More tears; ever more…

‘Life is hard’ – a basic premise, proven over and over again, yet somehow my heart holds on for an easier year, an easier day; a life that will miraculously contain less pain. It nevertheless begins to seem to me that pain does not fade with time: it accumulates.

I broke down this morning in the worst possible place – at work. I sat in the toilet and sobbed. As memories hit me relentlessly, one after another, I couldn’t stop the howls of agony escaping my lips. For the second day in a row, it feels like a tunnel has opened up right back to my childhood, with every painful ordeal lived afresh. I know that this represents an ideal opportunity to go back to those early traumas and try to process them with the experience and self-knowledge of adulthood, but it feels so overwhelming that I don’t even know where to being. After the first roll of toilet paper was finished it began to feel like I would never again be able to stop crying.

Of course, I eventually did. I know I cannot live in the full awareness of loss forever; it will get pushed back into the parts of my brain that store these memories, and I will smile and laugh again. I cannot undo past damage, and I cannot prevent further pain and loss to come. We live, thus we must die. We will have our hearts broken; we will face choices it seems no one should ever have to make. We will never reach that fairytale ‘better future’ we strive for, because each new turn will bring its own pain.

Yet I won’t give up hope. I won’t stop telling myself that next year will be easier, because I need to have that to look forward to, and because I know that impossibly difficult past years have indeed been followed by some delightful ones.  I can’t know what the next loss or challenge will be, but not knowing leaves me free not to worry about it too much.

So, I ask myself: what can I do to help tomorrow be better? Will crying these tears, letting my heart break just a little more now, mean that it will hurt just a fraction less next time something triggers these memories? If I can force myself to pick up a paintbrush again after all these years, can I leave some tiny bit of pain behind on a canvas? If I can find the words to write another poem, can it carry a little more for me?

I appreciate the image of each tear-drop carrying away one small, invisible bit of sorrow with it, but I know too that I have cried if not an ocean, then at least a lake full of tears, and yet my heart is still full to bursting with pain.

Two poems written in 1996, the year I turned 14:

I cried myself to sleep last night
– A childish thing to do.
Time, loss, pain, and even words
Lost their meaning in the darkness
Sobs echoing ‘round my head
Locked inside – by me.
No one to blame except myself
If even that is left;
Maybe I slipped quietly away
Into the pillow…


I cried myself to sleep again;
Lonely, childlike tears.
Encircled by the darkness
I cannot face my fears.
Within me, around me, filling up my head
I cannot chase the demons
Away from this cold bed.


9 thoughts on “More tears; ever more…

  1. Laurel, this is so immediate and near, I feel my arms around you in a hug as I read it while at the same time respecting how private and personal your expression is. Through all the pain you express you always give hope, which is all the more inspiring because of your pain. Your childhood poem is exquisite–sometimes when I read something I wrote when so young I am amazed at my honesty and perception out of the purity that gets lost along the way. It is a good place to return to from time to time.

    Have you read any of Thomas Moore (not the Irish poet but modern spiritual writer)? He writes that “Grief opens us up to new possibilities.”
    “The night sea journey takes you back to your primordial self, not the heroic self that burns out and falls to judgement, but to your original self, yourself as a sea of possibility, your greater and deeper being. Night sea journey is a cosmic passage taken as a metaphor for our own dark nights, when we are trapped in a mood or by external circumstances and can do little but sit and wait for liberation. The darkness is natural, one of the life processes.”
    Thomas Moore

  2. Oh Laurel! The pain does soften, it truly does. But it is a wave, an up, a down, a swirl — all you need to know is that you survived this crying moment. You broke and you got up. That is the way. With each ‘getting up’ you move incrementally toward a softer place. It’s a long, arduous task and there is no way around it. There is no escape. Each time you get up, celebrate even a little. And if there is a time you don’t get up right away, breathe deeply. And then get up.

  3. Personally I think crying in the toilet at work is totally reasonable but I know the pain of that ‘the world is ending in this cubicle’ sink. Really feeling for you and all I can say is that rise is as inevitable as the fall. I’m around and available 24/7 right now so call any (and I really mean any) time. x

  4. Oh the purity of child likeness. If only more of us could hold this reflection in our each other and ourselves. And sometimes we need someone to hold that mirror up with us. Someone who is neither friend, family or lover and yet all of those things. I am speaking of a bloody good psychotherapist who can dare to shine a light in those dark places and find treasure there hidden. It may not be what you think…or fear. But I am biaised as I’ve been working with a Chiron trained therapist for just over 2 years. Your poem and drawings are poignant and touching.

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