Do you know what a complete stranger could learn about me in a matter of minutes?
They could learn my name, where I live, that I hate vegetables, what my favourite movies are, how long I was in my last relationship, the size of my feet, what colour lipstick I wear and even what I’ve been feeling lately. In all honesty they could learn more about me than anyone who I would physically invite over for drinks would ever know. Note: this is not a rant about the horrors of social media and the intrusion of our privacy. Screw it, I really don’t care.
But as I started thinking about how much I put out there about myself, the more I started thinking that, good or bad… I actually like putting that much personal information out there. Without knocking on someone’s door at 3am telling them that I am contemplating my existence, I can write it, post it, reread it. Call me naïve but I don’t have concerns about my identity being stolen or being stalked. Perhaps that would change if it happened (knock on wood) but I digress…
I enjoy being a warts and all type of person. It’s a huge step for me on a journey of self acceptance (ohm). It allows me to be brave, it allows me to analyze my faults, to open myself to criticism. I’m by no means perfect and the internet and social media could be the ideal place to pretend that I am. Air brush my photo, write statuses and tweets about how everyday I am extremely happy, manufacture fake achievements, pretend to have more friends than I do, just… be perfect. But see…. not only do I not actually want to be perfect in reality, I don’t want to pretend to be perfect either. If you are at all privy to my musings, blogs, social media, emails, whatever… you will see raw emotion, you will see hurt, you will see mistakes, arrogance, low self esteem, naiveté and self doubt. Every day. Of course I don’t want to inspire mass suicides so this will also be mixed in with joy. But when I feel it. I feel like, if you want to know me, then KNOW me. If you don’t, well delete me and while I obsess over why I was deleted, forget me.
So as I thought about how I revel in the big picture I paint for myself on the world wide web and in the minds of those around me, I randomly thought, what about my dad?
Ok let me explain that more. I was thinking about what it would be like for someone who shared nothing?
My dad is older, in his seventies now and he does not understand social media nor does he want to. He is intensely suspicious of it like a lot of his generation. So there will be no status updates from him anytime soon. But beyond that. I’m his daughter, and I know barely anything about him. I’ve seen him cry twice and we never talked about it. I don’t really know what he likes, what he hates, what he wants out of life. I don’t know what scares him, what gives him joy, what makes him reflect. Sure I could tell you what he watches on TV, maybe what his favourite meal is. But if you asked me to paint a picture of my dad, my canvas would be more like a puzzle than anything else. Missing many pieces.
Realistically, he is in the twilight of his life. My sons are going to ask about him when he’s gone. And there is no person, no reference and certainly no website that could tell them what they are going to undoubtedly want to know. I realize that there exists an older, more stoic and reserved mindset. But what does that leave us in the end?
So you could argue about the pros and cons of living a public and very open existence. You could talk to me about privacy and decency and ego. Talk to me about how this phenomena has shaped our culture. Say, back in my day, yada yada yada….
But when I die, my children can look back and know who I really was, flaws and all. Maybe it’s a good thing, maybe it’s not. But I lean towards the former when I think, what does anyone really know about my father?
It seems to me that if you suffer from a physiological response to emotion or outside stimuli on a somewhat regular basis, the next logical step to take is to analyze why you are reacting this way. Here is what I have learned about the human reaction of emotional crying.
Crying is the shedding of tears in response to an emotional state. It all starts in the cerebrum where sadness is registered. The endocrine system is then triggered to release hormones to the ocular area, which then causes tears to form.
The phrase “having a good cry” suggests that crying can actually make you feel physically and emotionally better, which many people believe. Some scientists agree with this theory, asserting that chemicals build up in the body during times of elevated stress. These researchers believe that emotional crying is the body’s way of ridding itself of these toxins and waste products. Research suggests that emotion-induced crying is therefore, at least in part, an excretory process which removes stress-related toxins.
