Specifically, in front of your parents. Plus a poem by Marie Howe.
Note: This is an excerpt from one of the twice-monthly bonus letters that only paid subscribers and Patreon patrons receive. I brainstorm ideas and work some things out in this space. Sometimes these letters become essays published elsewhere in future; sometimes not.
If you’re interested, I’d be grateful for your paid subscription. If not, you’ll still get four issues of SARATONIN per month. Regardless, I’m thankful that you’re here. - SB
“Tears are liquid tension leaving your body,” my father told me last week. I was crying at the time, and feeling embarrassed about it. In fact, I had just apologized for crying.
Apologizing to someone who loves you because you cried in front of them? Wow.
At some point, I absorbed the message that adults do not cry. This has never been true and never will be true. In fact, it’s absurd. But absurd old beliefs can germinate in the body until they blossom into fully formed delusions.
Isn’t crying healthier than being cruel to someone else because we don’t know how to sit with our own feelings?
Isn’t crying better than hurting oneself for the same reason?
I’ve been in enough therapy and twelve step meetings to know that it’s good to feel your feelings, and that the only way out is through. I forget and remember, forget and remember. Eventually, the practice locks the lesson in. But this takes time, and even then - and even then…
I apologized to my father for my tears because, in my vulnerability, I was not living up to a standard I had invented within my own mind for myself. I was doing what used to anger me when my mother did it, or her mother did it. I was showing what I thought was weakness, and softness.
I thought crying equaled crazy.
Weakness and softness are normal human qualities, but if you’ve been seduced by the idea that you must be superhuman, invulnerable, tough or cool - well, hello. Pull up a seat to the giant table where a lot of us come to work that shit out.
My parents now are not who they were when I was growing up. If you have grown up with your parents, you may know what I’m talking about.
This is not just true for those of us who have younger parents. It is also true for folks whose parents made a significant life change like getting into helpful therapy, escaping from a cult, leaving an abusive marriage (same thing tbh), getting sober, and/or surviving a health crisis and making major adjustments to lifestyle and behavior as a result.
But who the hell are these people now? And who the hell are we, anyway?