Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Crying openly and shame

A few years ago I have realized that for me, crying in front of someone is one of the most humiliating things I can experience. Even if that someone is a close friend, a therapist, or a boyfriend. I was searching for reasons why, especially because when I rarely found myself in a situation like that, I always got extremely puzzled reactions to my behavior (hiding behind anything I could and holding back tears, sobbing and anything that could reveal that I was crying). Everyone who has seen me like that tried to assure me that there was nothing to be ashamed of, that I was loved, that I was safe, and that I could express my sadness and that there was nothing wrong about that.

Now I'm sort of able to cry in front of DB, but the extreme shame and humiliation inside still persists. And I still start hiding, as the pain (the reason for crying) grows.

My first memories of crying are all the same, and I guess this can be the reason behind my feelings or reactions.

I remember falling, or something happening to one of my favorite toys, bruising myself, or anything like that, that can make a small child (around the age of 2-3) cry. And then I would run to my NM, cuddle up in her lap, crying. First, she would hug me and stroke my hair, for a few minutes, and then I always felt that she became more and more annoyed that I was still crying. And then, she started either telling me jokes or funny stories, or making fun of the whole situation, or acting extremely happy, laughing, and acting like as if nothing has happened, or at least that it wasn't important. And I remember explaining her, that I didn't need jokes, I didn't need being ridiculed or laughed at, that I didn't need invalidation. That I needed comforting, compassion and needed her to make me feel better again. She then explained that she was trying to do that, making me feel better with the means of somehow diverting my thoughts from the event that made me sad. I have tried to tell her a few times that that really did not work for me, because I remembered exactly that I fell, because it hurt. And that I did not need anything else but her comfort, and then I would be OK in a few minutes. And then, she started to make word jokes from the word 'comfort', which is quite easy in my language.

Then I realized, that I had no chance for receiving any comfort from her. And every time I cried, I have tried begging for it nonetheless. And felt more and more humiliated, because I just couldn't 'decide' to stop crying, and I felt that it was an obligation that I could not fulfill.

In my teens, I was forced to cry in front of her, until I learned how not to cry even in the saddest situations. She would sense that I was desperate, that tears were forming in my eyes, and started staring right in my face (if I hid my face, she forced me to look at here), and asking in a mocking and condescending tone, loud enough for everyone around to hear: "Oh my, do I see that you are crying? You ARE crying!

And then everyone would stare at me, and I wished I could just disappear.

And no comfort followed, no validation. Only her fake surprised face, that 1) I was crying at all, and 2) that I was crying over such nonsense as my boyfriend unexpectedly breaking up with me, losing one of my best friends, or failing an exam that was very important for me.

The last two times she saw me crying and the telling me "are you STILL crying? oh my god, you can't be serious, c'mon, get over it already" was
  1. A week after EXNB (I was still madly in love with him) and I have been separated, he moved out of my apartment where we have been living together for 4 years and me learning that he was cheating on me while claiming that he was still deeply in love with me, wanted to marry me and have a family together.
  2. A week after the death of DP, whom I lived together with for 12 years, and who was THE most important and most loved person in my life.

Never, again.


  1. I don't think I've ever cried in front of anybody other than my husband. I would find it humiliating too though I don't know why, I was thinking about where this might come from because I don't have any memories of my parents ever saying anything to me, I think maybe it was the look on their faces or something. In my family the worse sin is to be needy, and I suppose that crying would enter into that category (as in being in need of comfort) so I suppose at some point as a child I made have made this connection. I don't know what they were thinking: that we were going to be born like human dolls that don't speak and don't feel and don't give them any work at all...

  2. I'm excited (well, that's not quite the right word) that I'm able cry at all right now. I didn't for years. I can't imagine crying in front of anyone else yet. My spn's seen me once or twice, mostly a dabbing at the eyes, and I think he finds it vaguely alarming because it doesn't usually happen. Then I feel bad for scaring him.

    I remember when I was a teen and my boyfriend broke up with me and I did cry. When my mother saw me, she yelled at me. First she demeaned my hurt by saying, "That's all? That's why you're crying?" and then "You scared me that something bad had actually happened, like your grandfather died. Jesus!"

    Sorry your mother was so awful to you.

  3. Before counseling I could count on one hand how many times I cried from teen years to in my 40's. (I could also name them all too.) Counseling changed all that. I still dislike crying in front of anyone. I am sorry that your mother treated you so cruelly. I think that is one thing about sharing here on the internet is discovering that sadly I am not alone in how I was treated by my parents.

  4. I relate to this Post and the comments in more ways than I can count. I "forgot" how to cry. For years. I knew if I could only cry (such a human response/need) I'd feel better. But I just could *not* make it happen. IMO, this speaks to the "numb state" in which I existed for years: It was "safer."
    Until it wasn't.....and in that "thawing out" process I was afraid if I started crying, I'd never be able to stop. Or even explain why I was crying. So eventually there WERE a whole bunch of tears. Privately. And yes, they did help more than I can express. My physical "go-to" place for crying is the shower. My internal "go-to" place is reading along with AC Blogs. So much of what you share resurrects memories and I deeply appreciate your sharing your journey.
    Thank you.



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