I don’t mean a few little tears rolling down your cheek or some held back sniffles. I mean a deep, heaving, straight from the gut, soulful cry.
Dear Mama, I wish I could be right there with you and give you a great big hug. You are enough and everything is as it should be. You can do this. Tomorrow will look brighter.
I know this because I’ve been there, many times. The days when you feel like you can’t clean up one more glass of spilled milk or bowl of cheerios or change one more diaper. The times when you can’t bear the thought of waking up tired and having to do it all over again. Or the single mom who can’t possibly carry the weight of one more thing on her shoulders. The days when you feel like you can’t imagine gathering the energy to travel to one more sports practice, dance class, or PTO meeting. When every song on the radio brings tears to your eyes and you think of all the things you wish you’d thought to ask your dead father. Believe it or not, it’s times like these that you are walking on holy ground, when your soul is stretched and it grows bigger than you ever thought it could.
We wage wars in our heads, uttering words to ourselves that we would never say to anyone else.
We tell ourselves that we aren’t good enough. That we don’t do enough. That we aren’t a good mother. There finally comes a day when you look in the mirror and something makes you pause. It’s the shock of not recognizing the person staring back at you. You’ve given so much of yourself, your love, your time, your energy, that you feel like there is nothing left of you but a hollow shell.
A few years ago, little bits of shrapnel started wiggling and forcing their way out of my grandfather’s aged and weathered hands. This was almost 70 years after the war that he spent most of his life re-living in his head. As more and more pieces of shrapnel worked their way out, he began to tell me stories he had never told another soul. As he unpacked the baggage, piece by piece, a sort of soft sweet peace began to slowly surround him. Holding in tears is a bit like that. We carry our heartache, our feelings of loneliness and overwhelm, in our bodies. Tears are our way of letting it seep out. Let’s not wait 70 years to release our baggage.
I once had a good friend tell me she cries in the shower because it is the only place where her family won’t hear her. I get it. There’s nothing wrong with crying in front of people, but when you need a soul cry sometimes that’s best done alone. (Unless you have a kindred spirit BFF.) My grandmother always said that everything looks better after a good night’s sleep and she was right. I feel the same way about crying. You may already know about my love affair with water and the rain, and so of course I believe in the healing power of tears.
There’s actually a scientific reason why you feel better after a good cry.
Scientists are discovering that during times of stress we accumulate certain unhealthy chemicals in our bodies. (If you really want to get technical about it, it’s things with fancy names like prolactin and adrenocorticotropic hormones.) Tears actually release these toxic chemicals. And, to prove their point, they’ve shown that tears produced by things such as peeling an onion are made up of about 98% water. Only tears of sadness contain the build up of chemicals caused by stress. It’s no wonder we really do feel better after a good cry.
Crying is one of the bravest, most sacred and soulful ways to practice self care. So, give yourself permission to let it all out. Turn up the radio, grab your BFF, or take a shower and let the tears flow. You deserve it mama. And like my grandmother always said, things will look better in the morning. I promise.
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