Biochemist William Frey has spent 15 years as head of a research team studying tears. The team found that, although tear production organs were once thought to be vestigial (left over from evolution) and no longer necessary for survival, tears actually have numerous critical functions. For example, the simple act of crying reduces the body’s manganese level, a mineral which affects mood and is found in up to 30 times greater concentration in tears than in blood serum. They also found that emotional tears contain 24 per cent higher albumin protein concentration than tears caused by eye irritants
“As an adult, you cry much less than when young, and your crying is more often subdued, teary weeping than the demonstrative, vocal sobbing of childhood. . . [T]he trauma that causes your crying is now more often emotional than physical. However, whether intentional or not, as adult or child, you cry to solicit assistance, whether physical aid or emotional solace. Paradoxically, your adult cry for help is more private than the noisy, promiscuous pronouncement of childhood, often occurring at home, where it finds a select audience. The developmental shift from vocal crying to visual tearing favors the face-to-face encounters of an intimate setting. The maturation of inhibitory control gives adults the ability to select where and when crying occurs, or to inhibit it altogether, options less available to children.” – Robert R. Provine
Physiologically speaking, emotional tears are elicited when a person’s system shifts rapidly from sympathetic to parasympathetic activity—from a state of high tension to a period of recalibration and recovery. Depending on the circumstances, individuals typically describe such shifts as “letting go,” “going off duty,” or “giving up.” Of course, nothing is literally “released” when these biophysical changes occur, although the person’s adrenaline level drops and the body relaxes.
While there is good evidence that crying makes people feel better, there is little evidence showing any cathartic effect of crying, if by that is meant some sort of peaceful relief from tension or another emotion. No cathartic effect of crying has been observed when people are asked to cry as opposed to suppressing their tears while watching sad events.
If crying is not physiologically beneficial, what then is the purpose of emotionally aroused tears? Is it entirely psychological? Recurrent sociological interpretations emphasize the communicative value of crying. Crying, like a shout or a sneeze, attracts the immediate attention of others. Tears provoke an emotional response in the observer which, in the more skeptical views, not only elicits sympathy but acts as a manipulative tool.
Other ideas about crying fluctuate between the sociological and the biological. Darwin noted that the main expressive movements during crying (and other actions such as laughing or blowing the nose) lead to a rise of pressure in the chest and abdomen, which leads to increased blood pressure in the eyes. In order to prevent damage to the eyes, the muscles around them contract. Darwin considered that this protective contraction “was a fundamental element in several of our most important expressions.”
A British pamphlet from 1755, Man: A Paper for Ennobling the Species, proposed a number of ideas for human improvement, and among them was the idea that something called “moral weeping” would help:
We may properly distinguish weeping into two general kinds, genuine and counterfeit; or into physical crying and moral weeping. Physical crying, while there are no real corresponding ideas in the mind, nor any genuine sentimental feeling of the heart to produce it, depends upon the mechanism of the body: but moral weeping proceeds from, and is always attended with, such real sentiments of the mind, and feeling of the heart, as do honour to human nature; which false crying always debases.
In this text and throughout human history, some tears have been considered good, and some, like those that are not “genuine,” have been held in contempt. Some tears do honor to human nature, some debase it. This distinction is one of the perennial strands of the cultural history of crying, found in ancient fables, medieval monastic treatises, court culture, and our own films and sitcoms. But while it is fair to say that the “good cry” and the debased cry have always been with us and always will be, what constitutes a good cry changes over time. If a young woman were to fall on the ground weeping in a restaurant, say, and wash her father’s feet with her tears while begging for his forgiveness, few people would find it as appropriate or heartwarming a sight as a group at an eighteenth-century British inn might have, or as eighteenth-century novel readers clearly did. And the same is true for the other judgments we make about tears, as when we deem them to be normal or excessive, sincere or manipulative, expressive or histrionic.
New analysis by Dr. Oren Hasson of TAU’s Department of Zoology shows that tears still signal physiological distress, but they also function as an evolution-based mechanism to bring people closer together.”Crying is a highly evolved behavior,” explains Dr. Hasson. “Tears give clues and reliable information about submission, needs and social attachments between one another. My research is trying to answer what the evolutionary reasons are for having emotional tears. My analysis suggests that by blurring vision, tears lower defences and reliably function as signals of submission, a cry for help, and even in a mutual display of attachment and as a group display of cohesion,” he reports. His research, published recently in Evolutionary Psychology, investigates the different kinds of tears we shed — tears of joy, sadness and grief — as well as the authenticity or sincerity of the tears. Crying, Dr. Hasson says, has unique benefits among friends and others in our various communities.
