All the FEELS.
“Why are you crying?”, my gastroenterologist asked. “How much time do you have?”, I wanted to say, then decided against it.
I had just been to the general practitioner the week before and was still experiencing the aftershocks from that visit.
“Are you depressed?”, she pushed. (A legitimate question as depression has been linked to auto-immune diseases like ulcerative colitis.)
“No, I’m happy,” I admitted, wiping away the tears that were quickly rolling down my cheeks.
“Then why are you being so emotional?”, she questioned. “Stop it. You’re fine.”
I pondered having a bedside manner conversation with her. Informing her that though she may be quite skilled at shoving plastic tubes up people’s asses, she was less deft at the human connection thing. Again, I decided against it.
I simply looked at her through my now misted glasses, smiled and said, “It’s just hard to be sick again.”
“But you’re not even THAT sick,” she protested. “I see people far worse than you.” And again, she said it, like a robot stuck on a certain setting. “Why are you being so emotional? You’re fine.”
I know she was just trying to make me feel better and ultimately she was right. I am fine, in the grand scheme of FINENESS. I have food, shelter, a loving family, even healthcare for goodness sake. So yes, I am fine.
But when did fine start meaning a person couldn’t show emotion?
I thought about the woman in front of me. A respected doctor who probably had to cut herself off from her emotions, telling herself she was fine through innumerable hardships. A human, who, like many of us, views tears as either a sign of severe trouble or weakness. Or if nothing else, a vulnerability to be avoided at all cost.
What I wanted to tell her was that my tears were neither troubling nor weak. That it had taken years to become emotionally connected enough to get a single tear of out of my face. That the softness she found disconcerting I’d fought really hard for, learning how to open to my feelings rather than harden against them.
And I wanted to let her know that it was OK for her to feel too. That to be in touch with the entire range of human emotion takes an incredible amount of strength and that we can find the courage to let ourselves go there and honor those brave humans who already have.
So, back to her point. Why was I crying?
Very good question.
While sitting in her sterile office, being asked about blood and bowel movements, I saw my experience in a way I never had before. I could see myself, as if standing outside looking in. I saw the hurt, the fear, the vast unknown in front of me, and was able to reach out and hold myself there. I didn’t get sucked into the emotion or knee-jerk to denying it but rather embraced myself in the face of all I was feeling.
My tears weren’t from fear but a response to the awe at having touched grace in a terrifying moment.
I now only wish I’d had the clarity to say all of this to her.
Maybe she could have heard it. Maybe not. But that doesn’t actually matter. What matters is I was loyal to myself, to my feelings and my experience. I didn’t let shame weasel its way in, get sucked into her definition of strength or hide what I was feeling. I simply felt and let it be OK.
That goodness, that heart-opening, soul-cracking awesome goodness we all say we want, only happens when we’re allowed to feel and cry and emote. We only get to touch the peace within when we permit ourselves to be with the full range of our emotional experience.
The more we lock-in to our belief that tears are weakness and that emotion is somehow second-class to logic and reason, the more disconnected we become, wondering how the bottomless pit of need within us got started and why we’re living such a thin slice of the technicolor life we’re all capable of.
This week honor the tears you shed. They aren’t weak and you’re not wrong. And if you, like me, have a hard time letting the tears flow, be gentle with yourself and ask why.
What’s your current belief about tears? What’s your first reaction when someone cries in front of you? What’s your reaction when you feel the tears come? Are your reactions the same or different? How can you compassionately hold yourself when the salt water starts to flow?
These are big questions and I’d love to know how they land for you. Simply email me and tell me all about it.
Lots of love and here’s to lovingly reconnecting to the full range you.
P.S. If you have a hard time crying or judge yourself every time you do, let’s talk. I have 4 open Clarity sessions for March and during our hour together we’ll explore what’s hard to feel how to move through to feel at peace and compassionately connected to yourself. Email me and we’ll get you on calendar.
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