Self-Care Through Tears
Sometimes self-care is something we avoid, because it involves tears. And, many folks perceive a good cry and as weakness. If anything at all, tears are a sign of surrender. First, they allow bottled up emotions to find a safe escape route. Second, they help us realign with our inner-strength. Finally, tears help us to move beyond keeping up appearances to make others feel comfortable when a good cry is needed. For these – and so many other reasons – tears are an under-appreciated self-help tool.
Surrendering to Present Emotions
Tears sting. Why? Because they remind us that pain has found a way to escape our hearts through a cry. And, just like others, I try to avoid crying at all costs. Yet, I find myself surrendering to tears more and more as situations warrant them. For example, my dear 14-year old dog, Savannah, is winding down. She has late-stage kidney failure, which was diagnosed over a year ago. While she has been taking a bite or two of food and a few sips of water over the last week, she has lost her zest for life. Sleep, rest, and recovery from the simplest walk outside to relieve herself, consume her days.
She has struggled more lately with keeping her balance as she moves. As a result, she fell into the deep end of our swimming pool. Luckily, my husband rushed to lift her doing the doggy paddle, wet and shaking, onto the walkway at water’s edge. Soaked, she shook it off as her instincts dictate. Later, sitting on the floor of my office, I read to Savannah from Margaret Atwood’s book of poetry called, The Door. And, when I got to Dutiful‘s second stanza, my voice snagged in my throat and tears flowed as I read: Still, why do I feel so responsible/ for the wailing from shattered houses,/ for birth defects and unjust wars,/ and the soft, unbearable sadness/ filtering down from distant stars? And, yes, for the poolside mishaps of my aging, furry friend, too.
Open your journal and free-write for 15 minutes on any unresolved issue that causes pain. And, by pain I mean anything that hurts emotionally, mentally, physically, or spiritually. If a mix of the four tumbles out of your pen, then that is fine. Reread what you wrote. Make time in your week to give yourself the room and space to cry. You can tap into them in a variety of ways. Look through an old photo album or in your cell’s photo stream. Watch a sentimental movie, like My Dog Skip. Listen to some soulful music, or, like me, read some poetry aloud. Then, write in your journal about how that felt, too.
Here’s to gently growing your flow,