So what do you do when you cry at a workshop – in front of 23 strangers?


I cried today.  I did.  At a workshop.  In front of 23 other women, who were, effectively, strangers.

I’m an emotional person you see.  I cry when I am happy, I cry when I am sad and I especially cry when I feel unsafe.

I wasn’t meant to feel unsafe.  It wasn’t the fault of the person running the workshop, although she is the one who spoke the words.

It was me.

Words carry meaning.  They are loaded with ambiguity, carry different meanings for different people.  Such a tricky little thing, our language.

One word.  That’s all it took.  One word that represented to me everything that I stood against, fought against, wrote against.  One word directed at me.  Then someone clapped.  And I cried.

I felt humiliated.  Out of control.  Such a horrible feeling.  Everyone looking at you, trying to look like they don’t notice you.  You, with your head down, tears trickling down your face, down your nose and onto your page.  Drip, drip, drip.  You want to run, hide, pretend this place never existed.  But you can’t.  You’d make a scene, feel like even more of a neurotic idiot than you already do.  So you stay.  Hoping it doesn’t look as bad as it feels.

Break comes.  Apologies are made.  It isn’t your fault, you say, it is mine.  This is true.  {I wear my heart on my sleeve.  I have very little emotional resilience.}  The tears keep coming.  Mt Vesuvius has erupted.  I have to get out, breathe, find some way to pack away every single ounce of humiliation I feel in that moment.

The voices inside my head are screaming at me to run, to make a dash for it.  I can’t.  I want to finish what I came to learn.  I need to rise up above these things.

Anxiety is a terrible thing.  That knocking in your chest as your mind tries to convince you that you are having a heart attack, that if you don’t run now, you will surely die.

And so I returned.  I washed my tear-stained face.  I sat on my own, whilst the others chatted outside.  I didn’t run.  I got back in the race.

One of the women approached me, hugged me.  One woman sensing another woman’s pain.  No words needed.  Just kindness.

Relief.  Followed by composure.  A few words were spoken.

We were all back on track.  I finished the course.  The emotional moment in time was over.

On the way home I called Mr C.  We debriefed about the day.  I acknowledged my part, my sensitivities.  It was just a word.  A label subscribed to name a thing, that has many different meanings.  It wasn’t intended to hurt.  It’s the intention that counts.  Not the word.

Another lesson for me today:  It’s okay to cry.  But even better to stay and learn.

Until next time,

SHW Signature



4 thoughts on “So what do you do when you cry at a workshop – in front of 23 strangers?

  1. Sweet Sarah…

    All I can say is:

    I am so happy you stayed. 🙂

    It takes a LOT of courage to recover from a shaky moment, take a deep breath (or twenty), and plunk yourself back in your seat, ready to learn.

    (I remember bursting into tears, once, at a public speaking training event… I wanted to run home and never come back! But I stayed. Because I sensed that it was good for me to be there. Even though it was uncomfortable.)

    Thank you for staying, and for modeling what “real life, everyday bravery” looks like.


    :: A


  2. Two things came to mind readings this: 1. You are brave. You went back, faced everyone and got on. That shows strength. 2: People reached out. They offered warmth. This sometimes could not happen if you did not show vulnerability and honesty.
    Despite the emotion, the embarrassment, some good came out of this x


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