My heart aches but I hold back the tears.
The lump in my throat strangles me and prevents me from speaking. Or swallowing.
The pit in my stomach screams of a void that can’t be satiated.
Yet I don’t cry.
I’m actually afraid to get started. When I cry, it’s all or nothing, and there’s just no time.
No time to cry.
I don’t want to mess up my makeup, I rationalize.
Swollen eyes are an open invitation for questions. Unwanted questions.
I don’t want my kids to worry about me. So I suppress the shouts of anger and pain which are silent but deafening.
Calm. Cool. Collected. Controlled.
There are no other options.
Regardless of what’s going on inside, you aren’t going to see me sweat. Or cry.
Lord knows I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. Ever.
Conversations that I long to have are stifled. The fear of emotions rising to the surface and gurgling out paralyzes me before I can utter a word. I don’t want to appear fragile. Weak. I don’t want to break down.
And I certainly don’t want to make anyone else uncomfortable.
That simple fact alone is so wholly crippling that I’ll go to any lengths not to put someone in that position. It hurts my heart to see someone squirm, which only makes the situation worse, for both of us.
Emotions are buried.
I’m masterful at avoidance, steering clear of anything which might make me sad. I’ve almost made an art form out of pre-qualifying situations. I can smell sad a mile away, so I detour.
Until there’s time.
Until the kids are in bed and there’s no one more to see. No one to find out my secret shame. No one look at me curiously. Or with uncertainty on how to help. Late night cries are my drug of choice, but only if there’s time enough for swollen eyes to recover before the morning.
I’ve even scheduled time to cry before, looking ahead in my planner, searching for a break long enough to incorporate a good, uninterrupted cry. Sometimes I’m days or weeks out. So then I ignore my need. And just go on.
Feelings are stuffed.
Sometimes I try to hide my heart from God, playing a little game of emotional sabotage. If I pretend the pain isn’t there, and I don’t speak it to God, He won’t see or hear it. And maybe He’ll allow my ignorance and neglect to continue.
But He doesn’t. Thank God.
And He asked me to share this with you. Actually, He asked a LONG TIME ago, but I’ve been avoiding it, until today. Today I knew the time had come.
Perhaps there’s someone reading this right now, desperately in need of this message, and God was thinking of you. I hope so. You are not alone. We’re all on the same team. No criticizing. No belittling. No judgment. No shame.
I want you to know I understand. And give you hope and encouragement by sharing the progress I’ve made over the years.
I’ve learned… Feelings and tears aren’t weak, but an undeniably crucial part of a healthy and balanced emotional life.
I’ve learned… To keep company with people I trust so I can let down. Expressing the transparency that I value in others doesn’t make me vulnerable. It makes me real. And credible. Relatable.
I’ve learned… Heartache is part of life and I shouldn’t run from it. Just like I shouldn’t avoid expressing the reactions that heartache may create.
I’m still working on not worrying about my makeup, or how distorted my face looks when I cry. There are ‘pretty criers’ in the world, but I’m just not one of them! Overall, though, I’ve come to value the importance of a good cry. Of allowing myself to feel. And to be confident enough to share my heart.
God didn’t create me to be a robot. Or an island unto myself. He wants me to know there are things much more important than swollen eyes and smeared mascara. He created me with a heart that loves and feels deeply, and He rejoices when I share my life with others, both in the good times and the bad.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
Today I cry for broken relationships and abused children. I cry for the hungry and the ill. For lost souls. I cry out of frustration and anger. I cry tears of joy and appreciation.
And I am whole.
Declutter fear. Declutter shame. Declutter embarrassment. Declutter isolation.
Allow yourself to cry. To feel. To love. And to be loved.
There’s always time…
Don’t avoid your tears.