Be a sprouted nut

I cannot stop crying lately. Sometimes it’s just tearing up and some sniffles. Other times it’s a full on downpour til that lump in my throat feels like it’s going to break free and overflow out of my body.

I used to hate crying, especially bawling with no specific reason. I believed I was weak in my emotion and that I was a “typical female” or PMS’ing or some other standard assumption concerning estrogen and tears. I tried as much as I could to refrain, to hide away, to hold everything in and to never really succumb to my feelings. No matter how valid they felt, how strong they were, how much it hurt to hide them, I was not going to be the person who cried in public.

Needless to say, I was not very good at that venture. My decision to pretend I had no sensitivities created the opposite result. I was overly emotional in everything and it was out of control. I would find myself frustrated with a co-worker and begin crying when expressing myself. If I had to engage in any sort of serious or vulnerable conversation, I would immediately breakdown and sob. I watched cookie commercials and began to gush, concocting depth and sorrow in Oreos. The out of control reactions only created a stronger aversion to feelings and a deeper disgust for crying. I felt more shame for my inability to control myself and more frustration within myself.

A few years ago, when some of my most intentional healing began, I listened to a talk by Brene Brown. It was all about feelings and how you cannot selectively acknowledge or block emotions. You either experience every sentiment, positive and negative, or you shut them all out. You cannot avoid sorrow and pain but fully feel joy. I could not expect to walk through all the amazing goodness in life if I wasn’t willing to give in to the grief and disappointment. If I continued to shame myself and try to circumvent the tough stuff, I was destined to be a confused and emotionally bankrupt human. Oof, that’s not at all what I was wanting to hear…..

Slowly, and with a lot of help from a counselor and some amazing friends to love me, I began to allow my tears to fall. I began to appreciate my anguish, the hard parts of life, the things that made me feel “bad” feelings. I started to seek out the parts of me I had tried to avoid, eagerly awaiting that crying until I almost throw up feeling. My deepest desire became to process so much that I became whole. And the crying for no reason started to dissipate. I suddenly began to understand a little bit of why I was crying. I began to connect to my insides, to recognize my heart and to honor what it had experienced. I fell in love with my ebullition. The cleansing of my shame which turned into pride for my life. I am not always 100% certain what is motivating my emotions but I began to welcome them with everything in me.

Once I cleared out so much old hurt and emotion, what Brene spoke about became reality. I had room for all the elation and goodness. When I stopped fighting my feelings, I was able to experience so much more, and man was it good.

Yesterday I woke up with a full day ahead of me. My son graduated high school two weeks ago and today was his graduation party. My mom flew in from Georgia to celebrate and we had so many tasks to accomplish before 1pm. As my mom and I prepped food, I began to play a song for her that my son wrote and recorded. I began to cry. I’ve heard the song before, multiple times. In fact, any performance Matthew has done, I’ve certainly replayed it more times than I’d like to admit. But I begin to cry every time because I feel proud of him. I see hope for his future. I am relieved that maybe I did something right with him. I am honored to be his mom. I feel inspired by his talents. That crying was so good.

An hour later, I had to run to CVS to pick up photos for a picture collage. You know the ones people make for graduation, full of every adorable and embarrassing picture of the graduate? I decided to peruse the card aisle in hopes of finding something to write in for my graduate. Every card I read made my eyes swell. New baby cards, congratulations, with sympathy, blank cards with adorable puppies on the cover. You name it, I could relate to it, empathize with it, connect to it because I’m emotional and I allow myself to feel ALL THE FEELINGS.

And as I taped the pictures together to create my very own pic-collage, those dang eyes began to drip a little. Collecting moments over the past eighteen years and displaying them all on three pieces of poster board, I remembered so many days as a mother. I felt a myriad of emotions and it was ok. I embraced my feelings and then let them subside. I was allowed to process being sad that he has grown up, joy that he is such an amazing human, grief that he is transitioning into a new chapter in life.

The party was a full day of friends at the pool and hanging out at the house. It was hectic and expensive and I was running around navigating details non stop. It was stressful at times, wondering if I prepared enough food, wanting to display things perfectly, ensuring our guests were happy. It was ok to experience those small tinges of anxiety and pressure. It didn’t overwhelm me or take over the day because I was not a pot boiling over with years of old struggles. And in the midst of all of that, I was on the verge of tears but not because of the possible negative outcomes. I was caught up in the awe of our life, the gratitude for so many friends that love us, the kindness of our family members and the pure joy on my sons face as he felt loved and celebrated. I was able to be balanced and sane and experience life in all its fullness. Nothing was dulled, short changed or less than.

As I lay in my bed, reflecting on the day, the past 18 years of Matthews life, my life, I am overcome with tears. As I am writing and editing this blog, I am intermittently crying. I am just constantly crying and I love it.

I pray your day is full of acceptance of your feelings. That you know the value of experiencing sorrow and in turn, receive the rewards that come from exultation. I encourage anyone who is attempting to remove their emotions, to hug them tightly, to soak in them until something new emerges. I envision almonds soaking in water overnight so that the goodness inside can sprout up. That process is my hope for anyone who has a hardened heart. The most digestible nuts are the ones that have been soaked overnight, they shed their outer layer and the true goodness inside is revealed. So go out friend! Be a sprouted nut!

To my son Matthew

Tomorrow you will graduate high school. You will toss your cap in the air and an era of youth will end. You will be an adult, entering a new phase of life, one full of greater responsibility and expectation. The pressures of growing up, the stress of taking care of yourself, the possible anxiety of making life decisions will all creep in. It may be scary. It will be challenging.

But know this: you are capable. You are equipped to handle much more than you know. You were designed for greatness and this world is a better place because you exist. Sometimes it’s easy to feel like a failure because we enter unknown territory and we feel ill prepared but do not give into that fear. Every moment of uncertainty is an opportunity to get better, grow stronger, gain wisdom and become a more complete and amazing version of ourselves.

When you were born, my life changed. The firstborn child among the five siblings in my family and the first grandchild. Everyone traveled to visit and dote on you. Our family began to grow closer with a new baby at the center of it all. You had no idea how much you mattered and I imagine, at times, you still do not understand the magnitude of your worth.

As you’ve grown, you’ve continued to affect our family, my life and the lives of those you encounter. You have a heart that loves so fiercely and cares so deeply that at times, you forget yourself in order to pour into others. When you enter a space, you bring pure joy with you. As someone recently told me, “you have a light inside you that makes others happy.” It’s true, there is something contagious and wonderful about being around you. It’s undeniable.

Watching you grow has been the single greatest experience of my life. You’re more amazing than any mountain I’ve climbed, any sunset I’ve seen and any adventure I have yet to embark on. You have taught me sacrificial and unconditional love. In raising you, I have learned to let go, to trust outcomes, to accept mistakes and to laugh at myself.

I will always smile when I think about us singing songs and being silly during car rides. I love when you practice your music around me and feel grateful you filled my life with the beauty of your talents. Thank you for reminding me to be kind to myself and for teaching me about what really matters in life.

I pray that I have instilled within you strength to endure the tough times. I pray I have modeled love and kindness so that you never forget how to treat others. I hope you can always turn to me for advice and know that I will be here, without judgement, to share whatever wisdom I may have. Thank you for being who you are. I love you more than I knew I could love someone and am honored to be your mom.