Difficulty Crying or Feeling Ashamed or Afraid of Crying



stop crying or I will give you something to cry about
on the rocks

“I had a lot of trouble crying; sometimes I needed to cry so bad that I would watch a tear jerker movie by myself so I could get a few tears out. I still have trouble in this area but I have been able to keep going forward anyway. Other than a tear or two, I can’t cry in front of anyone. This comes from not having PERMISSION to cry in the past. I am happy to say that this has not prevented me from healing.”  Darlene Ouimet

I have always had trouble crying. I have not thought about this as deeply in the past as I have been thinking about it lately. I knew that crying made me feel bad about myself. And I have come to understand through the emotional healing process the different ways that I was not given permission to ‘feel’ when I was growing up.

When I post these types of quotes on the Emerging from Broken Facebook page about difficulty with crying or the inability to cry, there are always a lot of comments from others who share about being told not to cry and about being hit or punished for crying. Some people experience an intense fear of starting to cry and never being able to stop. Some share that like me, they have real difficulty crying and many share having both difficulty crying and shame for crying or even shame for wanting to cry.

The message I got when I was a kid was that I didn’t have a right to cry and that my feelings were wrong and the message was that I was exaggerating or lying about my pain whether it was emotional pain or physical pain. I too was often told that if I didn’t stop crying I would be given a reason to cry ~ (said to me by the person who had delivered the blows) when I was crying because I had just been hit with a belt.  Recently I realized that this issue goes even deeper than the fear of crying, shame over crying and the fact that I had been threatened and punished for crying.  

There was another message I received by being told to stop crying that was even more covert than then the messages about my worth or lack of worth and even more manipulative than the message about my rights or lack of rights;

The deeper message that I got about crying was that my emotions, my pain and my hurts burdened other people. I came to believe from being told not to cry, for being told that I had no REASON to cry, and that if I persisted in crying that I would be given a ‘real reason to cry’ that my crying was hurting someone else and that when I cried it was a problem for someone else. Even if I was crying because I had been spanked with the belt, or because I was hurt, my crying was causing further damage and I believed that the labels of ‘inconsiderate’ and ‘self-centered’ applied to me because of that message.

Today I associate crying with harming others instead of with a necessary release of emotion or an expression of physical or emotional pain. I came to believe that if I cried I was ‘making matters worse’ and not just for myself but for the people around me. For a little girl who believed that compliance and obedience was the only way that I would ever be loved, causing a problem was not the way I wanted to go because that went outside of my survival mode and my survival mode was keeping me alive.  

The truth is that I HAD a reason to cry when I was told not to cry but no one cared about my reasons, no one validated my reasons so I learned to invalidate the reason for my tears myself. I learned that I did not have the ‘right’ to cry that I was not permitted to cry, that I didn’t deserve to feel or to hurt, and I put all that info into the grid of understanding I was developing about myself, right alongside the other messages about my worth (or more appropriately messages about my lack of worth) that I received as a result of neglect, abuse, mistreatment and the dismissive lack of interest in me as an individual from the adults in my life.

My self-esteem was not nurtured; it was in fact deprived.  The damaging message was not only that I did not have ‘permission to cry’ and not only that I didn’t have ‘the right to cry’ and that my ‘need to cry’ was denied me, it was also that my feelings and my emotions were harming to others.  This message (that I was a burden to others when I had feelings and needs) caused me to believe that I was not significant, not worthy, and therefore not valid as a person in the way I believed that other people were valid.

Through understanding this deeper message that my reasons for having difficulty crying had to do with the message that my tears were a burden to others I noticed  that one of my reactions to feeling like I am going to cry is anger. Anger at myself! I have used anger at myself to stop the tears from coming. And this is exactly what my abuser did to me. She used anger and threats of something worse to follow if I didn’t stop crying in order to MAKE me stop crying.

About two years ago I fell down the basement stairs and landed in a weird position. I still have the bruises and dent on my lower shin were I hit the cement landing. It was a really bad fall and was very painful and I started crying as my husband my son rushed down to help me. For my child who was 19 years old at the time, I tried to hide that I was hurt. I didn’t want to scare him or make it worse for him. For my husband I tried to act like it was my own fault and that I had been careless and stupid. I even commented on how terrible it was that I had crushed the bag of chips that I had been carrying at the time as though the crushed chips was the ‘real tragedy’ here and not the fact that I had fallen and was really hurt. I distinctly remember the rage that I felt towards myself in that moment as I choked off the tears and stopped crying. I stopped crying by reprimanding myself. I told myself that I had been careless and stupid and the fall was my own fault and I had ruined a whole bag of chips. I stopped crying because I didn’t want to hurt them. I didn’t want to burden them with my pain. I didn’t want to admit that I needed anything. I stopped crying because when I was a child I learned that I was wrong to cry and I was taught to suck up the pain so I didn’t get a worse punishment ~ because it was ‘proven’ to me that crying only makes everything worse and that my crying was a problem for other people.

