Thursday, August 30, 2012

Unlocking the Tears

Tears are words from the heart that cannot be spoken.  ~Author Unknown

First: a dull (and possibly slanted) history lesson. I have always had an interest in Eleanor Roosevelt. My parents took me to Hyde Park (FDR's home) when I was very young and we went back several times. As an adult, I have traveled there at least three or four more times. The TV mini-series Eleanor and Franklin and Eleanor and Franklin: the White House Years was excellent (IMHO) and I have read many of the biographies on Eleanor and FDR and some biographies and essays on people in their family and in their lives.

When I was growing up I hated Eleanor's maternal grandmother, Mary Hall. I was a child and unable to understand that Mary was not being a meanie to her granddaughter. She kept Eleanor away from her father because he was a severe alcoholic (oh, and Mary hated him because she thought he ruined her daughter's life). Anyway, that is why I didn't like Mary Hall. Come to think of it, she did not have much compassion for her son-in-law. However, that was a time when addiction was not understood at all and since even today many people do not accept it is not a lifestyle choice to be an addict, I cannot beat up poor Mary anymore. 

Eleanor, as an adult, was often accused of hiding her emotions and feelings. Her children often found her reserved and somewhat less than warm and loving.  Mary Hall taught Eleanor when she was a little girl "Crying upsets people. If you have to do it, go into the bathroom and run the taps!" My mother loved that line. Mom always hide her own tears. She was uncomfortable with the tears of others.

I like tears. I think they are tiny little cleansing, healing waves of emotion and they need to come out for people to be truly open, honest and free. When my Dad died in 2005 I cried only a little and I found it next to impossible to cry for the next three years. The tears just wouldn't come. When they did finally let loose it was an amazingly good feeling to find myself feeling and healing, It took two years.

I cried over my mom for three weeks, except when I was around my brother - because he is one of those people for whom tears are uncomfortable. I, in misguided attempts to be supportive him in dealing with our mutual pain, thought I should not distress him. he never asked me to stop. It was my decision. That is when I also stopped he deep sighs that came out of me every time I thought of her suddenly. By the time I got home from New York the sighing was gone. The crying was mostly gone but not because I was done crying. The barrier had gone up. It has taken me the rest of the summer but damn it, the barrier is down and tears are flowing. With the tears comes healing and acceptance. Those little cleansing waves of emotion are healthy and good and they are conducive to keeping the pounds off. 

How did I get the tears back? I put down any foods I had picked up in the past two months that were on my Yellow list: things seldom in my daily plan but not part of the list of Red additive foods. The Yellow list foods were becoming too frequent. I went back to my Green light food list and the change is good. Imagine where my feelings would be if I had been eating foods on my Red list. I imagine that the tears would have been back, but they would have been under the influence of active addiction and therefore would be tears without the healing properties I believe in. They would have been tears wrapped in food thoughts. 

Have you let tears flow that were blocked?  Are you holding back tears? 



Karen said...

Awesome post, Jane. Two out of three of my family members in the last 2 years who were placed on hospice have passed. The last one left is in poor shape. Thank you for posting about how you deal with loss without turning to food. Practicing not choosing/using food has been key to both weight loss and maintnence.

Yes , tears. And anger at issues I thought were resolved years ago came out. I felt the feelings and stopped before I chose the red foods. And kept my behavior in check. I could recognize and separate out and pause and thing and choose. Miracle!

I love your circle graphic. Great way to think of it. Glad you are in the circle of green. Good place to be.

Vickie said...

My mother has always loved Eleanor R also. Ever since she was a little girl.

KCLAnderson (Karen) said...

I once wrote a post called The Quality of My Tears, after my Dad died. I think it might resonate. I'll try and post it all here:

The Quality Of My Tears

I used to think that, because I cried a lot, I was good at feeling my feelings. I thought, there’s no way I am “stuffing” my feelings with food because I cry a lot. If I were using food in this way, then I wouldn’t cry. Yeah, I was in denial. I was also fascinated by some of my friends who never seemed to cry, even in situations that would have had me bawling my eyes out. I thought they just weren’t in touch with their feelings.

Back in 2005, when I started using Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), I learned what self-acceptance was and lost a lot of weight. And I stopped crying so much. I thought to myself, oh, now that I am thinner, I must be happier.

And don’t get me wrong, I was happier, but not specifically because I was thinner. It’s because I was more accepting of myself.

If you know me or have been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I went on to regain half the weight I had lost and I sunk back down into a morass of shame/blame/frustration and “why me?” Acceptance went right out the window. And in came the tears.

That’s when I started this blog. I started it with the intention of trying to figure what the hell was wrong with me. Why couldn’t I just lose weight and keep it off? I know a lot of weight loss bloggers are all about the calories in and the calories out, but I didn’t want to focus on that because it made my brain go to mush. I believed (and still do) that if I could just get my emotions in order, then I’d stop bingeing…I’d stop using food to stuff my feelings.

One big step in this journey was realizing that feeling my feelings couldn’t destroy me. Along with that was realizing that crying, in and of itself, does not mean that I am feeling my feelings.

As my friend, fellow blogger and amazing life coach Joy Tanklsey points out, “sometimes we cry because of the suffering we've created by trying to avoid our feelings.”

And that is exactly what I did for most of my life. I cried because I was suffering because I didn’t like myself because I couldn’t control myself because I stuffing my feelings with food and round and round and round it went.

When I started practicing acceptance again, everything got better.

With the recent death of my father, I’ve been crying more frequently and thinking about the quality of my tears.

I attended a recent Southeastern Connecticut Women’s Network luncheon and the guest speaker was creative and marketing genius Maria Miranda, who’s talk “All That And A Bag Of Chips,” was a tribute to her Dad. As crazy as it sounds, I wasn’t thinking ahead of time that her talk might move me to tears. But there I was, about half way through her talk, tearing up. And by the time she was almost done, I just couldn’t hold it back any longer! I held my napkin to my eyes and just cried.

It felt SO good! And poor Maria was trying to hold it together herself (and she did) and in the middle of her talk she looked at me, smiled, and said (kindly), “Karen, stop it.” Later, in an email I wrote to her and apologized for disrupting her talk. She replied, “It is I who should apologize for pointing you out. It was just at that moment I was close to completely losing it...and in a way that yawning is contagious...crying about lost fathers is equally as contagious.”

I am not ashamed that I’ve been crying more lately because I recognize these tears for what they represent: me feeling my feelings. I am feeling the loss of my father, which is completely normal and natural. These tears are not tainted with self-imposed suffering. These are quality tears.