To cry… or NOT to cry…

There’s another interesting read over on “The Naked Soul” blog, called “Pain and Suffering – Human VS Spiritual “.   Do we create our own pain?  Or chose to suffer? I started to reply to it…  but, felt my reply turning into a book – so, decided to make a post here instead.  I often think of my father when I think of people who overcame and dealt with pain.  (He almost died in a fire when he was 12 – more details on that posted here).  He was never one to complain, though.   

When we were kids, we never even realized how much he had gone through, or still dealt with.  Pain was a constant for him.  He flinched with every step he took… but, he was too tough, and proud, to admit his pain, or to complain about it.  Even when he got really sick his last days on this earth… and had even more trouble walking…  he refused to let me push him in a wheel chair through the hospital to his appointments.  He said he was never going back in another wheel chair…  he walked… stopping every so many feet until we got there.  This frustrated me as I knew he was in pain, and felt it was “needless”.  It also inspired the hell out of me, and made me admire his will power and strength. 

As I got older, and saw him more as a human, and not just my Dad – I realized that much of his “toughness” was a big act.  He was a big softie on the inside…. but, you wouldn’t have known it.  I still have to respect him and admire his strength….  he sure was a tough old goat :).  He had to be to make it through everythig he  did. 

However, I do think his “strength”, and prideful commitment to it, probably went a little overboard sometimes.   He was so strong… yet he was afraid to express his real emotions/feelings. He was so afraid to look “weak”, that he didn’t/wouldn’t seek help that was often readily available –  and suffered more in the process because of that.  He taught us to do the same.  Is that really a good quality?

My brothers and I were strongly encouraged to hide any pain and negative feelings. Crying or showing weakness was shameful and flat out ridiculed.  I remember my father telling my brothers that they were “sissies”… or “crying like a little girl” when/if they cried (the words “little girl” said with a sneer of disgust, as if something terrible to be).  So, I didn’t want to cry… OR act like a “little girl” either.  Even though I WAS one! LOL  Nope, I wanted to be tough… and one of the guys.  And, I was.  To this day, most of my friends and family all perceive me as being much stronger than I think I really am.  I talk about that a little in my other post about here.  

We were taught to hide or repress our tears…  That it was shameful to feel sorry for ourselves…  or to act weak.  We were told to not make excuses for ourselves…  To accept responsibility… to look on the bright side… to not complain – even if we had something legitimate to complain about…  And we were taught that most things were not worth complaining about.  I can still hear my father’s voice saying, “If that is all you have to complain about, than you shouldn’t be complaining!”.  Much of this logic… I still completely agree with.   However, I know it went too far.  I have to take a step back and watch how I treat my own boys…   I remember being afraid of the dark when I was very young… but also being petrified to seek comfort and admit I was afraid.  I was more afraid to go to my parents and say I was afraid, than I was afraid of the dark.   I don’t ever want my boys to fee like that.  I want them to run to my bed in the middle of the night and know they will find protection from whatever bad dreams or darkness they fear. 

I remember being teased by my brothers, and really being upset… and running to the bathroom and dabbing tears so as not to let them fall from my eyes…  making sure there were no signs of a tear before facing them again.  

I remember physically getting hurt, and being able to choke back the tears… and then be rewarded for doing that.  (what a brave girl!)   If I did cry… I felt like a big cry baby… and didn’t want anyone to see. 

I remember  a lot worse things that I care not to write about that I never told anyone.   Even things that I knew then were “wrong” or not fair to me, I still kept to myself because I somehow thought it was “my own fault”.  I blamed myself… and didn’t want to admit it to anything… even if it wasn’t really my fault.  .Better to suffer and hide it, then to have anyone else know how “weak” I was.    I know I applied this in many areas of my life…  blaming myself… and repressing negative feelings… putting on a good front.

I remember the first time I cried in front of a best friend… we were 18… and had been best friends since 3rd grade.   She had never once seen me cry and she was utterly shocked.  She didn’t know how to respond to me.  Matter of fact, she said “Oh my God!  I’ve never seen you cry.  Please don’t cry.  You can’t cry!  Don’t cry!”.  ??  As if I wasn’t allowed to.  ?! I  still hate to cry in front of anyone… but, I’m not as bad as I use to be.  On of the best friends I have now, is one who I can cry with occassionally.  (When we are not too busy laughing our asses off, that is 😉 )  I actually am a person who usually has fun no matter what… who always looks on the bright side…  makes others laugh… see’s humor in most things… and I am glad I am like that. 