In order for me to move out of my many coping methods and thrive in my life today, it has been extremely important for me to find out what the false messages I was given in childhood were and where they came from, in order to change them back to the truth. These false messages about crying were no different than the other lies I had learned to accept.

The truth about crying is that there is no shame in crying. Although some people do use crying to manipulate others, I have never done that and there is no guilt associated with my need to cry.  I am not a burden to others. I am not going to be punished anymore for crying and if someone reacts to my tears in a way that disrespects me or devalues me, today I know that is not about me and I do not have to accept their reaction as the truth about me. If their reactions are mean or negative and warrant a response from me, I am no longer afraid to stand up for myself. Crying does not define me as weak. Crying does not define me as ‘looking for a worse punishment’ or as ‘looking for attention’.  Crying has value and can add value to my life. I have a right to my emotions today and crying is a wonderful expression of many emotions and an important way to release emotion and is nothing to be ashamed or afraid of.

Please share your thoughts about crying. Is crying difficult for you? How do you feel about your tears or lack of tears.  What formed your belief system about crying and what were the messages that you got about crying? When you are working on this, here is one more little tip; sometimes my reactions (or feelings) to other people crying are also great clues to the messages that I got about crying; I took a look at how I felt when other people cried. There are lots of ways to dig into our belief systems when it comes to getting to the bottom of where we got these messages.

Exposing Truth ~ one snapshot at a time;

Darlene Ouimet

The Emerging from Broken bookThe Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing” is ready for download! If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to healing.  Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing

Related Post ~ Stop That Crying or I will give you Something to Cry About”


227 response to "Difficulty Crying or Feeling Ashamed or Afraid of Crying"

  1. By: Debbie Wilson Posted: 14th December

    Thank you for this article. It is very helpful to see others feel the same way. I am 44 and struggle with making any changes or doing anything that will make me cry partly because I fear I will not be able to stop and that there will be no one to help me.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 15th December

      Hi Debbie,
      Welcome to EFB ~ I was 44 when I started this process of healing. I was afraid to start crying in case I never stopped and although it took me almost 10 years for the tears to come, it was all good. Tears are really healing because they validate our pain; pain that may have never been validated before. (not that tears are the only way! I learned to validate my pain way before the tears came). There is a lot of help and insight on this site but also remember that you are the most important person in your own life and in your healing.
      Love Darlene

  2. By: Syan Jones Posted: 15th April

    Although it is easier for me to cry these days, I spent years not shedding a tear. I was told my tears were a manipulation to illicit sympathy.and that; “snot and buggers won’t change a thing.” I heard often; “I’ll give you something to cry about” as if the emotional and or physical pain I was feeling was only the tip of the iceberg. I cry these days, yet it takes everything within me to let go and not stop myself, Thank you for reminding me, I have worth, and there is value in release with tears.

  3. By: RWBY Posted: 9th April

    i don’t cry in front of people only because when i did once before, my mom and brother thought i was laughing and wasting time. is it my fault or theirs? excuse me princess, for my crying sound weirdly.

  4. By: Heather Posted: 5th February

    I’m so lost and I hide when I cry, this is taking every bit of joy out of my life. I have no one.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 7th February

      Hi Heather,
      I am so sorry that you are so alone. I am glad you are here!
      Hugs, Darlene

  5. By: Tundra Woman Posted: 17th January

    I can’t think of any overt emotional response that leaves us feeling more vulnerable than crying especially in front of another(s). There was a long period in my life when I couldn’t cry either even though I “knew” if I could cry I’d feel better-and science backs this observation as well. Beyond vulnerability I also remember feeling that if I ever started crying, I would drown/never stop. Child abuse/neglect erases the person’s humanity and replaces it with a form of insanity: Non-existant “me.” Breathing but emotionally flat lined.

  6. By: Donna J Cushman Posted: 14th January

    I just feel like I read about my childhood word for word.

    I don’t cry, if I start to I quickly turn it off. There’s no thought about it anymore; it’s automatic.

