I tear up a lot when I am talking to people. I get these rushes of what I’ll call love, even if we’re talking about beer or birds. At a restaurant owned by the ranching family of the waitress serving us, I got teary thinking about how she embodied American ruggedness and ambition and that she was humble and egoless. But I worry that people will wonder what the hell is the matter with me, especially at work. When I look away to regroup, I worry people will think I’m not paying attention or that I’m odd. Recently, I saw a pro golfer tearing up during an interview. He wasn’t the winner; he was just touched by the honor of playing. I felt I had a comrade. Am I just sensitive and sentimental?
Maybe. But that would be the conventional method of interpreting your experience, not the spiritual view. My grandmother, a traditional Mayan healer, believed that shedding tears is as healing to an emotional wound as seawater is for cuts and scrapes. And, yes, you have an emotional wound. Even before the habit of tears during conversation began, you probably struggled with believing that you don’t quite fit in or belong. Moments of shared sentiment during conversation stimulate the sense that you are not alone after all. Those tears feel awkward, though, because your need to feel connected to others is so strong it causes an overreaction to even the smallest sensation of belonging and connection. Let me assure you, then: You are treasured here on this planet. You belong. Believe it!
The other issue may be a kind of disassociation. In conversation, you project positive qualities onto others, perhaps qualities that you admire or wish you had. You tear up as you appreciate those qualities, but fail to notice your need for self-recognition. The tears, then, are grief at your unwillingness to see, within yourself, the qualities that you give away to others. Practice “staying home” within yourself during conversation with others. Be aware of the thoughts and feelings arising in you and any desire to be accepted and appreciated. Observe any attempt, however subtle, to manipulate someone into noticing a connection with you. Just be present to what is happening in and around you. Eventually you will shift into taking good care of yourself without being unexpectedly overwhelmed by emotion. Hatha yoga classes can help, too.
I’ve had my big party-hard years and I am happy to leave them behind, save for special occasions. My boyfriend wants to go out every weekend and get wasted. He makes a lot of time to do things with me that I enjoy, but it’s a big point of frustration with us that I won’t go out and that at his house I feel like I am surrounded by frat boys. And he’s 32! I guess my main worry is that we have no long-term future together if he’s going to be a permanent adolescent.
Oh honey! Let me pitch another “A” word: alcoholic. Your man is struggling with an addiction. The substance (in this case booze) is only a symptom. The core problem, as with any addiction, is shame (a deep-seated fear that he is a bad person). So no amount of cajoling or threats from you will change anything. He must be willing to admit that his drinking causes enough damage in his life that he is committed to change. If he won’t try a 12-step program or counseling, there’s not much hope for a happily ever after.