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The 2022 Experiment: Big Emotions

Jan 12, 2022 | Behind the Scenes

“You cry all the time mummy,”

“No I don’t.”

“Yes you do! Don’t you remember the time when you sat down on the kitchen floor and-”

“Would you like another biscuit, darling?”

8 year olds. And the total corkers they come out with in front of near complete strangers.

Anyway, after the very nice school mum left our house (probably to go straight home to her husband and say “those poor kids, you just never know what some families are going through…”), I couldn’t help thinking, My god! I DO cry a lot in front of my kids!

I cry on Saturday night movie night – recent examples include Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang (inconsolable) and Peter Rabbit 2 (leaky eyes); I cry when reading books written for 3 year olds – although if you can read the last page of Tiddler without your voice going all high and squeaky I suspect you have a heart of stone…

I also have a, well, sometimes several  good cries every 30 days or so, which may appear on the outside to be about running out of bread/ me not being able to use the stupid tin opener because I’m left handed/ that man beeping his horn because I dithered at the roundabout… but is actually down to my beautiful hormones (incredibly it took me 38 years to actually pre-empt this rather than think I was going crazy on a monthly basis. If this sounds like you, you need to read Code Red).

Then there are all the times I sit on my kids’ beds at bedtime and reminisce about people who’ve died… (sounds morbid but they love hearing these stories and I always end up crying kind of happy-sad tears); and yes, there was also the 2020 homeschooling incident at which point I rather dramatically dropped to the kitchen floor clutching a page of Key Stage 2 maths problems sobbing, “it’s not your fault, it’s mine!”, while the potatoes boiled over on the hob.  

Dark times.

The thing is, while I’d be mortified to cry in front of most people, and most of the time we’re ticking along fairly happily, I no longer think that crying in front of my kids is going to emotionally scar them for life.

I actually think crying in front of my kids when I need to is teaching them an important life skill.

Because I honestly don’t think there is anything more cathartic and cleansing than a good cry. If more people cried, there’d be less crappy feelings hanging around in our bodies. We’d have less angry people. Less anxious people. Less people bottling it all up and developing chronic conditions that they’ve felt into existence (if you’re thinking what on earth is she talking about I highly recommend another of my favourite authors Dr Joe Dispenza on this subject).

When my Dad died, we all very Britishly held it together at the funeral when really we all felt like our insides had been scooped out with grapefruit spoons. But I remember afterwards seeing on the news, a funeral somewhere in the Middle East where all the women were on their knees and howling at the sky, and I thought, oh, that makes sensewhy didn’t we just do that?

Of course you don’t only need to cry when you’re in despair. And it isn’t only FOR when you’re in despair.  It’s for when big things are happening; feelings that are too big or even gigantic to hold inside your body, so we need to let them out. It’s like releasing the excess air in a hot water bottle so you can actually give it a good cuddle. 

Emotion is energy. And it’s meant to be moving through us (e-motion?) not setting up home inside, stuck and festering and screwing with us for all eternity.

Sometimes you can cry even though life is happy. And sometimes you cry because it all feels crappy. But we’re all so caught up in the shame and the embarrassment around the actual crying, that the reason we’re crying in the first place is kind of by the by and that’s bonkers.

Case in point: walking to school yesterday a little boy had fallen off his bike and was understandably howling. And as his dad checked his knee and tried to calm him down, he just kept saying over and over to his son, “It’s ok, don’t cry. Stop crying. It’s ok, there’s no need to cry.”

And I thought, bloody hell Dad! Clearly it’s not ok. When was the last time you were sailing along merrily on your bike one minute, and the next violently slammed into the pavement? It’s shocking. It’s scary. It’s bloody painful. If it was you, you’d feel like crying too (except you wouldn’t of course because you’re not only an adult but an adult male whose tear glands were probably decommissioned in 1995).

That said, as a parent I definitely used to be guilty of that myself – particularly when my children made a scene in public – which happens often. But these days despite it still being mortifying, I try really really hard not to do that now. Because ok, sometimes they are just being drama queens, but most of the time it’s because they need to let it all out. Because relatively speaking at four years old, dropping your lolly in the sand is a crisis of epic proportions. How else are you going to process that kind of big feeling in such a tiny body?

Here’s what I believe: I honestly don’t think you stop needing to cry, (and sometimes howl),  just because you’re not 4 or 8 or 10 anymore. I think the only reason we stop crying is the fact that we’re told not to by adults our whole childhoods; and then when we become adults, society and culture tells us not to instead.

Well answer me this: When has culture/ society ever told us to do something that’s not good for us? In my opinion fairly often actually.

And when has nature given us attributes that are surplus to requirement? Well, with the exception of nipples on men, I’d say pretty rarely.

Which would suggest that crying serves an important purpose beyond needing to tell someone your nappy needs changing.

So, basically, I cry a lot and I’m alright with that. I don’t feel ashamed by it. And I don’t try to hide it anymore, at least not from the people I live with. Because I think it’s good for you, and ultimately for everyone around you as well.

So if you cry a lot, bloody good for you. And if you don’t, I put it to you that maybe, just maybe, you should try it a little more…?

Love,

Cate

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Hello

I’m Cate, a writer and mentor, and this is The Luminous, where heart-led coaches, creatives and lightleaders master content & storytelling so they can share their soulwork with the world.