Friday, November 30, 2012

Hermetically Seal Me for My Own Protection

"Stop crying, or I'll give you something to cry about." 

In a nutshell, that was my childhood.  I heard it often and I took it to heart.  Not only did I pride myself on not being a "crybaby," I had no patience for others who cried.  Especially women.  I once had a roommate who would burst into loud, messy tears every time she stubbed a toe or had a hangnail.  No, I'm not exaggerating.  It drove me absolutely batty.  I used to say things like, "Meg, crying never fixed anything," and "Great, so I cry-when I'm done, I'll have a red nose, blotchy face, red eyes, and a headache, but whatever I was crying about will still be a problem."  My husband must have thought he'd hit paydirt when he caught me--a wife who doesn't burst into tears all the time. 

And then I had our son . . . and EVERYTHING changed.

I cry so easily I sometimes want to punch myself in the nose.  "At the drop of a hat?"  Depends on the hat--yeah, I can see sobbing over a hat if the circumstances were right.  There are movies I've seen a dozen times that still turn me into a woobly crybaby.  Predictably, uncontrollably.  Just yesterday, I saw a video of a deaf girl who's trained a horse to do dressage-type things, and I cried watching her.  I cry during arguments--I try not to, I fight it with all I've got, but invariably, it gets me.  I've been accused of "turning on the water works" as a tool or a way of "winning."  Nothing could be further from the truth--as far as I'm concerned, the moment those tears start flowing, I've LOST.  As soon as the tears start, I know I've made a fool of myself and everyone just wants me to shut up and go away until I can pull myself together.  I have never cried on purpose to garner sympathy, and I never would.  The self-loathing would destroy me.

Today, I was reading someone's blog.  Nice gentleman, don't know him personally.  He just retired a few months back, and I'm hoping his new life is full of adventure.  I then read back a little further into his blog.  Read about his beautiful wife, Nancy, and how leukemia ended her.  And I cried.  I cried and cried.  I'm crying now, just writing about it.  I'm crying for Nancy.  I'm crying for a man I don't even know who loved her so much. 

Going from being a water-works hater to a grade-A crybaby has been illuminating.  You see, I really did believe that tears are something we can choose to turn on or off.  I realize now, that's not true.  I don't know what broke in me when I had my son, I don't know what hormonal or neuro/electrochemical thing was awakened, but there it is.  I mean, sure, I can fight it . . . sort of.  I can clench my lips, turn away, tilt my head back, and keep wiping at my eyes furiously.  Given enough time and space, that will usually stave off a full-bore boobing fit.  Usually.  Though it's still plain to anyone around that I'm crying.  But how am I supposed to do that, say, in the WORKPLACE?  I'm a stay-at-home parent, I home school our son.  But the day will likely come when I'm out there in the workforce again.  What am I going to do the first time a supervisor gets on me for something unfairly and I feel that surge of frustration and anger and sadness and desire to be understood coalescing into tears? 

Crybabies don't fare well in the workplace.  Nobody likes them, and understandably--who wants to be cried at in a professional setting?

I used to have a wall.  A protective coating between me and the things that tore at my heart.  Sure, what put it there was pretty unhealthy, but the thing kept me safe--it was like the tasty icing on an otherwise lousy cake.  But it's long gone now, and I don't know how to fashion a replacement.  I don't know if I can.  I may be doomed to be "that chick who's always crying."  My son's kids may whisper to each other, "Don't upset Grandma, you know how she gets." 

And yeah, that idea did bring a mist to my eyes. 

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