We Don't Cry Over Dead Cows!

Feb 03, 2022

Expressing vulnerability can happen when defenses are down – often because of overwhelm, despair or exhaustion, but I’ve learned that intentional vulnerability is courageous and may be defined as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. Brene Brown says "it’s the willingness to show up and be seen even when there are no guarantees."

Growing up in a family of strong ranchers and cowboys taught me to toughen up pretty fast. In order to get along in my world, demonstrating physical and emotional fortitude, stubbornness and grit were deeply valued. Vulnerability wasn’t.

Although I was female in a kingdom of male dominance, I quickly learned how to hold my tears, laugh at mean jokes and ride bucking sheep, cows and horses. It got me the approval I craved when the daily expectations of cooking, cleaning and looking pretty didn’t. In my clan, there was no respect for women’s “duties”. 

Still, it was hard to get my uncle’s and grandfather’s appreciation when there was little opportunity to get out on the ranch and show them… since I first had to help my mom and grandmother in the house…and that took a good amount of the day.

Once, when I was 7 or 8 years old, I convinced my grandparents to allow me to care for an ailing twin calf. Most often back in those days, a calf was “put down” if it wasn’t healthy. Every day and night, every 3-4 hours, for two weeks I bottle-fed that precious baby calf. Laying beside him sometimes with a wooly blanket, I would keep him warm, we’d laugh and talk together and when he was able, I walked him around the pen. We loved each other and I named him Red for funny Red Skelton, a comedian, and for my little friend’s spotted red hide . Then one morning, just when we thought he was well, I went to feed him and found him dead.

It was an everyday fact of life on the ranch, but I was devastated and as much as I tried, could not hold back my tears. Heartbreak and exhaustion led me to express vulnerable emotions. Frustrated and unimpressed, my grandfather gave me a whoopin’ and sternly reminded me that we don’t cry over dead cows.

Living with the strong influence of an opinionated, living-out-loud and yes, loving family left its mark in amazing and troublesome ways throughout my entire life…even after they were all gone. My family was doing the best they could at that time – I understand that. They truly believed that toughening me up would strengthen me and protect me from the world and in some ways, it probably did.

Even though I’ve faced many child-born fears and some warped perceptions, I still strive to overcome the propensity to hide my feelings, especially if they were considered weak or inappropriate by my early influencers. 

Half my life, many complimented me on my courage and strength, while those closest to me, sometimes rightfully thought, I was hiding something and not willing to share my feelings. I was a winner and always set myself up for success. I wasn’t willing to risk defeat or pity, especially if anyone was watching. That’s how I was raised.

I am blessed that I started on my self-development journey as a very young adult because it would take all my life to figure myself out and overcome childhood traumas. I had and still discover my generous share of emotional baggage to work through. Healing is a continuous process.

One of my greatest accomplishments the second half of my life is finding and learning to truly feel my emotions…and then to feel brave enough to share them with others. It’s liberating!

As an extended family, we’re still working through our family traumas and dynamic. It’s a process. 

Because I’m willing to be vulnerable and real with my own hard lessons, I’m more accepting and loving towards myself, which leads to deeper and more meaningful relationships….and that makes me happy!

Love is ALL there is!




This episode was produced and marketed by the Get Known Service

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