So, anyway… I’m not trying to whine here…  (sorry! LOL) , but rather state that regarding the whole “people should be responsible for their own pain” issue… ??  Well, like many things, I have mixed feelings on this topic.  While I don’t want to dwell on the negatives… or let pain or suffering consume me… I also am fairly recently learning that it’s okay to acknowledge pain,  or mourn or grieve for oneself, and to cry.   Sometimes, pain (physical or spiritual) is very real… and very deserving of those tears. 

Matter of fact, I am reading a book that rather insists that one NEEDS  to do this (acknowledge your pain and suffering, and grieve) rather than live in denial of it, and rationalize things from your past (or present).  It claims that until you do so, you can never really understand yourself and grow…  That you need to do feel sorry for yourself.. grieve… mourn whatever it was you never had or lost, or what you are dealing with…  so that you can then move on.  I suppose that’s the trick, right?  Knowing when to “move on”… and then actually being able to do it, right? 

~smj

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12 Responses to “To cry… or NOT to cry…”

  1. Grace Says:

    🙂 I have been part of this discussion and found my way here. I really like what you have to say. It’s wise, balanced and real. Thank you. (You may also like the conversation that is over at Mother Wintermoons place…where she has also addressed the topic on her blog.)

    Peace!

  2. Zoe Says:

    It is my experience that one can’t heal until they feel. 🙂

  3. tobeme Says:

    Very good article! Thank-you for sharing so much of yourself. I agree, we should not supreess our pain, our tears or emotions. We must grieve when we need to. I was not trying to infer that we should ignore pain, however that we must know how to move on, must know how to get through the pain and come out the other side whole. We do not have to stay in pain, nor do we have to suffer the pain. Pain can be mangaged via thoughts for that is where most pain begins.

  4. tobeme Says:

    BTW – Thanks for the link!

  5. samanthamj Says:

    Grace – hello, and thanks for the visit. I did check out the “Mother Wintermoons place” briefly, and look forward to having a bit more time to explore there. Thanks for the pointer.

    Zoe – right! That’s what the book is telling me. It’s hard… because there are so many things that I really am afraid to feel… It’s easier to blow it off as no big deal.. and NOT deal with it… or feel… or heal…

    Mark – Thank you for clarifying… I look forward to reading more on your blog with some pointers on how to do that. LOL 😉

  6. Zoe Says:

    Hi smj,

    I totally relate to being afraid to feel. I thought if I did, I’d die. Literally, I was sure my heart couldn’t take it.

    What I learned was that in not dealing with it my heart couldn’t take it either. 🙂

  7. Sue Ann Edwards Says:

    Greetings. This is one of the most beautifully written Self expressions that I’ve seen in a long time. Magnificient, Genuine and, Sincere.

    At least that’s the way I see it.

    I, too, have been part of that discussion. What you have described seeing performed by your Father and, indoctrinated into yourself, is a pattern of dealing and coping with our pain and ‘negative’ issues. The pattern we’ve all been taught is to carry these experiences as burdens.

    When in Reality, burdens that are shared are magically transformed and, don’t seem to be as burdensome any more.

    But it requires Intimacy. Intimacy with ourselves and then the sharing of this Intimacy with others. And if we’re not comfortable being Intimate with ourselves, then Itimately relating to others is beyond our means and skills. Emotionally scarey.

    We’ve been programmed in a pattern of judgment and rejection. We’ve been programmed into placing qualifying judgments on our experiences in Life. Our ability to FEEL, our sensitivity and, through association our Intuition, has been Judged as being ‘weak’. With this supposed weakness used against us, as reason for our ‘wrongness’. This is the cause of our behavior of repression and supression.

    We end up carrying around unshed tears. Tears that need to come out, cleansing our emotional wounds in the process. The mental and emotional wounds that went along with our physical pain. It’s this pain that remains largely un-dealt with.

    Notice in your story how much of your father’s self image was based on bearing the burden of his pains…a silent martyr to it. Just as you and most of us have been taught to do.

