Is weeping the new Botox?

Well, we’re in the official holiday season, and for many of us that means angst and despair peppered in with our joyous feelings of Norman Rockwell family life.

As a therapist I have learned the value of feelings—and particularly as a male, it has been a steep and winding road from intellectualized repression to the freedom to surrender to raw and turbulent emotions.  As parents we are asked to do a lot of containing—holding everything from poopy diapers to the unmetabolized emotional bile that our kids swallow in public life and then regurgitate to us.  Eventually it is simply becomes too much for all of us and it comes time to open the flood-gates and float with Alice down the Wonderland torrent of our own tears.

If it’s true, as Tolstoy says, in Anna Karenina, that, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” then to some degree at least all the families I know are unique.  Of course there is love, in some form or other, no matter how twisted, in every family; but all families have dysfunction and as a result they all have pain.  The holidays mean more time with family, and often in a wider context of what family is and is not, stirring our hopes and then dashing them as often as not.

It was in that spirit that my wife recently found herself going through a tearful afternoon and evening, and when she got together with her best pal the next day for a long-planned girls’ outing including facials, she noticed in the mirror that while the crying had swollen her eyes, it had also removed the wrinkles.  Getting to connect deeply with a friend who dates back to kindergarten, with whom she’s been through thick and thin, was healing in and of itself—but the realization that crying is emotionally healthier than holding it in, and ends up having the same basic effect as Botox with its puffy pretense of youth (are young people actually puffy?) left her singing the praises of a good cry.

So, while I’m all for good cheer if you can authentically locate it, when the dark and drizzly final days of November send a doleful shiver through your soul, let yourself have a good wrenching cry.  Many people are blocked from their tears, adding to the thinly veiled rage that pulses at a Jezebel decibel one notch below the forced gaiety of torturous holiday mall muzak, so trust that when you weep, you may be shedding a tear for the vast uncried, perhaps even in the service of all our collective children.

Namaste, Bruce

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3 Responses to “Is weeping the new Botox?”

  1. BigLittleWolf Says:

    Lovely. (And love the Tolstoy reference.) Glad I apparently will not need Botox anytime soon. (The bright side to everything.)

  2. Bruce Sallan Says:

    Holiday time is a tough time for the best of us. This TG I realized I was the senior “dad” in our family and that was a harsh dose or reality!

  3. Cathy Says:

    That is me…blocked! Even Hallmark isn’t doing it for me this year. Watched a silly Lifetime movie this morning and nothing. Just the hint of a tear.

    I’m not one to give up though! A good cry is in the works, I can feel it coming.

    By the way, love your writing. Wish I had, had access to it when raising my two boys.

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