In my lifetime I have cried enough for perhaps a hundred women, it feels like it has all been in the past maybe 10 years too. But it is when I cry that has me perplexed a bit and brought me to the comment I made about not crying much. I have been accused by many people who have had the opportunity to really get to know me, such as my ex-husband, that I am "cold-hearted" Now, he wasn't insulting me at the time, so I am not repeating mud slung during an argument between ex's. When I quote him, it is from a specific time when we were discussing the end of our marriage, not screaming at each other or anything, it wasn't like that. But we were discussing it and I was completely dry eyed. I never cried about it. I have never cried about it. He was right, I appeared very cold hearted about it. I mean seriously, who doesn't cry about their marriage ending? Well, I can think of quite of few circumstances where you may not be broken up about the end of a marriage, none of which were my circumstances. He wasn't a monster to me. He and I were very much in love. It wasn't a spontaneousness marriage, it didn't pop out of nowhere, we knew each other well. In fact we knew one another for many years before ever becoming romantically involved. I was raised that marriage is forever...and ever. (A nod to Elliot and Jazelle) Given all of the elements that put our marriage together, the falling apart of it should have grieved me to my very core. And well, it did. Yet I did not cry about it. It makes perfect sense he would view me as cold hearted. I mean, who wouldn't?
Other experiences in my life with other persons have led to the same assumption about me. That I am cold inside. This is odd to me. I feel things. I feel them very deeply. I just cannot seem to push that emotion out so that I behave in a way that I feel so that others see the truth of what is going on. This ineptness has spawned the problems I have in my current relationship. As I am sure most of you will relate to this, when I am dealing with AJ on a conflict level all he sees is my anger, because that is all that comes out even though I am experiencing fear, sadness, guilt, and the list goes on. And in most cases that he is seeing anger it isn't even one of the emotions I am having. I have just somehow plastered that action onto any emotion I am having. Cold. Anger. I am not that person. I know I am not.
So through the years of getting to know myself and what I really am fighting with, that being BPD and PTSD, I have been able to learn to show the people that I love something different than cold and angry. I am fully aware that some of the driving force of that learned behavior is a deep seeded rage that had went unchecked for too long. However, sorting through it all and coming to the place I am at in my life right now I have realized that I don't really cry.
My first husband's grandmother passed away a couple weeks ago. She and I were close, even after the divorce. Her death saddens me deeply. But did I cry? No. I went to the funeral and being around all that pain weighed heavy on my heart but I did not cry, not one drop. I didn't even feel compelled to cry. I did feel self-conscious about it though. Thank goodness for the crisp weather though. My nose was running from it and I had a tissue dabbing at my nose so it looked as though I was touched by it all. I already feel as though my ex-husband views me as this hideous "cold-hearted" person, all I needed for him was to get a glance of my bone dry eyes at the funeral to push that knife in deeper for us. I know, I know, all that should be water under the bridge at this stage of the game, but honestly I don't think that sort of stuff will ever not cross our minds. The funeral for my dear friend that passed away about a week before grandma, I behaved the exact same way. I spent time glancing around at others and I just wondered why it didn't impact me the same way. I mean, I am not expecting some blubbering or anything like that. But tears at least right? How about at a wedding? Maybe a reunion of one of my loved ones, a gigantic accomplishment of someone I love dearly? Any of these situations would cause someone to at least tear-up. Not me.
Often times I find that when it happensto be a situation where it would be natural or maybe even a little expected of me, I force some sort of tear. I have always been very skilled at forced emotion or forced appearance. I started my training for this very early. Very early. I find that I am so afraid of being accused of not caring or having no feelings, being empty when all the feelings I have about something cannot be contained really, I just don't understand how it is that with these feelings running so deep inside on any one of these given experiences yet nothing shows up on the surface. The emotions are there, it isn't as though I am dead inside. I know that for sure because I have been dead inside and have been resurrected. My resurrection has be a long time in coming, but I am alive again inside. But why is it that it doesn't show? Of course this isn't just in tears, but my demeanor and everything just doesn't seem to read what is going on inside. I wonder if when the learned behavior of "coping" prevented me from developing the ability to let the more vulnerable emotions come to the surface to be read by others and now that I have those emotions I am just simply missing the "limb"; it just never grew for me. It didn't develop later or anything, perhaps since I wasn't able to let that part grow when it was intended during natural human development, perhaps I missed the boat and it will never develop? I don't know.
What I do know is this: I do feel things deep inside again and I love that, even when it hurts. Even when it is a loss of someone, I am never sorry that I came alive inside. I would rather feel the pain of death or sadness than not feel love or the impact of certain blessings. So I am grateful I was resurrected. I also know that most of my inability to get passed this dilhema of mine is purely on the basis of what others see, and I am terrified that I will be falsely accused of being cold and dead inside. I don't want people to see that when they see me.
All this awareness is simply building blocks to a my newest of mountains....more explanation of that to come.
However, this crying thing seems to be lacking in a lot of ways except when it comes to children. Which is frightening in a lot of ways. Don't get me wrong, it is wonderful that I have no issues with showing this type of emotion through an outward action when it comes to children suffering, children need people when they suffer so that they can properly process whatever it is that has happened to them. Although the disturbing part for me is when it comes to triggering those "childlike" experiences for me, the tears simply won't stop. I am like a 4 year old crying over a broken toy, it is ridiculous. What is more ridiculous is my impatience with myself for the tears. It feels weak and foreign. Neither emotion do I fair very well with.
Even with the oddities that I notice about my tears or lack-there-of, I do recognize something deeper. This newest mountain, it is certainly time to squarely focus on my trauma and stop dodging the bullet. Silly isn't it? For all the work I have thus far accomplished, all my attention and repetition with my new found skills, all of my touting of DBT; I have severely averted trauma work. I don't exactly know why, nor do I understand how I have so successfully done so all this time. But on we go, right?
What my next responsibility is, is to mindfully meditate on what my next step is. What will this next chapter look like? For all of you that have been reading for awhile no doubt you have heard me refer to how important a mission statement is when building your life that is worth living, and you have probably heard that mine is "I want to show my children what recovery look likes." OK, if I practice what I preach, and I whole heartedly do, my mission statement comes into play here. Whatever the next chapter looks like, I have to return to my mission statement to motivate me to observe my current experience and plan my next step. I certainly do not want to throw darts randomly, I want to construct a target and aim my darts so that I can increase my likelihood of success.
I want to thank each one of My DBT Life reader's for participating in this peer-support effort, please offer comments and share their own experiences in this topic for me to have a higher chance of success.