For a while, I was not good at feelings. Showing them, expressing them, actively feeling them… I just didn’t do the feely stuff. Somewhere in my life, I decided I never wanted people to see me cry, so I didn’t. Instead of dealing with tough issues as they were, I put them in a box to handle later, except later hardly ever came. I was the strong one. The tough one. The fixer. The rock for everyone. I didn’t have time to cry. I had stuff to do, and issues to solve.
In the last year or so, I’ve realized how ridiculous that was. Not by any grand revelation or anything, but simply by crying one good time in a moment where I felt particularly vulnerable, alone, and scared (probably on the way to one of the millions of doctor appointments I’ve had in the last year or so). In the middle of this sob fest, I believe I said “I don’t like that I have to do this right now, and it sucks.” In the midst of this tear-filled haze, I had a bit of an epiphany. You see, instead of putting my feels in a box to handle later, it’s much better to acknowledge the now, no matter how uncertain the now feels. Previously, I felt like I needed the whole picture available in order to accurately evaluate and deal. That’s not necessarily needed to validate how you feel in the moment. In any moment. I figured it was about time I started listening to the advice I gave others- your feelings are valid and yours, no matter the source. Accept it all– good, bad, and ambiguous.
Here’s an incomplete yet short, list of all of the things I’ve found myself crying about in the last 10-ish months:
- That time I tripped over my laundry basket then panicked because it could have happened in the middle of the night and I may have passed out and nobody would have known
- Rejection from a job I really wanted
- Rejection from a person I really wanted a better connection with
- Good news
- Thai life insurance commercials
- Friends moving
- Friends staying
- A wedding I attended
- A wedding I was invited to
- A wedding I was on the way to
- Baby announcements
- Baby showers
- Seeing fresh babies
- Being surrounded by little families and realizing how much I want my own. Today.
- Realizing that growing up with a front row seat to substance abuse has given me a very unique lens on life that I didn’t ask for
- Slowly being okay with that and pushing aside the “can it happen to me, too?” thoughts
- Having actual conversations with my now 3 year old niece
- Things I can’t fix for others that I really want to
- Things I can’t fix for myself that I really want to
- Empath-ing all over the place and feeling all of the things when things are haywire
- Small ponderings about whether I am, do, or have enough
- A few books I read
- A bunch of movies I’ve seen (the latest: Kubo and the Two Strings)
- That time I was mentally prepared for the anxiety that accompanies opening a can of biscuits (or maybe cinnamon rolls) and they didn’t open
- When being poked with needles for my own health
- When being biopsied for my own health
- When sitting in silent doctor exam rooms to check on my own health
- Coming home and needing a hug more than anything, but being greeted with silence
- When I wanted better for my family
- When I wanted better for myself
- I saw something really cute and I didn’t know what to do with myself
- A time or twenty when I felt forgotten (#MiddleChildProblems)
- A time or twenty when I felt overwhelming love/appreciation
- That one time in church with the one song playing
- Okay, maybe that 2nd-80th time the other songs played too
- Black people getting killed constantly by the police
- Knowing how badly I want to bring a life in this world but living simultaneously with all of the anxiety that comes with raising a Black child in 2KAmerica
- How far I’ve come
- The awesomeness and anticipation of what’s yet to come
Me and my yoga mat have become really familiar at this point in my life, and who would have thought at this point I’d even own a yoga mat, much less use it? Something about child pose that makes it easier– I get in a good stretch and the mat helps mop up the tears. I suppose child pose helps me tap into my vulnerability. By staring my feels in the face, searching for the roots of them, and being broken down by the “pushed aside” emotions I needed to feel ages ago, I feel myself growing. Growing and crying. Crying and growing. Learning more about myself. Releasing ideas that held me captive. Confronting my wants and fears. Shedding layers. Acknowledging myself. Acknowledging my feelings. Affirming my need to be here for this moment even if I am a puddle of tears. Feeling stronger as I stand up. I’ve needed to keep a stockpile of Kleenex for the tough stuff, and there has been plenty of tough stuff. I’ve grown to embrace my sensitive nature. I whelm in my overwhelm. I am, in gamer terms… leveling up. Unlocking achievements all over the place.
Funny enough, at the end of these sessions, after I’ve flooded my apartment with tears, and my face is all puffy and unrecognizable, I smile. Why? Because like all great things, there is growth after the flood. Once you get past the rubble, clear the debris, and salvage a little, you come back a little different but never the same, and that is awesome. If nothing else, it serves me in learning I am exactly where I need to be. Maybe you need that affirmation as well, so let me be the first to encourage you to let it out. Even if you don’t have it all figured out. Sometimes a good tear duct flushing will lead you to answers faster than stressing it out.
In the meantime, I find myself answering questions about where I’ve been with “I’ve been… being.” It’s succinct, to the point, and sounds slightly better than “I’ve been wrapped in a cocoon of emotions, being refined in tears, and am ready to emerge as a fly and emotionally adept butterfly any time now.” Maybe I should say that, though. I’m in a Butterfly Season. Getting ready to burst forth with awesomeness or something. What do you think?
But hey. Sometimes after all of this crying, I need a nap. If I actually let you see some of this tear shedding you might just be in my circle. Who’s got some shoulders I can borrow?