I sobbed my heart out in a toilet cubicle in Zurich airport. There was a baby crying at the sinks and I was thankful for privacy the noise gave me as I wailed. Finally, after a week of feeling so sad, I found privacy and space and opportunity to cry. I wish I could have cried with friends or family. But I have discovered that I am not generous enough to share my tears with others. I hoard them, I hide them.
I cried because I was sad but I also cried because I was happy to be seeing my family soon. I felt so overwhelmed by my family’s kindness of putting money together to fly me from South Africa to Ireland for a holiday, and it made me cry with joy. We have just had IVF and it didn’t work so it was a hard blow. It was helped so much by my family rushing in with big arms to help us and bring me home for a huge caring hug. So in the airport, in transit, I cried for everything, for our failed IVF, and for the joy I felt at being cared so much by my family.
I just wish I could have given those tears to the people who helped me and cared for me at this time of pain, as a thank you, as an acknowledgement that I know they are with me and I feel it, as a way of saying I trust you and love you enough to be vulnerable with you. I wish I could have been brave enough and generous enough to share my most vulnerable feelings with those who are important to me. I’m not there yet, not brave enough, not big enough.
I remember working with Emily, an art therapist, for some time and she tried so hard to help me to cry publicly. We never got there, but her work laid foundations and I have been slowly moving to being more open. I can sit alone and weep – sometimes, when there is something really bad. I can tear up in front of others. And most importantly I know it’s not weak to cry any more. I know that it is a genuine and generous act of openness and honest expression.
I met four family members at the airport in Dublin. I was bursting with emotion but I was not able to cry or let it out when I saw them…too scared of feeling stupid or something like that. I feel like if they could have seen my tears they would have a better sense of how much I appreciate their care and their efforts to get me home. It felt mean-spirited not to cry with them but I’m still trying to undo years of training myself to be “tough” and not express any emotion so I didn’t manage to do it.
I started thinking about the times I have cried, really wept, and there hasn’t been many. I wonder if I stop myself, cut off chances of honest expression, chances of communication and connection with others. When is the last time you cried? Where do you cry? Who do you cry with? What gets in the way of crying? Would anything be different if you cried more? I know these questions are important for me to answer. Some of you might feel you cry too much but personally I feel like I could do with sharing my tears a little bit more.