Have you ever had that dream where something awful is happening to you and you open your mouth to scream for help but no voice comes out and not a sound is heard by those around you. I have this dream, or more appropriately nightmare, frequently and have had all my life since i was severely sexually abused throughout my childhood. Up until very recently, despite my disclosure 18 years ago, i have never been able to cry in front of anybody, even through painful therapy. Not a tear was shed from my eyes but always became very ‘sniffy’ (for want of a better word) and had to continually blow my nose. I wrote this poem during that ‘tearless’ period of my therapy:
Why don’t my tears fall
When anyone can see?
As if I must hide my pain
From the world, with shame
When I cry alone, and only then
Do those painful tears
Cascade like waterfalls
Tumbling down both cheeks
I am not in the least ashamed
Of knowing that in my splintered heart
That you make may think me strong
But inside, I am weak at the broken places
Yet, I will talk ‘till the cows come home’
Of my weaknesses and pain, with you
Only my nose ’cries’ tears into tissues
But do my eyes betray me?
Can you see me in here, hiding?
With my backpack
Full, heavy with jagged rocks
Which dent and twist my spine?
The agony is severe and persistent
I wish I could put it down a while
And rest a little
Escape my tortuous inner world
Yes mostly, I am ‘on show’
My public face smiling
When internally, I hurt so deeply
Yet I love so passionately.
Two years ago, my father, who had been my main abuser, died. I felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I actually cried at his funeral, which i wasn’t expecting. But i was not crying for the loss of my father, but for the loss of my childhood, and the loss of any possibility of having a ‘proper’ dad. I then started having counselling with a new therapist and it was only then that i was most surprised that when acknowledging the fact that my abuse had left me with anorexia, borderline personality disorder and other psychiatric ills, that i began to cry ‘real’ tears when i was with my therapist. At first, i was a little scared of this newly-expressed emotion but as time went on, i was able to confide in friends and soon found i was mopping many tears with many tissues. I began to feel the weight lifting from me and have now made more progress in the two years since then than i had in many years of previous therapy. I now feel ‘normal’ , and cry at sad events and even at soppy films etc, just like anyone else.
I am now feeling much better in myself; i don’t get flashbacks quite so often and no longer dwell on my past. They say tears are healing; that they release a chemical in the body which reduces stress levels. I now feel like a more ‘normal’ human being and my emotions are now appropriate to whatever situation i find myself in. As an added bonus, i have also learned to laugh more readily and can even laugh at myself crying if it’s over a soppy film!