The appropriateness of tears

I was journaling to De, and the topic of crying snuck its way in.  I don’t remember if I have talked about it here yet.  It’s not an easy thing for me (crying).  There has to be a really damn good reason to cry “legit” tears (not the ones that seem to spill uncontrollably from my eyes at random commercials or sappy stories, but tears that are backed by deeper emotion, tears that actually mean something or are connected to something).  It’s never appropriate in front of another human being.

Crying was not accepted growing up.  It was never soothed, only discouraged (and in some cases punished).  The only exception to this was when K died; then it was ok to legitimately cry (though only up until the funeral and burial in my recollection).  It wasn’t ok to cry for T though, “because he wasn’t real family” (G hated T and refused to consider him a relative because he “wasn’t blood”… I think love makes a family, not genetic material.  I will never consider Bitch family though she is my father’s biological sister).  T married K.  He was kind to her (mostly), and to us.  He will always be family to me and I have a right to cry when I miss him… But I digress. G never allowed crying.  Mom looks down on it also, though she was more consoling about it than G ever was.  Regardless, crying was like a sick day: hell froze over before it was allowed (or the school kicked us out because we were contagious).

Despite new learning and a cognitive understanding of the benefits of crying, I still have a lot of trouble allowing myself to cry in front of anyone else. That rarely happens.  It has taken me over a decade to learn to talk myself into crying when I need it, not just when it falls under the “ok” column set by my early experiences.  I have to have a drawn-out conversation with myself to convince that gate-keeper to let the tears fall.  Sometimes I can’t convince her to let go, but a few times every few years, I can actually manage to cry as an emotional release.  Most of the time, blood had taken the place of tears… I haven’t cut in months, but I haven’t cried either (except maybe twice in the ER or the hospital).  Tears tumble forth at stupid sappy stories, or emotional moments in movies, but there’s nothing really behind them.  It’s not a full-fledged cry, but just leaking eyes.  I wish I could bring myself to release through crying more often.  I think it might do me some good, but the keys needed to open that gate are stashed away somewhere “safe” from my prying.

One of the few things I remember from my childhood is a recurring nightmare.  I would be crying, and Skeletor would yell at me to stop.  He would tell me that if I didn’t stop right then, he would kill me.  He would grab me and physically threaten until the dream me stopped crying… I think the dream me, conditioned by Skeletor, is the gate-keeper to allowing the adult me to cry.  She’s terrified though, and repeats Skeletor’s words over and over again even when I try to tell her it’s ok to cry.

The other fear of crying comes from the fear of being overwhelmed by it.  If I start to cry, will I ever be able to stop?  I’m reminded of one day in 2007 when I cried hysterically for about 8 hours straight.  I would stop only long enough to catch my breath for a few seconds, then the choking sobs would start again.  I remember calling 211 because I hoped talking to someone would help me stop.  They sent out an ambulance without telling me and I was hospitalized (I cried hysterically the whole time until they drugged me up enough to put me to sleep for a few hours before they admitted me upstairs)… Kinda shitty experience.  Similar in “turn-off” factor as the Skeletor dream.

Anyway, I’m not really sure what the purpose of this post is… We all learn different things growing up (many of us learn really warped stuff), and it tends to affect us into adulthood even when we try our best to shake the lessons.  I look forward to the day that I can cry “as needed” without having to go through a 30 minute back-and-forth with the old tapes.

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