Approaching the topic with the deductive tools of an evolutionary biologist, Dr. Hasson investigated the use of tears in various emotional and social circumstances. Tears are used to elicit mercy from an antagonistic enemy, he claims. They are also useful in eliciting the sympathy — and perhaps more importantly the strategic assistance — of people who were not part of the enemy group.”This is strictly human,” reasons Dr. Hasson. “Emotional tears also signal appeasement, a need for attachment in times of grief, and a validation of emotions among family, friends and members of a group.” Crying enhances attachments and friendships, says Dr. Hasson, but taboos are still there in certain cases. In some cultures, societies or circumstances, the expression of emotions is received as a weakness and the production of tears is suppressed. For example, it is rarely acceptable to cry in front of your boss at work — especially if you are a man, he says.
Multiple studies across cultures show that crying helps us bond with our families, loved ones and allies, Dr. Hasson says. By blurring vision, tears reliably signal your vulnerability and that you love someone, a good evolutionary strategy to emotionally bind people closer to you. “Of course,” Dr. Hasson adds, “the efficacy of this evolutionary behavior always depends on who you’re with when you cry those buckets of tears, and it probably won’t be effective in places, like at work, when emotions should be hidden.” Dr. Hasson, a marriage therapist, uses his conclusions in his clinic. “It is important to legitimize emotional tears in relationships,” he says. “Too often, women who cry feel ashamed, silly or weak, when in reality they are simply connected with their feelings, and want sympathy and hugs from their partners.”
In one study of personality and crying, the circumstances of crying in the previous year were rated, and personality questionnaires filled out by 70 male and 70 female volunteers. The death of a friend and breaking up rated highest in terms of occasions. Women cried more frequently and intensely than men, and in both sexes crying positively correlated with personality variables related to empathy.
It’s true that women are more prone to crying than men, at least after they reach puberty. Women have more of the prolactin hormone, which contributes to tears and how much people cry. There also is a difference in the shape of men’s and women’s tear ducts, although it’s unclear whether this is a cause of more crying in women. Another reason women cry more could be that women get depressed more than men, and people cry more when they are depressed. Social mores also permit women to cry, whereas crying is considered unacceptable behavior for men.
Women seem to worry more than men, and it could be that they’re also more prone to feeling stressed. In women, the part of the brain that deals with stress is linked to the area that controls hormones and digestion, which is not the case in men. That means that women tend to exhibit more physical symptoms from stress than men. Women also have more stress hormones than men. After a traumatic experience, a woman’s stress hormone levels take longer to get back to normal levels than do a man’s. Could it be that some of these physiological effects come across as emotional ones?
A purely human act, it seems that with extensive research that crying is essential to the way we relate with our emotions and each other. With the most modern studies proclaiming tears and emotional crying as a purely positive way to shed stress, toxins and built up chemicals there remains one intangible but very real challenge.
Or even if you just feel…. blah. Written by Jessica Cooper, TIME magazine’s 2006 person of the year, it completely encapsulates a list of seriously simple ideas, very often over complicated.
“Life is amazing, but sometimes it’s hard to acknowledge because of all the sticky situations and straight-up terrible nonsense that happens in our lives.
Let me guess: Right when you FINALLY think something is going great, something bad happens again. When does it end, right? Why you? Why can’t you just be NORMAL like “everybody else”? How come it seems like some people have no problems at all, and you’re stuck under a constant avalanche?”
Exactly how I feel right now.
She continues to list ten ways to keep positive, change your mind and ultimately how you respond to life.
I might add…
11. Just breathe.
If something is overwhelming you at any point, clear your mind and just concentrate on forcing breath in and out of your lungs. Seems silly but if you can delay your sense of panic or unease for a short time, it is always lessened.
You know when you realize how important something is to you right? When you lose it.
You may think you know, you may believe that you understand and respect the importance of a thing but it’s my belief that it’s a failing of human culture to take things for granted until you no longer have that luxury.
I lost my best friend. In fact a lot of spectacularly shitty things have occurred since I wrote anything last. For fear of a negative diatribe that would be splattered all over social media I just restrained myself from venting. I mean hey, a few bitter status updates may have slipped out as I’m only human. But now I write because I lost my best friend.
