Why Everyone Needs a Good Cry. #bloglikecrazy

Sometimes crying is the gift we give ourselves.

My sister hates to sweat. Sure, she can have a good cry, but the idea of hot yoga to induce a sweat sounds sick to my sister.

Although she likes yoga and loves the warm sunshine, she draws the line at sweat the way some people draw the line at tears.

We can be sad, but “Don’t cry” is the American mantra—unless you’re on “reality” TV, of course.

Listen, after the death of a loved one, loss of a job, or the 872 frustrations taken with smiles on our faces, crying is the sweat of our emotional workout.

Tears are valuable. Created from our emotional body, tears are nonexistent until we allow our feelings to ignite them.

It requires depth to cry—happy tears as well as sad. Not only that, but tears have health benefits.

According to Psychology Today, biochemist and “tear expert” Dr. William Frey of the Ramsey Medical Center in Minneapolis determined emotional tears hold stress hormones which exit the body through crying.

Stress hormones? Why would we want to hold those in? Let ‘em flow!

A good workout is required to break a sweat. One must go to the gym, hit the trail, or pick up the weights to build muscles and endurance.

What if our emotional muscles, as individuals and as a society, have turned flabby?

What if because we’re so afraid to cry, we’ve forgotten the overwhelming rush of happy tears? Or the emotional release, even high, after a good cry?

What if doing our emotional workouts on a regular basis is the key to a fulfilling life? A full feeling life. Isn’t that what we’re after—the feeling?

To feel it all—the ache of death, the natural high of children, the joy of food and family, the anger at government and outrage over poor treatment of people by those who lack compassion, the bliss of a soft, wet kiss—is to be alive.

This is a call to cry. Don’t tell me you’re over that thing that cut your heart, just because you paste a smile on your face and refuse to cry.

Trust me, if daddy touched you wrong or abandoned or damned you—you need to cry.
If your mother, brother, sister, or beloved died, you need to cry.

If your kid is on heroin, your daughters are teenagers, or your ex is bat-shit crazy, you need to cry. And that’s just the happenings in our own homes.

What about the state of our nation? Don’t we have enough reasons to cry?

Stifled tears are toxins.

Often, the one resisting the tears, denying the pain, or pushing people away doesn’t realize she’s doing it. It’s the technique she learned to keep her safe—the one she acquired as a daughter who had to play the mother.

Personally, I didn’t know I was retreating to safety by hiding my vulnerability. That’s the way my mom taught me.

Don’t ever let them see you cry. For years, I tried not to.

I was tough—like a man—because that suits society.

Now, in my 50s, life has tenderized me. It taught me to cry.

Maybe the gigantic universe heard my mom’s words, “Stop your crying or I’ll give you something to cry about!”

I wailed over the death of my beloved. I cried every day. I owned my grief and let it flow through me. I cried until I could laugh.

The physical loss of the man and our plans on earth deserved every tear. My grief was genuine. I let it move through me and serve as my path to laughter and awe, wonder and delight.

In my grief, I opened up to a wider array of emotions. I forced myself to seek, find and embrace beauty. I gazed at deer, little red and yellow birds, and blue dragonflies. I started a love affair with the sky.

I bonded closer to my dog, sister, family and some friends. Others fell out.

You know, the ones who couldn’t hold the weight of my tears without the need to rescue, one-up, or dispense the attitude of platitudes. Yeah, I had to let them go.

Because truth be told, I want to hang out with the criers of this world, those dripping from the fullness of emotion. Not every damn day drama queens, but when it’s called for.

Let’s have the courage to own our emotions.

I find these criers to be grievers, yogis, musicians, singers, teachers, health advocates, spiritual practitioners, and courageous managers.

Maybe the emotionally evolved can be found anywhere, even in the mirror.

How Grief Becomes Us. #bloglikecrazy

If you haven’t soared in ecstasy, contorted for intimacy, or caved in with grief, what have you been doing?

