I have 9 siblings and just happen to be in the middle of them all. By all practical purposes the middle child is the peace keeper. The logical one, the one who is old enough to be respected by the young ones and also old enough to be included in the older group. You learn to be level headed, a problem solver and in my family I am also labeled the ‘’crap handler’’ and although I am good at it, I don’t like it. It means tough conversations, hard situations and decisions that are not easy. I have been called too clinical, cold, uncaring and unfeeling – although I am none of those—but the task was given to me and I do my best. 

We were brought up I also grew into adulthood in the era of ‘’never let them see you sweat’’, only for me the mantra was ‘’never let them see you cry’’ as  I entered the work world in an industry that was 99% male dominated and ‘’good old boys’’ at that. There is no way they would see me weaken, give up, cry or get emotional. I even coached one of my sisters who called one day so frustrated, upset, and crying about a work situation – to her to pull herself together, get in the bathroom, bring your makeup to fix the damage and NEVER let them see you cry. 

And so it was,  as entered my 30’s and I had actually learned not to cry. I couldn’t remember the last time I had cried. What was the point? It was counterproductive, didn’t solve anything and made you look terrible. I didn’t understand why people were so emotional, I didn’t see why they couldn’t control it (because I could) and I was sometimes even annoyed by it because it slowed down the problem solving process that we needed to have. 

And then life………..

I lost my fiancé at 35 years old to a heart attack. I held up as well as possible, I had a lot of details to handle. I crumbled but believed that nothing else bad would happen because …how could it? This was enough for one person to go through, my life was forever changed – that was enough for any one person.  I could put this emotion away and be strong and learn how to go on in my new normal….logically.

Then I lost my little sister at 29 years old to a heart attack. Seriously??? I had a mulligan , I had paid my price of a loss.  I crumbled more,  emotions were not as easy to put away but there were so many details to take care of. My mom needed strength, organization and there were things to handle and arrangements to be made. Cars to sell, then transferring property….and on it went.

The final straw – with the best year of my life (the year I married my husband) came the final blows that would release the dam. I lost my mom, my dad and my husband’s twin brother all in 6 months. There was nowhere to put it, the dam broke. All the logic in the world could not fill the whole in my heart. I just kept reeling, I couldn’t breathe most days and I was sure I would die from a broken heart. There were still the details to handle but I did so with tears streaking down my face and fearful outlook on life knowing there were NO guarantees and no special ticket out of heartache. 

I have learned to cry, mourn, let the hurt out.  I have days now when life hits me and I sob as I level what has been thrown at me and I reel from the emotions I did not have time or luxury to let out while in the middle of situations or chaos in my past…..I cry nearly every day now. In my work I am either crying with joy because we saved a life, or crying because we were too late. But, I am no longer afraid to cry. During our life, we are being discouraged to freely express our emotions, and we are being told that crying is a sign of weakness and a reason for shame.  Yet, crying is our body’s natural way to respond to strong pain, sadness, and joy. It is healing as I now know.

Don’t let anyone steal your tears…………………………….

Charlie Brewer
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