Permission to be a Woman

Over the weekend, I went to a family gathering and met a couple and their daughter for the first time. While sitting at the table conversing, their 8-year-old little girl came from upstairs to tell her parents the other girls she was playing with were not being nice to her, saying things like they didn’t want to be her friend anymore and then she began crying when she said one of the girls had slapped her. Errr! Put the needle back on the record!

I was sitting next to the mother hearing bits and pieces of the discussion and what really threw me overboard was when the girl’s father, who seemed uncomfortable with her crying, asked her, “Well, did it hurt?” I thought, “What?!” Was he insinuating, “If it didn’t hurt enough or leave a mark on you, then hush up and take it like a man.” Was this his idea of tough love? I didn’t hear if the mother said anything about the slap, but that comment didn’t sound good to me. I don’t believe they didn’t care about their daughter, but it didn’t appear that they took her negative experience seriously.

I’m reminded of a friend who shared with me and a few others how she cries too easily and feels weak when it happens in front of her kids and husband, but she says she can’t help it, it’s just how she is. Another friend sitting next to her said, “Oh, that makes me feel so much better, because I am the SAME way! I cry so easily too and hate it.” That same friend brought up crying on another occasion and asked me, “When was the last time you cried?” I went blank. You see, I have trouble crying. I feel the emotions building up within me and wanting to burst out like a volcano, but throughout my life, I had experiences like the 8-year-old little girl and learned to tame my emotions to a flaw. It’s even affected me when it comes to showing excitement at times. I feel this blockage. I base my reaction on logic versus emotion in most instances.

When I heard Eve Ensler of The Vagina Monologues once say, “We are emotional creatures,” I was relieved beyond belief. It was the first time someone had validated my nature. Somewhere along the way, I became a victim to the myriad messages I heard in times of extreme vulnerability telling me to be strong, tough it out, to save it for later, hold it in, don’t start, not now, I don’t want to hear it, suck it up, and the times my tears were questioned. I was being questioned for just being…a girl.

Here’s what Eve Ensler thinks about being a girl:

I think the whole world essentially has been brought up NOT to be a girl. To be a boy really means NOT to be a girl. To be a man means NOT to be a girl. To be a woman means NOT to be a girl. To be strong means NOT to be a girl. To be a leader means NOT to be a girl. I actually think that being a girl is so powerful that we’ve had to train everyone NOT to be that.

We come into this world crying; it’s how the doctor stimulates us to confirm that we are alive. But once we leave, we are encouraged for the rest of our lives to repress our tears, our emotions, hence our very nature. Being an emotional creature is the very essence of being a woman. I would be a man otherwise! I’ll admit that I have been much more in touch with my masculine side than my feminine side for a long time. It’s a form of self-preservation and protection and has served me well, but I am trying to find balance and embrace the more vulnerable aspects of myself.

Thankfully, becoming a mother to two boys has helped me release my tears easier. It happens at unexpected moments, like when my oldest took a ride on his first bike and called out to everyone standing watch to see what he was doing. I was filled with such joy that the tears just flowed and felt good. My husband is a wonderful example of an emotional creature who happens to be a man.:) Tears flowed from his eyes before he could get the words out of his mouth the day he said he was in love with me. I remember wiping all the tears from his cheeks. I can’t help to think life paired us together for a good reason. I wouldn’t doubt it. There are so many opportunities to learn a new way to be, to reverse the blocked pathways in my memory so pure emotions can flow once again. And I’m open…open to them all. I admire tears and vulnerability and humility. I want to experience it all with abandon myself. I want to make it a life long practice.

Quote taken from Eve Ensler’s Embrace Your Inner Girl talk on


8 Responses so far. Add Your Own.

So much truth to this. I find that it’s easy for me to cry for others (their pain, their sadness, even their happiness). But when it comes to letting tears pour out for myself, it takes me a while to release them. Sometimes it’s because I’m busy or I tell myself to suck it up..that it could be worse. But at the same time, there are moments that my tears flow..out of the blue. And I feel better. Releasing tears is necessary and healing in so many ways. Let the tears flow, girl! 😉

10 Aug 10

Love. Every.Single. Word.

Perfect. Rich. And yes, emotional.

Thank you.


beautiful blog, cheryl!! i think showing our tenderness is one of the bravest things we can do! here is my favorite quote on that: Real fearlessness is the product of tenderness. It comes from letting the world tickle your heart, your raw and beautiful heart. You are willing to open up, without resistance or shyness, and face the world. You are willing to share your heart with others.
— Chogyam Trungpa



I was raised by a single mom who thought crying was for the weak. She alway preached that we are strong, confident women who don’t need to show our weaknees by crying or showing pain, just to take it and endure it. But I am an emotional creature, always have been and can find myself feeling emotions so intense that I feel my eyeballs watering. For a long time I thought I was weak and displayed it out there for everyone to see. It wasn’t till I had my children, when I decided that my emotional self is a form of empowerment, that no one can take from me and it makes me stronger not weaker. I love that I am in touch with my emotions strong enough to shed some tears. Whatever makes us cry, makes that moment a memory and somehow shapes us for the future.

13 Aug 10

Thank you thank you Ronna! Love your work.


Where’s the LIKE button, because I want to click it! Thank you for your comments and sharing your experience.


Cheryl, I read this and I’m so very touched. I, too, was brought up to be “tough”! I use to NEVER cry and was labeld a “b*tch” by most. Like you, I could identify with my masculine side. Now that I’m older it’s easy for me to cry but hard for me to “connect with ANYONE from the heart”. I, like you, think logically. I’m trying to break this horrible cycle AND IT IS A BATTLE! But, I am willing to do whatever it takes to undo years of being a “tough girl”. WHAT I HAVE TO REMEMBER IS – I AM A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN NO MATTER WHAT! Thanks for your words, chica

Maria Guerra
29 Aug 10

Touched. Wow. Me too.


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