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Let There Be Snot!

A couple nights ago I cried.  Hard.

This was not a gentle, easy, tear gracefully sliding down my cheek weeping.

There was snot.  Lots of it.  And noises.  Some of them gutteral and visceral. emanating from a deep well of feeling in my belly.  And breath coming in jagged shards. sharp and pointy.

I’m not sure I was crying over anything in particular.  Sometimes, there’s a buildup of life as too much that I need to off-load.

After I was done, I took a picture of myself.  To remind myself that even with wild hair, swollen eyes and a stuffy nose, I was beautiful . Actually, not despite them, but because of them.

And that my feelings are sacred.

I posted the picture on some of my social media pages.  The responses were so interesting to me.

Quite a few people expressed gratitude and relief.  They thanked me for my rawness and said they felt less alone in the world because I shared my tears.

There were people who expressed concern over my well being,  I got messages asking if I was OK because I had been crying.

There were people who tried to talk me out of my feelings, telling me to cheer up or to look on the bright side or stay positive.

There were people who were downright uncomfortable with the picture and asked me to take it down,  They wondered why I would even post it to begin with.

So why am I telling you all this?

Because I want you to know that having feelings does not have to mean that you are not OK.  Actually, the two are completely unrelated.

We can cry and still be OK as the tears stream down our faces.

We can rage and still be OK as our anger rises up and spews out of us like hot lava.

We can feel disappointment and still be OK as our hearts sink.

We can grieve and still be OK as our world crashes down in front of us.

This does not mean that we have to be OK as we feel all these things.  But it does mean that it’s quite possible.

In fact, the more we can access and allow feelings, the more whole we are.

We have a guideline in my women’s group to not hand a tissue to a crying person unless they ask for one.  To not touch them or try to comfort them in any way unless they ask for the comfort.

This is not to be cold and callous.

I want you to think about something for a sec.  How many times has someone “there there’d” you or handed you a Kleenex as you’ve been falling apart?  While on the surface it seems like a kind gesture, the message can be “Are you done yet?  Dry it up and hurry it along because I don’t know what the fuck to do with your tears.  I’m uncomfortable and I need you to stop crying so I can feel better” I’m not telling you are a horrible person to offer a tissue to someone who’s crying; I am asking you to consider that doing so may interrupt their process and actually be more about your own discomfort.

So what do we do instead in group?  We hold space for them and their big feelings.  And we trust in the wisdom of their tears, and that they will stop when they are ready, not when we are.

And we observe our own squirminess, if we have any, at not “fixing” them.

You don’t need to silence or censor your emotions simply because other people don’t know what to do with them or don’t understand them or can’t tolerate them . You really don’t.

If you are surrounded by people who can’t deal with you  or won’t deal with you when you are anything other than happy, you need new people. Now.

Crying people may or may not be in pain.  I don’t presume to know.  There are many reasons for tears.

What I do know is that they can be right as rain, not despite the emotional storm, but because of it.

There is still so much fear in this culture about “negative” feeling.   We are supposed to be up and on all the time, and if we are not, well, come back to me when you are. Or take a pill until you are.  Or eat or drink or gamble or have sex or shop until you are.

Can we stop, please?   Can we recognize the value in the full range of emotional expression and not try to convince people that they should feel something other than what they actually are?

Can we let them have their own experience without trying to superimpose ours on them?

Can we simply let there be snot….

Much Love,




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