I had a fire in my belly when I recorded the little rant below and I felt compelled to share it with you. I had one of those moments where you want to wave your finger with attitude and snear “oh no you didn’t!”
It started out innocently enough, someone stepped into my office and asked me how I was doing and I believe they were genuinely concerned but they were not expecting me to answer that question honestly because apparently feelings are a thing of the past.
I suppose they were expecting me to plaster a smile on and say I was doing good but I was caught in the midst of a bad moment on a very challenging day. Tears were already beginning to leak out of the corners of my eyes so when I was asked how I was doing I answered truthfully as tears filled my eyes and slowly rolled down my cheeks.
In what I can only assume was misguided concern, I was told “Don’t cry, don’t cry! You need to be strong!”
I replied that I was strong and that there was nothing wrong with crying.
My visitor persisted to tell me that I couldn’t cry, that I needed to be strong.
I am strong I replied.
I was also offended.
I didn’t sprain my ankle. Three months ago today I lost my husband, the love of my life and the father of my children to suicide. Caught in the cruel and relentless grip of depression and anxiety his illness became larger than him. Sometimes I cry because the thought of the pain he endured fighting his illness overwhelms me, sometimes I cry because I miss him so damn much it hurts, sometimes I cry for our children and all of the special days that they will have to celebrate without their dad and sometimes I cry because my day is lonely and empty and the future seems scary. Sometimes I just cry.
Crying does not make me the opposite of strong. Crying makes me a living, breathing, emotional being with real thoughts and feelings. There is no less strength in my tears than in my smile.
I am strong enough to allow the pain because pain is a part of life. Life is beautiful but it can also be brutal, and it is during the most brutal times in our lives that the most powerful lessons are learned, the biggest changes are imminent and the greatest potential for growth is laid at our feet.
Vulnerability is the best measure of courage, that is the soul of all the work; the willingness to show up and let ourselves be fully seen and known. ~Brené Brown
I don’t like pain, and I don’t like spending a great deal of my life with smeared eye make-up , but I know that pain has a reason and purpose and as I move through this pain there will be many uncertainties and plenty of tears. The pain will change me, that is my only certainty right now.
How I respond to that change, whether I go through the pain or grow through the pain is entirely up to me.
There is no short cut through the pain I am feeling, the only way around is through and I will not hold my tears or hide my pain for anyone else’s comfort.
As a society we have become so accustomed to hiding our feelings that we have come to believe that “emotionless” is a strength of character. “Head up, stay strong, fake a smile” has become the words to live by and meanwhile we have a whole generation of emotionally sick people, afraid to share their feelings for fear that they may be looked upon as weak; when the strongest and most courageous people in the world are those that are willing to show up and be seen, especially during the greatest struggles of their lives.
I think what the word needs is a big collective cry and then we can rise up and be the people we are meant to be, emotions and all.