Tears for Fears
I used to think that I was born without the genes for crying. I wanted to cry so often as a child and I am sure that I did but when I look back on my life, I don’t remember crying. I remember needing to cry and not being able to. I know that I cried at the loss of pets...but that is all I remember.
I know where needing to cry came from and where being able to do it stopped. I know the exact point in time where it changed. It was a point in time where I needed to cry, I did cry and it didn’t matter. In fact, it made it worse. Much worse. Like the worst.
I don’t remember making any decisions as a kid to not cry. I just remember not being able to do it. The tears would not come no matter how hard I tried. No matter how much crying was the only appropriate response. No tears. None. I can remember feeling that I might explode. That my inability to produce tears shut down a part of myself that I was now denied access. You could not make me go there and I could not get there either. I think the tears for animals only makes perfect sense - they were the only ones safe to grieve. There beings perfect and pure. They deserved tears. Me and the rest of humanity not so much.
Like any good alcoholic, I picked up a mantle and made it my identity. I was not a crier. I did not cry. I began to identify more with boys and then men because they were often cut off from their feelings and did not cry. I liked their company because their manner and ways supported my own. There was no crying in baseball or life. Shit happened. Sometimes horrific shit happened and you just moved on...sans tears.
I don’t know how long the tears began to back up before I had the first emotional explosion. It couldn’t have been too long...I had an ocean of pain inside so it couldn’t have been years before some emotional missile was launched. But it did not come in the form of tears...it came in angry bursts of emotional rancor. Bitter in the sting and flaming in their appearance. All feelings were expelled this way. Volatile emotional outbursts that were unpredictable in both their arrival and departure. But it wasn’t all bad because I got relief. Internal relief. The seclusion of my emotional ocean began to be released through angry spurts like water being forced from a whale’s blowhole. The emotions expelled then vaporized into mist.
And so it went for days, then weeks then months and finally years and decades. The longer I went without tears, the more enervated and visceral my rage became. I needed the release anger allowed as I could not get relief any other way. I needed the comfort and security anger brought with it, it allowed for emotional release with a feeling and sense of safety that tears did not. I could emote but be safe. I really needed that.
It all went well for a long while. My irritable and angry nature found equally or sometimes worse angry companions that encouraged my hardness and interior desert. They helped me stay angry and as a result feel powerful and in control. Feel less afraid.
However, the day finally came where I could no longer hold back the tsunami of unexpressed tears. I collapsed in a heap on the floor of my apartment, an ex-boyfriend (heretofore the the love of my life), the not so willing witness to my tearful barrage. I cried for hours. First in wailing sobs, then choking whimpers that I struggled to keep up with, and finally quiet streams that descended my cheeks to the floor. When I was done, that poor man was soaked and in need of a saltless shower. I am so grateful to him for caring for me that night. He was the most interesting choice of sentinels for my complete unraveling. But he held his post well and I am thankful.
This would be a great place to tell you that from that point forward, the tears fell willy nilly. That what was broken, was repaired. But that would be a lie. I literally picked myself off the floor, put away the tissue box and shut the tear stained door in my soul. I thought this was progress and it was. But what I believed was just a one time thing that was now over and done, was in fact, not. Many events past and present would require more tears, more tears that I would not be able to shed. So the result? Back to more anger and rage...
And so it went for years. Until my heart became so broken that I had not the strength or stamina to hold them back. It didn’t come all at once like before. Instead, I became a kind of leaky damn that could not divert or control when the deluge would occur. My life became plagued with fear like those who reside in a flood plain during a flash flood. I knew the water was rising but I was not sure when the tears would evade my banks.
I have spent the last two years crying. Fuck, I actually invented cryking: Hiking + crying. It is actually very therapeutic but equally disturbing to other hikers. They are always like “OMG, are you hurt?” Me, “Just emotionally.” That usually backs them down and away...”crazy lady...”
So my tears come all the time now. Whatever internal valve I had to keep them locked down became irretrievably broken when Lane broke my heart. I can’t shut them off anymore. Rage and anger do not help except to make me look so much like an asshole that even I can't deny it. The tears have finally claimed their rightful place on my face and are in command of when I will cry, for how long and have rendered location completely irrelevant.
While the tears have not allowed me complete access to the very shutdown place in my soul, I have been granted access to my heart, broken as it may be. The most access I have ever had. I find it so interesting that those hard feelings find their own way no matter how many roadblocks I might throw in their path. Like everything else in my life, it goes so much better when I just allow it all to unfold and get out of the way. I am grateful for the tears...I no longer block their flow or impede their progress. I no longer feel out of control or derailed by their arrival. I do not feel weak or diminished by their rush. I have finally learned that to be truly strong, one must cry, one must feel and one must lean into the pain. It is the other side of joy and happiness. When I limit one side, I ,by definition, limit the other. Tears are an appropriate response to fear. Totally. Actually, they are better than anger and rage because I have not had to make an amends in my life for wholly inappropriate crying...
Today, I can give my fear, pain, sadness, heart break real tears that have their origin some place deep within me. Today, it feels like this is right and to block them would be to discount or undercut them. Today, I can see how much more effort, strain, pain and hurt I caused by my refusal to let them flow in the first place. Today, I am willing to allow the fear and tears to merge and be expressed in free flow. Today, I feel stronger solely because, in allowing the tears to come, I have become stronger, more me, more present. In honoring all the loss, I have allowed the feelings to move through and onward. I do not have to hold onto the past of a day, a week or a decade ago. Today I am strong enough to cry no matter who is looking.