“Tears are how our heart speaks when our lips can’t describe how much we’ve been hurt.” -anonymous
As children we are often told to stop crying when something upsets us. Whether we fell down and scraped our knees or dropped our ice cream cone that we finally saved up enough money to buy.
“It’s alright,” they say.
“Don’t worry,” they coo, and these were the nice responses some of us got.
“Big girls don’t cry”
Oh and my personal favorite….
“Stop crying before I give you something to cry for.”
Yeah I got that one a lot. I myself didn’t cry a lot. Not unless I got into a fight with my brothers or got my butt whooped for who knows what. I remember one time where I was probably in elementary school and my oldest brother broke his leg so he had to walk around with a cast on. I can’t remember the disagreement, if there even was one, but I remember him picking on me and I cried a lot because even though I tried to fight back I still couldn’t beat him. I mean come on how angry would you be if you assumed you had the advantaged over someone and they still beat you AND laughed about it.
So yes I was a big baby and I cried about it. Outside of that and as I mentioned earlier a handful of whoopings I didn’t cry often. Mainly because my family were and still are a bunch of wanna be (yes wanna be and not want to be) comedians. The more you cry the longer the jokes lasted so eventually I gained a thick skin and tolerance for physical and emotional pain. I mean seriously the joke’s really only funny when you aren’t the subject.
That’s not the worst part though….
I’ve noticed in times of sorrow and mourning people always hold your face pressed into their chest or arm pits (I hate this sometimes) as they rub your back and try their hardest to console you.
“Don’t cry baby girl”
“It’s alright, we’ll be ok”
“Just pray about it, God will heal your pain”
I remember thinking “THAT’S BULLSHIT.” I heard all that and more when my mom passed away 15 years ago and I just couldn’t help but think if all of what you are saying is true why are you all crying? I shed tears, lots of them but at some point during the whole ordeal they kind of dried up. I couldn’t cry anymore, feel anymore, care anymore. I mean what was the point it would change nothing.
From age 14 well into my mid 20’s I rarely cried and if I did it wasn’t in front of people. I kept my pain to myself, not wanting to add my grief onto others. I didn’t want anyone to cry over me or For me. Tears at the time displayed what I thought was weakness. In my mind people always felt sorry for me. I imagined when they looked at me they thought…
“Poor Jody. No mom, no dad. We must take pity on here. Let’s make sure her first Christmas is filled with gifts. Pay extra special attention to her during the holidays and my God we have to make sure on Mother’s day we tell her we can be her “mom for the day.” As if that would make me happy.
I felt weak and fragile and I hated it. So you know what I did? I became independent. I spent countless hours away from home, playing multiple sports, finding jobs as soon as I turned 16 to add to the distance. I joined tons of clubs at school and spent time at my friends’ houses just so I wouldn’t have to go home and face facts. My mother wasn’t there and she wasn’t coming back.
I watched on the sidelines as my grandmother interacted with my aunt and my aunt interacted with her two kids and I just felt alone. I realized I would never get that interaction again and it wasn’t their fault but at the time I blamed them internally. My aunt and I got into countless arguments and if I remember correctly a few fights and I would always hit her with the line..
“YOU ARE NOT MY MOM!”
Looking back I realized I wasn’t really mad at her or her bossiness but more upset that I felt she was trying to take on a role that wasn’t hers. So I officially apologize to you Aunt Nell because all you were trying to do was be the adult but I was not having it.
I was angry at the fact that I couldn’t just tell my family how I really felt.
I wanted to cry constantly but I couldn’t, or wouldn’t because I felt like I shouldn’t. I felt like everyone would tell me that I had to get over it because nothing would change. I know my aunts and uncles and cousins all felt the pain of losing my mom but it wasn’t the same pain. At the end of the day my aunts and uncles had other siblings and my cousins had other aunts and uncles. I didn’t have another mom and since my dad was gone years before I didn’t have one of those either.
For some people the pain hits them on her birthday or anniversary, some holidays or maybe even when someone else brings her up but my pain is constant and I fear if I let it consume me like it wants to I would’t be here today.
(PSA I have never contemplated suicide so that is not where this is going…carry on.)
So naturally I did what I thought was the best thing and I hid my fears. Behind smiles, laughter and the occasional night out. I played the role so good that people started to question me. They wondered if I was hurting, was I ok? I just smile and brushed them off and said…of course, but I wasn’t. I spent what free time I had consoling my friends over their breakups, deaths in their families and random fights with their families that their problems became my escape from my own. I didn’t have to think about what I had going on if I just focused my attention on everyone else. I got so good at saying I am fine that I really started to believe it.
Then it happened. I graduated and made the decision to go to school out of state because I needed a change of scenery. The new faces and places helped for a while. I didn’t have to pretend to be happy I really was for a little but then the questions started to come. People would talk about home and then ask me about mine and eventually the question about my parents would come up and I had no choice but to speak the truth. They’re Gone.
Immediately I could sense the pity and the sad eyes that followed me and the the pain resurfaced. The few weeks/months I had without it at the center of my life went by quick and eventually there was no more hiding the pain. I needed a release and I needed it quick. I remember one day I called and had a conversation with my Aunt Nell (Yep the same one I constantly fought with). I don’t remember how it started or the words spoken but I remember having my first real breakdown in years. I cried so many tears that night, tears that left me feeling relieved and yet sad. Relieved that I had finally gotten the courage to tell someone I am hurting even if I didn’t go into grave detail but sad that even after I cried the pain didn’t subside. Then she said a few words that stuck out from many others..
I THINK YOU NEED COUNSELING.
I knew she must’ve been out of her mind to tell me that and I am pretty sure I just told her, no I’m good I just needed to vent. I remember her telling me it’s not good to bottle up my emotions and that I would eventually explode but I didn’t care. If I couldn’t talk to my family about my pain why would I tell my problems to a stranger that got paid to tell me it’s going to be alright. So I did what I did best and put my smile on my face and pushed the pain to the back of my mind.
I am on the edge of 29 and feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, angry, sad, hurt and in pain. The tears that I held in since I was 14 now come as they please. I find myself crying watching TV commercials about laundry detergent, food, kids you name it and I am a blubbering fool. I feel at my weakest and I hate it but in public I am still carrying my smile. I am still the friend people come to with their problems, ask for advice, who lends every dime she has and doesn’t call you asking for it when it’s two years later. I will always be that girl but sometimes I just want a me for me. I need all those things too. I guess it’s time I face the facts that I can’t hide my pain forever but for now I will just continue to smile.