I’m biting back a fresh wave of tears—yet again.
It’s Wednesday afternoon and I’m sitting in the park with my Mom. The wind is cold enough to sting my eyes and make me long for a hot, spicy beverage, but not cold enough to make me shiver. We’re perched on a grungy park bench, my Mom and I, talking softly, watching cars speed by, as the sun slowly drips down the horizon.
I feel them coming, salty little waves, tender little raindrops, but I deny them.
I send them far away, to a land where maybe, tears don’t exist. To a land where smiles are permanent and beauty is a fact.
I refuse to grant these eager tears access to spill all over the sandy shores of my cheeks.
Even though my bottom lip is trembling. Even though my eyelashes are already wet. Even though my heart is thirsty, begging for rain, pleading for relief.
Even though my Mom leans in sweetly, as though to say “What’s wrong?”
Because right now, these tears are terrifying reminders of the truth—the truth that as much as I try to hide it, as much as I hate to admit it—I’m going through a dark, exhausting rough patch.
I’m scared to cry. It feels like if I start, I’ll never stop.
Because right now, life is changing rapidly, my insides are transforming so quickly before my shocked eyes and I’m trying so hard to stay afloat in the face of all this swirling uncertainty.
My whole world feels wobbly. All the precious, golden certainties are replaced with giant, bold-faced question marks.
The formerly firm, reliable ground beneath my feet shakes wildly, turning to sloppy, slimy mud, and suddenly, I feel like I’m mucking around with my old beat-up polka dot rain boots—stuck and frustrated, cold and alone, my hair soaked, my favorite grey leggings covered in thick specks of mud.
I feel like a freakin’ mess.
I want to hide far, far away from anyone who could ask the question I fear the most—
“How are you?”
What would I say in response?
Would I dare tell the truth—the meaty, not-so-pretty, gritty truth?
Or, would I wear a pretty sequined dress and pretend like nothing’s wrong, putting on an extra layer of sapphire blue eyeliner to hide the twisting, turning discomfort behind my eyes?
It’s tempting to hide the weight of this heavy pain under a sweet smile, a gentle shrug that casually says “I’m great. I’m fine.”
But that’s not true.
And it’s not real.
I want to be more real. More true to my heart.
So I will be. I won’t hide.
The tears come now. This time, they don’t leave so politely, they won’t be escorted away without a fight.
Drop by drop, they rain down on my cheeks—and it hurts, it hurts so much, but with the rain comes a sweet, sweet relief.
The rain brings thunder, which brings booming truth.
And the truth is, I’m itchy, squirmy, scratching, burning, crawling like mad in my own skin. I don’t know how to be with myself right now. I’m awkward as fuck in my own company. I’ve all-but forgotten how to sit in silence.
I can’t bear the thought of peering into my own eyes—for the deep blue smoky swirls in my irises reveal far too much about how I really feel.
And yet—that is exactly what I need to see.
I need to strip down from the crunchy, deafening static of the world, remove my shiny fake smile, fall into my own arms, and face this difficult time.
And yet, I am so scared to do this.
Because if I sit in the darkness, in the fear, in the emptiness, and face myself and face my tears—what would I find?
The answer surprises me—it rattles violently through my empty bones.
Strength. I would find strength. I would find fire. I would find myself.
We have this tendency to think that difficult times make us fragile, that sadness makes us delicate, that tears make us pathetic—but that’s complete and utter bullshit.
Because the tough times and crushing moments that seem to rip us apart—they are only blasting our hearts wide open and helping us stretch and stumble towards our juicy dreams, towards the beautiful lives we truly deserve.
So, if you’re struggling, if you’re sad, if you’re hurting, if you feel broken beyond repair—it’s okay. I know it hurts like hell, but it’s perfect.
Be with it. Honor it.
There is no shame in sitting down with not-so-adorable emotions.
There is no rush to feel like your old self again. Likely, you never will—because this gritty process will change you, so deeply, so deliciously.
Light a candle for your darkness.
Hold space for your grief.
Be with yourself through every winding curve of this tough time.
Stop plastering on a smile, your tears are powerful—they are the salty drops of refracted beauty that clear the dead leaves and rusty old wreckage from your heart, so it can bloom brilliantly again, one day very soon.
They are the gushing rivers that swallow you, shape you, open you, and help you become radiant and whole.
They are forces of ferocious creative expression, the liquid processing of old sticky memories, the deep healing of unbearable pain.
Your tears are squeezed drops of pure soul.
You tears—yes, your tears—are so goddamn powerful.
You need them.
So lean in.
Let sadness slip out—chaotic, messy, painful, not so nice, not so pretty.
Let your wounds kiss the fresh air and meet the golden light of day.
Let the tears fall.
Be there for yourself.
Kiss the tender, frayed parts of your being.
Water your cheeks, they’re thirsty—
There is no need to plaster on a fake smile—
Your tears are salty-sweet freedom,
And perfect power.
Let each falling tear cascade through the rich forest of your heart—
Leaving it a little more beautiful
Than ever before.
Author: Sarah Harvey
Editor: Catherine Monkman