Grief used to grab me—by the throat, the shoulders, or even take me out at the knees.

Now, she whispers like the wind, sings like a song, and smells like his cigars.

Grief lingers. I think it would be a lie if I told her I want her to go. We’ve become such companions.

She’s the one I never thought I’d like. She’s certainly not my friend. And, how dare she claim a place in my family?

But, she’s a part of me now. She’s hard and she’s beautiful.

Grief’s wretched and royal, a tease and the truth.

She’s my testimony.

I Really Was Such a Baby About the Whole Thing.

“Don’t get me wrong: grief sucks; it really does. Unfortunately, though, avoiding it robs us of life, of the now, of a sense of living spirit.” ~ Anne Lamott

My friend’s husband cheated on her. I’m not going to tell you the details, but let’s just say there were circumstances. Because there always are, right?

Still, in her mind, the action was unforgivable. Her family agreed. But, what about her kids? He was still their dad.

My friend loved this man and never imagined him cheating. She trusted him. They were the kind of couple that fit like puzzle pieces. They made a beautiful picture.

How f*cking dare he?! Well, you know—circumstances. No, not excuses. However, yes, in hindsight, I saw his humanity and how he came to be with that other woman, practically unapologetically.

Betrayal like that breaks something in a person.

Still, for a handful of years, my friend—you know, for the sake of the kids—continued taking family vacations with this man she meant to divorce. She had every intention. Because she couldn’t forgive him.

A couple years ago when I saw her, she mentioned his name without disdain or discussion of divorce. The way his name rolled off her tongue was casual and light.

I looked into her eyes and asked, “Are you guys back together?” The answer was yes without explanation, apology or fantasy. Just solid.

“How did that happen?” I asked.

She laughed. “You know, I was really such a baby about the whole thing.”

Ha! I’d say she’d been grieving. In grief we cry. We bitch about what happened. We analyze. We decide something different every hour of every day. We turn in circles like a dog, never finding the right spot. Until we do.

Grief is a game changer. It shatters the ground we stand solid on. It takes us with it like being sucked into a sinkhole. When our foundation crumbles, so do we.

My friend is one of the most balanced people I’ve ever known in my 50-plus years. She’s not naïve or gullible, more like strong, sensible, genuine, and yes, loving.

However, in her early stages of grief, she almost checked herself into a mental hospital because she met with rage that wanted to kill and sadness that wanted to die.

Instead, she learned to rise. So did her husband—after she determined she’d be okay either way.

It took time. In her case, years. Grief—whether from betrayal, death, divorce or tragedy—doesn’t come with an expiration date. It’s not linear and each case is different.

I recently read an article about a woman who was burned—face, hands, and body—life-threatening burns, in a camp fire started by her husband. After she arrived home from the hospital, her husband hit the road because she was just too much for him to handle. However, her young daughter needed her mother. The story revealed this woman’s resilience, faith and determination.

All I could think was, F*ck! I’ve been such a baby about this whole my-boyfriend-dying thing.

Maybe. But, like my friend, I can laugh. I went into the depths of my pain and came out with my lessons. I’m coming back to myself with new awareness and understanding, compassion and certainty, which, in this chapter, this time, could only be gained by going in.

This was master’s level grief. It required more of me. It demanded I go through the dark and crazy, and invest the tears and time.

Babies cry when things are sad. They naturally honor their emotions, rather than trying to buck up. Then, they stop crying and get back to playing—after they’re all cried out. Or had a nap.

So, yeah, I guess I was a baby about the whole thing, too. And yet, I don’t regret a single tear.

My Heart Broke in the Midst of a Party.

Grief is bittersweet. I have the most beautiful vision of a place I can never go again.

People say, “Don’t look back.” “Don’t live in yesterday.”

I miss my young spunk and the belief that all great things were coming to me. They have. They did. However, when we’re young, we don’t acknowledge all that can fall away or the price we may be asked to pay.

