full time job and several businesses on the go, there quite simply isn’t time to indulge in crying.
And partly, like Gemma, I refuse to watch, see or read anything that is likely to make me cry. Including the tamest of romantic comedies, sometimes, and certainly anything involving death or suffering or animals. Since discovering I’m an HSP, I no longer have a TV licence and haven’t watched or read the news in almost three years, and I try extremely hard to avoid the things that upset me most – including real and fictional accounts of horror, pain and suffering, and also books or films or situations that I know will make me sad.
My most recent tearful moment was when I couldn’t find insurance easily for Run Away Days – frustrated tears more than sad ones. Where once I’d have cried, assumed it wasn’t meant to be and given up, this time I wiped away my tears, put on my big girl pants, did some more researche, wrote down the common sense measures I’d taken in the form of a risk assessment… and bingo, I now have three quotes to choose from.
Where did that extra strength come from? It feels a bit magical to me, as it’s definitely been a sneaky process.
Some of it is definitely down to my alter egos – Lotta is ballsy and fiery, and only cries when it’s really necessary. Nell is steadfast and persistent, and doesn’t get frustrated as easily as I do. But both of them cry abundantly, luxuriously and well when it’s necessary and when it will help. (My dear friend Naomi considers crying to be catharsis for the brain. I am inclined to agree.)
But as I approach the big 3-0, I’m confident, happy and secure in a way I never really was in my 20s. I don’t just like my own company, I actively prefer it to being in a relationship. I’ve spent a lot of time nurturing new friendships locally – not because I don’t love my existing friends, but because it’s really freaking hard to organise whole weekends with far-flung friends, especially as more and more of them get married or start families or move house or decide to travel the world.
The last few years, since escaping the London job and embracing Lotta and Nell as my fiercer, feistier sides, have been devoted mainly to getting to know myself again – and expressing that self in as many ways as possible.
From my clothes to my hair colour, my home to my car, the stationery I use and the way my websites look – everything I do is an extension of me. The more myself I am, the more people and opportunities present themselves who are perfectly aligned with what I want from life and with my purpose.
And the more of that I have – the less reason I have to cry.
I realised the other day (another one that snuck up on me) that I don’t feel lost or directionless any more, as I have done for most of the past decade – I have a long way to go to get to where I actually want to be, in terms of my ideal lifestyle, but I’m excited for that journey.
And when I am sad, I have an amazing array of people in my life to turn to, so the tears generally stop faster.
Here’s to a new decade – with less sad tears and shitloads more happy ones!