    It’s become a problem because I’d really like to cry naturally, not when it escalates to a point where I burst. But I think that I’m stupid and ugly when I cry so I don’t.

    I refuse to cry in front of anyone; it’s an embarrassment to me. I’ve only cried twice w/my therapist and I’ve been seeing her for 10 years.

    I’m quite a mess because of this.

  7. By: Alexander Posted: 3rd December

    I have a hard time crying in front of others. Even as a sensitive person, and someone who’s grown more sensitive over the years, when it comes time that I need to cry I can’t unless I’m alone and even then sometimes it can be hard. If anyone comes around I immediately stop and try to hide it. I grew up believing my emotional pain and need to cry was invalid and I was weak for it. I constantly feel shame and guilt over crying for it. Like I’m a burden for being weak and making others see and have to deal with my need to cry. I don’t remember much of my childhood and can’t say where it came from but I don’t doubt my dad had something to do with it. He’s always been the kind of person to bottle it up and never cry, just like I was until my need to cry came so much more often as a result of stress, anxiety and depression. I was like a capped bottle that was being filled with too much water. The tears find their way out somehow, and when a good hard cry comes, it gushes. Perhaps that’s why I’m so sensitive. I’m saving this comment for my next therapy appointment. Maybe my therapist can help shed some light.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 3rd December

      Hi Alexander
      Welcome to EFB. Great idea to discuss this with your therapist. 🙂
      Thanks for sharing, I understand what you are saying and relate.
      Hugs, Darlene

  8. By: Nissa Posted: 17th August

    I just cried pretty hard. I guess it was because I was too embarassed to admit my weakness that I have tried to cover up thiw whole time.
    Three days have passed and such response still feels unreal to me.. it was really unexpected. I couldnt quite make a logical explanation until now. Can u help me?

    Fyi, I am an easy going person and always have wanted to be seem as a strong and positive woman. This emotion is really hard for me to accept.

  9. By: Roxie Posted: 18th July


  10. By: Roxie Posted: 18th July

    I hear you, people. Whenever I cry, I’m often told to stoo crying and that I’m just taking it and I’venever faked any of my tears, ever. They didn’t care if they hurt me or nit and I’m sure that they were taught from a young age to never have emotions…and they not only learned that lesson very well, but they also decided that they would pass it along to their kids; therefore, they never taught us that it’s okay to cry. Looking back, I realize that it’s okay to cry and that crying is what makes me (and you guys, too) human.

  11. By: alex wright Posted: 19th June

    When I cry i’m told I do it for attention and that i’m not really upset and need to stop. My sisters call me names and tell me I need to get a life. Even when I was going through a really bad stage of depression they all said and even my parents had said that I only did it for the attention of classmates and teachers. I used to lie when I was little and i’ve changed from then. No matter what it is now, im told im a liar and that no one should or will believe me… says my therapist. I just wish that everyone treated me the way i’ve treated them and that they would treat m like i’m one of their best friends because i know the way i’m treated they don’t do that to them.. :/

  12. By: Daisy Posted: 4th June

    In my childhood, my crying was met with anger and I was told to “stop crying.” I did, because I was steamrolled by my mother. I find it very easy to cry when someone’s around, and when I’m in therapy, but when I’m alone at home (I’m single), I have a problem crying, and that’s when it would likely be the best thing for me. I just feel scared. Not that someone’s going tell me to stop but that I will never be able to stop crying or that crying won’t make me feel better.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 6th June

      Hi Daisy
      Welcome to Emerging from Broken!
      This is a fear that so many people relate to!
      Thanks for sharing, hugs, Darlene

  13. By: Daisy Posted: 4th June

    I find it hard to cry alone. Just now I cried a little, but I am terrified of doing it. I can cry if someone is talking to me, but it’s so scary to cry alone. Things seem unreal when I cry alone. I am trying, though, because I feel so bad right now.

  14. By: Kaycee Posted: 25th April

    Shorty after my Mom married her second husband and abruptly moved us from where we had been living since the day I was born, my Grandparents house, she found me hiding in a closet sobbing when she got home from work.

    I was only seven and her new husband brutally beat me, dragged me around by my hair, watched me dress and held me utter contempt from the moment I walked through his door. Instead of comforting me and finding out what happened my Mother acted like I was crazy and told me if I did not stop, she was taking me to the hospital.

    It was a threat, and it worked. I was not ever allowed to cry, be angry or even be happy. Every emotion I ever expressed was too much for my Mother. I spent weeks in therapy as an adult just learning how to let me feelings come through and then months learning how to label what I was feeling. The only words I had were good or bad. I did not know the difference between angry and sad and sleepy.

