Crying in the closet. I always end up back in the same place.


Over the last weekend I ended up in a familiar place. When I was little and living with my grandmother, her closet was an extraordinary place. I would sit in there for hours opening boxes and going through the dresser she had in there. The closet was miraculous and full of amazing discoveries from the past. Hats, and dresses and a pair of opera glasses. Lots of things for a kid to pour over. Over the years as I got a bit older, when I would visit her over the summer, I always gravitated back to that closet. It was one of my favorite places on earth and she let me dig around in there as much as I wanted.

fast forward to living with my mother and step father. It wasn’t enough to hide in my room, it wasn’t far enough from my life in that house. So, enter the closet. I would go in closet and stay in there until either called for or until my mother would burst into my room and open the door and then scream at me for being in a closet. I actually remember that I was 10 years old and sitting in a closet the first time I decided to kill myself.

Good times.

You would think that as an adult a closet would be, well, childish. But this past weekend I felt an overwhelming urge to get in there. I took a device that played mp3’s and I turned the light off and just sat there, not quite sure what I was doing in there.

Then I started crying. Yes, me. I cried. And it sucked. Various thoughts passed through my head. At many points it was like my grandmother’s closet was super-imposed on my closet. I could see her clothes hanging there and her hat boxes stacked on the floor. I could see that big dresser looming in front of me and I just dried harder.

I will say that crying for over half an hour to forty-five minutes is freaking exhausting. Those dips and peaks I’ve been told about didn’t come. It was just straight crying.

Besides my grandmother, I thought about all the people in my life who don’t love me. Perhaps because she loved me so much. My mother. My biological father. My step-father (of course you can’t expect a step-parent to love you, can you?). It just weighed on me how very unlovable I am.

Then came the pity party. Fun!

I thought about how alone I am (not here, I mean in real life). I don’t talk about my past with anyone and I don’t talk about anything I deal with anyone except my therapist, not even my husband. It simultaneously occurred to me that this situation is also my fault though. Yes, I’ve been burned by countless people I thought were my friends, so I’m gun-shy, but it’s more than that.

I sat there and realized that I feel quite incapable of sharing my thoughts and feeling s and experiences with people in my life, including my husband. He would be very supportive if I let him be but I also find the concept incredibly distasteful.

I don’t want sad looks and “I’m sorry’s” from people. Let me share a story that just happened before my crying in the closet thing.

I was at a religious service and I had gone to bathroom to blow my nose (TMI? lol). I was on my way back to my seat when I saw a woman in my congregation walking past me and she had tears streaming down her face. I turned around and followed her back to the bathroom and asked her what was wrong. She began to tell me and she started crying in earnest. I put my arms around her and let her cry until she was able to speak again. I listened to what was happening and from time to time she would start to cry again. I would again hold her for a while until she was ok. After it was all said and done she seemed better and we returned to the auditorium.

She sent me a card a day later to say thank you which was unnecessary as I think any human being would have done what I did. Jeez, what was the point of this story? Oh! I remember. Ok so in thinking about myself later after the crying jag, I shared with my therapist that I don’t have a problem doing that for people but when I say something about my life it sounds like whining and I can’t tolerate that. I can’t tolerate me crying in front of someone and I can’t tolerate saying things that could possibly engender sympathy from someone. I just can’t.

So I’m in a quandary. I feel alone and yet I’m alone because of me.

Hmmm. This post has been self-serving enough I think.

 

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About CimmarianInk

Abuse Survivor Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder PTSD and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) also known as Multiple Personalities
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23 Responses to Crying in the closet. I always end up back in the same place.

  1. Vivid says:

    (((((hugs))))) lovely lady.

    Honestly, I don’t think you’ve brought any of this on yourself. Opening up – even to the people you’re closest too – is f**king hard. My partner only knows about virtually any of what happened to me because I let him read stuff that I wrote about it. Aside from my therapist, that’s the only reason anyone knows anything.

    If you think about it, your grandmother was the only person that really allowed you to be you when you were a child. It’s hardly surprising that you were silent by default, and it’s hard to break out of that, especially when it’s unconscious.

