I was listening to some women talk the other day and was struck at how different our collective experience was with tears. Some of us cry all the time, like monsoon season, the tears flow freely, quickly creating a torrent over sad commercials, death of a pet, heartache, frustration, despair. To others of us, teardrops fall like the desert rain, very infrequently and often evaporating before they ever hit the ground. Why the divergence? Why do some of us cry so easily and others barely at all?
I suppose I could really investigate and ask each woman and take a poll. But that would only give me their conscious reasons. Those reasons would be filled with ego responses and posturing no matter how much they desired to tell me the truth. Truth is infected with ego...it can’t be any other way. The ego insisting that its fragility be preserved at every turn and only those of us who take on spiritual warriorship, fight to take truth in a less ego ridden form.
It will likely come as no surprise that I fall into the not a a crier camp. I cried as a kid, not a lot but I was capable of crying when hurt, scared, frustrated. Then it all stopped. I just shut it down. Anger taking the place of pain. Anything that was painful caused an angry reaction instead of tearful.
I became more stoic in my nature. It isn’t that things stopped hurting, it is just that my ability to feel them became amputated and even phantom limb pain was unavailable to me. I just shut down any emotion that made me feel weak or sad or scared and all of those emotions got channeled into anger. I guess I believed that anger was a more supportive and worthy container...capable of holding and protecting far more than tears.
Unknowingly with my decision to not cry, was my ability to be vulnerable. The two intimately and forever tied. I was not crying but I was also not really able to feel a range of emotions again. Once I hit my turning point at 25, I would see men and women in recovery crying and I, at first, I am ashamed to admit it, felt superior. Like I had won some sort of battle that they were struggling with. I am further embarrassed to admit that it took me another few years to realize that they were the advanced ones and I the one who was stunted.
Once I began to see that these crying people were capable of accessing emotions that I was not, I began to envy them. I would see someone just losing their shit, tears streaming down their face and I would kind of hate them. First for their ability to be vulnerable, next for being able to access that part of themselves and finally because they were so brazen about sharing this most delicate part of themselves in public!
At first, again totally ashamed to admit it, I moved away from these people. I felt like what they were doing was somehow contagious and I didn’t want to catch it. I wanted to remain hard, untouched, dry. But years have a way of softening you or hardening you. The choice is always yours. For me, I began to see that my inability to cry was really just a flat out refusal. I did not want to cry, so I didn’t.
It was much to my surprise that when, a few years ago, the relationship I thought would save me ended that I couldn’t cry. I was in such pain and even I didn’t have access to this interiority of myself. I would watch sad movies to just be able to access the pain. I not able to feel my own sad without someone else’s sad kicking it off.
This is where I came to invent cryking. Crying + hiking. It seemed that when I was out on a trail, I was freer to experience myself in a more natural and uncontrived state. It was here that my tears began to flow and sometimes they would stop my forward progress and I would have to sit down on the trail and soak the ground I stood upon. Super healing for me, a little disturbing for other hikers who happened upon me during this time. They thought I physically injured, and a little questioning when they found me in that state with only emotional wounds exposed. Weird as it was, it was my journey.
I felt like the natural world could hold me. It could contain me. It could handle the river of tears that I had damed up for decades. And I was right. The natural world was largely unaffected by my torrent. It just allowed me to sit on the ground and process all the pain that I had ignored for years. Out they came and down they fell until such time as they subsided.
I was equally happy that they stopped as I was fearful that they would never come again. However, I was worried for not. This time of cryking gave me access to all that I kept buried for all those years. The iron curtain that kept me separated from myself corroded and now permeable.
I am able to cry now. I am able to feel feelings other than anger. A lot of other feelings. All the time. In fact, so good at feeling I have become, I see that when anger still comes calling that is really just the front man from some “lesser” emotion that fears acceptance by me. I now, most of the time, can see anger’s arrival as a cover for pain that is needing expression but is still so fear filled. Not always, but more often, I can sit anger down to the side and begin to coax fear, loneliness, sadness, depression out of anger’s shadow and welcome them to the sunlight of full expression. No longer too afraid to welcome them all in.
I am crying more these days...sometimes for no reason. I think that I just have an excess amount that needs to be bled off. A spillage required in order to lower the buildup. My years of stubborn refusal blocking and damming up a tide of tears that still needs expression. I am allowing them just to fall whether the timing convenient or not. Sometimes during meetings, often when I am writing. Still working on allowing them entrance when I am highly emotionally charged. I believe that I am finally seeing and feeling that a wide emotional range is necessary for healthy living. Expression and experience of tears and pain a necessary counterbalance to happy and joy. Without full expression of one, the other side equally stunted.
So I remain committed to crying the tears. Today, tomorrow, whenever they might come. I am today more concerned with failing to express them than their timing, audience or what they might reveal about me. Today, tears can flow and I can hold my own. They are tiny physical evidence that shows me in real time my humanness that leaks out of me all the time. They are, in fact, gratitude and grace in water form. Droplets that rain down and cleanse my soul.