Monday, September 20, 2010

To Not Cry

I have to relearn how not to cry. Growing up I was a sensitive child, and seemingly cried at the drop of a hat. Once, a family member commented on my Easter dress, which was sleeveless, that he thought my shoulders looked nice. I cried for at least an hour because I was embarrassed. Another time, I was desperately trying to fit in during a game of basketball with my dad, uncle, cousins and brother when the ball clunked me, HARD, right on top of my head. I tried in vain not to cry, to no avail.

I was always easily embarrassed, saddened, frustrated, anxious; all of which led me to tears. This didn't make me the most popular girl in town, and, quite frankly, I hated trying to conceal my tears. I was embarrassed to be embarrassed, saddened by my sadness. It made me anxious to care so much, and to be unable to control my emotions. Let's face it: it's uncomfortable when someone's crying, for seemingly no reason, in front of us. I hated making anyone uncomfortable.

So I worked on it. Gradually I became better at steeling myself, trying not to care when people made fun of me or teased me, when boys didn't like me back, when someone shared sad news. I could feel the emotions enough, I just refused to let anyone know it. (Well, unless there was a wee bit of booze involved--then all bets were off) Sure, I'd sniffle a little at a wedding, tear up at a sad movie, but I could quickly recover and regain composure. It was nothing like O.prah calls, "The Ugly Cry."

Anyway, when Calla died, I felt an immediate shift. I clearly remember freely and loudly wailing. "Wailing" is really the only word to describe it. The sounds I made equally matched my emotions, for the first time in a long, long time. And the tears and sobs just kept on, seemingly unending. In front of everyone, in front of no one I'd cry and cry, not caring what anyone thought or who I made uncomfortable.

And now, it still won't stop. I realized this while sitting in a darkened auditorium, watching a dance recital. Of all things, a children's dance recital brought me to tears within the first few numbers. It could be I was sad knowing I'll never have a little girl in a frilly tutu up on stage, but I don't think that was the whole of it. It was the music, the beautiful movements of the dancers. The beauty. I chalked it up to hormones.

But it kept, and keeps, happening. A sniffle at the end of a sad movie leaves me in body-wracking sobs. The excitement on my son's face, my excitement for him, at a live performance of his favorite television show gives me the weepies. A beautiful harmony from the choir turns the waterworks on. And then I can't stop. Even laughing uncontrollably until I cry leaves me sobbing.

And it makes me feel foolish. Things that once made me happy, though moving, now thoroughly move me to tears. When I least want them to appear. It's as though Calla's death was the key that unlocked the floodgates, and now the lock is broken. Everything comes back to that night, those wails; it's all connected. I can't separate emotion from emotion. Happy, sad, fraught, anxious--all manifest the same.

I discovered this B.on I.ver song this past spring. A perfect example of auto-tune/vocoder being used for good rather than evil. Sometimes listening to music as loud as I can stand it brings me back to those days when I could steel myself. I remember this tactic from long ago, and sometimes it helps. Sometimes it makes me cry harder. But for some reason I connect to this song, its simplicity, the harmonies.

I'm up in the woods
I'm down on my mind
I'm building a still
to slow down time


  1. I'm a big B.on I.ver fan, and this song is quite touching. Oh, and I also am what I call, "sensitive". I got it passed down from gma, mom, and now me. Thinking of you...((hugs))

  2. I hope you never stop feeling so deeply with your wonderfully tender heart. But really, that's a silly thing for me to say - because this is how you are made and to remove it would be to remove this glowing, central core of you. I don't think it's something humans can do, even when they want to...and I guess (even though it hurts sometimes) I'm glad.

    I'm glad you are the way you are, Mary Beth.

    Cathy in Missouri