Oh, how I hate good-byes!
The older I get, the worse they are.
Recently, however, I’ve discovered a secret; If you ignore the event, it doesn’t hurt. Yup. You can just simply turn your back on it and pretend it is not happening. I’m not sure why it took my 54 years to discover this little secret, but I have. And I’m not proud of it.
It’s too easy to ignore the pain of a loss. It is too easy to just walk away. I mean, waaay too easy. Nothing gets processed. Nothing gets resolved. Honest. The pain is still there – but it gets stuffed.
I’ve taught about the perils of stuffing one’s emotions for YEARS. Literally, years. I know it is bad. I know the studies – the ones that talk about the correlation between declining emotional and mental health ( which in themselves are totally in synchronicity with one another) and emotional stuffing. I never understood how people could actually do that – stuff emotions that is. I just festered and boiled over. I cried all over people. I just couldn’t help myself. And when I knew I needed to cry but couldn’t, I went into the shower and let the falling water inspire my tears. It worked like a charm. So – I never could stuff.
Until my daughter left for Abu Dhabi last week – for one year.
I avoided thinking about her departure. I looked only to the adventure she would have.
I ignored how much my heart ached for “me” in her absence. I thought about how many new friends she would make.
I turned my eyes to her – instead of acknowledging the pain that was spreading through my body. Funny, that pain. Hard to tell the difference between the pangs of cancer and the pangs of longing and loss. I still confuse myself.
We hosted, my husband and I, a wonderful farewell party for Katya. Oh, it was grand to meet her friends, to see Katya through their eyes. It was pretty clear to me that she had made a very nice circle of friends who cared for her deeply. They cried, they hugged. Not me. Not Stoic Stacey. Nope. I was NOT going to cry – Katya wasn’t leaving, afterall, for another few days and we had to enjoy that moment.
I heard my late friend’s words, Thelma, ringing in my ears. “It takes courage, Stacey, to cry. Why do you think crying is a sign of weakness?”
I never, never, never really understood what that meant until just recently. She was so right! It is easier to ignore pain than it is to acknowledge it. It is easier to be the one who walks away than to be the one who is left behind. It is easier to pretend what you’d like a circumstance to be rather than see it for what it is. It is HARD WORK to process emotions – to cry. It is hard to let people see a softer side. I didn’t want my daughter to think I was hurting by crying in front of her. She felt the same way about me. It became almost a “thing” with Katya and I; We did not cry. We pretended nothing was happening and we carried on.
Well, let me tell you something. The pain is still there. My body aches. I am happy today is gloomy because I can relate! Mother Nature is my best empathizer today. Should have cried. Should cry! Will cry. Need to cry. Need to cry out to the world, “Cry!”.
When we show emotions, we make ourselves vulnerable. We admit we are vulnerable. That’s a frightening proposition for some. It’s not that I’m recommending a good cry in the middle of a foreign crowd – the term, “unstable” may be applied in these conditions. To have a good cry, however, with a good friend not only brings relief, it brings closeness, intimacy to the moment. The correct response to tears, by the way, is a giant hug!
So – I SHOULD have cried with Katya. I SHOULD have shown her my vulnerability. I SHOULD have allowed her into my heart. I SHOULD have been stronger, had more courage to cry in front of her. Lesson learned. It was simply easier to not cry and to deny.
As a result, I ache. My body aches. My mind aches.
I’m trying to use words through this post instead of tears. The words seem to help – hence the reason I’ve kept this blog for three years now. Words help me to process my emotions and make sense of my life.
I am an emotional person. That’s who I am. I cry when I’m hurt. I am strong. I have courage. Just because I cry doesn’t mean I’m weak. Thelma, I get it now.
It takes courage to cry, to show vulnerability. It takes courage to love and to be loved. I choose to be courageous.
“I am the master of my fate.”