Friday, May 28, 2010

Therapeutic Crying

It has been coming for a couple of weeks. No single big issue or stroke of bad luck, just a series of frustrations that began to add up, a strange sadness that has settled around me like a heavy cloak of blue fog.

Some of the frustrations stem from on-going situations, those daily annoyances that buzz around you, barely noticeable. Then one day you notice a blister. Or a callus.

Some of the frustrations are from prayers that are at least being answered "Not now" if not "No." I can't always tell the difference. Maybe it's "I'm not going to tell you."

Some of the frustrations have been "place in life" situations. How did I get here and how can I get out? Why them, not me? Why me, not them? Why this not that? I'm pretty certain fluctuating hormones are involved.

It was a small thing that set me off this morning- another frustration that in and of itself would probably have never registered as more than a blip on my emotional radar. But, given all things, it swept across me like a raging storm front.

The worst part is that I was at work. It isn't intended to be patting myself on my own back when I say that I really try to have a reputation for never being in a bad mood. I just don't think that my work setting is the place to bring it all out on the laundry line. A co-worker asked me Thursday if I was in a better mood and I was horrified to learn that my emotional slip had been showing the day before. So today I sat in my office desperately trying to get it together. No way was I going to draw attention to my sad self twice in the same week.

Since it's Friday and I was a few hours ahead in my time for the week, I was able to leave work at 1:00pm today. That was when I made The Mistake. I went clothes shopping. I have reached that certain age where a woman could walk to the moon and back and not shed any pounds. In fact, I would probably pick up a few just from being in such close proximity to all that cheese. But we have a wedding to go to tomorrow and I thought it would be nice to treat myself to a new dress. I just wasn't thinking and I'm not going to reveal what size I tried on that didn't fit. Exit stage left to the car to cry like a baby.

I read an article once about the chemical composition of tears, specifically the difference between "irritant" tears and "emotional" tears. Emotional tears have as much as 25 percent more of certain protein-based hormones. These are, to my best understanding, natural opioid painkillers. Beta-endorphins. These are produced by the body when it is under stress and they are secreted via sweat and tears. So that's why people sweat when they are in the hot seat. That's why we cry at times when we would so much rather be cool and calm. It is the body's attempt to purge itself of these toxic chemicals. That's why medical professionals tell us to exercise as a way of dealing with stress. That's why we have that feeling after we cry, that sensation that something very special and almost magical has happened to us. That's why we have a big sigh when we're done.
I do feel better though nothing has actually changed. The same frustrations are still present but tomorrow I'll go for a nice long walk in the morning and work up a big batch of sweat. I'll purge any of those bad-boy hormones that may have accumulated over night and work up some good-girl endorphins. I'll wear my fat-girl dress to the wedding and be happy. Because even though it does have therapeutic effects when administered in proper doses, a girl just can't be going around crying all the time. But then again, isn't it OK to cry at weddings?

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