    It’s the relationship we have with what we label ‘negative’, that keeps the tears within us. WITHIN us. I realize many of us have issues with the LOA, however, carrying these burdens of our pain around inside of us literally bodes ill in our future. For we are ill at ease with ourselves. The parts of ourselves that are hurting and in pain. Most often we lock these parts of ourselves up in some deep dark hole inside of us.

    The cure is to extend these parts of ourselves the warmth of our embrace. To Love that which has been denied Love.

  8. samanthamj Says:

    Sue –

    Thank you so much for your kind words, and thoughtful response. I appreciate your time and wisdom. One thing – what does “LOA” mean again?

    I’ve been reading a bit on your blog too… so much to take in… and a lot of helpful insight there as well. I look forward to reading more from you.

    ~smj

  9. Sue Ann Edwards Says:

    {{hugs}} Thank You for your kind words. And you are most welcome to read what I offer at your leisure, any time!

    LOA, stands for the Law of Attraction. It’s basically magnetism. Personal magnetism. Just because we don’t give voice to it or, expression to it, doesn’t mean it isn’t still there…hidden within, stuffed within. Like a bunch of skeletons we’ve got hidden inside the closet of our bodies. Appearances can be very deceiving.

    If we’re radiating this pain, then we’re creating a magentic field, we’re sowing in our mind’s eye…that is qualifed by it. A negative magnetic field will attract a negative pole. And ONLY a negative pole.

    This is what makes our dealing and healing our ghosts, our issues, our pains, releasing our unshed tears, of such prime importance. In so doing we neutralize the (-) charge.

    We reap as we sow. If we radiate being wounded, we’ll attract more of it.

    Blessings.

  10. lostrealist Says:

    Thanks for your comments on my blog!

    Nice post. I’d like to add that this problem of emotional denial is much more common in guys, because they are trained to “look” strong. In my experience, girls are actually much more emotionally strong than guys. They will cry, mourn and move on. Guys will deny, deny, brood, brood and break. Being a guy, my feeling is that if another guy cries in front of me because of heartfelt pain, I respect his strength. It takes strength to cry in front of someone, to be completely vulnerable. Being a crybaby is totally different. All tears are not equal. External strenth has nothing to do with real strength.

    In my thinking, each time I face pain in life, I would like to do something like this: First let the pain boil in you. There is no way around it. Don’t try to deny it, don’t try to rationalize it. Accept it. Cry if you wish. When your emotions have calmed, understand it. Accept your mistake, and __forget what was not in your control to begin with__. The latter is equally important. If not done, it leads to self-inflicted pain. Decide what to change to fix what was in your control. In my experience, life is so grand and complex that despite appearances, usually what is really in our control is quite limited. But then again, it is our responsibility to do whatever we can. I’d like to end with a quote from M.K.Gandhi on this note:

    “Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.”

  11. samanthamj Says:

    SueAnn –
    Thank you for the explanation. That makes perfect sense. I’ve always believed that we reap what we sow… what goes around, comes around… negative thinking creates negative reality, and vice versa… but… I have to say… this all puts a new spin on things, eh? Because, really, how “positive” can you be, if much of it was only “for show”?
    Take care,
    ~smj

    LostRealist –
    Thank you for the feedback. Since I learned much of this behavior from my father – I totally agree with your remarks about this being common in men. My brothers, I think, adopted this behavior also, probably even more to the extreme than most men. But, I think you are right, and normally, it is more of a “guy thing” anyway. My husband, who was raised in a completely different type of family (picture the Cunninghams 😉 ), does it too. (He’s especially good at the brooding part. ;)) I think, I understand men more than a lot of women, as I learned and display some of these same behaviors…

    I have to really work at understanding what parts are out of my control… but, I’m working on it.
    Great quote by Gandhi.. thanks.

    I hope it’s okay with you that I added you to my blogroll on my other blog… http://smjpoems.wordpress.com/. I really enjoyed your poems – and look forward to reading more.

    ~smj

  12. Response to “spare the rod” post at PBB…. « Mom’s a religious nut & Dad was an atheist Says:

    […] breaking that will and humiliation, isn’t it?  So, ironic… now that I think about it, being taught NOT to cry… and then punished harder for NOT crying.   ??  (I never really thought about that before […]


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