My words often feel scripted to me like I’m playing it safe, holding back, sanitizing them, censoring the gritty emotions. I use words like pain, regret, loss and loneliness but do you even understand what I mean when I use those words? I often wonder if you do and why I hold back?
All I want is to crack open my chest and massage my heart back to life with words so powerful the blood can’t help but pump through my veins with passion, allowing the oxygenated blood to bring the healing salve of forgiveness to a system ravaged by self-inflicted hate, anger and shame.
I am trying to remember the last time I really cried. I think it was nine years ago. My husband and I were fighting over how to pay the condo levy for the new windows we couldn’t afford. A failed business, maxed out credit cards and credit counseling had left us backed into a financial corner. We needed help. My husband wouldn’t ask his dad and I was tired of my parents always bailing us out. I went upstairs into the bathroom and looked into the eyes of the woman in the mirror, she was overwhelmed and helpless to support her family. She let out a scream that came from the bowels of her soul and then collapsed into a sobbing heap, pounding her head and fists against the wall and tiled floor, inflicting pain to feel pain.
My husband tried to get into the bathroom and as he pushed the door open, I pushed back. I didn’t want him to witness my pain, my anger, my tears falling uncontrolled. I just wanted to tear my world apart in peace but he found his way to me and he held me until I calmed down and I put the woman in the mirror back in the mirror.
I don’t remember exactly what happened after I stopped crying but the windows were paid for, split almost 50/50 by our parents, and we avoided a lean against our house. Life went on. My husband has probably filed this moment away under things to forget but for me it was a rare moment of raw, uncontrolled emotions and those are so rare that I remember them and hold them close like cherished mementos.
There’s a line from a song by Three Days Grace, “I’d rather feel pain than nothing at all” and it resonates profoundly with me because most days I walk through life numb. I have trained myself to push back every emotion, good, bad, in-between. I can stop tears from falling to the point that I have almost forgotten how to cry. I can put on a smile when I want to scream, I can play nice when all I want to do is run away. I’m guarded. I hold back, physically and emotionally, from engaging with the world. I’m so good at it many people perceive me as standoff-ish. It’s in remembering the moments of extreme agony, where I lost control of my emotions, that I remember what pain, what love, what feeling feels like and yes, I would rather feel pain than nothing at all.
I am ready to learn to cry again, to let down my guard and let others see my emotions, to let others into my world and simultaneously allow myself to be welcomed into the worlds of others. I am ready to erase the loneliness from my vocabulary and to let my words crack me wide open and fill my veins with life-sustaining prose – one uncensored word after another, an IV tapped directly into my soul, each word releasing a link of the chains I’ve entrapped myself with, slowly allowing me to come alive and live my life unashamed of who I am and her arrays of emotions because it’s okay to hurt, it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to love with abandon.
There will always be pain but I am ready to process the difficult emotions and let them go instead of giving them the keys to my cell. I am ready to live again, to love again and to let myself experience all my emotions so I can process them and where I am broken, let the salve of love heal the brokenness into a new whole.
Will you bear witness to my healing journey? I ask a lot of you, I know I do. Being present as someone bleeds tears of repressed agony is a huge request to ask of anyone, let alone strangers, but in the witnessing and the speaking aloud there is power. The feeling of hands laid upon your soul holding you up so you don’t drown, reminding you to breathe when you forget to, reminding you of your beauty when you feel ugly, and reminding you to look up and see the light that surrounds you, that is power and we all have that power. I am asking, are you ready, willing and able to use your power and bear witness to my cracking open?
Say yes if you are….