I’m sad to say this.
I haven’t figured out how to comfort someone who is crying.
One of the biggest fears I have is someone crying to me.
As in full on tears, balling.
Isn’t that so weird?
For someone who writes a blog about emotions and coaches others on them, you’d think I would be perfectly comfortable with tears.
But no, I’m not.
I grew up in a household where tears were not okay.
You got in more trouble if you cried too long.
So we learnt to keep it in.
And release them privately.
This is common in a lot of cultures.
Over time, I learnt to keep emotions inside.
I now see this as being both a positive and a negative trait.
Positive in the sense that I learnt to self cope.
Deal with emotions on my own.
There’s a lot of independence one gets from relying on oneself to cope.
Even now, if I’m struggling with something, I will often ruminate on it myself.
And only talk about it once I’m no longer emotional.
Once I find a solution or cause.
This has created self sufficiency that I appreciate.
But it’s also created a divide.
A divide amongst those that are self sufficient and those that look for others to make them feel better.
Emotional dependents I call them.
These others, like my boyfriend Damien – might have had a parent soothe them if they were unhappy as a child.
They might have had a parent bribe them into feeling better or show them in some way that the tears are cared for and loved.
That perhaps their tears are a sign to make them feel better.
As adults, emotional dependents will look for their partner to make them feel better and validate their world, just like their parents did.
They often see self-sufficient people as sometimes being emotionally unavailable or cruel.
I understand why.
There have been many times I’ve stood awkwardly when I knew I should hug and make someone feel better.
Many times where I have felt confusion as to what to do – often causing me to do the wrong thing.
Most of the time I hope to be around others who know exactly what to do so I can follow along.
It’s a weird dynamic when self sufficient and emotional dependents date, which occurs often.
A lot of friction has been caused in my relationship with Damien.
He’s often felt like I don’t care.
I’ve had to learn over the years to get better at hugging and listening – even if I don’t know what to say or do.
People that haven’t learnt to be self reliant mostly don’t understand self reliance and how it works.
Even as I’m saying the word ‘self reliance’, I feel like I’m giving it a more positive connotation than emotional dependence.
This is not true.
I’m saying I wasn’t allowed to cry so I learnt not to.
By learning not to cry, I don’t know how to allow someone to cry.
To be there for them.
I don’t know what to do.
I don’t know what to say.
So all I can do is try.
To show up and hope this is what people need – because I do not remember the experience of being soothed myself.
I suppose that is all people want to feel – that someone’s there for them.
And that’s okay.
This is the only way I know how to comfort someone.
Over time as I allow others to cry, perhaps I can learn to rely emotionally on those close to me.
Because this I imagine is what they crave.
To be there for me.
And for me to be there for them.
I’m trying to figure out what’s better.
To be self-reliant?
Or to be able to rely on those close to you to be there when you need them?
I’d say the answer is a bit of both.
Self reliance and emotional dependence are both destructive in it’s own way.
Having a balance of both is where it’s at.
I see that now.