    You are a good person and you deserve a good life. You’ve done nothing wrong. The thing in church? To me, that proves that you’re lovely; I can’t cry in front of anyone either, but I also freak out when others cry in front of me. I’m scared of it. And you’re not…my take on this is that it proves your emotional strength 🙂

    I wish I could be there for you in person, but since I can’t be, you know at least that I’m always here for you.

    (((hugs))) and love.

    Take care

    Viv x

    • CimmarianInk says:

      Viv, you are so awesome. That was incredibly kind and I really appreciate the faith you have in my character. My grandmother was exactly as you described. My mother required certain behavior and crying was not one of them. She hit me once for crying when I was a child.

      Thank you for being here. It means a lot.

      Hugs right back to you, you fantastic person!

  2. meredith says:

    Aw, shit;

    You know what really sucks about this? Attachment problems come from… guess where? Home. Babies and kids have to be taught it’s okay to be attached, in need, vulnerable, sad, happy, scared, excited… and hold hands with a friend when she’s crying in the bathroom. This is where narcissistic parents do double damage to their kids. Every kid needs their parent to be their advocate and not only let their child feel safe when they’re vulnerable, but sane, as well.

    Your mom treated you as if you were doing something wrong to need safety, CI. To cry is like a criminally wrong thing to do, given the way you grew up. Why on earth would you cry as a grown up? Who taught you how to cry safely?

    I’m not on you in any way. Please don’t misunderstand me. I think you have a tender heart, and that it’s your nature to reach out to hurt people. You weren’t nurtured, though, to reach when you were hurt… and in fact, you were cued to believe that being vulnerable would cost you plenty.

    I stopped crying, once. It took me years and years before I cried after that. I could cry for others in a movie by the time I was almost thirty. I cried myself sick when I saw The Color Purple. That was the first cry of my adult life. I could cry because I recognized what I saw, and I saw wrong way, way, way beyond the film, itself. But I couldn’t cry for me, because what did I have to cry about, anyway?

    This is really a touching post, CI. I’m glad you sat in your closet with your headphones. No one can take your grandmother from you. Now, you know it. Don’t assume that things will give you comfort, because they won’t. But things will come alive in the most unusual moments for you, too. They’ll be exactly the way you need, but you’ll never have to pack or hoard an experience. And your mother will never be able to steal the tangible, loving experience that she sees tied up in stuff. What a shame.

    You are the loveliest treasure of all. No one can take that away from you. 😉

    • CimmarianInk says:

      Meredith your words were deeps and very insightful. You nailed so many points that are absolutely true it was like you saw my life.

      As I told Viv, when I was little my mother hit me because I was crying. It’s a very vivid memory and it showed me that it was not safe to cry in front of her. There were times when I couldn’t control myself as a child as far as crying and she would call my grandmother on the phone long distance to deal with me. My grandmother could calm me down and talk me through it until I could finally breathe and stop crying. If I hadn’t had her…well it wouldn’t have been good.

      I couldn’t believe that you had the same experience I did with The Color Purple! I actually can’t watch that film anymore I see my family history all throughout, especially being black and from the South. I totally understand what you mean about seeing into that movie.

      I’m trying to remember that my mother can’t take my relationship with my grandmother away. I think that the horror of finding her body when she died broke something in me when it comes to her and makes it even more painful.

      Thank you for your words, I really appreciated it. Much love to you dear lady. 🙂

      • Dani says:

        my grandmother was my rock…. I found her dead one day too…. I cry in my closet as well…. and I am 30 years old with 3 kids.

      • CimmarianInk says:

        Dani, I’m very sorry that you’re a member of a terrible club no one wants to be in. I hope the blog helps in some way. Take care.

  3. Freasha1964 says:

    I am SO happy that you cried. It is a purifying experience. I know too much crying, like I did several times a day a few years ago, is hard. And for how long you cried, that would be exhausting. Of course you are too conflicted about crying in front of your mother to be able to cry and be with someone at the same time. I am so proud of you that you held that lady at the service and let her cry it out. For you, for now, crying alone is a step forward. I hope some day someone will hold you while you cry. This is all my take on what you wrote, not fact.

    I feel pretty sure through the dolls that you are acting out things that happened to you. A child can’t know about any of those things innately.

    I hope you can share a little more with your husband, if you feel comfortable.

    I know you are a wonderful, caring person.

