Crying / Being Alone
Categories: Mental Health
I guess this is a follow up to the last post I wrote about “tired” and sleep, and yawning. But this is something a little more intimate: crying.
Just like yawning, from a Somatics point of view, crying is a release of energy. It’s not a disease, or a malfunction; it’s your body working through something, just like anger, or being surprised, or afraid. And, while all of those can be so strong that they become unhealthy, that doesn’t make them inherently bad. Everything in moderation. But we tend to treat crying as a bad thing because along with it comes sadness, and feeling sadness is not pleasant. So when people see someone crying, one of the common responses is to go “ssshhh” or to try to tell them “It’s ok”. Or, further than that, to try to rationalize or even “solve” their problem. To intellectualize and offer facts to get rid of the emotions. But if crying (and the sadness) is your system working through something, or in Somatics terms “releasing energy”, it’s like closing the valve before the tank is empty. In some ways I think we even acknowledge this; we allow grief when a loved one passes away, and when comforting someone who is crying, the one comforting will say “That’s it, let it all out”. Part of us understands that there’s something inside that needs to be let out, but we still limit it to extremes and act like “lesser” events don’t need the same type of release.
And that’s why it’s so very important for me to cry. Not all the time of course; it needs to be in a safe place and, preferably, with a person that I feel safe with. But the act of crying, the dealing with that sadness instead of trying to stuff it down, to not feel it because it’s uncomfortable, all it does for me is tell my system that what it is trying to work through is unacceptable. And, like my Pet analogy, that’s not how I believe my relationship with my nervous system should work.
Take tonight, for example. The day was not easy, nor have the last few weeks having been filled with anxiety and depression initiated by certain circumstances. But also for the last few weeks, I mostly haven’t been able to pinpoint why those things continue beyond the circumstances. What I mean to say is, the thoughts and feelings are not preceded by recalling or thinking about those circumstances; they don’t even seem to have an immediately discernible origin.
But back to tonight: I felt something weighing on me, but I didn’t know what. What’s more, I felt like my body wanted to cry. It was not strong and I wasn’t sure if I actually would, it was just a small feeling. I could have easily just dismissed it and gone to bed, but when I stopped and thought “What would my Wise Mind do?” the answer was clear: connect to my body, because that’s what the Wise Mind is.
So I sat on the couch with someone I trust, closed my eyes, and just tried to feel in to the sadness. I started to ask myself internally “What’s wrong?” and see how the sensations in my body changed based on my questions, even if no words came in answer. Then, I started to speak out loud, a monologue, removing any intellectual filter that might be in place between my feelings and my mouth. Because, for me, letting the feelings be felt is one thing, but letting them be said out loud and heard is another form of release. Instead of telling my nervous system not to feel, it’s encouraging it to let it out.
And before long I started to receive answers to the question “What is weighing over my head?” I feel alone, but not in the sense that I don’t have people around me, even people who love me. It’s more that I feel that even those people do not know me. That I feel like I put on a face when I am around people: work, in public, even friends. And part of that is just being an adult, that part of fitting in to society is being polite to others when you are in a bad mood, or interacting with coworkers in a business manner. But for me it feels much more deeply than just that, and this is accentuated the most when I interact with someone new. That having someone understand me, and continue to be around me, and to even enjoy being around me, is something that I want so desperately that I fear every interaction with someone new. Because I’m afraid that if I tell them what I’m really like, then they’ll leave.
What is the “what I’m really like”? I’m not entirely sure, to be honest. I had a grasp of it when I was in treatment, but the feelings have faded and so now I’m just left with the knowledge that at one point I knew more about who I am. But I know at least part of it is my mental illness and how invisible it is to other people. Or maybe just misunderstood. It’s not something that people are comfortable hearing about, for reasons I don’t know why other than a negative stigma. So being afraid of scaring people away right off the bat, I try to act “normal”; I try to act in a way that people don’t know that I have what I have. And that just makes me feel that much more alone; that the existence I live is not what other people see.
The most straightforward “answers” are to either try to be authentic and ‘to hell with what they think!’ or to at least try not to see every new social interaction as a defining moment: that one person leaving does not mean everyone will. And both of those would be much, much easier to believe and implement, if I didn’t feel alone already. I never pinpointed it until now, but that’s why, even up until going to treatment, I felt as though I didn’t have any friends. Because I felt that at any moment, they would see something that would make me not seem like other people, something strange or off-putting, and then they would disengage. Hell, I still grapple with this fear with my present-day friends, especially when my depression and anxiety are at higher levels. And historically, it’s actually caused me to end or grow distant from friendships because I was to afraid to engage out of the fear of rejection. I end out rejecting myself on their behalf.
Bringing this back full circle, before, I felt this numb sadness and anxiety hovering around me, and I didn’t know why. And now, after I’ve cried, sat with it, accepted it as how I am feeling, the feelings haven’t up and vanished, but I’ve given them the acknowledgment they need. I’ve let them see the light of day, and I’ve mourned with them over how bad it feels to feel alone and how difficult that is to live with. The unhealthy part would be to run with them and start extrapolating, e.g. “I deserve to be alone”. But just to give a podium to existing feelings, to let them be heard and felt, to let my body express that, yes, the way I do feel does suck very bad, it’s giving it space to work through what it needs to work through. And, in this instance, it encourages my system, even a little, to be a little more ok with the idea that my authentic self is not something that needs to be hid.