Thursday, August 9, 2012

Only weaklings cry (and other assorted lies)

As you can see, my bucket list isn't too extensive.

But if you've ever tried to achieve either of the goals on my list, you know how much work it can be (especially when you consider the amount of weight I want to lose - which I will not reveal here).

At one time -- when I had reached the deepest part of my emotional rut -- I had convinced myself that neither would happen. Of course, I was wrong.

Now, I'd be both a fool and a liar to say that both of them have happened. But I now believe my chances for success have greatly improved, especially for my No. 1 goal.

Why? Because I've learned how to cry.

Yes. You read that right: I didn't know how to cry.

Before I explain, please let me say that it's not my intention to hurt anyone's feelings or cast any blame. Life is what it is; we teach what we're taught. I love my parents, grandparents and sisters. But we're all kinda-sorta dysfunctional in the way that so many people of German ancestry are.

We are stubborn and proud to the point of fault. We hold onto our grudges. We swallow our negative emotions. And, for goodness sake, we don't cry.

"People will laugh at you if you cry."

I can't count how many times I heard that phrase from various relatives when I was a small child. Usually, I was in the midst of a toddler's tantrum. But there were times I needed to cry. To release the frustration. To release the negative emotions that were ripping at my insides.

Still, I heard that phrase: "People will laugh at you if you cry."

The ill effects of that phrase didn't occur to me until after the damage was already done. Until after I'd become a mother and said it to my own children.

I didn't realize the impact that phrase had on me until the day I came home from the doctor's office with prescriptions for anti-depressants, anti-anxiety meds and sleeping pills.

My mom had called to see why I wasn't at work. I couldn't even get the words out without breaking down...and feeling like shit in the process (pardon my language).

I'll never forget the relief I felt when I heard her say, "Sometimes it's OK to cry."

Looking back, I realize I'd spent years suffering through the hell of my husband's addiction, withdrawal and depression without leaning on anyone and without shedding a tear.

I swallowed all of those negative emotions. Since negative emotions don't taste very good, I'm fairly certain I chased them down with a handful of cookies and a pizza or two.

And because I'd associated tears with shame, I held onto the weight of those negative emotions and used it as a way to repel anyone who tried to get too close.

It's a difficult mindset from which to break free. But it can be done.

I'll talk about that on Monday.

But first: Are you a crier? Have you ever felt embarrassed for letting your emotions get the best of you? How did you deal with it? Talk to me on Twitter, shoot me an email or leave a comment below. Talk to me about your emotions.

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