Saturday, December 1, 2012

Let the Tears Flow

Emotional Release

Give Yourself Permission to Cry

Let the Tears Flow-
This time of year can be hard for a lot of people. I am not sure why but I know of so many people who struggle emotionally around the holidays. I have never been this way in the past but this year has proved to be exceptionally hard for me. I have been an emotional wreck since the day before Thanksgiving and it only continues to get worse as Christmas comes nearer. I don't know why other people find this season difficult but I do know why this season is particularly emotional for me this year. I can't stop reflecting back to this time last year. I remember the pain I was in. The sadness I felt about missing the holidays is hitting me like a wave this year. Even though I am home this year the emotions of sadness and pain are just as strong as they were last year. I also can't help but think about the friends I made in treatment last year and I miss them, worry about them, hope that they aren't suffering as much as I am right now. And a part of me hugely misses the safety and community that treatment provided me with. I don't want to be back in treatment but I do want the comforts and camaraderie that I had while I was there. As I mentioned in previous a post I have been struggling with uncomfortable and puzzling thoughts recently. I have been in a lot of emotional pain. I have been feeling sad and alone. And I was holding all of these things in, not sharing my thoughts with others, crying to myself, and managing my hurt all on my own. Yesterday I finally got the emotional release that I have been needing for months now. I was in an appointment and I finally expressed how hard things have been for me recently and I let the tears flow. I mourned the deaths of my two friends. I explained how I feel so disconnected from others because of my atypical experiences- it seems that my past has inhibited me from relating to a lot of other people my age. I expressed how greatly I miss some of my best friends who live great distances from me. I shared my frustration regarding still being in school. I expressed my painful concern that I will never find a place where I fit in again in the future. 
Facing frightening facts reagarding anorexia-
I talked about my personal fears regarding my illness. Some days I feel strong and as if I can fight it and prove the frightening statistics wrong. But, other days I become scared. The statistics aren't in my favor- 1/3 of anorexics remain chronically ill, 1/3 die, and 1/3 "recover" (whatever recovery means)- and I begin to ponder the likelihood of me being part of that 1/3 that goes on to live seemingly normal and happy lives. When 2/3 of anorexics fail to ever reach a level of "recovery" I begin to doubt myself and my abilities. I want a happy life but the statistics aren't in my favor, I need to face the facts, and reality can hurt. I cried over how much my disease has taken from me- friends, normalcy, a traditional college experience- and shared my concerns that I may never be able to find happiness in my life. I am terrified that my illness will just continue to take and take until I have nothing left to give. I worry that treatment has ruined the real world for me. It provided me with a safe space filled with people who I could connect with instantly because we had so much in common. It was a ready-made community of women who shared my illness, feelings, and experiences. No such community exists in the real world. My longings for such a community are strong and persist but I have come to realize that I will never find this again unless I return to treatment. I want friends who I can connect with immediately and they may be out there but I have to continue to work and wait until they come along. All of my sadness just poured out of my soul and thankfully I was with an individual who knew exactly what I needed- comfort and a hug. When I left my appointment my sadness was still lingering but I felt exceptionally better. I finally had the emotional release I needed when I was willing to share my sadness and fears and gave myself permission to cry. 

"I want to weep, she thought. I want to be comforted. I'm so tired of being strong. I want to be foolish and frightened for once. Just for a small while, that all...a hour."

- George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings

This quote reflects exactly how I have been feeling over the course of the past few months. I have even said multiple times that "I am just tired..." It's hard to hold yourself together and be strong when all you really want to do is fall apart. It is hard to connect and support other people when in your heart of hearts you need to be comforted. When we hide are sadness and our tears we are unable to receive the comfort and love that we need. As I child I was often called a "cryer." People didn't want to be around me because I cried too much. These experiences have instilled a fear in me. I am afraid to cry, I don't want to reveal weakness, I don't want to seem too emotional for the fear that people will not want to be friends with me. This fear has ultimately caused me a great deal of strife. Bottling up my emotions contributed to my anorexia. Hiding my sadness results in overwhelming levels of anxiety and provokes internal turmoil. I become exhausted struggling all on my own. Sometimes we need to let it all out, we need an emotional release, and often the only way to achieve this is to let the tears flow. I have learned a lot over the course of the last decade but perhaps the most important thing I have learned is that we need to give ourselves permission to cry.

"We need never be ashamed of our tears."

- Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Crying serves a number of beneficial purposes. It can express joy or sadness. It can indicate to others that we are in pain- emotional or physical- I require help. And it can bring us a great deal of relief. After my hour long session of crying I felt significantly better. I felt less burdened. I felt less alone. The pain and sadness was still there but I was no longer holding it all on my own. I felt lighter almost and was surprised how heavy upsetting emotions can actually be. 

" know that good, long session of weeping can often make you feel better, even if your circumstances not changed one bit."

- Lemony Snicket, The Bad Beginning

When we share our emotions with someone we trust our load can start to feel lighter. We may still be struggling but now we have another person- a friend, a family member, a therapist, a teacher- to give us a hand along the way. These people can talk things through with us and help us to better understand our feelings. They can simply be a sympathetic or someone to cry to. They can comfort us with kind words, reassuring statements, warm hugs, and genuine love. These people are necessary for our emotional release. Without them are tears are wasted. We need these people to help us see the light that exists outside our darkness. They can bring us back to reality when we are consumed by our thoughts and emotions. They act as the recipients of our emotions and are willing to carry some of the pain and sadness for us. Although we may still be sad, or angry, or frustrated these people are there to take some of the emotional baggage from us. When I left my appointment yesterday everything was exactly the same. My friends were still dead, I was still enrolled in school, and I was still concerned about the frightening statistics regarding my illness but one thing was different. Someone else knew about my concerns and sadness because I gave myself permission to cry and subsequently experienced an emotional release. We all have pain. We all suffer and struggle. We all feel sadness and senses of loss. But we don't all express these feelings. We're embarrassed to let the tears flow. We're afraid of how others will respond if share our emotions. We think crying is a sign of weakness. But, if crying were wrong G-d would not have made it our natural reaction when we feel upset or in pain. These is nothing wrong with a good cry. Although it may not change the situation or how you feel it serves a valuable purpose. When we give ourselves permission to cry, share our fears and sadness, and experience an emotional release we can discover that we are not alone. Some of the burden is taken off of us. We have a companion to help us carry the weight of these heavy emotions. And we can continue to move forward once we have let go of the pain and sadness that was holding us back.

Cry when you need to and you'll find that you are not alone,

Release your emotions and cry to someone you trust-

25 Days Til Christmas

I bought our Christmas trees today with my Uncle !

I'll Be Home For Christmas, The Carpenters


  1. Wish I could be of more support, but sounds like we both have the winter blues. I hope to feel some holiday cheer soon. School is overwhelming but soon to be over. I had a meltdown earlier this week completely unexpected in front of my professor. I thought things were "fine" turns out I think I was on complete autopilot and shut down. Things can only go up from here! I'm glad you had a good session with your psych I'm assuming. And I'm proud of you for being true to your feelings and being honest about what you miss from treatment. That takes courage!The longer you stay out the more you will develop bonds and close friendships with others. I've never been the kind of person to have "one group" of friends that all knew each other so I understand how hard that can be...when you have friends from all over and they don't know each other and it feels easy to be left out. You are in a tough place with social life since you transferred and don't feel like you have a place in a specific grade or group of friends. I can see how you may feel that way but from what I see and hear from you- it sounds like you have plenty of wonderful loving friends! Actually, you strike me as quite the social butterfly. I wish I was more social like you!