Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Blessing of the Tears

I continue to surprise myself at how far I will go to avoid breaking down into a good cry. Although I have long known that it is within the tears that I find equanimity.

I am having a hard time these days. Circumstances have converged that make it necessary for me to forge a new way to find peace within myself.

We all have our own coping mechanisms. Mine has usually been to be staunch, sturdy and independent. And I am proud of those qualities in me. I prefer doing most things by myself. That is who I am, and I must honor that.

My mother was a woman who thought she needed others to lean on. She fell apart easily and often, and her life consisted of a series of unhappy relationships which were based on need.

I grew up watching Mom run from life’s challenges like a hunted animal all the while tracking down others from whom she sought to borrow strength- the strength that she did not know she could cultivate within herself.

Mom did the very best she could. I don’t begrudge her choices. She loved me fiercely and with great earnestness. She showed me what she knew. Daughters sort out their mother’s teachings and apply what works to their own lives.
And what works for me is to face stuff alone. What works best for me is to be alone with my pain until I am strong again.

Mother’s emotional outbursts set the tempo of our home. At a young age I understood that there was to be no room for two drama queens under the same roof. My tack was to become the buttoned-down girl who ran interference.

I raised myself to avoid crying. I raised myself to buck-up. I was taught that others had bigger problems than mine, and that if I let loose with my feelings then all I was doing was making things worse for others.

I especially remember being told this when my parents were divorcing. I was twelve, and my mother's parents had come to help out as my mother was in helpless mode. My job, I was told, was to be strong for my mother.

My Victorian era grandmother told me me that a display of emotions is undignified. My grandfather agreed. He once wrote me a letter in which he said that I was too nice of a girl to have problems. I dearly loved my Mamie and Father John. Theirs was my Safe House. And because I adored them I practiced what they taught. I learned to maintain a stiff upper lip and let 'er rip with a therapist who I paid to listen.

These days I am crying more. I spend most days alone in a chair. And I cry. I rant. I pound. I scream. I cuss and I beg for help to the Great Unseen. I sing at the top of my lungs sounding much like Tiny Tim in chains.No one witnesses these moments, and that is just how I want it to be.

I cry until this thing happens in which it seems that my mind folds into my core of strength.

My strength looks like a razzle dazzle emerald rock not unlike one Elizabeth Taylor would have worn.
My strength smells like an early spring day in which the coo of the dove fills me with a sense of happy expectancy.
My strength is luxurious, thick and soft like the fur of my long-hair calico cat.
My strength sounds like Tom Petty belting out the words to “Refugee”.

I do not like to be taken care of by another person. I am much more of a loner than Mom was. That is who I am. It certainly is appropriate that by the time a woman is sixty years of age that she follow her own guide and take herself unto herself for better or for worse.

These days I prefer to take myself down to my edge and build myself back up. This is my daily practice. It is work that I must to do alone

This practice, too, will change someday when I have new things to learn.

My tears clean me out for a spell. I can then pull myself up by my bootstraps and carry on.

Tears lead me to Grace.

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