Dining at a local restaurant with my husband and son, I noticed a middle-aged couple with an elderly woman sitting at the table next to us. My view was of the elderly woman’s back. Centered at the top of her short, white hair was a familiar looking cowlick. The surrounding hair, matted, as if she was sitting against a couch for a long period of time. “I bet she looks great from the front,” I thought to myself.
My mom had the same cowlick. She always took such pride in the way she looked, yet as she got older, the back of her hair was usually a little disheveled, just like the woman in front of me.
Before I understood what was happening, a wave of sadness hit. I quickly went from noticing a cowlick to wishing we were treating my mom to lunch. As I held back the tears, another glance revealed the woman sharing cell phone photos with her lunch dates. It reminded me of all the times my mom met my daughters and niece for lunch and how the young girls would torture her with selfies. Again, tears welled up, and this time they didn’t go unnoticed. My husband looked at me and asked, “Why do you look so sad?”
“I’m not,” I replied in an irritated tone. The truth is, I knew I’d be unable to articulate my thoughts without having a full-blown breakdown in the middle of the restaurant. I didn’t want to make a scene or upset my son.
Later that day, everything seemed to make me sad. My thoughts were all over the place. They took me back to other departed relatives. I thought of how fast time goes by and how the children have grown up so quickly. Summer’s end was imminent and so were college drop offs for our older kids.
Feeling annoyed with myself, the words “I DON’T FEEL LIKE CRYING” raced through my mind. I decided to write my feelings out in an attempt to release them. As the pen touched the paper, the bottled-up tears from the day poured from my eyes. I succumbed to the very thing I was trying to resist. And guess what? I felt SO MUCH better.
Those hard to face emotions were released and a weight was lifted from me. It hurts to cry, but it hurts more to hold it in. Holding it in for too long manifests itself into something else…sometimes physical and sometimes mental. Let it out, walk through it, lean into it. Crying offers relief, at least for a little while. We forget this as we get older. Kids cry when it hurts and then they feel better and move on about their day. No big deal.
“Cry when it hurts, laugh when it’s funny, chase after the dream, don’t chase after the money.” Old Dominion, No Such Thing as a Broken Heart
Tell me this: In what ways do you release your feelings when you need to?