As someone who feels free to cry anywhere, from classrooms where I’m teaching to bars where I’m drinking, I’ve become somewhat of an expert on places to cry in public.
Although crying is one of the healthiest and most stress-relieving activities we can employ, it has one of the worst reputations in the emotional expression repertoire. Shedding a tear has the same effect on your body as laughter. It is powerful enough to reduce stress, slow aging, moisturize your eyes, clear your lungs, increase heart strength, and spare your stomach lining.
Yet when you shed a tear at work, at a bar, or on the Senate floor, it is met with uncomfortable people who try to fix you or ignorant people who assume you’re weak.
I won’t hold my breath for the moment our country changes its negative and punitive reactions to this coping skill, but till then, if you find yourself needing a moment to openly wail, here are the best places to let it all out in D.C.:
In The Shower at Vida Fitness
There is no better place on this earth to cry than the shower. Beyond the solitary nature of the shower, the calm of water flowing down the body, the warmth of the water, and soothing white noise all contribute to the relaxation effect of crying in the shower. You are also more likely to cry harder for shorter periods of time in this environment.
The human body cannot maintain more than 20 to 30 min of heartfelt crying. Alone in a quiet shower, you will feel free to completely let yourself grieve.
While crying in your own shower is great, the shower at Vida Fitness or the gym at your office can definitely give you the same relief.
At E Street Cinema in Chinatown
E Street Cinema is so dark you can barely see your hand in front of your face, much less see someone else crying. It is also completely commonplace to cry at the movies– sad or funny movie be damned!
At the movies, you have at least 2 hours to fall apart, and by the time the movie is over you will have to pull yourself together, stop crying, and walk out.
Giving yourself a start and end point is healthy and necessary. Exhausted and depleted by the end of the movie, you will walk out feeling a deep sense of relief.
On a Run In Roosevelt Island
If you are like me and you like to exercise, one of the best places to cry is on a running trail while wearing sunglasses. When we are exercising, our body is producing endorphins and adrenalin which usually cause the body to be worked up and have our defenses down.
This allows the body to open the flood gates of whatever emotionality you have been shoving down below the conscious mind. Alone with your thoughts and defenses down, you can experience a gut-wrenching and physically cathartic cry. If you bike, crying while biking can be just as helpful, but you need to be much more aware of your ability to maintain balance while crying.
On the Metro
Let’s face it, if something happens during the day and you barely make it out of your office, the first place you reach is either your car or the metro, and while I am a strong believer in the “car cry”, not everyone is driving home from work. So once you step onto the train and the doors close, you are free to allow the tears to flow and relax the pressure you have been expending to contain the cry.
Let me say it louder for the people in the back. Once you step onto the train and the doors close, you are free to let the tears to flow.
Most people on the metro will either ignore you or offer you a tissue. I’d ask you to do the same if you happen upon a crying human on the metro.
This suggestion may not sit well with some of you who think you should never let any other human being see you cry, but as I am a strong proponent of crying in general, I am not too worried about strangers seeing me cry. They will get on with their lives and maybe learn that it’s okay to cry.
In The Star Spangled Banner Room at the American History Museum
The Parks and monuments in this city are fantastic places to cry. On certain days and nights they are largely deserted. On days people are around, try the room with the Star Spangled Banner in the American History museum. It’s dark and quiet and people will think you’re patriotic af.
In The Summerhouse Near the Capitol Building
Finally, the Summerhouse on the NW corner of the Capitol Building lawn is the perfect place to let it rip. It is beautiful, quiet, often deserted, and has soft water bubbling in the background.
The point is that while it may not be helpful to cry in your office in front of your boss or in the middle of a meeting, it is still extremely important, no matter your gender or family background, that you allow yourself, even make yourself, cry when you are feeling the need to do so.
Postponing it may be required but true strength is demonstrated in the ability to allow yourself to express emotion in appropriate ways at appropriate times.