Monday, June 23, 2014. I used to have a friend many years ago, an older man with 35 years of sobriety who kept my old car running to perfection through the years I worked on my art therapy master’s degree in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He used to tell me that hard times grew pathways into a person’s heart through which increased wisdom and compassion could flow. Therefore “tests and difficulties” were a very good thing.
I have been wondering about my tears being so close to the surface since my son returned home far away after his visit here. What is it about our culture that shuns sadness and tears as if they are a sign of flawed weakness, inefficient and ineffective at best, a sign of “depression” and sickness at worst?
Two words appeared in my thoughts today: Affection and tenderness. Wouldn’t these be among our chosen, favored feelings to keep close to us as a good, strong glue to hold both our inner and outer life together? And is there any reason why tears themselves could not be accepted as being one main ingredient of these states of being?
I suffered greatly through my childhood because nobody in my life ever felt these feelings for me (except my brother who was 13 months older than me and my grandmother who had her access to me denied by Mother). It was one of the great areas of neglect in my early life that nobody ever noticed the absence of affection and tenderness toward me. Rather, terrible abuse and hatred came my way and yes, I cried a LOT.
The sickness in Mother as it poisoned my father LIKED to see me suffer. In Mother’s broken mind my suffering expunged all other suffering from Mother and her family. No wonder I have personally grown to see tears as being associated only with harm.
We normally respond to other people’s suffering with compassionate, helpful concern. I guess I turn that same ray inward toward myself when I detect my own tears present. Yet when my tears are tied to deep affection and tenderness, appreciation, even awe, they are not a bad thing. They are a sign that I have found ways to let life create what my friend described as bigger, deeper places in the heart.
That is something to aim for, not condemn, fear or always try to “fix.”
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