Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Sometimes You Just Need to Curl up in the Fetal Position and Cry

 

This was some of the best advice I’ve ever heard. After my husband commissioned to the army, we moved to Southern Georgia where he received his leadership training in the jungle and I received mine at soirees.

One night we had a Q & A with the wives of senior officers, hosted by the wife of the Command Sergeant Major; the senior ranking non-commissioned officer of the installation responsible for tens of thousands of soldiers. She had almost two decades of experience, and of all the stories and wisdom she could share, there was only one she made a point to tell.

Back in the early 2000s, right after the war began and conflicts were raging, her husband, like so many, had little notice before deploying for combat to the Middle East. He was nearing the end of his 18-month stent when she received the call that he was not coming home as planned, and would be staying out a few more months, with no timeline of when he would return.

The moment she hung up the phone, her reaction was simple; crawl into bed – curl up in the fetal position – and cry.

“Cry, cry, cry.” She said that’s all you can do at that point. “But”, she counseled, “you don’t let anyone see and when you’re done, you just have to pick yourself up and keep going.”

I’ve thought about this advice a lot since that night as there are three great lessons to learn:

1) The obvious: it’s ok to grieve, it’s ok to breakdown, to be scared, sad, and crushed. It’s not just ok – it’s necessary – to let it out, even in the most humble and primitive manner. Identify what you need; find your bed, figure out your fetal position, then let the emotions loose – and enjoy the catharsis.

2) But be careful where and when you let it out. We live in a time where the more open, honest and raw you are, the more attention you garner. But there is wisdom in being selective about who you invite in. This woman was talking specifically about the other spouses in her husband’s unit she was responsible for, but mostly, her kids. She needed to hold herself together to brace for their breakdowns.

This is true, especially in times like these. Our kids need our strength. This doesn’t mean you have to be fake or dishonest, but they’re still kids; whether they say it or even realize it they look to you. They need parents who are going to be the adults in the room, parents who are capable, parents who lead with strength and stability.

3) Pick yourself up and keep going. Put the pieces back together, the best you can, and just keep moving forward, one step at a time. We cannot live in the emotions; we cannot dwell on the disappointment or fear. We must do life as usual; the best we can. Grieve for what is out of your control – then let it go. Focus on your sphere of control and work within that. It will get easier.

I’ve been told most of my life how strong a woman I am. While I am one who always appreciates the flattery, I must say I have had my fair share of these ‘curl up and cry’ moments. It is not a sign of weakness to admit you’ve reached your breaking point. It’s what you do after you break that matters. (This is where I shine.)

And if you have to crawl back in that bed a few more times, go right on ahead. You can always pick yourself up tomorrow.

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  1. Mark Camp Member

    Thanks, Ajalon, Triple Like. Looks like you’re one of the SWoR!

    • #1
    • March 25, 2020, at 6:37 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  2. Stina Member

    If its particularly difficult, put on a movie with crying parts, sob in the open, and blame the movie.

    • #2
    • March 25, 2020, at 6:46 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  3. ShaunaHunt Coolidge

    Thanks again!

    • #3
    • March 25, 2020, at 7:25 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  4. EB Thatcher
    EB

    Great advice!

    • #4
    • March 25, 2020, at 7:41 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  5. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    At work I tell people it’s time to crawl under my desk and whimper. Of course I never actually do it, but it gives them the right idea. 

    • #5
    • March 25, 2020, at 9:18 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  6. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Ajalon J. Stapley: You can always pick yourself up tomorrow.

    That’s the only good advice Scarlett O’Hara is good for:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4SGgRl14HY

    • #6
    • March 26, 2020, at 6:12 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  7. Skyler Coolidge

    Nah. Curling up in a fetal position and crying is what women and children do. It is neither necessary, laudatory, nor excusable for a man to do so. It is the opposite of being a man. Or an adult, for that matter.

    • #7
    • March 26, 2020, at 11:22 AM PDT
    • Like
    • This comment has been edited.
  8. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Nah. Curling up in a fetal position and crying is what women and children do. It is neither necessary, laudatory, nor excusable for a man to do so. It is the opposite of being a man. Or an adult, for that matter.

    Always with the negative waves Moriarty! Always with the negative waves!

    • #8
    • March 26, 2020, at 12:46 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  9. Roderic Coolidge

    Thanks for sharing that.

    • #9
    • March 26, 2020, at 2:32 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  10. jeannebodine Member

    Is it wrong that I cried like a baby reading this post? Thank you so much for expressing this so beautifully.

    I can only cry in the evening after I put my husband to bed because my husband can’t bear to see me sad. I need be sunny and optimistic around him, always smiling and laughing. Since we had a bedroom and bathroom built on the first floor, I go down the basement at night and lie on cold, cement floor, sobbing my heart out for 20 minutes or so.

    We recently had a new railing put on the basement stairs made of rough hewn oak. When I get up off the floor and climb the stairs, I hold tight onto the railing visualizing that I’m holding up one end of the Lord’s cross while He lifts the bulk of weight for me. This is of tremendous comfort and prepares me for whatever the next day brings.

    • #10
    • March 26, 2020, at 2:47 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  11. Ajalon J. Stapley Coolidge
    Ajalon J. Stapley

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Thanks, Ajalon, Triple Like. Looks like you’re one of the SWoR!

    Thanks @markcamp! Although I do not know what SWoR is…

    • #11
    • March 26, 2020, at 4:48 PM PDT
    • Like
  12. Ajalon J. Stapley Coolidge
    Ajalon J. Stapley

    Stina (View Comment):

    If its particularly difficult, put on a movie with crying parts, sob in the open, and blame the movie.