So like I was saying, I could have gone on for hours before this happened about how I realized how important he was, how special I knew he was, but until today when he was 100% completely gone I had no clue that he possessed such a large piece of my heart. And that I would be so lost without him.
I’ve been through bad relationships, I’ve been through violence, I’ve been through hard work, poverty, and I’m raising kids which is it’s own special kind of hell and heaven mixed together. But I always had a best friend. That person I call at 2am. The person that can look at me and know that something is bothering me. The only one person in the world that can reach into my worst hysterical emotional panic attack and drag me back into my safe happy place. For god’s sake the man built my happy place.
Why did it end? It doesn’t really matter. Not my fault, not his fault. It just had to end and there was nothing I could do to change it.
I once went to a counselor after a very traumatizing break up. He drew a diagram of healthy relationship and unhealthy relationships. He drew two circles and in the first diagram he drew them side by side. He said, “Imagine the circles are you and your partner. This is a relationship where both people are so independent that they don’t need anything from one another, they exist as solitary creatures within a committed union. It requires very little communication, and this is unhealthy.” He drew another two circles this time they intersected but almost so completely that they appeared to be one circle. ” This is a relationship were it is so dependant that you can not ascertain where one person ends and the other begins. There is almost no independence and tell me Shauna, what do you get if someone leaves this relationship?” He erased one circle. What remained was the other circle looking like a sliver of a moon. “One person is almost always left as a shell of who they used to be. They aren’t whole any longer and functionality is near impossible. They depended on their partner too much, to the point where they can’t function without them.”
As a person with deep-rooted abandonment issues, that overly dependent style was almost always the way my relationships look near the end. Even my friendships.
This is a healthy relationship. Where independence is maintained yet a balance of dependence is also rooted in the union.
Ok so you all know where this is leading right? I’m single with two kids and the only person in the entire world I had left is gone. You know the only option for me now right? I have to make friends with someone I really don’t like very much. Someone who is over emotional, clingy, blunt, insecure, a bad decision maker, desperate, a loner…. just an overall mess of a human being…..
Yep, that bitch.
How the hell am I supposed to make friends with someone I’ve lived with for 28 years and still can’t stand to be alone with?? Her only redeeming quality is she is the mother of my children…
Shauna Simpson Shinn There’s nothing wrong with sexuality and the human body. It’s natural and beautiful. I’m not ashamed at all. If sex and nakedness makes a woman a whore then every mother in the world is a whore. Go whores!!
Shauna Simpson Shinn No fighting Uncle Jesse. I’m not a whore. My kids are fine. If someone doesn’t like my pictures then they shouldn’t let their kids look at my page. The pictures are designed to make people feel good.
Oh no iam a tuff guy unlike you puss.I may not spell very well but I have alway and can still back back up everything I say.I’ve kick over and seen wat you look like and you ain’t much .any knock can talk thrish from up there
Shauna Simpson Shinn I love you, you love me but think I’m a whore and I’m ok with that, Eric and Sara like naked people too and I love them and they love me. All our kids love us. Do you SEE all the love around here?? It’s great. Besides, that one girl in the pic had great boobs. Huh, huh? That’s gotta put a little pep in your step 🙂
Eric Hey Jesse, if you have to tell people you’re a tough guy, you probably aren’t. I live in ****, OH. Look me up when you get to town. Of course, that means you’ll need to be able to read road signs, and map directions. Your prospects of doing that successfully seem dubious (dubious means doubtful).
All I know about you is that you’re practically illiterate and willing to call people a whore for some fairly tame pictures posted to their own wall, not yours. Who are these imaginary kids she’s corrupting with those images anyway? Sounds to me like you’re a large’ish asshole who hates his own life so much that he spends most of his time sitting around drinking, feasting on the regrets of his mis-spent youth, and trying to drag others down into the shit spittoon he calls a life.
Like I said, look me up when you get to town and I’ll be happy to test your mettle. (Mettle in this case means personal strength and willingness to back up the blank check your mouth just wrote).
Shauna Simpson Shinn Eric you meant to say you love everyone right? Right. Uncle Jesse is my good friend’s Uncle. He’s a war hero and he lives in Texas. Different world. He’s usually a very nice man he just doesn’t like boobies I’m guessing. P.S. Is it wrong I think the word mettle is sexy? Is that adding fuel to the fire?
