I was on a word game forum the other day. Someone had started a game where you complete a sentence and then leave a new fragment for the next person to finish. The prompt given was “I’ll give you something…”. The only thing that I could think of to finish it was “…to cry about!”. Needless to say, I didn’t participate in that game that day.
I don’t know how many times I heard that phrase. I would cry because I was scared of my mother. She would get so angry when she drank. I cried after dinner because it was time for my shower and I was afraid of what my father would do. I cried at night because it was time for bed and I was afraid of what was going to happen.
By the time I was 7 or so, I learned that crying would only earn me a punishment. Of course by the time I figured it out, the punishments had gotten pretty bad. As I got older, the punishments got worse. They went from being sent to my room without dinner to being hit with a hand to being hit with a wooden spoon to being hit with a belt. Crying wasn’t the only thing that earned me punishments and the belt got worse and worse.
I learned not to cry. I stuffed everything I was feeling. I turned to other ways of dealing with the feelings. It was about then I started hurting myself in various ways.
I was taught that big girls didn’t cry. And I was a big girl at age five because I had a baby brother. I had to act like a big girl. And big girls don’t cry.
To this day, I have a hard time crying. If I do, I’m really hurting. I’d much rather hurt myself than cry. There are times when I wish I could sit down and bawl my eyes out. But I can’t. I’m afraid to do that.
For me, it’s too much like letting my guard down. The few times I’ve cried in my therapist’s office, I was getting so overwhelmed I couldn’t control my emotions anymore. And I was having a hard time saying “I can’t do this”. But the tears didn’t last long. Only a minute or less. And then I went back to stuffing everything. Right now, it’s the only way I know to cope without hurting myself.