People have said, “Don’t cry,” to other people for years and years, and all it has ever meant is “I’m too uncomfortable when you show your feelings. Don’t cry.”
I’d rather have them say:
“Go ahead and cry. I’m here to be with you.”
The World According to Mr. Rogers, by Fred Rogers
There were some adults in my childhood world whose immediate response to my tears was–shake it off. Don’t cry. Don’t be a crybaby. I recognize now that they were just passing along the broken memories and message of generations gone past. It took me years to find my tears again, when I needed them. Having and raising children blasted open that doorway into my own heart. It was clear to us when we started raising children that their tears were important, that all of their feelings were important. Our job was not to control them, but to guide and affirm them. That required me to check in with my own feelings, again and again.
During the days that I was reflecting on this piece of wisdom from Mr. Rogers, Tyre Nichols was murdered by police in Memphis, TN, the latest episode in police brutality that happens at extremely high rates in this country when the victim is a Person of Color. That’s when I realized that the power of Mr. Rogers’ message was about more than tears.
I’m too uncomfortable when you __________.
It doesn’t matter what the blank is: when you show your feelings, when you show up as black, when you show up as a person in the LGBTQ communities, when you speak a language I don’t understand, when you show up as differently abled, when you show up somehow different from me.
That’s it, isn’t it? Any time I cannot allow myself to feel what I feel and take responsibility for that, I am going to be inclined to make you pay for it. I have to start with me. I have to learn to love the parts of me that I can only see in you.
Thank you for showing up in my world just the way you are. I’m here to be with you..