Friday, June 14, 2013

Help Your Survivor Cry

"Baby, please don't cry."

It's a common mistake amongst non-survivors, asking a survivor to not, or stop crying.
This is not healthy for a survivor though. It doesn't matter if the non-survivor thinks they know why we are crying. Stifling tears is asking us to shut down.
Far too often survivors struggle to cry and allow their emotions to heal.
For me, it has been a war to get tears flowing.

Recently in an emotional moment about something that had nothing to do with anything, I found myself uncontrollably crying. I just hurt so deeply about something that was not even about me.
I was not mad or hurt about anyone in particular, I just needed a good cry. 
My husband walked in the room and thought my tears had something to do with another life situation. A situation that, is what it is and I am at peace with it. I just needed a cry.
It hurts my husband (as it does anyone who loves someone, especially a survivor) to watch me hurt and cry. "Baby, please don't cry." he said.
I couldn't stop. Tears kept flowing and I could not gain control. I told him that I just needed a moment I was overwhelmed. He gave me space, and when I was ready I went to him and we talked about it.
In the end he understood that I needed to cry. He thought he knew why I was crying and I could appreciate why he thought so. 
I have been to therapist after therapist to talk about my "feelings" and my past. I felt emotionally dead because I could recall some of the most horrific details but, I was unable to express emotion about them. What made this more difficult for me was the fact I could shed buckets of tears over other injustices.

For instance, I cry like a baby watching, reading or hearing any story about animal abuse or neglect. I connect so deeply with the pain of abuse and neglect that I hurt for innocent animals as if they were ME. I feel a knot growing in my throat as I type, thinking about those innocent animals.
I have come to understand this is normal for survivors.

One therapist (who I actually miss) explained it like this: Emotions are energy and energy can not be created or destroyed it can only be transferred (or expressed).  If not released willingly by it's vessel it will find another way out. A good example is when a person feels so much stress they end up with stomach ulcers or head aches etc. For me, I have distanced myself from my personal pain and struggle crying over it. When I see an innocent animal hurting my emotions (energy) are transferred on to them and their predicament. 
At this point in my recovery as long as I can find a way to cry and feel safe about it, that is most important.

If you're a loved one of a survivor and you happen to catch them in a moment of tears,
hold them and if you can. Cry with them. If they ask to be alone do not take this personally, give them that solitude. It does not matter so much WHY your survivor is crying, it is a small victory that they can and are doing so.
If you see your survivor expressing anger, help, or get help allowing them to do so in a healthy way.
If you canNOT handle this part of being a partner with your survivor be honest about it.

Will my husband be able to handle watching me cry and hold me in the future or, will he need to step away and give me space? In the end that does not matter so long as we are both honest about our strengths and weaknesses in my recovery.

Help your survivor cry.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for writing this. So many times I've tried to explain my tears & crying to my husband. We have a good relationship. Married 15 yrs. But in the early years, I was still struggling with my abuse. I'm further in my healing now. The best thing he ever did for me was, just like you said, he would hold me until I was through crying. That meant and still means the world to me.