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  • Writer's pictureMelissa

Stemming the Flow

Updated: Feb 20, 2022

The air around me, and every pore of my body, is loaded with emotion. There are waves rushing through my chest, the heat rises up my face and I’m actually feeling it. It took months of stripping to get to this point.

Hundreds of alarm bells start to sound. Within seconds, an entire security network is activated, effectively shutting down my sympathetic nervous system. I swallow and turn to stone and wonder why my therapist is looking at me. Did I miss something?

The room is full of distractions. Someone’s talking in the next room. And is this book here new in the collection? And is Hold Me Tight in the same spot every week because she wants me to see it enough times until I read it? And those shoes are quite pretty. Are they new? Oh and it’s too late in the session to cry anyhow. Okay let me get myself outta here.

And yet. Sometimes I wish I could just let it all go and cry. To release that feeling in front of this very empathic witness. To let all the condensation holding me captive precipitate and make me a whole bunch of pounds lighter.


I’m not even sure it’s legit.

I’m not confident my stuff is worthy of tears.

And most of all, I am so not crying in front of another human being, certainly not one who is so closely focused on me.


Do people actually do that, cry in session?

Are people not on guard? Do they let their bodies heave with sobs?

Do they — gulp — blubber and snivel and whimper noisily?

Do they sniffle, sniffle, sniffle and then help themselves to tissue after tissue to stem the flow?

Do they let their face contort into hideousness itself in front of another human being?

Do they let their mascara drip-drip-drip leaving marks competing with the Trail of Tears?

Are they not afraid that their poker-faced witness is telling herself to keep her face neutral despite the nausea she’s feeling at the sight?

Does anyone really do that? Or is the tissue box just some cool prop?

Did you ever cry in session?

Or do you have the secret to a no-mess method of precipitating all that tension?

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