Looking back, but leaning forward.

I always knew looking back on my tears would bring me laughter, but I never knew looking back on my laughter would make me cry.             ~ Cat Stevens

I cry a little every day.  I have done so for almost six years now.  Maybe it’s cleansing, but I’m getting rather tired of it.

I grew up being the dependable, strong child in the family.  That sounds like a good thing, but it wasn’t necessarily.  I was the middle of five children and what I was really doing was trying to keep the peace.  Discord terrified me because my dad was a violent alcoholic, and at times violent while sober.  I tried to soothe my younger sisters and I begged my older angry brother not to make waves at the dinner table.  Then, when my brother didn’t take my advice and Daddy dragged him from the table beating him with a belt, buckle and all, I would plead with my dad to stop.  I learned to plead from a distance else my dad would give me a whack on his back swing.  Dinner was fun at my house.

I’m not sure why that last paragraph popped in on this post.  I think it’s the fact that I was scolded for crying when I was a child.  For example, I would be crying when my father finally let go of my brother and he (Dad) would scream, “Stop your damn crying or I’ll give you something to cry about!”  So I learned not to cry.  Maybe I’m just catching up now.  All those unshed tears from my youth are finally allowed to flow.  And so they do.

Does this mean that my ex-husband did me a favor by leaving?  He saw how desperately I needed to cry so he decided to help me out?  Gave me a reason to cry?  Gave me many reasons to cry?  My tongue is firmly in my cheek now and I’m not crying.  I’m laughing.  It feels good to laugh.  It reminds me that I still have a sense of humor, and I can laugh at myself and my situation.  This would make great slapstick.  Maybe I’ll write a play.  I’ll call it “Now That You Broke My Heart, What’s Gonna Pump My Blood?”

I saw my ex on Saturday at Stella’s birthday party.  (She’s six.)  I recognize now, and have for some time, that he’s nothing like the D I once knew and loved.  Sometimes I may sound like I want him back, but I don’t.  It simply means I’m having a weak moment.  Or I’m feeling lonely.  Or maybe I’m remembering and longing for what was a long time ago.  We had a lot of good years together.  There’s much to remember fondly.  But wanting it back is fantasy.  It doesn’t exist now.

Happy tears.  Sad tears.  They’re all good.

Bitterblue by Cat Stevens at Royal Albert Hall (1970s)

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20 thoughts on “Looking back, but leaning forward.

  1. Thanks, Judith. A child of an alcoholic either becomes a survivor, or languishes and never learns to function well. I chose the survival route. I don’t know why I was able to do that, but I’m grateful. Of course we adults can get stuck in survival mode if we don’t watch out. It’s important to move beyond that and learn to thrive. Easier said than done, but I’ve tried. Thanks for your encouragement.

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  2. I am also the middle child, but we didn’t have the violence in our family described by you. It’s easy to say that the things you lived through have made you the woman you are today, but the living through must have been very hard.
    I applaud you for where you are now and will continue to follow and encourage you in your continuing journey.

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  3. A strong person is not the one who doesnt cry. A strong person is one who is quiet and sheds tears for a moment, then picks up her sword and fights again.

    You and I are a lot alike. Including being the middle child. 🙂

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    • Thanks, Amy. I like your definition of a strong person. And I didn’t know you were a middle child but I guess it doesn’t surprise me. I have sensed from some of your posts that we probably have some things in common.

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  4. Oh Pat, my heart went out to you reading this post. I have been through so much, yet here you stand, vulnerable and strong all at once. It’s inspiring.
    I wish you were my grandma ! (both my grannies have long been dead)

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  5. For the record I think crying is really important. As is laughing of course. It’s like a workout for the soul and both give you that feeling of calm (or depending on how long it went on – exhaustion) at the end. Your comment about being told that crying wasn’t appropriate when you were a child made me think of the song, ‘I do my crying in the rain’. I don’t do my crying in the rain anymore and lots of things make me cry. My son still says to me, ‘Mum, if you’re coming to the school play, please don’t cry’. Of course he knows I will and he just gives me a hug afterwards and rolls his eyes. For me though the most important thing is that we allow ourself to feel the emotion that we’re feeling. Hell I can find myself crying because of a piece of music or because I’m walking and see something beautiful. At the risk of sounding like a crazy person I think that being brave enough to allow ourselves to feel those extremes of emotion are good for us. Unfortunately some people associate crying as feeling sorry for ourselves. I think I’ve come to a point where I see it as being brave enough to allow the emotion that comes to flow. Laughter or tears – OR BOTH – it’s all good.

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    • Thank you, Jacqueline. I agree with your comments on crying. I think I would have grown up crying as spontaneously as you do had I not been muzzled as a child. I’m learning. Oh, and I love that song. I think I may have referenced it in a past post.

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  6. I knew you where a gooden. Lets face it, you’ve been through the mill a bit, and then some but you’ve shown a fair bit of guts and courage along the way. My opinion is you have more to be proud of than you realise, and I’m always moved by your blend of modesty and strength.

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  7. You continue to be an inspiration. I think all those who’ve gone through what you’ve been through would acknowledge those moments when tears flow.

    Glad you made yourself laugh too!

    Hugs

    C

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  8. The really good thing about your tears, Pat, is that you don’t wallow in them. They do not turn you spiteful. They do not keep you from all the good things you do at church. They do not keep you from being a five-star mother and grandmother, loving unconditionally. They do not keep you from expressing yourself in your beautiful art and needlework. They do not keep you from eating healthy, exercising, and taking care of yourself. And they do not keep you from being a caring, supportive and trustworthy friend upon whom many others depend.

    Oh, and since you don’t wear a lot of makeup, you don’t even have smeared mascara afterwards. 🙂

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