Tuesday, 21 July 2015
When You Open Your Eyes
I see you. And you see me.
And the deeper you look, the more that you see.
They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul. If so, isn't it interesting that that's where our tears come from? Our tears that carry our emotions.
Tears of happiness. Tears of sadness.
I have done a lot of crying in the last ten years. During one of my hospital stays I cried for weeks. Almost non-stop. Almost until I couldn't breathe. It was exhausting. I remember sobbing with one of the psychiatric nurses and asking her why I couldn't stop crying. And she said something that I will never forget.
She said, "Every single one of those tears has to come out".
And from then on I stopped feeling guilty about crying. There was a reason for my tears. And at that time I had no voice so my tears became the words I could not find. From then on I stopped being ashamed of my tears. And this was a good thing because sometimes they had a life of their own! And I had no control over when the stream might start or stop. It felt that sometimes I would just get so full of those emotions of sadness, despair, hopelessness, anxiety that they would leak out through my eyes.
And that's the funny thing about emotions. They will come out. No matter what you do to try to stuff them down they will show up in some form. I have heard depression described as these emotions turned inward. That it is anger and hurt and sadness turned inward. So, logically, if all these emotions are turned inward, then something has to turn outward! And for me it was tears. I was so blessed to be allowed to cry. I had people who held me, quietly passed me tissues and even worried about the damage I was doing to the skin around my eyes! Tears are not a sign of weakness. Sometimes it takes an enormous strength to let those emotions out.
And you can find understanding people in the strangest of places. About five years ago I decided to report the crimes against me to the police. I knew that I could not put myself through legal proceedings but I wanted what was done to me to count. Literally. I wanted to be part of the statistics. The statistics that are frighteningly understated. I wanted his name to be recorded. And I wanted to do this on my own. I cried all the way to my local police station. When I got there I walked to the front desk, crying and apologising. Apologising for being there. Apologising for taking up their time. Apologising because what I had to say wasn't nearly as important as other things they may be doing. Apologising for crying but also reassuring the officer (who looked about 12!) that I was okay, I just had no control over my crying. It makes me smile now when I think back to the "deer in headlights" look this poor young fellow had on his face. Clearly he had no idea of what to do with me so scurried out the back to find help. Out came a more senior officer who could not have been any kinder. And, of course, this kindness made me cry even more! She took me to a private little room and instructed that we were not to be disturbed. She offered me tea, coffee or water. She spent several hours taking my statement whilst I cried and blew my nose for the whole time. She explained everything to me, she told me that the crimes committed against me were every bit as important as if they had been committed that very day. She commended me for reporting them. She acknowledged what a difficult thing that was to do. She offered to get me a counsellor. She replenished the supply of tissues. She gave me her card and on the back wrote her personal mobile number. She told me to call her any time, day or night. She rang me the next day to check if I was okay.
But there was one thing that she did not do.
She did not say "don't cry". Because she knew. Just like the psychiatric nurse. Because they had both been trained. They didn't say "stop crying". They didn't say "don't get upset". They didn't say "don't worry". They didn't say "pull yourself together". They didn't say "don't dwell on the past".
Because they knew. They knew that every one of those tears needed to come out. They knew that those tears were important. Those tears were healthy. Those tears were a sign of recovery. And they were right. Because slowly I became able to find the words. And instead of the tears becoming a flood the words started to take over. And with the tears and the words came the healing. And when the healing happens the memories didn't go away.
But they did stop rolling down my cheeks.