Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher

Tears know the language of our hearts


I violated one of my cardinal rules last night. I cried in public.

Oh don’t worry, I didn’t do the sobbing mess of a puddle kind of tears that run mascara down my cheeks and make everyone rush for the kleenex, or possibly the Atavan. But I did cry. Or at least my eyes welled up and a couple of drops trickled down my cheeks.

It is primordial, this cardinal rule of not letting anyone see I care. It dates back to childhood days when as the youngest of four, my siblings would tease me endlessly about being ‘such a baby’. My siblings liked to tease me. I chattered a lot and asked questions that no one could answer, not that I really expected an answer, I just liked the wonderings. I believed in magic and fairy tales and was, or so they told me, ‘a spoiled brat’. In fact, ‘the brat’ became my nickname until well into my twenties when my mother suggested I might want to quit signing my letters home, “The Brat.”

I didn’t want anyone to know it bothered me. I didn’t want them to see that their words stung. And so I smiled and pretended it was okay. They kept telling me to ‘grow up’, ‘stop being so childish’, to get a life and I wanted desperately to fit in so I created rules for myself that would, I thought, make it possible for me to be part of the crowd. I thought my rules would keep me safe.

Crying was not acceptable and so, along with my rule of not crying in public I created an even bigger, inviolable rule, “Don’t let them see you care.”

Over the years I have learned I don’t need to play by my self-imposed rules. Where once I thought they kept my heart safe, I have learned these rules only keep my heart from beating freely. Challenge is, while my rules no longer serve and protect me, the ‘don’t cry in public’ is a tough one to boot out. When public tears threaten, my critter puffs himself up in fear-based indignation screaming at the top of his lungs that I must “Stop it!” And if that doesn’t work, he convinces me to dive for cover in humor.

The public tears came at Easter dinner last night. Our dear friends Kerry and Howard had invited us to join them for their annual feast and along with C.C.’s daughter, son and his girlfriend, we spent the evening enveloped in their warm hospitality.

Kerry is curious. She wants to know what makes people’s hearts beat freely, what stirs their souls and awakens their dreams. After dinner, she always asks her guests to answer a question. Last night’s was, “What is one significant blessing you’ve experienced since last Easter dinner.”

When TC, C.C’s son shared, I felt the tears start. And they just kept threatening to flow.

Such love. Such appreciation, gratitude, beauty, vulnerability.

It was all there at the dinner table and I was in awe and humbled by the heartfelt sharing of everyone.

And then, C.C. shared.

He was sitting right beside me and I felt his love embrace me. I felt myself wrapped up in caring and I just wanted to cry.

Instead, when it was my turn next, I said, “C.C. He’s my greatest blessing since last Easter. End of story.”

And I smiled.

And then I remembered, I am safe. I am okay. I am loved.

And I took a breath.

“Actually, the greatest blessing is learning to trust in love. To know that ‘disagreement does not equal rejection’ is true. That C.C. and I can disagree, argue, fight even, and it’s not the end of the world. It isn’t all over, in fact, it is our capacity to move through our disagreements that strengthens and deepens our love.”

And a tear fell.

They do that when confronted by truth. They fall. Gently. Peacefully. Joyfully.

Tears know the language of our hearts. Tears know the words our hearts cannot speak. Tears know our truth.

Once upon a time, I hid my tears because I didn’t want anyone to know I cared. I didn’t want them to know that I didn’t understand what they were saying or why it hurt my heart. I didn’t believe it was okay for my heart to hurt, or that I had the right to speak up when it did so I hid my confusion behind my smile and laughter.

Today I know, my heart only hurts when I try to pretend I don’t care.

Today, I want people to know I care, deeply. And so, I let my tears fall because I  know my tears are perfectly okay to express the joy and gratitude that flows like an endless river of love streaming from my heart.

Today I know, when I am moved to tears by the beauty of the hearts beating all around me, it is the greatest blessing of all.

Author: Louise Gallagher

I believe in wonder. I believe we are all magnificent beings of divine beauty. I believe we can make a difference in this world, through every act, word, thought. I believe we create ripples with everything we do and say and want to inspire everyone to use their ripple to create a better world for everyone. I'm grateful you're here.

20 thoughts on “Tears know the language of our hearts

  1. Beautiful and sooo eloquent! !! Louise , I love reading your posts,and always am so excited to get the email with your latest post!!


