why are we so afraid to cry?

August 4, 2010

In various areas of my life i hear people commenting “i got too emotional- so i stopped myself from crying..” or “i can’t read that- it makes me cry” or “i just don’t want to go down or get low.” I’ve had clients tell me they just can’t let themselves cry, or greive…that crying is a sign of weakness, they need to be strong, hold it together, dad never allowed crying in their house…i hear this a lot- like it’s an epidemic in our culture.

And I can understand it. Before John passed I was mortified of showing emotion- real emotion in public. And it would have been abominable for me to actually shed tears in front of anyone. That was something I kept to myself; i only allowed myself to cry in the privacy of my room, behind closed doors.

All that changed, with or without my consent. In the weeks before John killed himself, I found myself breaking into tears on the phone with friends as I expressed my sadness about what John was going through. I had no control, I couldn’t keep it in. And then once I heard word that he was lying unconscious in the hospital, on his deathbed, sobs – sounds i never heard myself make- flew out of me. they filled up the waiting room in the hospital. i tried to speak, but words couldn’t come out. from then on the tears have flowed and flowed and they haven’t stopped. i would be doing grocery shopping at Trader Joes, hear a love song that reminded me of John and then sob uncontrollably, needing to leave the store. i cried in the car, driving up and down through the streets, the cemetary of the world i used to know with john. i cried in class, on my front porch, on my back porch. everywhere. i cried at the shore, at the edge of the bay, in the woods, at the movies, on the kitchen floor. my tears express everything, every feeling i couldn’t possibly name and then some; sadness, loss, despair, rage, anguish, longing, isolation, separation, alienation, death, love, hope, beauty,futility, apathy. All of life, the totality of the human experience is awash in these tears.

i know it’s painful, i know it’s hard to feel so much at times, like we will lose our minds, lose ourselves to the tears, be swallowed up into the depths of the ocean and never find our way back, but why would we deny ourselves this experience? this is the stuff of life. this is why we came here. to fully feel it all. why would we bypass this part just to only feel joy and light? i do know the value of feeling joy in every moment (this is one of the curious by products of an intensive grieving process…go figure…)- however skipping over the darkness and the pain to get to the light and the transcendent and the spiritual does not lead to wholeness or complete healing. The journey is to integrate the dark and the light, the pain and the pleasure, the human and the divine/transcendent, until they ultimately become one and the same. so you can walk in the dark and be the illumination and not feel threatened or scared, know that you will not become corrupted or lose yourself.

And from my experience, when i let myself feel it all, eventually the tough emotions, the sadness, anguish, despair- even my longing to die, gets dried up for a time. the heart opened and what needed to be cleansed moved through. and what’s left is love.

now that i am over on the other side of the grief I FEEL things so much more fully and intensely than ever before. like my feelings and life are now in technicolor, i feel so much more love .and it’s amazing, delicious, and such a new way of being in the world. i would have never in a million years thought it possible.

So why not cry your heart out and let yourself heal as fully as you can? that’s what our tears are for. there’s so much excruciating pain in this world, and the pain is as beautiful as the most magnificent sunset. may you all have the courage to feel ALL of  your life fully.

Classic and lovely: Feist, I Feel it All

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