Shauna Simpson Shinn You can’t be mad at an entire culture of people that believes things like that. I just hope some of them open their minds a little more to love and kindness. Holy fuck we have SO much hate and judging in this world. It’s a BODY. He has one, you have one, I have one. To be appalled at it in an artistic photo means what for our society? That this is a worse thing than war, crime, hate and bullying? I think it’s beautiful. In my opinion only.
Eric I think he’s just an old fart who doesn’t understand how FB works. He seems to think that any kid can see your profile and that’s what he took exception with….but his opening position was calling you a whore, and that just seems..I dunno, asinine? Maybe that’s too polite a word for it.
It feels much later than it is. It feels late when my eyes start burning. That means I’m overtired.
So I had something on my mind today. I started thinking about it when my husband and I were fighting.
Why is life so hard? And is it hard for everyone?
I can’t pretend to know anyone’s struggles in life, so I’ll just say it’s hard for me. My best friend always tells me that “it doesn’t have to be hard.” “Sometimes you just wake up, go to work, eat and sleep.” ” Make life easier.” Honestly, I could quote him all day because he has given me more pep talks and advice than one person should be given in a lifetime. But I never really understand those things…. how exactly do I do this? Maybe one more quote from him…. “Do something different.”
Ok so tomorrow I want to finally go to a Buddhist Zendo because I really need some focus in my life. And because it’s different. And because it might really help me with my struggles. But “we” decided it is too early. And a fight ensued…. and that’s when I began thinking,
He doesn’t want to fight. I don’t want to fight. Why are we fighting?
I want to get out and do more things, why don’t I? I want to make more money, why don’t I figure out a way to? I want to be healthier, why don’t I eat better, exercise more and take all the medicine I’m supposed to? I want less stress in my life, why don’t I figure out relaxation techniques that work for me?
Why don’t I make my life easier?
I have no fucking clue.
Could it be that sometimes we don’t place enough value on ourselves? Perhaps I don’t think I’m worth the extra effort. Because I know that if I’m at work, I’ll kill myself so that the business does well. At home I’ll bend over backwards so that my kids are happy. The things I don’t work for are things I don’t feel are important. Maybe I’m not important in my own life.
How the hell does that even happen? And are there other people out there that have the same issue?
So… alright. Psycho analysis complete. Now what? Then I begin thinking about something else. I really feel like it’s true.
Love helps everything and everyone. I’m going to put more love out there than I ever have. Help more people. Give away kindness. Teeter on exhaustion until happiness fills the people around me. Strangers even. How does this help me you ask?
Well, I don’t know that it will. I do know if you put out positivity, you often receive it in return. I know that the mood of people around you, alter yours. And I know that sometimes when you stop thinking about your problems, the answer will come.
And if all else fails, at least I put a little love out into the world.
Completed with hurt and pain, a boy set out to find love.
Half-blind with misunderstandings he could only recognize a glimpse.
A glimpse of connectivity or the subtle brushing back of girl’s hair.
The boy’s head began to throb, time was ticking exponentially.
Mist filled his senses and he started to choke.
Until he saw the silhouette of a young girl skating around him in loose figure eights.
He leaped before her and ripped his heart from his chest and put it at her feet. He told her his secrets, entwined his fingers with hers and told her of his impending doom.
She sat, cross-legged beside him and invited him to lay his head pounding with fear on her lap. She looked down the bridge of his nose to see a single tear of relief falling.
He had transformed the branches of her pathway to a single road. Dusty and well worn with footsteps. He asked would she travel with him, he could not walk alone.
She slid her tongue along the edge of her teeth and nodded her head, yes.
The pain in his head subsided and he wrapped her in translucent pink gauze for the journey.
Walking on her right side, never looking at her, only ahead, he sensed soldiers of an unknown army running in the woods beside them.
Shaking with panic, he threw her to the ground. Accusations shot from his fingertips and encircled her wrists. She ran through every word she knew to say love. She told him in every language that had ever been spoken. She loved him, she loved him.
He pulled her up slowly. But it was not the same anymore. The love was gone now. Alarms screeched from somewhere, he had set them to go off now.
He gave her one last glance and ran back from whence he came. He needed to find love once again.
A hand against the side of his head. He ran until he found it.