(Originally posted 11/15/2016)
I’ve been having a lot of different emotions lately. Okay, if the truth be told, I’ve been crying more than usual. I’d like to say I’m normally a happy, outgoing and even, funny individual. I seek to find the bright side of most situations.
But since daylight savings time change here in my state, my almost 7 year-old son has been waking up between 4:30 and 5:30am. It’s still dark outside. That is not fun. So, I’m not getting enough sleep. He goes to sleep at 7:30pm so he’s getting enough. But once he goes down, I have work to do and things around the house or time to spend with the hubby. So, lack of sleep is one thing I’m dealing with.
Then there is the whole state of things in America that is just thick with odd, intense, sad, crazy, and even hateful energy. It breaks my heart. I would even say I’m feeling depressed. It’s been hard to shake. Today when I woke up with that heavy weight in my body and sick sort of feeling in my stomach, I just let the tears come. I’ve been doing that almost every other day this last week. The big ugly, loud cry. Though the intensity of it is not pretty to look at, hear or feel. It feels like it won’t ever stop. It feels like I’ve just been sucked down a big black hole that I may never find my way out of. And yet thank goodness, there is still a rational thought that never leaves me that says, “This will pass. You’re going to be okay. So let it rip.”
Now, as a mom who also works from home and homeschools my child, I have a big and full plate with a long to do list and responsibilities. So, I don’t really have the luxury to sit around and indulge in the delights of a mini nervous breakdown for too long.
But you see, since becoming a certified parent educator from TEACH through Love parenting, I’m much more aware of my own mind and body and even how my brain works. Since I’m also a practicing conscious parent, I have more tools to go inward and better connect with myself. I now allow myself to have moments like this. I don’t have to drift into feeling like a victim or martyr, like my own mother did during my childhood. I have many memories of hearing her cry in her room or while she washed the dishes. She was a single mom who felt so lonely and overworked. I totally get it and have empathy for her now. She never did any work on healing her own inner child who lost her beloved dad too young. When either my brother or I ever asked our mom why she was crying or if she was okay, she would either say, “I’m fine, Don’t worry about me.” Or else her tears could turn into anger and she’d blame us saying, “You kids are driving me crazy! I don’t know how much longer I can take all this!” Neither of those responses are nice to hear as a kid.
If she said she was fine, we could clearly tell she wasn’t. So that was confusing and felt like a lie. If she went to anger and spewed the guilt, well that just felt messed up, like we did something wrong and that maybe she was crazy or we wondered did it mean she was going to leave us. Yep. Totally messed up! Not safe, warm fuzzy feelings, for sure!
So, if or when my son sees me cry, I’m not afraid of it, nor do I want him to be afraid of it or feel responsible. It’s also a big teaching moment. If my son asks me what’s wrong or why I’m crying, I will say to him, “I’m just having some big emotions right now. I’m taking care of myself by feeling them. It feels good to let them out. I’ll stop feeling sad soon.” I’m always sure to remind him, “It’s nothing you did and that it’s not about you. Crying is just a part of being a human being. At any age.” You see, this is one of the things that helps him allow himself to be okay to feel his own emotions when they come up. And when they do for him, all I need to do is just be there for him to help him feel them so he can move through them. I don’t try to stop them at all. I never say “You’re fine” if he’s crying or upset. Because I know that’s not his truth. I don’t even have to say anything. I can just sit with him or offer a hug. We have a sensory basket with tools to help him navigate his way through the different emotions that come up. Since he’s still so young, he’s still figuring it out. His prefrontal cortex is not fully developed yet. so he is lacking some coping skills and also the capacity to truly rationalize what it all means. So, having something to blow, or twist, or chew on, or squeeze can ease him through such intense feelings. Or to shake and look at a snow globe. Or to rip up paper if angry. To punch a pillow or scream into it. He has a huge stuffed animal that he can punch the hell out of, if needed. He loves that big old stuffed bear because it has helped him calm down and get out some emotions that needed to be let out and processed. He will also play with and hug it too.
I, myself, always feel better and lighter after a big cry. My face may look all blotched and like a war zone, but then even looking in the mirror to see that pure, raw look of, “I’ve just cried my heart out face” can be soothing and make me smile a bit. So, it’s worth it. I have a saying that has become a motto in our home and I tell all my clients and it brings me comfort. I’m so grateful my son will only know this while growing up:
YOU HAVE TO FEEL IT TO HEAL IT.
He will never be shut down or closed off into another room, or dismissed or reprogrammed to feel anything else then what he is truly feeling. No time-outs in our home.
Today when I had that big cry, my son offered up a 20-second hug, then went on with his work of building Legos. That’s another one of our tools. A 20-second hug will release Oxytocin into the brain. That’s the happy hormone. But what I loved about it is, he didn’t feel the need to fix me, out of guilt or fear. He just knew that might be a nice thing to do and he offered it and then felt secure and calm enough to go back to his job as a kid, to play. No drama or pain.
It took years of therapy and self discovery and much spiritual seeking to now be able to say, I love myself and all my emotions. Having a cry, if needed, is awesome self care. I will continue to teach my son and to model to him, that you have to feel it, to heal it. I hope you will do the same. I’m all for healing.