A Change in Approach

You should never give yourself a chance to fall apart because when you do, it becomes a tendency, and it happens over and over again. You must practice staying strong instead. –Elizabeth Gilbert’s Guru, Eat Pray Love

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Water Droplets on Window Teal Tint

 

 

Before
Before, I used to think crying was a good thing, like if I got it over with, I would be better. But after I started the birth control, it didn’t get better. The crying got worse. I cried over more things. I was sick and irritable. I had heartburn a lot of the time because of the crying and stress.

At the time, I guess crying needed to happen. It would well up in me, my throat would constrict, and I could feel the dam about to break. It wasn’t much of a dam. I could barely hold it back. Once I got to that point, there was no going back. For my husband, then boyfriend, I imagine it must’ve been like dating a pregnant woman. I was on the verge of tears whenever things got serious. Granted, I was working through many issues in my life, but I was working through them and having a good cry about once a week, a bad cry about once a month.

Crying once a month sounds okay for a woman, I think. We live in a rip tide of hormones that wax and wane throughout the month. They surge and fall, most distinctly once per month. But I couldn’t hack it the rest of the time because of the birth control pills. Don’t get me wrong–I’m also thankful for the birth control pills, for reasons I’ll explain later. It seems that my life could not have happened any other way. But they also made me a crybaby for much of my twenties.

The more I cried, the harder it was not to cry again. Physically, when I had a crying session, there would be a time period, the next 6-12 hours, sometimes even 24 hours, of recovery, during which crying would happen again more easily. So, there could be a domino effect of crying! But mainly, I think the biggest change was coming off the birth control pills. I haven’t had as “dry” a time in my adult life as the past 6 months when I have been off birth control pills.

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Yellow sunflowers helped reduce crying, as did rainbows and unicorns.

After
I learned over time the difficulties posed by crying too much. Changing my attitude toward crying helped. I realized that although my body felt like it needed to cry, it wouldn’t help anything, really. Sometimes after crying, I would feel better, but if I wanted to cry out of frustration because my husband was digging himself a hole in the middle of a fight, crying wouldn’t make it better.

So, I learned to slow down when I started to feel upset. I learned to walk away and calm down in an argument. I learned that a confrontation was not a reason for stress, that it could be no big deal. It didn’t always work, and confrontations are still stressful at times, but I now know it’s not the end of the world. I had to learn this because I could see how much energy the stress sapped from me, including the time and energy I spent crying. In addition, crying can be an argument-ending move, but other parties in an argument or confrontation can begin to feel it’s manipulative. That’s not helpful either.

I had to un-learn many bad habits from the high-stress environment in which I grew up. Such as:

There’s no reason to feed the energy of an argument. You can cool things down instead by being calm, and not fake-calm that’s really sulky and pouting. A discussion is not a threat. Your tone can influence the energy, turning an argument into an important talk. Arguments or discussions can be exciting, but they can turn bad rather quickly.

Sometimes speaking more quietly can make it easier to be heard. I don’t enjoy being interrupted, and I often find myself speaking louder when I think someone is missing the point or talking over me. However, speaking more quietly can cause other speakers to lower their voices too. While they may not be listening better, they might hear better.

If you’re really angry or frustrated, just come back to it later. There’s no use wasting all that energy on stress when it could be used more productively, especially if you might say something you regret. You can’t recover lost time or words said. It might be a good idea to let other parties know what you’re doing though. I had a very hard time pausing an argument until my husband reassured me that we could come back to it. I wasn’t as helpful at times, and he was left wondering if we were still on speaking terms.

Inflammatory words or phrases such as cursing or phrases that have become sensitive spots for others are not worth using. You end up sucking ll reason out of the other party. Just learn to rephrase or avoid them. And stick to “I” statements instead of more accusatory “you” statements. Be specific about what you want. No one is going to “stop being a jerk” but they might stop leaving their dirty clothes on your bed.

Again, keep it in perspective. Whatever you’re stressed or frustrated or worried or arguing about is not worth your health and peace of mind. I reminded myself of this by wearing a necklace that reminded me to be Zen. It helped change my thinking.

Basically, I tried to reduce the stress and avoid stress to help cut down the crying. It just wasn’t worth giving up my health for it. Then, I also gave up birth control pills, which helped me a LOT.

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