For years and years we are taught that crying is a bad thing.
As young kids we are told not to cry, or to stop crying. ‘No crying or I’ll give you a reason to cry’. ‘Stop crying like a little baby’. ‘Don’t overreact’. ‘Don’t be so emotional’. ‘If you don’t stop crying I’ll put you in the hallway’.
And it is taught in actions as well. Babies and children are being ‘fixed’ if they cry. Because if they cry there must be something wrong, right? And God forbid they start crying in a public space, annoying all those people, making the parent look bad. Or they start crying when it is inconvenient and are just ignored or put in a room on their own. Or with the best intentions parents let their kids cry themselves to sleep, because that is what they’re told is a good thing to do.
We’ve all heard and experience these things when we were younger. And we learned to toughen up.
And as adults, the shaming only gets worse. Men are not supposed to cry at all. If they do, they supposedly aren’t ‘real men’. And for women it seems to be more accepted, but still, there is a lot of judgment. Being called too sensitive, drama queen, unstable, ‘is it that time of the month again?’, or feeling that you have to keep it together if you want to make a promotion (the number one thing called for in Dutch corporate functions: ‘stress bestendig’).
When I was in the first weeks of my burnout, I cried so much!! I couldn’t hold it in anymore and I litterally collapsed on the ground at times, just bawling my eyes out. And of course I did this alone, I was too ashamed to ask for help and let anyone witness this.
There were moments when I started to panic, I didn’t think I could ever stop crying. The sorrow and pain just washed over me. No stories behind it, no memories, just the feeling swollowing me whole.
And it was the best thing that could happen to me. It was the start of a huge dearmouring. Letting go of some of the walls that I built around my heart from childhood.
Today I am proud of my emotions. I am happy that I let myself be touched when I see a beautiful moment between people. Or when I experience joy or sadness and tears start running down my face.
Those tears are healthy. It is a release. For me they feel like melting. They melt away resistance or holding on/in. They are the flow of my emotions.
Sometimes I can feel that I am toughening up. I feel like letting go, but I can’t somehow. At those times I like to watch video’s of children, animals and other amazing captures of life, that reach right into my heart, wrap a warm hand around the tightness there and with that loving presence melt it away in the form of tears rolling down my face. And what is left is a soft, warm and loving feeling. No need to understand, fix or analyze, just allowing the feeling to be there and the tears to flow.
Tears are a part of life. They are a part of our system, we humans are made to cry. As a form of expression and as babies even as a form of communication. So allow those tears to flow. They are not a sign of weakness, but of strength and courage, to show all of you!
For those of you who need a little nudge sometimes to start melting, here are a few of my just watched and cried over movies: