Note to self, and ultimately, to you, from Charlotte Brontë: "Crying does not indicate that you are weak. From birth, it's been a sign that you're alive."
I loathe - loathe! - public weeping, but that day found me with my arms wrapped around my daughter, crying sad and happy and relieved and cathartic tears, all the tears, streaming down my cheeks so that even my sunnies were no disguise, as we listened to the results of the marriage equality survey amongst a jubilant crowd in Prince Alfred Park.
I told myself it didn't matter, that no one would notice my ugly crying in the middle of thousands of other emotional, cheering, kissing, hugging people.
And then a news reporter stuck a massive, furry microphone and rolling camera in my face.
"We saw you crying," he said, confected compassion written all over his heavily made up face. "What does this result mean to you?”
In my office, in between two comfortable armchairs, atop a little white coffee table, squats a box of Kleenex, the posh kind with the lotion.Next to the table is what a client has dubbed my “bin of tears”. We laughed at her cleverness, and at the simple truth in her words.
People cry in this room.
Young, old, across the binaries and divides, trans* teenagers with more piercings than me, thirty something women, big boofy lawyers inexpensive suits, artists, accountants, queer folk - when people find the courage to let themselves dive deep, sorrow wells up and finds release.
It’s okay, I say, when they occasionally express that same chagrin I felt in the face of the channel 7 camera. You’re safe here. It’s private. My files stay locked.
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path,” Brené Brown tells us in her paradigm-shifting book Daring Greatly.
My hope is that in finding the ability to show me their vulnerability, my clients also find a way to gather that courage up and take it to their inner circles in the outer world, to let themselves be fully seen. This is the wish I whisper to myself as I empty my bin of tears, and prepare to face the outside with courage and vulnerability myself.