For the times when you hold back the tears


by Elizabeth

I’ve spent most of my life locked in my head. Keeping my emotions at bay, and not even realizing I was doing so.

I still do this, even though I know by now what’s going on inside of me. I can feel tears rising up inside me, begging to be poured out. But I shove them down and don’t engage.

I swallow the lump in my throat. I blink back the tears. I’m so good at this that I don’t even have to blink sometimes.

I can literally watch myself do this. It’s like an out-of-body experience. I can say to myself,“She’s locked in her head right now, refusing to deal with those pesky emotions. Why is she so stubborn??”

Why? Because emotions take time. They take energy. And after I engage my emotions, I seriously need a nap. So it’s easier for me to detach from them. It’s easier to ignore them.

It might not be easier in the long run. But in the short run, it’s certainly faster. Because I’ve got things to do. People are depending on me. I can’t take the time to deal with this. Crying won’t help my situation.

No, crying might not help my situation. But it might help me. When I’m done crying, my problem might not be better, but I am be better. My problem might not be solved, but I no longer feel like it’s insurmountable.

I don’t always let myself do that. I’m afraid that if I start crying, I won’t stop. I’m afraid it won’t fix my problem. And I’m all about solutions, people.

But. What if the tears are the solution? What if the tears allow my soul to say something that words can’t?

I need to feel.

I don’t always feel like feeling.

But I need to feel.

So today, if you’re like me, and you have a hard time accepting the fact that you’re human and that you have feelings in the midst of all the goals and tasks of life, I give you permission to feel.

And if it’s easier to shove the tears down your throat than to let them flow freely, I give you permission to cry. Cry as hard as you need, for as long as you need. Use all the tissues you need.

And if too much is going on in your life, and you don’t think you have the time to stop and cry, I still give you permission. After you’ve cried a little, or even a lot, you just might find you have the strength to carry on.

And when you’re finished, you can look up and remember that if I were with you today, I’d be sitting right beside you, with a tearful smile and a warm hug.

I promise.


 photo credit

4 thoughts on “For the times when you hold back the tears

  1. Elizabeth,
    Thanks for sharing. Crying does help!!
    I remember one time when we had a short term worker from England. She told Chris, “I am so uptight I just want to scream.” Chris said, “O.K. on the count of three we will scream as loud as we can.” She said, “No, you won’t scream with me and I will look like a fool.” But Chris assured her that she would not let her down, so at the count of three both of them let out a blood curdling scream, after which the intern said, “oh, I feel so much better!”.

    • I love this story Dana! It still took some trust for your intern to scream, so I’m proud of them both for screaming together 🙂 I have also heard of home school moms who lock themselves in the bathroom and do the silent scream. You know, act like you’re screaming, but don’t make any noise. That helps too, surprisingly. I don’t have to do that with my own children, but I have to do that over acts of misogyny, which really upset me. ~Elizabeth

    • Crazy how much it helps, huh? I nearly always forget how helpful it is. Maybe next time I will try to remember sooner. . . So glad you are feeling better too. Sending you a hug!

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