This weekend, over on my blog friends Facebook page, I posted this picture of the varying molecular structure of tears:
A reader this asked this question: "What do you do, when you need to cry and you can't?"
I had to think about that one overnight, but here are some ideas I have, in the light of day.
You need the right kind of tears.
We can see from the molecular structure of tears that peeling an onion to make yourself cry when you're grieving or in transition isn't the way to go. You won't get the right kind of tears from onion-peeling.
Of course we all know that! But it's fascinating when you can see the scientific proof of what you already know: you need to cry the right kind of tears.
You need the right people.
"It is not good for man to be alone:" first not-good thing God ever saw in creation. Before there was any sin, when God himself walked and talked with Adam, aloneness was a bad, soul-sucking thing.
We need each other. We need the safety of people who care about us, love us, and will nurture us through the hard times.
Sometimes, it's just too much to deal with alone. And sometimes the tears come best when you're in a safe place, with a person who will help you bear it.
Even if you can't cry in front of other people yet, let some safe people in. Let them love you just as you are.
Whatever the tears are about, Love is the answer.
You need to engage your right brain.
Engaging in right-brain activities gets you into the space where your emotions live. I think we need to be engaging our right brains all the time, not just in emergencies. This is more of a life-style tip, and not so much a quick fix.
We tend to fill up our lives with a bunch of information and activity, but I think for our sanity, we need to stop doing so many things and just BE.
Allow ourselves to breathe, physically, emotionally, spiritually.
And then don't just take off into the rat race again, but deliberately replace information and busy-ness with activities that will keep us in that healthy place where our emotions can surface and be soothed.
My big three right-brain friends are music, nature, and beauty in general.
(Some people really like yoga and running and things like that. They say it makes their brains all zen. My brain, it just screams "stop it! stop it! stop it!" But I'm willing to believe my list is not exhaustive, so find what works for you. If your brain gets all zen with exercise, that is awesome.)
I would personally recommend a week of driving through the Canadian Rockies, while listening to Sigur Ros.
It certainly straightened out some stuff in me.
However, in real life, we live in Dallas, some of us. It's 108 degrees and we're trapped inside. Junk is happening and we just can't get out of town right now. Then what?
Clear your schedule. Give yourself time. Find what engages your right brain in quiet and stillness, and go there.
Last year, when I was in a pretty hard place, one of my friends took me off to a kid's art class at the Dallas Museum of Art on a Saturday morning. We were the only grown ups in the room, stamping our little patterns on our little papers. But dang. It worked wonders. I could breathe and feel again.
The gem room at the Perot Museum does it for me, too. The Japanese Garden over in Fort Worth. Live music at The Kessler. Walking on the dam at Lake Joe Pool or on the paths around White Rock Lake.
I'm not a city girl, but I've found the places here that speak to my soul, and I go there.
Find those places, wherever those places are. Take yourself there. Be there. Breathe. Bring along a friend who gets it and will be there with you.
Here's one last idea.
Not everybody likes to do art, I know, but I'm a huge fan of art work as a way to stay healthy in my right brain. I'm not a great artist. I'm not producing for other people. I just need the creative process as a constant part of my life.
When my kids were little and we lived overseas, moving and transitioning all the time, I kept photo albums and I swear, any sanity I have today, I owe to the hours and hours I spent putting photos and words together on those pages.
I have friends who crochet or knit or quilt, with the same kind of results, so you might want to give those a whirl and see.
I'm a paper kind of girl, myself. And, as we have established, I'm not a great artist. So it helps me to start out with some good materials and go from there. This is a collage I did a while back, based on the Patty Griffin song, "Up To the Mountain."
"Some days I look down, so afraid I will fall, and though the sun shines, I see nothing at all. Then I hear your sweet voice, it comes and goes, telling me softly, you love me so..."
When we were in Canada, I did nature collages, just for fun.
So. Find what works for you. Live in a way that honors your emotional health, with people who love you, and see how the tears come along.