When is the last time you really let yourself cry?
I mean the tears that shake you open. The tears that knock you off balance. The tears that say, “Hey, you can’t hold this in anymore—just let it move.” It’s this intense crying that brings us back to balance when emotion in our bodies (fear, grief, anger) has been warehoused for far too long.
And it hits us when we least expect it—because it needs an “I hear you” and an “I’m listening.” We often don’t give our sadness the time of day that it’s desperately in need of.
These tears can be uncomfortable, unbearably weighty, and difficult to let flow because they are pure vulnerability.
“What happens when people open their hearts?”
“They get better.” ~ Haruki Murakami
The more often we shove the tears down—stifling our emotions—the more the intensity of the emotion builds.
I’m lucky enough to have a space where I feel completely safe to cry it out. I have a very nurturing yoga teacher who holds a safe space for emotions that surface unpredictably in the physicality of our daily lives. And while this microcosm is protected and it’s an avenue for me to process my day, what about when the tears come unexpectedly, when we don’t have the time nor the space to cry?
Stress brings out the worst (and arguably the best in me).
Recently, my job became rough as additional responsibilities came on quickly to fill a vacancy. I have insomnia. I’m moving at the end of the month. Money’s tight. And I’m downright anxious—about everything. And for a while, pretending I was ok was working. I would work diligently and long and non-stop and not ask for help and carry the burden (the weight) of work and life and struggling. And I would go to yoga and shake it off dust off the very tip-top surface layer of this grief and carry on. It’s a cyclical process.
But the tension builds when we least expect (and want it to). And honoring my grief at work was not at all in the cards. It’s this idea of prescribed vulnerability that our society has inflicted on our behavior—the notion that there are certain times (and places) where it is (and isn’t) ok to be sad. And crying at work isn’t one of them.
But finally, the damn of grief I’d been holding back broke open. I let myself fall apart at work because I just couldn’t stifle it any longer. I finally gave myself permission to be honest with my emotions and it was exquisitely healing. Honoring grief when we don’t want to or are embarrassed to is uncomfortable, but there is a sacredness in playing witness to it.
Washington Irving says it best—the cathartic power of tears is enormous.
“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not a mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition and of unspeakable love.” ~ Washington Irving
Author: Caitlin Oriel
Image: Daniela Brown/Flickr