Archive for December 14th, 2011

On my blog entry entitled In a Weird Place Today, a reader posted the following comment:

I need some help on how to get over being tough about all the abuse. I know it all happenned but I can’t cry for all the horrible things that happenned. My uncle was the abuser but my parents drilled into us kids be tough and brush of the hurt feelings and move on with life. I can’t move on with life because I can’t get past my feelings. My parents buried the abuse and never would talk about it. I was raped and tighted up at the age of 8 plus more that I won’t go into to. I don’t sleep when actually I’m a wreck. I need some help from other survivors. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. My therapist is great and working with me on this but I want to express my saddness and pain. ~ JMM

The inability to cry is common for child abuse survivors. Some child abuse survivors are unable to cry at all. (Side note – Child abuse survivors who are unable to cry for any reason seem to be more vulnerable to cutting and burning as forms of self-injury – they cut or burn their emotions onto their body since they cannot express them in any other way.) Other child abuse survivors are able to cry but not in connection with the trauma that pains them the most.

I fall under the second category. I have always had a lot of dissociated sadness. I used to be able to cry at the drop of a hat. I would cry at commercials and at the end of any movie with a touching soundtrack. However, when dealing with my most traumatizing memories, such as when my dog was slaughtered in front of me , I could not cry. I could tell you exactly what happened, but I was unable to shed one tear over it.

Because I could not cry, I felt a heavy weight on my chest whenever I thought about my dog. I tried and tried to get myself to cry but couldn’t. Then, I finally managed to muster up a single tear, and it was a huge relief. Just that one tear washed out an enormous amount of pain. Later, I was able to connect the emotions back to the memory and cry for my dog while listening to a sad song. Crying helped me wash the pain away. I cannot listen to that song without grieving for my dog.

What worked for me was to put myself into a position where I would shed tears and then switch gears. For example, I would watch a movie that I knew would make me cry. Once I was crying for the characters, I would think about something sad that happened to me. In time, I managed to reconnect the tears with the memories.

I am not sure how to start the process of crying if you are unable to cry under any circumstances. Perhaps some readers who have been in that situation can share some ideas.

Related topic:

Connecting the Emotion Back to the Source

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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