I have been told and I know myself to be a very strong soul. Which to me means so many things and yet means one thing; I avoid crying as much as possible. When I say this I mean really crying; not like the few tears, you shed at certain commercials, or at the end of a phenomenal show like The Queen’s Gambit. These tears that trickle down my face are bearable, predictable even. I know they are coming and I choose to allow them to be set free. This type of crying is so common for me that my husband, Michael, will literally sit and watch my face at the precise moment my eyes start to well up. We look at each other, smile; and he says “Babe, are you crying?” And I say yes, as the first of the few start trickling down my face. These tears I am comfortable with mainly because I know there is an end to them. Also, because there is an external reason for them that I choose to endure. These tears are chosen and in a weird way choosing them allows me to feel in control.
And then, there is another type of tears. The tears that I would avoid at all costs. These were the tears that when I escaped releasing them I felt strong for holding them in. I called the holding of my tears and sorrow “Suffering in Silence”. These tears, unlike the tears described above, are not chosen. They are the tears that come through unchosen sorrow. Beth shared a therapy secret a few weeks ago that I have experienced multiple times in the last 3-4 years. The therapy secret was “You cannot choose your sorrow”. That statement hits like a ton of bricks. I learned many times over before it was introduced to me through therapy.
For the last three years, I have been on a releasing journey. Releasing anything and everything that does not serve me, my marriage, or those closest to me. With that releasing journey have come to a lot of tears. The flood gates probably began upwards of four years ago when I attended a women’s retreat. As I stated above, I tend to suffer in silence. However, in those first few moments of that retreat, I could not hold the tears in any longer. The unchosen sorrow hit. I realize now looking back that my ultimate release and healing journey started that weekend and ever since I have experienced the power of emotional tears.
Scientists tell us that there are three types of tears. The type of tears that I am describing fit in the emotional tears category. Emotional tears; unlike the other two types, release different elements and chemicals. There is still a lot to learn about the purpose of releasing emotional tears. Some hypothesize that these tears release stress and provide our brain with endorphins (which are the feel-good hormones). My experience in releasing the tears has led me to a process of healing (Mukamal, 2017).
For me, once the tears start flowing, my silence is broken. After the silence is broken, I am able to process with curiosity whatever is attached to those tears. I know that for my brain, allowing the tears to flow when they need to about what they need to, ensures that my brain can grieve, clean things up, and figure out how to make meaning and move forward. An added bonus to this process, another type of silence is broken, my voice. I am able to talk to others about my sorrow sometimes with a few tears and mostly from a whole new place of healing.
Learning this important lesson a few years ago has made me stronger than I could have ever imagined in silence. I thank God, that women’s weekend, and my extremely close friends and family who show up for me, tears and all. I know there will be more tears in my future, and now I know they are a gift of the healing process.
I talk with my clients a lot about releasing tears. Many tell me they are afraid once they let them out they will never be able to stop. I usually smile, because I know and have the personal experience that the tears do, in fact, stop. What comes after the tears, after the release, is very powerful. Having that kind of presence in the pain you experience is a gift you give to yourself and the beginning of your healing journey.
We all deserve release, we all deserve healing. I am asking each of you to consider what it could look like to stop suffering in silence. I invite you, dear friends, to explore what it could look like for you to release the tears of sorrow, especially those you do not choose?
About Jenna Corcoran, LMFT
Therapist at Stillpoint Healing
My goal at Stillpoint is to use all I have culminated in my 10+ years of diverse experiences in the professional and volunteer world to support you and your family. Along with the targeted trainings and continuing education necessary to support the unique needs of you and your family, I will be a part of the healing journey with you.