When I was little, my mom used to hit me when I cried. Well, not always. Sometimes she would raise her hand and say, “I’ll give you something to cry about if you don’t shut up,” but then wouldn’t follow through on that threat. Other times, she would threaten and follow through, or give no warning at all. I do think this has something to do with my insecurities that surround crying now as an adult. However, it probably isn’t the only reason. Like pretty much everything else that’s wrong with me, it’s “complex.”
I don’t like crying. Actually, it’s probably more than just “not liking it.” Crying in front of people makes me feel anxious to the point of sheer panic. I cannot stand the thought of people seeing me that out of control. Not having control over my emotional state is terrifying. It doesn’t matter how “safe” the person is who is seeing me cry, in my mind, it is not ok to cry. It is not ok to be that out of control.
Today is the first time ever, in over a year of trauma work, that I have cried in front of my therapist while going through a trauma memory. This seems like it should be one of those “monumental moments,” or “turning points” in my progress, because I allowed myself to feel that deeply during a memory, to reduce to the point of tears. I’m struggling to see it that way though. Instead, I am agitated because I need to have control over my emotions, and today I didn’t. I’m also annoyed with myself because on the rare occasions that I do cry in therapy, it’s a few silent tears and then I can get myself together. Today was different. Today I was practically sobbing.
It’s not that I don’t trust my therapist; I do – probably more than anyone else in the world. At this point in our work, I trust her not to judge me and I trust her to keep me safe when I am not capable of keeping myself safe. She always lives up to those two expectations, and today she exceeded them by tying in yoga when I started having a complete emotional crisis in our session. Because well, you can’t think about killing yourself when you’re doing cool yoga shit like sun salutations. Ha I wasn’t thinking about killing myself, but nothing makes me feel like I need to cut more than being that emotionally out of control. Just based on the fingernail marks that are left on my wrist tonight, I’m pretty certain that had she just let me sit there and sob, I would’ve made my wrist bleed. Thanks to yoga though, I was able to link breath with movement, use my emotional energy productively, and become present again.