So last night, someone near and dear to me said, "I read your blog about crying, and I have to tell you, none of that stuff would work for me."
Essentially, the feedback was:
- What do I know about the real hard cases?
- I am a total lightweight in the crying department. I've always been able to cry. (My kids are so well acquainted with my crying that they can tell BEFORE IT EVEN HAPPENS. As in, "Mom, are you going to cry now?")
- Also, people are going to come torch the house after trying that lame art-and-music advice, which produces zero helpful results.
(I stand by my art-and-music advice, especially after coming home from work last night and sobbing along to "Rest" by Robbie Seay Band. But whatever. Me: no idea what I'm talking about, clearly.)
My hard-case expert asserts that what's really needed when it comes to feeling emotions and maybe even squeezing out a tear someday is:
Some of us grew up in families where emotions were not allowed, for various reasons.
- Maybe emotions were seen as unspiritual.
- Maybe only women were allowed to feel sad or scared.
- Maybe only men were allowed to be angry.
- Maybe feelings were "all in your head."
- Maybe we got told, "don't be so sensitive."
Some of us grew up in families where other people's emotions were more important than ours.
- Maybe our parents were fighting all the time, so we had to be super-good or super-happy to make up for it. We convinced ourselves that we were, indeed, that good and that happy.
- Maybe we had a parent with mental illness, whose emotions took up so much space in the family that there wasn't room for anybody else to have feelings.
- Maybe our parents were utterly absorbed in their own needs, and didn't have attention to give to our feelings.
- Maybe our families were in ministry/missions/military, so everydamnpersonintheworld's needs and feelings were more important than ours.
Whatever the reason(s), we learned to push our feelings down and away with such success that we can't get to them any more.
Booze was suggested as an aid to accessing those emotions. I do love me a good margarita, and it's true that alcohol disinhibits our emotions. However, as a long-term solution for processing emotional pain, the research shows excessive alcohol use to be less than efficacious. Creates more problems than it solves, that sort of thing.
So, when it comes to solutions, this is where I get to be right again (I think) because I think this: whatever the problem is, the answer is Love.
It's not good for us to be alone in our pain.
In fact, that's where the pain usually starts: we had pain, and no one to comfort us or care for us in it.
So, it seems to me, once you have given yourself permission to feel, you need those safe people to Love you through. Those friends who will hold your hand, no matter what. The therapist who has all the time you need to speak, to be silent, to wait on those feelings to feel welcome enough to emerge and be cared for.
Booze can maybe bring the feelings up, but it can't comfort or care for us when we need it. So, maybe a glass of wine AND a therapist.
But I'm totally making things up now. I think I'll call it a day. Take from it what you will, and let me know what works for the rest of you hard cases.
Note: Hard Case has read and approved this article, with one further piece of advice:
"If you feel like you might cry, like at church during the singing or during a movie, LET YOURSELF CRY. Stop pushing down the tears and let them come, even if it's embarrassing."
(At this point, let me say that Hard Case is a man, in case any of you think this is just stupid girly advice like the collage thing. I'm taking my glue stick and leaving the sand box now.)