I thought I’d paid upfront for legendary love. I thought my lessons before Kevin and I became a couple were my ticket to fly with him. And, oh how we did!

For a brief time. We were so in when he was taken out of this world. I wasn’t young or full of naïve hope. For two decades, Kevin bitched about women and I bragged about men.

Shortly before we got together, Kevin said, “Hey Icey,” (his nickname for me), “Am I your only guy friend you haven’t slept with?”

I laughed and said, “No, there are a couple others.”

In all those years, I never imagined I’d be Kevin Lentz’s girlfriend. In fact, I thought he was an ass.

Don’t get me wrong, I was quite the brat when we met back in our Britannica selling days. Somehow, I overlooked his bullish, but Southern behavior and we became friends.

Still, I didn’t envision or desire anything more until after our time together in May of 2014. I was staying in Kevin’s home for Mother’s Day. We talked until late in the night, huddled on his living room floor.

We told stories about our moms, their health and deaths, our connections with them and the challenges these strong women delivered us as kids. Kevin and I shared the good and bad about our moms and ourselves.

It’s like I’d always been standing outside the house of Kevin. We’d been close, but on that visit he threw open the door of his true self and said, “Come on in!”

How many people stand outside the house of others believing they know the interior? How rarely we really reveal the depths of ourselves.

Kevin did. He invited me to do the same. As much talk as there is about authenticity, there’s a level so much deeper than most of us ordinarily go.

Kevin invited me in—not just to the living room, but to the bedroom and basement of his soul. I walked timidly at first, trying to express my fears and explain how I’d been hurt in the past.

The way he said, “I’m not those other guys” was like walking into a friend’s basement when you fear it could be a dark scene from Law & Order, but he says, “Don’t be scared.”

So, I stopped being scared. When we got into the basement, I had as much fun as those kids on That 70s Show had in their basement.

And riding in the car with Kevin was like that, too. If you’ve watched the show, you know the feeling of singing and laughing, the feeling I had with Kevin. Then, our show was cancelled.

I know I’ll fall in love again. I’m lucky like that.

But, I’m not new at this game called life. I’d been on earth for 49 years—some 17,885+ days—before Kevin and I became Fire & Ice. He held my heart for 660 days and those were my favorite of them all.

I thought all beginnings were good, but Kevin said, “No, they’re not. This is different.” He was right.

Kevin was convinced his mom, from the other side, brought me back into his life because this was the kind of relationship she always desired for him. He made me believe and even assured me we’d “just keep getting better and better.” We did. Until he died.

Now, I’m trying to adjust to the idea that my life will just keep getting better and better, even with my Fire burning on the other side. That’s a big idea when my heart broke in the midst of a party in the basement of our souls. I was crushed, buried in my grief.

I’m crawling out. I see the light. I feel his love. I’m finding my divine direction again, but this grief still tastes bittersweet.

Winter of Grief

In this time of grieving
May our hearts remain open
When we are tempted to close them.
May our vision clear,
When we see only clouds.
May we give in to our tears and
Laugh when things are funny
Without thought to social permissibility.
May we move forward, yet
Sit for some time with our memories
And the flood of feelings,
Knowing we will not drown
In the cold, dark winter of grief because
Spring will come again.
Spring will come again.

 

Why Did I Take Toothpaste from my Dead Boyfriend’s House?

“Inside your home, you keep mementos of your past that help or hinder your movement into the future.” ~ Kathryn L. Robin

I think I know by now what might throw me, because I consider myself experienced in grief.

I already endured the deaths of my brother, mother and brother-in-law. I’ve navigated life without my beloved for more than four seasons now.

I went all in to the grief. So, on some level, I believe I’ll be freed at some grandly appointed time. Wala!

Silly me, thinking I’ve got a handle on grief.