  2. Tears know our truth. Beautiful, Louise dear. Have joyous week.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Today I know, my heart only hurts when I try to pretend I don’t care. Wow. Just Wow.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I try to not cry in public places. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s not. Why do we feel we have to hide our emotions? Aren’t emotions what make us human?


  5. I wish we were together right now because you would see the tears streaming from my face!! It is amazing the things we did to try to fit into a family unit. I am so happy that you and I no longer act in ways that are not authentic to our souls so that we can fit in to something that has trouble with authenticity! I am so happy for you that you had that beautiful understanding ❤ My experience was totally different yesterday…but just as powerful. I faced the family bully and I didn't cower!! Keep on keeping on Louise….there is so much love for us to experience!!! Many blessings my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I see all your comments are from women who ‘relate’ to your story.

    As a male in our society, ‘get over yourselves!’

    How do boys grow into men who don’t cry, hide when they cry, blow their noses … or ‘have something in their eye’ when they cry. I think we live in a world where it is OK for women of all ages to sniffle, cry or bawl with impunity.

    BUT, let a man well up …. and it isn’t pretty.

    We live in a society where our vulnerability is hidden [Brene Brown talks about this in one of her videos] … and we keep it hidden. It is real, no imagined. Our ability to function, be respected by peers and to let our emotions be shown among men is severely limited.

    Sure, we are all allowed to well up at pivotal moments in non-chickflick movies and when tributes to Nelson Mandela types are given – but otherwise, we need to keep stoic. Why? Because of what people think. Because of what other men think and how we will be treated if we show our ‘girly-side’.

    You girls … you have it so easy.

    You can cry, or write about crying, and you get an outpouring of support from people who are around you – and from complete strangers who applaud you for your courage.

    If you are a man, it is unlikely man women would respond in that wan and ABSOLUTELY unlikely any men would respond in that fashion. Men – not teenage jocks or bullies – don’t cry in our society. We don’t do it in front of strangers. We don’t do it in front of our buddies. We don’t do it in front of our women. We might at a funeral of a close friend, mentor or family member … but even then/there, we ‘have something in our eye’ or blow our nose.

    And happy tears? … for men, that would be a whole other realm for which we might be called names or be treated as gay – and I don’t mean happy gay.

    Men who cry, when we cry, hide it or mask it the best we can. And we don’t talk about it. I don’t know if that makes us more, or less, evolved than women … or if we are basically about the same …



    Liked by 1 person

    • I think what you wrote is very sad Mark. It speaks strongly to me of feelings of being unheard, unseen, unknown. I don’t think it’s about being evolved, I think it’s about culturalization and accepted male/female roles. One thing I have seen through coaching at Choices is how powerful men’s tears are, and how, when they learn to express them there is a whole new world of possibility, of light, of love that opens up for them — it is incredibly powerful for men, and for women, to witness a man’s tears.



  7. I love this eloquent post for so many reasons ~ I love that you let go of the crying limitations from your mind and that you allowed the tears to fall freely, to feel the gratitude of being loved as you deserve to be loved. I admire all that you have faced and continue to help others to shine as you do. I love how you connect with us all through your blog, making each and every moment count. I love that you embraced the tears with compassion for yourself and with inspiration to all the rest of us who tried to shield ourselves from hurt with the ‘Id don’t care’ facade. I find tears soothing, healing and I believe there’s a strength in being vulnerable. ♥ I applaud you as always Louise! Shine On! ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Yvonne! There is so much strength in being vulnerable. I saw it at the dinner table — how everyone felt close and connected, how we all felt seen and heard and loved. It was beautiful. And thank you! I applaud you too and your gift of shining brightly. ❤


  8. Thank you. As someone trying to learn that it’s safe to let tears fall, your words are a blessing and a light in this dark place.xx

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh yeah I so get this, sometimes it seems like I care too much

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You are absolutely right Louise..tears express a myriad emotions!
    I have always considered tears to be a weakness, always tried to hide them from the world to highlight my strength but I let them flow spontaneously in shower as they know they are just a part of flowing water…not my weakness!

    I am sharing an excerpt from my poem:

    The solace of holding tears,
    Sharpened the skill of my emotions
    To display them only to the mirror
    And give that shallow smile to my image…

    Liked by 1 person

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