A Promise to Never Cry
Trauma. It’s how a lot of our habits and patterns form. However, trauma is relative. A dog biting your ankle is not as horrifying as a fatal car crash but to a child the high of emotion can be the same. And in those high moments is when we make promises to ourselves. Promises we may not fully cognize at that age. Maybe we promise ourselves never to put ourselves in particular situations so we avoid those places or people. Maybe we promise ourselves never to let anyone hurt us. Maybe we promise ourselves never to feel a certain feeling ever again like never letting anyone make us feel like a weakling. Or maybe we promise to never let anyone see us cry.
Growing up in my house, crying was not very accepted. I was raised by my father, who I felt at the time, ridiculed me if I got upset. He would say I was “sensitive” in quite a spiteful and patronizing way. If my sister was around he would get her involved and have her agree. I started to interpret being sensitive as being weak. And as a small child, who felt quite alone, I did not want to be perceived as weak. I felt I needed to be seen as strong since I had to take care of myself. My mother had left me and my father didn't know how to interact with me. So I promised myself I wouldn’t let people think I was weak.
Now this is not an article about my father's mistakes nor my mother's mistakes, even though that could have definitely used improvement. There are many things my dad did right and he could be quite supportive. The point I want to make here is that in those kinds of situations where the parent disregards what the child is feeling and unknowingly punishes them for it can cause a rippling effect of habits that may not be healthy for an adult wanting relationships and connection with others.
The truth is I think it was my father’s sore spot as well. I think that he didn’t know how to handle some of my emotions because he didn’t feel comfortable with those exact same emotions within himself. My father was not raised in a nurturing home and being the middle child of seven, I’m sure he felt unseen and emotionally ignored. The truth is, as humans, our feelings are what we have in common.
So as a child, I promised myself that my father would never see me cry. And he didn’t. I didn’t cry for years especially during my teenage years. I could show my father my anger because somehow anger was acceptable. Or that showing my anger somehow made me feel powerful. But he could never see me be upset or hurt. I imagine many boys are raised similarly.
I've become highly attuned to the sensations that arise before the tears let lose. There is the clump that rises in the throat. The pressure in the chest. My face may change by a downward twitch in the lips or by clenching my jaws. My voice my start to crack. I feel the pressure behind my eyes. I had become so attuned to these reactions because I hadn't wanted my feelings to be seen. As you can imagine, I came off cold and robotic in emotional situations for many years. I also came to judge others that could cry easily as weak. If I did became upset then you would only see the anger. It felt safe that way. Now I didn’t have the habit completely down. There were times I cried but only when I was completely alone in my room. Even then there was no sobbing, only a few silent tears streaming down my face.
Then came a point in my travels when I met Ferdinand who introduced me to a paradigm of interacting in this world and I could see the potential in my life changing. But the catch was you have to feel. Going into it, I thought, no big deal I can express my emotions. People know how I feel. I always let people know how I feel. And in a sense that was true. I let them know if I was irritated, bothered, cared, or even happy. But as Ferdinand started poking around my issues, my guards came up. He would come up against a sensitive issue and I would throw anger. But he persisted. He would constantly remind me to feel. I needed to allow myself to feel. I realized anger was just a secondary emotion to the root of what I was actually feeling. Anger was my protector from feeling the feelings that I was truly feeling and experiencing. And the truth that I found was that I was hurt. I felt abandoned. I felt lonely. I didn’t feel safe.
I had believed that crying in front of people was a sign of vulnerability and I did not want people to see what I believed to be weak. I’m working on it now. If I have a tear because I hear or see something that pains or moves me that doesn’t mean it’s a sign of weakness. I also had to feel that it shouldn't matter if someone sees me cry. I had to realize it’s okay to show how I deeply truly feel.
I cry more these days. I have yet to do a sobbing cry where I can’t catch my breath. I think it might be healthy for me to experience the depth of that. And it’s still hard to have many tears because I have trained my body so well not to cry. Most of the time it is only a tear or two. But with or without the tears, I’m allowing myself to feel more and I’m allowing myself to realize the truths in what I am feeling. I’m allowing myself to make choices off of what I feel. And those feelings are a good gauge of my reality. Those feelings are giving me such an awareness of habit patterns and belief structures that are molding my reality. Sometimes it's good to break promises you've made to yourself.