Cry Me A River

“When life is challenging and I’ve girded my loins for whatever hard times, words, emotions or actions may come, the cells of my body clench together like little fists making up stones for my walls of defense for survival.

This is me trying to be stoic, strong, courageous in the face of trial, turmoil and turbulent times.  Mostly it’s a protection mechanism that kicks in the minute shock, unexpected change or unpleasantness hits.

Survival in the face of loss; sturdiness of resolve to weather the storm and dredging up the wherewithal to stand the onslaught of the tiger is still in my being from prehistoric times.  It’s in the genes.  It’s the flight or fight syndrome in response to stress which consumes brain power, pulls my shoulders up into tuck position under both ears and sets me up for, at the very least, the need for a chiropractic adjustment.

Emotions get held in behind a wall of trying to hold up.  Heart clenches and bones ache with the effort.  God only know what the other vital organs are going through.  I’m thinking the expressions, ‘hardening of the arteries,’ ‘hard hearted’ and  ‘hard of hearing’ aren’t being tossed around like salad for nothing.

When I’m so busy toughening up for whatever hard moments seem set to attack, I have noticed that my heart hurts, anger covers hurt and my listening skills decrease in width and depth to the height of crisis.  

For most of my life, the one thing I’ve tried not to do in this arena is cry.

Upon feeling myself about to leak at the eyeballs, weak, vulnerable and loser are words that come quickly to mind.  And then  the orbital sockets strain with pain of  fluid retention and girding begins.

Recently a good friend shared with me that she also worked her whole life to not cry.  Now she can rarely accomplish this human feat of body and emotion when she know it might be helpful.  She has become invincible; a giant warrior woman in a little granny’s body who takes no crap from anyone and, like me, sometimes has hard words or reactions pop out her sideways to zap those within bruising distance.

She is a stalwart advocate to have by your side in a fight and a bolster for one’s own backbone in adversity.  I’m thinking she was a cave woman to be reckoned with by beasts of the forest and tribe members alike.  

Defenders of the nest, lioness of the pride, and tigress to her cubs are appellations that suit us both-then and now.

I must be getting older or wiser because I want more than that kind of survival now.  I know that when I’ve cried buckets of tears, I come away from the experience feeling easier in my skin, ready for a good nap and with the ability to feel all my feelings and the softness of sheets and pillows to boot.

It is as though I’ve been emptied of burdens too large and heavy to carry and though whatever I face might not have changed, I have.

My eyes may be red rimmed, my sinuses all schnuffly and nose puffed up yet my heart has eased into a calmer beat and breathing reaches all the way down to my lower abdomen easing out every vertebrae in my spine.

So why don’t I do this more often?  Why wait until it’s a flood of gut wrenching proportions that gags me on it’s way out?  How stuck in Neanderthal times am I and when can I choose to come forward in evolution?

When they say, “Old habits die hard,” they weren’t kidding.

I have decided that, though there have been horrific times when not existing in this world sounded momentarily good, I don’t want to ‘die hard.’

So, I’m going to practice becoming aware of when I feel little hurts or fears or challenges arise and allow myself to shed tears.  I’m going to watch sappy emotional movies and cry until I’m not embarrassed to be seen feeling feelings.  I’m going to carry tissues and keep them handy for every tiny touching moment life has to throw at me-good, bad or indifferent.

I don’t want to wait only until the concrete of my facade finally cracks, the damn dam burst and floods the plains of my existence.

I want to ease my soul, heart and tear ducts with rivers, streams and trickles of water down my face.  

Why shouldn’t I live my own quoted words, “Tears soften my edges,” when I know the benefit for body, mind and spirit of that truth?

I feel softer, lighter and saner after a good cry; more in touch with my center and easier in breath and skin.  More oxygen seems to get to my brain and I can focus on the heart of each matter instead of being scared witless behind a facade of the illusion of strength.

In truth, I feel good; stronger for the softness and nobody else gets hurt by bumping into my pointy, sharp edges.

When a friend said recently, “I know you’re facing some high hurdles but please, remember your center, dear,”  my response was a childlike wail, “ I can’t find it right now.  I can’t remember what it looks like.”  

“Well I remember it and I know you will find it again too.”

Now that’s a gift.

It enabled me to let go and cry with relief that I was not alone loin girding like a David against Goliath and gratitude for her loving heart.

Tears streamed down my cheeks as my shoulders lowered and my cells expanded with the light of her love and my allowing tears to soften my edges.

There may not have been a solution immediately at hand, yet I felt less bowstring taut.   No arrows flew at me or from me and I could let go of outcomes and simply be.

That basic task can be the most difficult thing to do in the human form.  Be.

For years I’ve been in awe of my daughter in law, who is divinely named, Hope.  The first time we went to the movies together, she cried during the emotionally touching scenes and I, who was feeling the same empathy for the situations and characters portrayed on the big screen, choked back my tears until my eyes and throat hurt from the effort. I blinked furiously, stared at anywhere else in the theatre to distance myself from the overpowering emotions and snatched glances at this beautiful young woman beside me who wept unabashedly and wholly appropriately in sadness and joy; no filter.  I thought, ‘Wow! How does she do that?  She is amazing!’ What a power of example she is.  And her family is equally open, expressive and in touch with feelings.  Her over 6 plus foot tall Dad was a superman of  weeping with joy at the wedding.  How great is that? And her lovely, sensitive Mom tears up in happiness each visit or upon leavetaking because she will miss her daughter when she goes home.

These wonderful human be-ings help me stay in the moment and remind me that crying is also a loving thing; a leaning into the heart which heals and makes whole.

After a good cry, I feel cleansed, more flexible, softer and oddly stronger.

 And, now that I think of it, could that be why they call it ‘a good cry?!’

When I cry, I am present in the now, fully feeling, not shut down or cut off.

I’m able to be connected with others when I’m connected to my self.  It is in the fertile fields, watered with weeping, where I can crack open the seed casing circumstances build and allow myself the softness of Spring, green growing, bending into the earth around me to blossom into the light.

I am soft petal and strong stem; able to wave, bend and stand tall in whatever breeze or gale force comes my way, as long as I keep the life giving and easing water flowing.

So join me in this practice if you will.  Notice where you hold off and where you can receive; where you pull in  and where you ease out.

Then cry when you feel frightened, lonely, hurt, sad, happy, joy filled, weak or strong.

Cry me a river and know that you are not alone in your feelings or challenges.  

Together we can flow to the calming sea of unity and connection, where, in our softened state, solutions can float to us in ways, perhaps different from the way we wish, yet better than we can imagine.

I’m seeing you shine with light glistening on your tears.

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