Cry Baby Cry

I’ve mentioned before that I cry A LOT. I mostly cry at movies and TV shows, though books, songs, the news and the X Factor are often equally high on my tear-jerker scale. I actually see these emotional outpourings as positive things – if I’m home alone and watching/reading/listening to any of the above I’m likely to just go with it, use it as a sort of cathartic therapy session. It’s a useful release of pent-up emotions.

That said, my inability to hold back tears has caused me a lot of problems throughout my life. When my French exchange partner, a real little madam whose favourite trick was to put her watch back then let me take the blame from my parents for being out past curfew, was asked by some spiteful girls in my French class whether she liked me she replied no – “parce-qu’elle pleure” (because she cries). When, mid-row with my step-dad, I would begin to cry out of pure anger he would call me manipulative and tell me to stop with the crocodile tears as they undermined my every argument. Still, none of this taught me the capacity to control them.

The thing that annoys me most about my crying is that it isn’t just connected to sadness or happiness or anger or pride. I cry most often out of sheer frustration. Sometimes my frustration is aimed at myself, for not being able to express my hurt or anger at those who have hurt or angered me. Sometimes it’s at those who have hurt or angered me for not hearing or listening to the expression of my hurt or anger that has taken so much courage to express. Sometimes it’s at the general world for being so damned frustrating in the first place!

But a lot of the time it’s at work.

Incompetence frustrates me. There’s a lot of that at work (and I’m not talking specifically about my current company here – I’ve worked with a lot of different companies and it seems to be typical across the board).

Lack of communication also frustrates me. That seems to be fairly typical too.

Anything simple that get’s between me and getting my job done efficiently frustrates me. Like ordering new toner cartridges the first time we flag up that the “Toner low” light is flashing rather than waiting until the toner has all gone. Or synchronising my machine with the new printer as soon as the old printer has been replaced, instead of waiting until I have lots to print, suggesting I try any number of other, old machines that don’t work only to finally give in 2 wasted hours later – and discover that the new machine is offline and refusing to play ball. Or expecting me to turn up at a meeting without having actually invited me to said meeting, then coming to ask me why I’m not IN said meeting 10 minutes in.

All of this frustrates me. And frustration makes me cry.

I HATE crying at work. It makes me feel like I have relinquished all control, all pretence at professionalism, all my dignity to my emotions. There’s no way in which it looks good – at best it looks passionate (but emotionally unstable) at worst it looks manipulative and ‘girly’. (I hate using ‘girly’ in a negative way, but it’s not something that links positively with ‘career woman’).

I’ve cried a handful of times at work: once a few years back when a particularly vindictive colleague snapped unnecessarily at me because he was having a bad day; once in my former boss’s office after my engagement was called off (and this time I didn’t just cry but broke down – brought out a paternal side to my boss no-one had ever seen before, most embarrassing as his office was partitioned off from the rest of the open-plan with glass, so everyone could see me sob!); and once – ok, twice – at my current job because of redundancies. It’s only the first of these that really bothers me – the others were legitimate emotional outpourings, unconnected to my professionalism in any way. But that first incident, crying because a bully had been mean to me – it really stings still. The office is not a schoolyard – being attacked in any such way is not appropriate behaviour, but neither is bursting into tears an appropriate reaction.

Thankfully my line manager at the time had been working with me closely for a while and respected me. Enough, at least, to be convinced that it must have been the developer who was at fault and not me. Probably because I’d never cried before…

Still, I always felt that my frustrated tears had really let me down. In different circumstances I would have simply been disregarded as “the little girl who cried”. That’s a label I would like to avoid at all costs.

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10 thoughts on “Cry Baby Cry

  1. Interesting.Can’t you find another way to show your frustration?Do you think that has to do with the fact that you usually don’t shout with people?
    I supose everyone of us has it’s ways of showing emotions.Injustice has know to let me with tears also.

    • I think it definitely has to do with my not shouting at people – it’s another means of dealing with the pent up anger! Maybe I should take up boxing or something – that might calm me down!

  2. I cry quite a bit as well.. and I have cried a few times at work. Mostly during meetings with my boss about my health – because it frustrates me so much I can’t help but cry from the frustration when people talk to me too much about it. I don’t like crying at work, it’s embarrassing to me to be that vulnerable in my workplace.

    I also cry at books, films, etc – anything that touches me emotionally.

    I guess I just wanted to say.. you’re not the only one πŸ™‚

  3. Well add me to the list. πŸ˜‰ I cried while reading your post. Not a full on sob…just a few tears.

    Luckily in my case, I am my own boss, so I rarely have occasion to cry at work. I have a feeling though that I would be much the same as you if I worked in for someone else and did not control much of what frustrates you. (BTW, I get upset with my staff if we run completely out of toner. I like to have a spare on hand at all times!)

    Have you seen the movie Cars? The animated one about race cars? I watch it quite often with my 3 year old son, and I actually cry at the end of the movie EVERY TIME I see it. My friends who also cry at the drop of a hat think that is the most hilarious of my crying tendencies.

    I don’t have any advice about stopping the crying at work. Obviously, if I cry at the same movie after 457 viewings, I’m no help whatsoever. Just know you’re not alone.

    • Ahh, but can you blame your few tears on hormones Corey? πŸ˜‰

      I haven’t seen Cars, but can imagine I would also cry at it. My worst one to cry to is the Muppet Christmas Carol. I cry everytime I watch that – so I only allow myself to watch it in the run up to Christmas! But also, anything Disney, andything with a happy ever after, TV weddings… yes, I cry at all sorts of embarrassing things!

  4. Same boat here, chica, I cry when I get frustrated and get frustrated when I cry – damned vicious circle! I find it particularly annoying when it (inevitably) happens during an argument as I’m well aware it comes across as being manipulative rather than a legitimate way of expressing emotion. People operate on different emotional registers with different trigger points so it’s unrealistic to expect everyone to respond to situations – positive or negative – in the same way.

    When I burst into tears at work a few months ago, it was partly pregnancy-related (damn hormones!) and partly due to feeling the pressure of a full caseload. My colleagues quickly and quietly took me out the back door and talked me through my what was bothering me, then encouraged me to go for a walk with Dave (who, miracle of miracles, was passing by). When I got back to the office, my one-in-a-million boss had a chat with me about my workload, and encouraged me to spend the rest of the day at home, make a fresh start the next day.

    With hindsight, I would say my emotional outburst had a positive effect in that it strengthened the bonds of trust and support between myself and the people I work with. I suppose that’s what you would call a silver lining.

    • I know the visciuos circle well – I don’t intentionally cry, but sometimes it’s impossible to stop myself!

      Your boss sounds fabulous – very supportive! And I do like the idea of strengthening the bonds/trust – I think my little redundancy outburst showed the lads that I was really upset for them – not just relieved that it wasn’t me! xx

      P.S. Wil reply to your email soon – not quite caught up from my long weekend away yet!

  5. me too *hugs*

    In fact i just did. I have 60 people coming for a meeting on thrusday and friday and the printer at work has run out of ink and I still have 1500 pages to print. Everyone has given me task after task to do today and I just can’t get everything done. Now I have found that I have left my memory stick at work in my computer so I cried.

    Now I feel better πŸ™‚

    • Mandi – bless you! I know exactly how that feels – sheer panicked frustration and nothing works when you need it to…

      I think printers are the cause of more office tears than anything else!!

      Hope you got your stuff done for today’s meeting – good luck! πŸ˜€

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