When I have to confront someone about any issue, there is an 85% chance that I will cry. Sometimes, this response makes sense, like when I was working 70 hours a week last summer as a waitress, got yelled at by three different tables in one day, and burst out sobbing.
However, it did not make sense a couple of weeks ago when I was trying to explain to my boss that I was not getting a fair number of hours, and my voice started cracking.
I don’t even have to be emotionally invested in the conversation for it to happen. It’s just that, for some reason, my hormonal response is to burst into tears, and this regularly complicates my everyday life.. When I want to ask a question or express a controversial opinion in class, my fear that I will begin crying stops me. Worse, my crying’s made it really hard for me to be a good bystander. It’s not that I don’t want to help, but my crying makes me seem emotionally unstable, and then no one takes me seriously.
It can also make it more difficult to maintain friendships after a fight. The moment I start to cry, people get freaked out and they begin to distance themselves from me.
Out of all of these situations, it is probably the most frustrating when I need to confront someone. When I had issues with my living situation as a first-year, I struggled to communicate my grievances to my roommate because I was afraid I would cry. So I just suffered in silence.
I’ve tried a few ways to quell my compulsive crying. I’ve tried pinching myself during uncomfortable conversations and using the pain as a distraction, but it didn’t distract me enough. I’ve tried emotionally distancing myself from the situation, or rehearsing the conversation in my head before it takes place, but those techniques usually fail when I see the other person, which seems to trigger my emotional response.
At this point, the best thing I can do is explain before the conversation that I might start tearing up. It allows everyone time to prepare for the fact that I could make us all very uncomfortable once I start helplessly sniffling.
But is it really my responsibility to shield other people from my emotions? I know I am not the only person struggling with uncontrollable tear ducts (this Reddit thread told me so), so why aren’t people more empathetic?
This discussion can hopefully plant a seed of understanding in people even if they are still made uncomfortable with my crying. And, I hope my emotional vulnerability concerning this issue leads to a more sob-sympathetic CT readership.