Sunday, November 18

All Day Crying.

I read once that babies need to cry to work through emotional experiences... and that simply letting them cry in your arms, holding them and talking softly, without rocking or calming or using a pacifier, is the key to helping them find peace on their own and eventually grow in their emotional capacity. No matter how long it takes.

I think I'm in that place.

The last few days have been more emotionally intense than I'm really able to handle. The mix of gratitude and anxiety and faith and love and total helplessness has left me crying anytime something pushes a trigger. Sacrament meeting piano number playing "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief"? Crying. Emails from family and friends and random strangers? Crying. Stake Fireside? Crying. I feel like I've been crying all day.

I think that writing has taken part of the place of crying... at least the place of processing my feelings aloud. I got home tonight and my sister asked if I was okay. My only answer was, "I need to write."

And I'm crying.

My mind is such a blur that I'm not really sure why. Whether it's from being overwhelmed at the stories of faith and happiness that I've heard... or because the last few days have made me far more cognizant of the incredible pain and stress and suffering around me... or because I'm anxious about my own life and my future... or because I've seen the hand of God so clearly and unmistakeably in my life... or because I somehow feel amazingly loved and understood... or because I feel wholly inadequate.

I think my crying today was a mixture of all of them. Intense positive emotional experiences that leave me grateful and drained. Huge feelings of responsibility and empathy for others that leave me constantly pleading with God to help me become a better person and to bless the people who need it most. And inadequacy and anxiety that leave me tottering on the edge. Then anything - from a smile to a Primary song - becomes the catalyst for tears.

I talked with God and realized that I'm afraid. Mostly because I feel like I have to save the world myself (or something else just as daunting), and am completely unable to do that. He was quick to remind me that saving the world is His work and glory, and, yes, I am completely unable to do that. Which is why my job is on a far lower scale - one that's within my reach.

That's interesting. I feel like, even though all the experiences are still there, all the emotions are still just as raw, I somehow have the ability to put them all in their places and not be in emotional overload. I think the crying, or the writing, or the talking with God and being willing to not worry about my own inadequacy... worked.

That makes me wonder. Someone in Church today talked about the difference between Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon after seeing a vision of Heaven as outlined in D&C 76. Sidney was exhausted, and it took him hours to really recover from the experience. Joseph was calm. But when he first spoke with an angelic messenger, Joseph's own account relates that he passed out while climbing over a fence much later in the day. Moses spent hours recuperating, as did Abraham, from powerful spiritual experiences early in their personal callings, and yet each of these somehow developed the spiritual capacity? emotional capacity? to deal with / resolve / work through / process / understand similar experiences with relative ease in their later years.
 
I wonder how accurate that is for life in general. I feel like just now, as a result of tears and words and prayer, I've watched my brain grow in its capacity to process emotions. But is that really happening? Does processing intense emotional experiences through writing/crying/praying increase my capacity to process emotion without needing those interventions? And, perhaps even more importantly, is it the same with spiritual experiences? Something inside me feels like this is why the Lord speaks to us in so many different ways... is it according to our ability to process what we experience? Maybe that's why looking into Heaven is so much rarer than feeling the still, small voice... because we wouldn't be able to process / understand / appreciate / really internalize the experience without already having developed a greater spiritual capacity.

I think I like that. I'm not sure if I totally agree yet, but it makes sense.

And at least I've stopped crying.

9 comments:

Mormon Women: Who We Are said...

I totally was thinking about Joseph and Sidney when I first started reading your post.

Makes me think the veil is a blessing in many ways. He pierces it enough to let us know He's there, but if was pierced too much, it'd probably be too much. He gives us just enough, just what we need, just what is for our good.

Esther Michela said...

Ralph Waldo Emerson
“That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do, not that the nature of the thing has changed but that our power to do has increased.”

I believe this. I also believe in the innate capability of our brains to grow and adapt. Neuroplasticity is a fascinating area of study and I'm sure it applies to the spiritual side of our experiences. Many people tend to think of brains and personalities as rigid, but the gospel teaches that we are infinitely flexible, with potential for eternal growth and change.

As difficult as processing overwhelming emotions can be, I always end up being grateful that I can feel them at all. It's preferable to numbness or total isolation from the experiences of others.

Arlo said...

Actually, David, we will save the world. Together. The Lord has repeatedly mentioned that it is by the small and weak things of the world that He is able to bring to pass great and wonderful miracles.

I feel that we are at the dawn of a new era, one in which the light of those who are faithful Latter-Day-Saints and are attracted to their own gender will pierce the darkness and misery that is so frequently experienced by our brothers and sisters who experience similar feelings. One day at at time, one person at a time, we will bring to pass many great miracles. Of that I am sure.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes we do need to cry--and often when I do I begin the experience totally unsure what the problem is. And the Lord and I work on it from there.
And that's okay. I lets off an inner pressure valve for the rain shower (or storm) inside.

I think you are right--it is a way for our bodies and spirits to begin processing things together. And just like plants, with the proper application of water, we grow. It's just water given up from the inside...which makes it all the more precious. And with practice, we get better at internalizing things (and become more able to process them). Continue in God and prepare for life. There will be even better sights in store...as soon as we are more able for them.

Andrew A said...

I love your statement on letting babies cry. Comforting them, but not pacifying them. I bet that's very bonding for the person holding the baby and for the baby. The baby probably also learns that he/she can cry and be sad, but still be comforted and supported by another person.

FG Mormon said...

Been there, done that. I know exactly how you feel. Just before and soon after I joined the church (I was 29), I would cry my eyes out for days upon days. It was tough, but very liberating.

By the way, now that you are out, and knowing your other struggles with autism and stuff, you feel so much more authentic. What I used to perceive as a pose, I now see as battle. And I'm a bit ashamed for judging you. I apologize. You're a great fellow.

ifwecouldonlysee said...

I know whenever i'm feeling extremely overwhelmed, like I just can't handle things anymore... I cry. When i'm really at peace and feeling the spirit, I cry. It's like my emotional circuitry has overloaded and the only way to relieve the pressure is to cry.

I haven't been able to cry in weeks. I've been too emotionally blank. Maybe I should just let it happen.

Thanks for the insight!

Suzthefooz said...

Great comment Esther. I, too, love the concept of neuroplasticity. I also appreciate this Emerson quote.

Alanna said...

I often question if I want to be able to process and handle greater emotions and more empathy and love. Because it hurts so much. However, I'm grateful for those times when I am able to listen to someone else's heartaches and not be overwhelmed, because it's a familiar place to be.

Purpose begets hope.

I too have stopped crying.