June 4, 2012
Over the last couple of weeks I have been touched deeply by the lives of other people in my life. I have been touched by the unimaginable tragedy of others who live in my country and in my city. From a horrific murder and dismemberment last week in Montreal, to a senseless act of gun violence on Saturday evening at The Eaton Centre, shooting into a crowded food court...one man confirmed by police as the target but too many others injured in the gunfire. And a complete and total lack of regard for human life.
We all have our story which is made up many chapters that we go through in our lives. Some of what we go through we can make sense of; much of it we can never grasp or fully comprehend because our minds and our consciences just cannot go to those dark places.
I cannot focus on what happens in the outer world and while random acts of violence can happen to any of us, it isn't within our power to do anything about those situations. We leave that to law enforcement and the courts and to God (whether you believe in God or not...or whatever you do believe in, there is a higher power somewhere that we answer to in our final reckoning, of that I firmly believe). We mourn and we feel for the victims and their families. I can, however, focus on those who are in my own orbit and be there to offer comfort, support, advice, laughter or a shoulder to lean on. And to cry on.
I was thinking about this the other day and then heard from a friend who is going through some scary stuff in her personal world (that "c" thing...) and we talked about crying. I phoned her immediately to talk about this when I heard her news, and my friend began to cry as she started to tell me about what was happening. At one point she said she "hadn't meant to cry" and she was in some way apologizing for doing that. Why? Why do we apologize for our tears? Why do we say to someone in distress, child or adult, "oh don't cry, it will be all right"? Why do we feel the need to plug up the emotions that allow us to express our grief, or sadness or unhappiness or our very deep hurts?
From childhood we heard "Hush little baby don't you cry, mama's going to buy you a mockingbird..." - some versions have it as "Hush little baby don't say a word..", but I heard it as "cry".
Maybe this just happened in my family. We weren't very big on sharing how we felt or showing how we felt and my mother, sister and I all learned to pretend otherwise if we were hurt. It gave my father pleasure to know that he was "in control". Feigning indifference was the way to go.
I think it runs deeper than this though. I think on the whole we would rather stifle our need, our vulnerability our desire to let others see our deepest feelings. Tears are evidence of those feelings.
But what if...we allowed ourselves to expose our emotions to others...and what if when someone started to cry we simply grabbed tissues and became part of that vulnerability. What would happen if we allowed the tenderest parts of ourselves to be seen?