It’s Alright to Cry

Growing up in the 1970s, I used to go to our public library and check out albums to play on my record player back home. One of the albums which I would check out over and over again was entitled, Free to Be You and Me. This album was the work of Marlo Thomas and many other celebrities such as Alan Alda, Carol Channing, Tom Smothers, Dick Cavett, Harry Belfonte, Shirley Jones, Diana Ross, Mel Brooks, and Rosey Grier. (If you are too young to know any of those names, Google them.) The 70s was a time when society was beginning to reinvent itself and its view of males and females. Although it was a good start, there would be over thirty more years of work before we actually began to let people be free who they were born to be without the stereotypical expectations. One could easily argue that we still have not fully arrived, but we are a lot farther along than we were in the 1970s and this album is one of the efforts to move us along.

I greatly enjoyed this album and would sing along with it over and over again. I am sure my parents got very tired of hearing this music come out of my room so often. My love ofthis album was linked to the struggle which I was having not fitting into the stereotypes of a young boy, and eventually a teenager, growing up in a rural Iowa community. I was bullied a lot as a child and became the source of many jokes. The songs on this album spoke to me about the pain I was feeling, my struggle with “fitting in,” and my hope for a better way to live.

One of my favorite songs was sung by Rosey Grier. Rosey was a professional football player who was very large in size. The song, It’s Alright to Cry, was a conversation that Rosey was having with a young boy who was crying and terribly ashamed for doing so. Here are the lyrics to the song:

It’s alright to cry

Crying gets the sad out of you

It’s alright to cry

It might make you feel better

Raindrops from your eyes

Washing all the mad out of you

Raindrops from your eyes

It’s gonna make you feel better

It’s alright to feel things

Though the feelings may be strange

Feelings are such real things

And they change and change and change

Sad ‘n’ grumpy, down in the dumpy

Snuggly, hugly, mean ‘n’ ugly

Sloppy, slappy, hoppy, happy

Change and change and change

It’s alright to know

Feelings come and feelings go

It’s all right to cry

It might make you feel better

{Spoken}

It’s alright to cry, little boy

I know some big boys that cry too

Written by Carol Hall

Since there were many days that I would return to my room after school and cry, hearing Rosey Grier sing a song which gives permission was very helpful. I grew up in a household which had a strong English ancestry and the concept of a male crying was not acceptable. My tears reminded me what a failure I was and how my inability to fit the stereotypes was really because there was something wrong with me.

Society’s view of males who cry has changed tremendously since the 1970s. Thank goodness! We have come to realize that tears are a natural response to emotions, or as the song says, feelings, which is a part of every human being. I have also come to accept that my crying is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength enough to let my emotions be visible. You can find me occasionally crying during a movie, while watching a television show, or some days when life events bring on a flood of sadness.

Over this last week, I have followed the postings of friends, family and strangers back in Cedar Rapids, Iowa which experienced a derecho last Monday. I have been on phone calls with them, received text messages, received pictures, and watched videos on social media (since national news media has only covered it minimally). There have been times that I have cried in grief and empathy. I cannot even begin to imagine how many tears most of them have shed as they have lived through a horrific experience. Yes, Iowans are strong and able to overcome any obstacle placed in their way. Yes, Iowans generally do not whine and sit around waiting for help. Iowans go into action and make a difference. But there still have been times of exhaustion, grief as they see the destruction all around them, and periods of uncertainty as they sit without electricity, cell service, and internet. These are the times that Iowans go to their quiet place and cry.

I want to tell all my fellow Iowans, it is alright to cry. I want to tell everyone who is reading this, wherever you may be, that in life there are times that crying will be one of the most therapeutic actions you can take for yourself. Do not be afraid to cry. Like Rosey Grier sings, “Feelings come and feelings go,” and “It might make you feel better.”

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