"The body remembers what the mind forgets."
Jacob Levy Moreno
I’m learning to cry after decades of holding back. Until recently I didn't know I didn't cry, or I guess I thought my ability to suck it up and figure things out was some kind of Medal of Honor. What I found out is my ability to move forward on the changes I’m trying to make in my life was arrested by old stuff lodged in my heart because I harbored old pain.
There are books written in recent years about sensitive kids and people. Looking back I was one. My hypersensitivity was likely exacerbated by the death of my father when I was five and the expectation from the adults in my life that one moves on. But I cried. A lot. I cried when the kids ran too fast and I cried when I couldn't play in the grass because of allergies. I cried when kids made fun of me because my dad was gone. I cried when people looked at me cross ways.
My ill-equipped elders—a mom, aunt and uncle that called me “cry baby”— didn't understand that you can’t cajole a kid out of being overly sensitive. I even remember their exasperation when they finally got to the I’ll-give-you-something-to-cry-about end of their rope. They inadvertently sent me underground. This is not blame. It is just the story of a child who became an expert at holding back or minimizing tears.
Then I practiced for decades. I held up through two marriages, raising two kids by myself and leaving corporate
to start my own business. I have been the guardian for my declining Mom for six
years. Who had time to cry? America
In recent years as I watch the demise of my Mom who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, when someone asks, “How do you feel about all this?” I have been known to say on numerous occasions, “No sense crying about it, you just figure it out.”
We have all heard about the benefits of laughing. So goes crying. Tear expert Dr. William Frey discovered that stress hormones and other toxins are released, “feel-good” hormones are produced and the heart is healed by emotional tears. Good stuff. What Dr. Frey doesn’t talk about is the emotions (and potentially actions) that get stuck when we lack outlet for the emotions that are released by crying.
Things started adding up for me with a little observation.
First, I have hyperventilated since I was a kid under certain kinds of stress. One can only imagine it began when I learned how to stuff sadness and anger early on. More recently I have noticed a tendency when I have reserved writing time (I’m working on being a writer) to notice myself hyperventilating. My heart would be heavy and I struggled to catch my breath.
Next I have a pretty accomplished massage therapist who teaches Hakomi, a body-mind practice that helps patients connect physical ailments with psychological disturbances. When he inserts a bit of Hakomi in my massage and has me envision connections between body parts to help me integrate fully (most specifically my head and my heart), I struggle to make a connection, like there is an impenetrable wall around my heart.
Add the herbalist/healer for my seasonal allergies who has been talking with me about what feels like a lack of clarity and direction for my writing, and the revelation the other day when I mentioned the pain in my shoulder and his suggestion we pause long enough to sit with it and ask about its origin. Sure enough it only took a split second of sitting with that pain to be struck by the sadness and anger lodged there by the demise of my mother and the responsibility it incurs. Seven tissues later the shoulder pain was gone. My breathing had cleared and my heart felt lighter.
Ignited by the insight I agreed to talk to a psychic. I was intrigued by the work another friend has been doing with this particular psychic and couldn't help myself take advantage of a birthday special offer. I've never talked to a reader before but I believe in my friend’s clairvoyant abilities and her psychic has been working with her to perfect them. Sure enough in the session this psychic could read the disconnect between my head and heart without me saying anything. She recommended releasing the stress that makes my heart heavy in order to get unstuck with my writing.
Once I tasted the sweet salt of tears, there was no going back. As I revealed my experiences and my Sweetie asked me questions (only a slight I told you so in his demeanor) I cried on his shoulder. I cried when I told my best friends my story. I cried when an eagle showed up in the green way that surrounds my house. And I cried when I walked out on the deck and saw the violets my more able Mom planted in pots years ago.
It wasn't a surprise that almost immediately a poem rolled out of my gel point pen like the tears rolling down my face. Look out world, the Cry Baby is back.
Have you stuffed things that are holding you back from making the change you desire? Are they showing up as body quirks or little ailments? What might you accomplish if you were to let them go?