Why You’re Not Crying

Oct 13, 2017

Words by Kathryn Monsewicz


A lot of people are afraid of crying. Of course, some cry because they are afraid, and then they are afraid because they are crying. It all has to do with the person crying being in the public eye. What will my friends, my classmates, my co-workers, my professor, my worshipped deity or nanny from when I was 3 years old — what will they think? Am I weak? Am I broken? Am I not worthy?


Don’t think you are weak. You are not broken. You’re worth more than you think. Don’t focus on the fact you are crying, or else you’ll probably start dry heaving and shaking like you’re doing the hokey-pokey on expert level. Focus instead on why you are not crying.

Maybe that sounds odd. Maybe a little bit impossible.

“Crying while I focus on why I’m not crying? But, Kat, I am crying. See these tears?! These salty drops of sadness and anger streaming out of my eye holes?!”

I see them. And I’m sure you can barely see through them. But I’m asking you to try.

Last spring I was in a residential treatment program for medical purposes. The ladies I lived with were lovely and open and honest and trusting. I believe in their recovery sometimes more than I believe in my own.

One morning, after breakfast ended at 8:45 a.m. sharp, we wandered into the art room that doubles as a yoga studio. Brenda was there, setting up the room with purple and green foam blocks, giant tube pillows, heavy blankets and soft, squishy mats. The room was prepared. She sat in front of us in lotus pose (it’s a pose that’s supposed to make you look like a lotus flower, sitting in an upside-down sort of Indian-style with the bottoms of your feet facing the ceiling.) The calming music, with its waterfall grace and slow, even pace, played on her phone as we started the first pose.

I can’t remember the sequence of poses, with a warrior one here and a warrior one there, here a warrior one, there a warrior one, everywhere a warrior one — you get the idea. What mattered wasn’t the pose I was in, but how that pose felt and the way my body breathed with thought more than it did with instinct. When you feel the breath, in through the nose and out through the mouth, sweep through your body, you feel it cleansing your blood and turning its red ugliness into something clear and sparkling new.

“Every breath is something new,” Brenda said.

Yoga makes you become something in the moment. It erases what you were and prepares you for what you will become. And that’s when I started to cry.

I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t anxious or angry. I was calm and happy. So why the tears? At the end of the hour-long session, I told Brenda that first I didn’t understand why my body felt the need to cry. She said emotions will come up in a safe space. We cry, we giggle, we sob and we guffaw, but we don’t know why.

So instead of focusing on why you are crying — because sadness is something you do understand — focus instead on why you are not crying. I was ignoring everyone else around me and trying to keep my eyes closed to center myself and feel only the presence of my own body.

I was not crying because I made my body — again, MY own body — happy. I was seeking guidance in my own body rather than searching for the approval of my friends or the teacher.

So, why was I crying without feeling sadness? Because the sadness I kept inside, the frustration I had and affirmation I sought, were oozing through my pores, the energy mixing with the clean, fresh air I was breathing, and it was becoming the second chance Brenda was talking about.

Just a few tears brought me to realize that, as humans, we don’t cry because somewhere inside the present is the chance at happiness, and we know it. We may not show it, but by golly we know it.