The saying “she wears her heart on her sleeve” is wasted on me. I wear my heart everywhere. I am a crier. I always have been. My mother used to tell and retell the story of when I was three and she found me sitting silently on the front porch with tears pouring down my red, blotchy cheeks. She stroked my hair and wiped each stray tear. She asked me what had moved me to tears on such a beautiful day. What moved me to cry? I told her I was in love  with the green leaves on the trees and I was feeling so bad for them because when the trees changed color, they would fall to the ground and die. I was mourning the life of leaves that would eventually be lost as the temperatures plummeted. It may have been then, that day while sitting with my mom, that I realized how much emotion I held inside.

When I was in kindergarten, I had an embarrassing bathroom incident at school.  The teacher found me crying in the bathroom, trying to write a note that said, “I am sorry” on it to the janitor.  She asked what I was sorry for and why was I writing a note. I told her I felt bad for the janitor that had to clean up the mess. She tried to stifle a giggle and told me it was his job to clean up messes. Missing the fact that she was trying to make me feel better, I said, “He is probably going to be stuck here late cleaning this up and his supper is going to get cold.”

In sixth grade, when a friend lost her beloved dog, my heart broke for her. I made the mistake of asking how he died. She said her dad accidentally hit the dog when he was backing out of the driveway and ran over his leg. The dog developed an infection and the vet couldn’t make him better. I cried myself to sleep that night. I rubbed my leg absentmindedly for two weeks. Numerous adults asked me if I was hurt—I said not that I know of.  Mrs. G, my voice teacher, called my mom in after my lesson because she worried I wasn’t telling her the whole truth of an injury to my leg. My mom realized all that leg rubbing was me trying to somehow heal the dog’s leg.

These times when I was filled with emotion, sometimes even sadness, didn’t end.  They just evolved. Now, when I feel my heart flutter, when my throat tightens, when my finger tips tingle, I no longer believe a significant medical anomaly is present. I am able to acknowledge that I am overwhelmed with emotion. Real, true, overwhelming emotions. Heartache. Regret. Joy.  Remorse. Jealousy. Happiness. Every single emotion is meant to be felt. Some savored and revisited. Some processed quickly so that they can be released. What I have realized is that I, personally, just hold onto it all. All of the emotions are held tightly in my grasp, so tightly my knuckles turn white.  The feeling—the processing—I am great at. The letting go is something I have yet to be able to experience fully.

A book. A scent. A rainfall. A flower.  Sometimes it’s even how blue the water is or how green the evergreens are when they blow violently in the wind.  My memories of days gone by are held within my five senses. I am the person that can be brought to a puddle of joyful tears over the smell of a cologne. I am the person that cried while watching a movie the other night, remembering the first time I had heard the theme song. I am the person that bought six blankets trying to replicate the feeling of a rough car trunk blanket. They all just didn’t feel right when I held them between my thumb and forefinger.

I am okay with crying in public. I am not an attractive crier, but my tears usually end in bouts of laughter which are often times contagious. Group crying is always a riot.  And when I say “riot” I mean awkward and amazing at the same time. In these past 25 years, I have come to welcome the tears when they come. It isn’t if, but when.  The tears are cleansing. They wash me clean. They remove a lot of the immediate feelings that I have about a situation. Sometimes, the tears serve as a salve. They start the healing process on a open wound. They repair. They restore.

I cried earlier today, over a memory I hold dear. A memory that only one other person knows about, and that person probably has never shared that memory with anyone else. I miss them. I miss the times we shared. And I love that this memory makes me so amazingly joy-filled that a release of tears warms my heart even more. There isn’t anything wrong with these tears, especially when then help you move forward. I was able to send a text with well wishes this morning—something I wouldn’t have been able to do yesterday. This morning’s tears helped me understand that I was able to let go. That I should let go. Maybe just a little bit. And letting go is exactly what did. I no longer felt the need to white knuckle it as I held it all in. Those tears released me. That text sent.  I end this day content.

Whether it is something from days gone by or something present, something tangible today, I will welcome the tears each situation produces from this day forward.  Welcome them because tears are cleansing. Healing. They are able to repair and restore.  Tears have become a favored friend. No longer afraid to express emotion, those tears are the easiest and sometimes most meaningful release.


Kelli J Gavin lives in Carver, Minnesota with Josh, her husband of 22 years and two crazy kids. She is a Professional Organizer with Home & Life Organization and sells Lovely Jewelry. She enjoys writing, reading, swimming, and spending time with family and friends. She abhors walks on the beach (sand in places no one wishes sand to be), candle lit dinners, (can’t see) and the idea of cooking two nights in a row (no thank you).Check out Kelli J Gavin on Twitter: @KelliJGavin and her blog:

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