    My life is a blur, or I would write more.

    • CimmarianInk says:

      Freasha honey, you know my thoughts are very much with you right now. Thank you for caring so much and talking to me. You and my therapist both were quite happy about the crying. 😉

      The doll thing is difficult to accept. Not anything you guys have said but accepting it within myself. The constant thought that I’m a giant liar is a big barrier.

      Please, please take care of you ok? Freasha is amazing and I really like her so be good to her. 🙂

  4. castorgirl says:

    Hi CI,

    I’m so glad that you had your grandmother there for you when you were growing up. Every time you mention her, you can tell the warmth within your words 🙂

    As others have mentioned, crying is a huge safety issue… It’s such an emotionally vulnerable thing to do; and if our early experiences of crying involved being criticised, or abused because of those tears, it’s no wonder we struggle with it today. It takes time and healing to undo those negative associations.

    I really liked how you went into your closet, put the earplug in, and turned off the light… Because of the relative safety you experienced in closets in the past, it sounds like a really good starting point for finding safety when expressing emotions in the present…

    The story you tell of supporting someone at the service… That shows what a caring, empathetic person you really are 🙂

    Take care of yourself,
    CG

    • CimmarianInk says:

      You’re very kind CG.

      I think the problem is that people don’t think adults should be hiding in closets when they cry. Who knew?

      • meredith says:

        Well, I beg to differ on your belief that people don’t think it’s okay to cry in the closet. I can’t tell you how many moms talked about sitting in their closets to cry. It’s actually understood that all women are entitled to cry in the closet. It’s a very personal, private space. I used to.

  5. meredith says:

    wow…. so DID NOT intend to sound so snotty in this comment. sorry. I really did used to have a lot of coffee over conversations with friends and acquaintances about crying in the closet… but I’m sure I could have said it better. 😛

    • CimmarianInk says:

      I never thought it was supposed to be snotty 😉 All those poor woman having to go into closets everywhere just to cry…that sounds sad.

      • meredith says:

        Well… I think we’re socialized to keep our tears to ourselves. Somehow, I think there’s an unspoken expectation that humans instinctively know how to navigate adult life (DNA? who knows) and do it with flair. It’s a tough expectation to meet, and when you realize you don’t know it all but somehow you should have known better than to do all the things you’re sure you’re doing wrong because “good” people always know what to do… you need a small place to fall apart all the way before going back into the mix to lead on… go forward… go into… go beyond… but not get too far ahead of the pack. And, of course… never fall behind///\\\\or question, or doubt. Good, Christian women just don’t.

        Man, what a job! My least favorite religion to be: Lutheran. OMG

      • CimmarianInk says:

        It’s a sad state for people to feel like tears in front of people are unacceptable.

  6. A says:

    I am going through a similar state, I can listen to other’s problems and help them. But when it comes to me I close up find somewhere to hide (usually a closet too) a listen to music. Although since coming to college and having to live in the dorms I can’t find my place to escape. Even right now I’m having a panic attack because where I thought to could go turns out that I spend to much time there.

    • CimmarianInk says:

      Hi A,

      I’m sorry you’ve lost your safe place. I’ve found that sometimes I have to create a place whenever possible and if that can’t happen then I make one in my head. 🙂

      • A says:

        thanks. Usually it helps but when people are around it is hard. Thank you for sharing your story always, it help me and let me understand that they are people who feel similar to the way I do.

      • CimmarianInk says:

        Hi A,

        I understand, it’s always nice to hear you’re not alone.

  7. Sunny says:

    Thank you for your story. My son (17) has always “hid” in his closet to cry or under his bed when he was little. We had no idea that he was bipolar it was just normal….not that crying in a closet alone brought us to therapy! But thank you again, It is nice to know that he isn’t the only one that feels this way.

  8. Thank you so much for writing this. I googled “child hiding in closet crying” and came across your post. I’m trying to figure out why I used to do that so much. I sometimes still crawl into closets and hide when everything becomes too much. I identified with so much of what you wrote and reading this brought me a lot of clarity. Thank you again and best wishes.

    • CimmarianInk says:

      You’re very welcome, even though I wish of course that didn’t have to. I guess it’s at least good to have a place to go that feels safe enough to cry? Sure, let’s go with that!

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