I remember what my friend Heather said as I announced I was crossing the one-year line: “Oh, honey. You’re just getting started.”

I shivered, but didn’t show it. She didn’t know then how strong I am. She’d see. Yeah, sure.

Then, Heather showed me her scars from when grief walked on her heart—like bear claw marks. And, I saw her beauty shining.

I knew, as hard as my path is, hers was harder. And yet, there she is—standing, advancing, dancing with divine feminine fire.

That will be me, I thought.

I didn’t know on a Thursday afternoon I’d squeeze my dead boyfriend’s Colgate toothpaste tube for the umpteenth time into admission that there’s absolutely no more of this thing his hand touched every morning for months.

Silly. Ridiculous. Who the hell takes toothpaste from a dead man’s house?

I did. Now, it feels like one more thing I have to give back. It stays on the edge of my sink for a week. I can’t make myself throw it away.

I think I know what will throw me: anniversaries, birthdays, KISS songs. Actually, those make me shout, “I want to rock and roll all night and party every day!”

But, sometimes the things I don’t make a big deal of silently overwhelm my heart.

The little things—like toothpaste?!—might throw me on a random Thursday, maybe even make me think I’ve made no progress.

Stop. I remember the day I took the tube from his house. It was just days after he died. I gathered my shampoo, conditioner and razor from his shower and replayed the last time I’d taken one with him. Then, grief sucker punched me in my gut: that was the last time.

I crumpled to the floor and Kevin’s brother Glenn swept me up in his arms from behind. This was the first time I’d met him. He held me with grief’s grace, giving me a hug that felt like Kevin’s arms, his breath, home.

Just standing required enormous energy.

Now, I’m standing. I’m breathing. I’m walking, loving, dancing and writing.

And yet, I die a little inside when grief’s winds remind me how much I still miss the man I never wanted to walk away from.

Look, Icey, he says from some other world. I see I’ve squeezed a bit of toothpaste—and life—daily.

I haven’t gone crazy (although I considered it). I stayed sane in the midst of this f*cked up thing I did not want to happen to me.

Now, I smile at the size of my emotional biceps.

I know I can let one more thing go. Or not.

The Days on the Calendar after Death

“Bring me your suffering.
The rattle of broken bones.
Bring me the riot in your heart.
Angry, wild and raw.
Bring it all.
I am not afraid of the dark.”
~ Mia Hollow

If you’ve lost someone and you’re still grieving, I get it. If you haven’t and you don’t, lucky you.

Sadness slipped inside my skin today. She’d taken a vacation and I began to think of her in the past tense. I was making peace with my beloved’s passing and the signs from the other side waning. I’d be alright.

Until I wasn’t, again. The heaviness came upon me after days of living in my head and socializing.

It’s not that I’m pretending I’m fine with others. I am. In the moment.

That’s a giant leap from where I was when Kevin died a year ago.

Now, there are more good days than bad.

Today isn’t wretched, but I’m tired from digging my way out of Grief Canyon to get a better view.

For all my progress, I’m without him. Still.

I miss him like trees miss rain. Still.

I wail in the woods. Still.

Even with hope’s evidence before me.

After the death of my sister’s husband five years ago, she’s fallen in love again. It’s a beautiful example. I knew it would happen because she wanted it so fiercely she manifested this new love.

The only thing I want today is my yesterday man—not another one. The one who soothed my soul and served as alchemy to a better me.

In grief, we stand staring at our path with our only desire to run back.

The year my boyfriend died ended. A new year began. I drew a line in my mind, but it washed away like words in the sand at the beach.

On January 17th, friends and I celebrated my beloved’s birthday. While memories of his last two taunted me, I toasted him, ate Italian food, laughed, told stories, and ached for his presence.

I endured Valentine’s Day—that cheesy holiday I made fun of until he gave it meaning.

The anniversary of my beloved’s death came and went, like it does for so many.

We move on, but they’re all just days on a calendar. Without him.