    Oh I’ve done that. Had a sad movie marathon as an excuse to let myself cry and be sad. Good idea @cm

    • #12
    • March 26, 2020, at 4:48 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  13. EB Thatcher
    EB

    I read this a few years ago:

    “Research has found that in addition to being self-soothing, shedding emotional tears releases oxytocin and endorphins. These chemicals make people feel good and may also ease both physical and emotional pain. In this way, crying can help reduce pain and promote a sense of well-being.”

     

    • #13
    • March 26, 2020, at 7:20 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  14. Skyler Coolidge

    EB (View Comment):

    I read this a few years ago:

    “Research has found that in addition to being self-soothing, shedding emotional tears releases oxytocin and endorphins. These chemicals make people feel good and may also ease both physical and emotional pain. In this way, crying can help reduce pain and promote a sense of well-being.”

     

    Yes, so does cocaine and heroin. It doesn’t make it right. There are better ways to enjoy oxytocin and endorphins.

    • #14
    • March 26, 2020, at 8:44 PM PDT
    • Like
  15. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Ajalon J. Stapley (View Comment):
    SWoR

    Strong Women of Ricochet

    • #15
    • March 27, 2020, at 2:30 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  16. EB Thatcher
    EB

    Skyler (View Comment):
    Yes, so does cocaine and heroin. It doesn’t make it right. There are better ways to enjoy oxytocin and endorphins.

    ?????????

    • #16
    • March 27, 2020, at 5:32 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  17. jeannebodine Member

    EB

    Skyler (View Comment):
    Yes, so does cocaine and heroin. It doesn’t make it right. There are better ways to enjoy oxytocin and endorphins.

    ?????????

    Ignore Internet tough guys, they’re a “special” breed that often taint thoughtful discussions. Still, it’s surprising that that someone would target the very personal subject of human reactions and emotions to (sometimes unspeakable) pain but here we are.

    • #17
    • March 27, 2020, at 8:47 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  18. Skyler Coolidge

    jeannebodine (View Comment):

    EB

    Skyler (View Comment):
    Yes, so does cocaine and heroin. It doesn’t make it right. There are better ways to enjoy oxytocin and endorphins.

    ?????????

    Ignore Internet tough guys, they’re a “special” breed that often taint thoughtful discussions. Still, it’s surprising that that someone would target the very personal subject of human reactions and emotions to (sometimes unspeakable) pain but here we are.

    There’s nothing “thoughtful” about this discussion. There’s nothing “tough” about behaving like an adult. I’m not going to join the new age, nihilistic, victim status, pity me party and pretend that this is okay. Curling up in a ball to bawl is a sign of pathetic weakness and instability. Grow up, take care of yourself and your children if you have any, and get on with your life. If you have a moment of weakness and you do curl up in a ball and bawl, for goodness sake, recognize it for the period of weakness that it was, forgive yourself, and try not to do it again. It’s pathetic for adults to behave that way. This is what we teach children they shouldn’t do.

    • #18
    • March 27, 2020, at 10:11 AM PDT
    • Like
    • This comment has been edited.
  19. jeannebodine Member

    Skyler

    jeannebodine (View Comment):

    EB

    Skyler (View Comment):
    Yes, so does cocaine and heroin. It doesn’t make it right. There are better ways to enjoy oxytocin and endorphins.

    ?????????

    Ignore Internet tough guys, they’re a “special” breed that often taint thoughtful discussions. Still, it’s surprising that that someone would target the very personal subject of human reactions and emotions to (sometimes unspeakable) pain but here we are.

    There’s nothing “thoughtful” about this discussion. There’s nothing “tough” about behaving like an adult. I’m not going to join the new age, nihilistic, victim status, pity me party and pretend that this is okay. Curling up in a ball to bawl is a sign of pathetic weakness and instability. Grow up, take care of yourself and your children if you have any, and get on with your life. If you have a moment of weakness and you do curl up in a ball and bawl, for goodness sake, recognize it for the period of weakness that it was, forgive yourself, and try not to do it again. It’s pathetic for adults to behave that way. This is what we teach children they shouldn’t do.

    Well then, tough guy, I hope you never have to go through what I go through every day. I am not a victim nor am I weak or unstable. People do what they do in order to cope so that they do what needs to be done. They’re called coping mechanisms and are effective and essential in dealing with very difficult situations. No, we never had any children even though we desperately wanted them but if I had, I’d have taught them the things my mother, her mother and all the mothers before them did: there are times you need to deal with. release your emotions and after that, you pick yourself and go on. That is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of a person who learns how to address their own emotions effectively, to process them without letting them bottle up so that they can move on.

    Of course, this is not how everyone deals with bad situations or emotions, but that the fact that you feel the need to cruelly disparage people who find it effective is telling. Maybe some self-examination of yourself is in order.

    • #19
    • March 27, 2020, at 11:44 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  20. Skyler Coolidge

    jeannebodine (View Comment):
    Of course, this is not how everyone deals with bad situations or emotions, but that the fact that you feel the need to cruelly disparage people who find it effective is telling. Maybe some self-examination of yourself is in order.

    I’m not disparaging you except to suggest that there is a better way. Be a grown up. It helps a lot if you can think of yourself as one. That’s not disparagement, that’s encouragement. I encourage you to ignore what our dominant culture tells you is okay, and make yourself into sterner stuff.

    • #20
    • March 27, 2020, at 11:53 AM PDT
    • Like