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“I don’t want people to see me crying,” said my five-year-old son on our way to the airport.
We were about to separate for five days. I was going to Hawaii to spend time with my highly esteemed and inspiring astrology teacher.
My son’s sun sign is Pisces, which means he is very private. But what he said had reasons beyond that. He’s never had a problem showing his joy and happiness in public. Why does he have a hard time showing his sorrow and pain?
I’ve tried to encourage my son to cry whenever he needs to. I’ve explained to him that tears are meant to wash our sadness away. I’ve told him how essential it is to allow himself to experience all emotions and express them. Despite all that, he still tries to avoid the realms of heavy emotions with all his might.
I consider myself a good example of emotional connectedness. For the emotionally detached Gemini that I am, it required some work to connect with my Cancer rising, and the strong water element in my chart, to get where I am with my emotional capacity. In astrology, emotions relate to the water element. The better you are at crying, the more connected you are.
It was my first visit to Hawaii, and my first time with my teacher outside of a formal teaching environment. Obviously, I wanted to impress her. I wanted her to love me.
But on the first day of my trip, I was totally out of my element. I was recovering from an 18-hour journey that included three flights with tight connections. I was six hours away from my time zone and discovered how hard it was to miss my son. I was anxious to be on a little volcanic island in the middle of the ocean, 4,642 miles away from him. What if something happened and he needed me? I was surrounded by water!
Under all these influences, I kept disappointing myself in response to my teacher. I did not do what she expected of me. I failed in understanding simple things. I even managed to upset her friend that we visited. I went to sleep with a lump in my throat.
The next day, I told my teacher how I felt. The tears rolled down my face as I talked. I said things like, “This is not how I usually am; I am much stronger than this,” and “I do not know why I am so weak right now; I probably caught something on the plane.” My teacher looked at me softly. She told me that I was so cute and that she did not feel I had disappointed her in any way. But I felt so stupid about crying—so defeated.
Why does my son feel uncomfortable crying? Because I feel uncomfortable crying. Because I see it as embarrassing, as something that shows weakness. I want to show everyone how strong I am, just like my son.
If you ask me what is the most fundamental thing that needs to change in this world, it is our ability to honestly experience and express our true, deepest feelings, without being ashamed.
The famous psychologist, Sigmund Freud, thought that women suffered from hysteria. Only a hundred and some years ago, women were not allowed to vote because they were considered irrational, which meant too emotional. Men were (and still are in many cases) taught not to cry. And so, women, who wanted to get the same rights and opportunities as men, learned not to cry.
Every day, I help my clients connect with their emotions through their astrological charts. Suppression brings disease, and the only way to stay healthy is to process our emotions. When my clients cry during a session, I think it is the most beautiful thing in the world. Yet, I am still uncomfortable with being vulnerable and exposing my own weakness that way.
Do you pray for world peace? Do you want a respectful political dialogue? Do you wish people were kind, compassionate, and caring? If so, this is the one thing we need to learn: to embrace our emotions, whether we like them or not.
Until we learn to feel everything—pain, sadness, lust, longing, weakness, love, jealousy, power—without running away from it, without denying it, without apologizing for it, we will never be where we want to be.
On my last day in Hawaii, I went to a spa where they had hot pools and cold pools. I moved from cold to hot again and again in what felt like a shamanic ceremony. I meditated with my teacher in a garden that felt like a Buddhist temple in heaven. I felt whole and complete, safe and protected. I was happy to get back to my son feeling this way.
In Hawaii, a client told me that when she is in awe of the beauty around her, she cries. People always ask her, “What’s wrong with you? Why are you crying?” I told her that the next time this happens she should ask them, “What’s wrong with you? Why aren’t you crying?”