I’m not a cryer.

Never have I ever been a cryer.

When I slammed the dishwasher door shut on my hand and couldn’t get it out, I shook it off like a big girl.

Now, when I say, “I’m not a cryer” I don’t mean that I never cry. Typically my tears are reserved for funerals and weddings. Those events warrant tears. “Titanic” (even though I want to be Kate Winslet’s BFF) did not warrant tears. “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers did not warrant tears. “With or Without You” by U2 did not warrant tears.

While all three are wonderful in their own distinct ways, I’m never moved to tears by any of them.

However, every 2000 years or so when the planets have aligned, a butterfly has flapped its wings in Japan, an orca has done a perfect double back hand spring over a coral reef, someone in Florida has signaled before changing lanes, and an elephant flies, I will Ugly Cry.

You may be saying, “Ha! See, you do cry! Everybody cries!”

No, no.

I don’t cry.

I Ugly Cry.

The Ugly Cry is different from any cry you’ve ever known. On the cry scale from 1-10, it’s an 11.

Level 1: Intense Watery Eyes a la Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Level 2: Single Perfect Tear a la Demi Moore in Ghost

Level 3: Emo Tears a la every character on The Vampire Diaries and Grey’s Anatomy

Level 4: “I’m so happy it hurts” a la Renee Zellweger in Jerry Maguire

Level 5: Resolute Weeping a la Vivien Leigh in Gone With the Wind

Level 6: Heaving Sob a la Nicole Kidman in…anything, but mainly Moulin Rouge

Level 7: The “I’m so in the moment” a la Tracie Thoms in RENT

Level 8: Gut Wrenching Sob a la Gabourney Sibide in Precious

Level 9: Manemotion a la River Phoenix in Stand by Me (ok, so I know he’s 12 in the movie, but that kid could cry.)

Level 10: The Heartbroken Cry a la Mel Gibson’s mute daughter in The Patriot

And finally…

Level 11: The Ugly Cry a la The Na’vi in Avatar when home tree burns down

(Question: Does anyone else feel as though the scene where Titantic breaks and sinks and Home Tree breaks and falls are the exact same scene? I think James Cameron was running out of ideas and just used cut and paste to change water into foliage and people into blue people. I mean, it’s not like he was strapped for cash and had to recycle. That movie’s budget was basically the economy of a small third world country.)

When you Ugly Cry, your whole being feels it. The Ugly cry starts in your toes and works its way up to your eyes. You may feel a bit tingly at first. Your body may start to feel heavy. A faint sob will escape from your lips. At first, you’ll think, “No, I got this. I’m just a little sad.” Nay, my friend. I say, nay. The Ugly Cry is stronger than you. It has powers that you can’t even imagine.

 If you’re driving in your car that song that evokes an uber specific memory of when you were happy/ sad/ emotional will come on the radio. When you change stations, that song will still be on the radio. If you’re at home, a hallmark commercial featuring people that are much happier than you are will come on tv. If you try to abandon the tv and seek out the internet, some kind of happy/ sad/emotional news will find you on the internet.

Much like the rhythm, the Ugly Cry is gonna get you.

If you decide to abandon all forms of outside entertainment and read a book, you will most likely choose The Saddest Book Ever Written Since Time Began. You’ll try to hold it off. You’ll bite your lip, pinch yourself, or open a window so that the cold breeze will dry the Level 1 watery eyes you’re developing. Nothing will work. Eventually that heaviness and the tingling will move into your chest and your lungs will feel a touch iffy. Then the lump in the throat will hit you full throttle. 

Wherever you are, car or house, you will erupt into a full-bodied, mascara running, snot inducing, abdominal cramping, Ugly Cry.

If you’re in your car, you’ll start singing along to the lyrics of the aforementioned song (Every time I try to fight I faaaaalllll! Without my wings, I feel so smaaaaaalllll! (sob, sniffle, cry) I do! I feel so small sometimes!). If you’re watching that commercial, you’ll repeat a line from it that makes no sense (You should send the very best!!!!!!). If the Ugly Cry gets you on the internet, you’ll agonize over the news, that is most likely insignificant (Why? Why would the bird fly into the jet engine? (sob, sniffle, cry) It makes no sense!). If you’re reading that book, you’ll talk to the main character as though he/she is your best friend (No Lizzy! He loves you! He does. Girl, you are NOT foolish! Real love is out there! (sob, sniffle, cry) You just gotta push through!)

About mid-Ugly Cry, you will do something that makes absolutely no sense. Every person that I’ve talked to about the Ugly Cry has done this and they cannot give me a logical explanation as to why. Without fail, you will go into the bathroom and watch yourself Ugly Cry. You’ll do this for about 4-5 minutes. You might grab some toilet paper and try to dry your eyes, but most likely, you won’t.

You’ll just let the tears flow.

The Ugly Cry can last anywhere from 10-15 minutes and by the time you’re done, you’re exhausted. Your eyes are puffed and swollen. You’ve got salty tear tracks on your face. You’ve still got Ugly Cry sob remnants popping out of you. You’re pretty much done for the day. Once you’ve Ugly Cried, there’s really no picking up where you left off.

Even if the next song on the radio is “Bump n’ Grind,” even if the next show on tv is “Whose Line is it Anyway?” even if the next headline is “Kim Kardashian’s butt is real!” even if the next book you pull out is “Stuff Christians Like,” you’ll know you just Ugly Cried.

There’s no return from the land of Ugly Cry.