Go here – only an emotion Play the song, and then read. Only an emotion is by Cornish singer/songwriter Sarah McQuaid and it’s a very beautiful and true piece.
Grief and sorrow are natural aspects of human experience. Or at least, they should be. How can we be rounded, complete individuals if we do not know loss or regret? You can’t live fully without experiencing pain and setback, to insulate yourself from such feelings is to not live at all.
But as the song expresses, culturally we aren’t good with this. We aren’t supposed to be sad. And yes, I’ve had total strangers tell me to cheer up, that it’ll never happen, at times when I’ve had to bite back the ‘but it already did’. When your heart is breaking and your world falling apart, this kind of well meaning bullshit is one of the least helpful things a person can do to you. But the gods help you if you let on it is so. Well meaning people who are sure you should be over it by now tend to find you unreasonable if you don’t conform to their expectations.
I hate crying in public. I’m not a big fan of crying in front of most people, because it feels like too great an intimacy to share. But sometimes, the emotions are just too strong and I cannot prevent myself from weeping. Tom (my wise and lovely bloke) once pointed out to me that if your body needs to cry, then it needs to cry and the best thing is to go with that. Suppressed emotion does no good at all to the heart, soul, or mind. What we feel doesn’t evaporate just because we refuse to let it show. And if you keep locking it down and hiding it away, sometime it explodes. Then there’s a great rush of startling emotion, and the people who couldn’t handle the regular grief certainly don’t take that kind of unleashing well.
There is healing in tears. Often I don’t even know what I’m crying for, it bubbles up, painful, intense and absolutely necessary. I’ve spent too many years not shedding those tears. I suspect I’m crying more than many people would consider reasonable, but this is mine, and for me, and I need it. I am not apologising for it. I’ve watched a recently bereaved friend through similar things. There are always folks who think that surely, you should be getting over it by now. No. Some things we choose never to get over, and we all of us have the right to live with our sadness if that is our preference. It is convenient for others if we mend our broken hearts, but that doesn’t mean we should. Some things take more time to get through than people on the outside of it can understand. The tears are part of the recovery process. It’s important to grieve; there can be no true moving on until the grieving is finished. That’s true for any kind of sorrow.
I’m learning this one, day by day. Learning to cry without feeling shame. Learning that I am entitled to my own feelings, no matter how inconvenient they are for others. I might get so that I can cry without feeling like I’m doing something unfair to those around me. It’s natural, crying. People can either put up with it, or move away, but I am never going to let anyone get away with telling me again that I can’t, or shouldn’t, or that I am being ridiculous and over reacting. No one else is going to get away with telling me that my tears are an assault upon them, or get away with trying to make out that my distress is really emotional blackmail. Enough. I have learned some lessons, at least.
I offer you blessings of tears, the freeflowing release of weeping when it is needful, and wish you all the courage to swear colourfully at anyone who does not respect that natural process.