I don't really know why that is. I suspect that at least part of it goes back, like my last post, to my childhood. I suspect that somewhere back there (though I don't remember exactly what happened) I got the impression that if I showed that I was distressed about something, my sisters would start to freak out. Whether it was their reaction to some reaction I had, or whether it was our reaction to some reaction my parents had, I felt like I needed to protect my siblings from any thought that something might be amiss. I'm sure that's not the whole story, but I don't remember what the whole story it. I'm fairly certain that something like that is part of it, though.
However it happened, I rarely cried in public. Crying became to me a sign of weakness. "Blubbering like an idiot," I believe I called it on more than one occasion. When I did it, at least. My sisters were younger, so it was more okay for them to cry. Besides, they weren't the oldest, so it didn't matter as much anyway. They weren't the ones who had to protect their little sisters.
Two incidents that I remember helped convey the point that I shouldn't cry. At one point, there was friction in our extended family. This tension reached the boiling point on a number of occasions, and at one point drove me to tears. One of the parties involved walked away from the fight, into the room where I was sitting, came back and informed my mother that "YOUR daughter is sitting out there bawling," in a tone of voice that indicated that this was NOT okay.
The other incident occurred the summer that I was fourteen. My mom got a call from my aunt, and in the course of the conversation, asked what the name of one of my friends was. I told her, and continued whatever I was doing, overhearing without really intending to Mom's end of the conversation. Whatever it was, something was wrong. It's nothing. It's a coincidence that she asked for my friend's name. You always think the worst, and it never happens. You're just being silly. Then Mom got off the phone.
It HAD happened. One of my best friends had been hit by a car, and was in the ICU in a coma, in extremely critical condition. I spent the next hour or probably more on the couch, sobbing into Mom's shoulder. Was I right to cry? YES. Absolutely yes. Even then, I didn't think of it as "blubbering like an idiot," but as "blubbering like someone whose friend is likely to die." But it didn't help me feel any better that my sisters sent pitying looks my way every time they passed, or that when they asked what happened, Mom told it over again, sending me into a fresh wave of tears. Obviously, it's better to not cry in public. Fewer people asking what's wrong, fewer times you have to retell it = less pain, right?
Except that forcing down emotions isn't good for people. The more feelings you try to stuff down, the more easily it will explode for the slightest cause. Over the years, I've become adept at sensing it coming up and shoving it back down until a more convenient time, or at least controlling my face so it doesn't give me away until I can get to my room or to the bathroom or somewhere I can cry in peace. I've also gotten used to being rather stressed rather a lot of the time, and I don't think the two are unrelated.
Anyhow, on to what was really the point of this post. It's already been established that my mind somehow decided that crying=weakness. So does talking about any type of struggle I have or in any other way implying that I am somehow not the paragon or perfection. No one must be allowed to know that I have problems, that somehow things aren't right in my world.
Besides, if people knew my faults, they would call me a hypocrite. Non-Christians would point me out as an example of why they want nothing to do with the Bible. "You can't live by your own rules, why should you expect us to?"
Except that that's the whole point. Christians aren't perfect. We don't claim to have it all figured out, just to know the One who does. We don't claim to be perfect, that's why we need Jesus.
But it takes humility. I am a very proud person (more on this another time, probably). I don't LIKE admitting I have problems. That's part of why I started this blog. It's somewhat easier to talk about things like this behind a computer. It's much harder in person. But this is a start.
It's important to be vulnerable. In many ways, it frees you. Frees you from stress, from the pain of hiding your pain, from the fear that maybe someone will find out. It's hard to fear someone finding out if you've already put it out there. And more than that, it reminds you that you're not perfect. And that's something I think we all need to be reminded of sometimes.
So find something to hold onto, folks. This is just the beginning. Because I really do need to learn that it's okay to let people know.