    This was a terribly hard stage of therapy for me, learning to be accepting of feelings and learning to interpret them.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 26th April

      Hi Kaycee
      I totally understand how her threat worked. I will never understand how a mother could NOT stand up for her child! How can a person (the second husband) get away with treating a child that way! He should have gone to prison. period.
      Thanks for sharing. Glad you are here!
      hugs, Darlene

  15. By: Jessica Posted: 21st March

    I can relate to this 100% but I have also released that I can cry about something on tv or someone else’s pain every time but when it comes to my own life emotional or physical pain I just can’t. People don’t take me seriously when I say I am upset about something because I am not show emotions like normal people. Glad I am not the only one.

  16. By: Carlos Posted: 8th February

    I cried a river in front of my ever so loving father, when he reprimanded me for a decision I made for a school project when I was 16 in 2010. I wanted to use surveys to find out how people used their water in our community and Dad (who always had the tendency to over deliver when we need help in anything) composed and printed out several copies of his surveys (not mine because they were his work). So naturally as I was going through the surveys, I felt happy but also embarrassed to show the neighbourhood something that wasn’t mine. To address this situation, I thought I’d chip in and throw in my own questions to make it seem somewhat at least my effort. When I showed him some of my suggestions, he went ballistic to the point that he lectured about doing some more background reading or some other stuff as I was standing there crying and giving him eye contact (as that would have led to bigger problems if I bowed my head in shame). Ever since, I haven’t asked for any of his assistance in any school related matter, because he would just do the project himself and when I decide to take over, I am seen as ungrateful or incompetent. I may have submitted some horrible essays as a result of not asking for Daddy dearest’s help, but at least it was my mistake and that I no longer had to face another situation like that with the survey questions. I have always cried whenever he made me feel worthless via verbal or physical forms of abuse, for I knew from the start that a “congratulatory party” or a “Thank you for doing this to me Dad” kind of response was not the right response to a situation which involves any of the aforementioned that society has stood up for. I cried and whilst at times I felt ashamed, it was the “safer option” to consider when I cried in front of my abusers, for I knew that standing up for myself by exhibiting anger, would only lead for me to lose a “fire-by-fire” battle. One where the fire I would use to combat my abusers, would only result in it coming back right at me along with that of the flame of the people who abused me. I couldn’t risk being “burned” twice.

    Bottomline is I cried. I cried for the abuse, I cried when I lost family, I cried when I faced the possibility of failing a 12 credit point major subject at University (which I thankfully redeemed myself for, which means I will get my degree phew), I cried for the most useless of things. I felt ashamed but it now feels comforting to know, through this article, that I didn’t really need to be.

  17. By: Isis Posted: 31st January

    I am extremely sensitive but a lot of people dont realize or acknowledge it. when my great grandmother tht i was extremely close to Growing up my feelings were always mocked by my parents. when i was upset about something no one ever cared. i spent a lot of my years depressed & angry and every time i expressed these emotions i was ignored, laughed at, or yelled at. All of this made me ashamed of my emotions. I never know when to feel sad, happy, angry, etc. i always feel like my feelings never match the moment or that im being a burden to others. when my mom would yell at me if i made a face or showed any emotion I’d get yelled at. i also got the “stop crying or i’ll give u a reason to cry” treatment.

  18. By: Davison Posted: 10th January

    I guess the mere fact that I’m here is proof I was hit as a kid. But I choose to believe it has made me stronger and is in preparation for some great thing I will do (like experience a torture scenario).
    Anyway, I have an intense fear of crying in public. So much so I will refuse going to see Pixar movies cause they always try to get u to cry.
    Unlike some of the other people here, I don’t feel that I have no right to cry or that my crying will cause more problems. I do however feel an intense shame for wanting to cry. To me it feels like I’m at my weakest point. Like look how low someone can make me get.
    Besides that I have the strongest need for personal control than anyone I’ve ever met. I have been told by many people that I possess psychopathic tendencies. I fear losing control and being what I know I can be. Crying seems like step one to truely forfeiting to my emotions.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 12th January

      Hi Davidson,
      Welcome to EFB ~ I had a huge need for self -control as well. It was when I found out why I had them, where they originated and why they were so important for me growing up (survival) that I was able to look at how or if they were still serving me in present times.
      I am glad you are here, thanks for sharing,
      hugs Darlene

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.