Last night I had quite an intense emotional breakdown. It happened because I was incredibly frightened of being alone while my husband went to work today. I just completely panicked. I begged him to stay with me, I got angry when he said he couldn’t, I tried to fight him when he tried to comfort me, and I cried for a long, long time.
When I was all cried out, I started to regain some semblance of composure and to feel more positive. I was still fearful, but I was thinking more rationally. I realised that, perhaps, I could survive the day without him.
My son is 6 months old, and not long ago we moved him into a cot in his own bedroom and began using ‘controlled crying’ techniques with him (for those who don’t know, it includes leaving your child to cry for controlled periods of time, going in to see them at intervals that gradually increase in length, and eventually they settle themselves and fall asleep.) Most of the time, he’s pretty good. He’ll cry a little, but it won’t be too long before he calms down. And at bedtimes he’s even better and goes to sleep without a fuss. However there are some times when it’s a complete nightmare and it takes what feels like forever before he stops his hysterics. These are the times I find most difficult. I hate listening to him cry. He must feel so alone. He must think I’ve abandoned him or that I don’t care.
In a similar way, I was hysterical last night, feeling incredibly alone. I was crying out for help, I was pleading for what I thought I needed to help me get better – i.e. my husband staying with me instead of going to work. But it wasn’t until after I’d calmed down that I realised that even though he couldn’t give me what I wanted, it didn’t mean he doesn’t care. He was giving me what he knew I needed, because only through pushing my limits will I ever become more confident. And throughout all of my panic and my breakdown, he was right there, holding me tight. I was never really alone, even though I felt it. By saying he needed to go to work, he wasn’t abandoning me; he was allowing me to learn for myself. And I’m sure it was agonising for him to see me in such a state, just as it is for me when I leave my son to cry.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that sometimes tears are necessary. Sometimes, life hurts and there’s nothing we can do about it. But after the tears and the hardships pass, I think there’s always something we can take from it, something we can learn from our trials. In my little boy’s case, he’s learning how to get himself off to sleep. For me, it’s taking each day one step and a time and accepting that for now, life is really scary. But it’s okay to be scared, and it’s okay to cry. One day things will be better.