I was a calm and quiet child, preferring to disappear into the background. I almost never cried.
I spent much of my early childhood in my own thoughts, rarely sharing them with others. Showing emotion was not part of the equation. I had no idea how.
To put it mildly, I was a balled-up wall of anger waiting to explode.
When I was 19 I moved in with my father and his new family so I could get ready to attend Cal State Northridge to study music. My father was a drummer. And, when asked what I wanted to do with my adult life, you know the question every teenager dreaded: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I clammed up. I had no idea who I was. So, I went with my default answer: I’ll become a drummer.
By the time I went to college at at 19, I had only been playing snare and drum set for three years. Most of the other percussion students had an extra five to six years on me. Can you say INTIMIDATION! And, to boot, I was the only female in the entire percussion program out of 40 students.
I was so scared.
But, I didn’t cry or even act scared. I put on a happy face mask for everyone.
It was my job to make everyone happy and to make sure everyone liked me.
One evening while preparing dinner, my father and I were having a discussion about something. I was draining the pasta in the sink. To be honest, I can’t remember what the heck we were talking about. But I remember how I felt … intimidated, small, stupid.
I do remember one thing he said to me. “You are weak, like your mother.”
You can imagine how I felt after he said that.
I slammed down the colander and basically just swore and yelled and screamed and called him every foul name in the universe. Then I just started bawling my eyes out and ran out of the kitchen and up the stairs to my room.
All of this in front of my entire family, who were totally cheering me on during this explosion. I found out only recently that my dad looked at my stepmom and asked her how he should handle it. She told him, “You go up those stairs, look her in the eye and just listen to everything she has to say. No matter how awful her words are, you have to just stand there and take it.”
My father, who was probably scared out of his wits since I’d never once said boo to anyone up to that point, came upstairs and sat next to me on the bed. He listened to whatever I said, but I remember just crying. From 19 years of not crying, I had a lot of tears stored up. We hugged a lot and became best friends in that moment. I think that was the first time I felt my father’s love for me in a tangible way. I apologized to him for all the horrible names I called him. He apologized for what he had said and for the years that he never once asked how I felt about things. I remember him asking me, “How do you feel now?” I said, “I feel so good. I needed to cry. I needed to release all of my anger.”
That was 25 years ago and just writing about it makes me cry.
And, for the past 25 years, I cry pretty much every day. When I’m sad, when I’m happy, when someone else cries I cry.
I spent last weekend at a conference co-facilitated by Max Simon and Jeffrey Van Dyk with my dear friend Aparna and 200 other entrepreneurs crying. Maybe not complete bawling, but cracking open and releasing tears. I loved it and felt renewed. It was a homecoming.
I’ve rarely found spaces to work on my business and spirituality at the same time. I can hold that sacred space for others, but have not been able to do it for myself.
More than ever I realize my tears are holy. They are the opening, the birthplace of my own vulnerability. When I show someone my tears, it is a gift. And anger is a gift too. Anger is the door to tears, openings and release.
How do you feel when you shown your true feelings?
It is safe for you to show us who you are. It is safe for you to show the world your tears, your anger and all emotions that are stored within you.
Take off the mask and allow us to love YOU deeper than ever before.