Sunday, February 19, 2012

And will the sun ever shine in the blind man's eyes when he cries?

Two things happened to me last year that have changed me, substantially and irreversibly, as a person.

One could argue that every single thing that happens changes one as a person, and to an extent, I agree. Every person you meet, every word that you read, every song that you hear, makes you a slightly different you than you were before. That is how we grow, develop, learn, evolve. How we become ourselves, by leaving ourselves behind. These changes are tiny, almost imperceptible, only significant in cumulation.

Every now and then, though, there are the big things. So significant on their own that people who don't know that they have happened know that they are seeing an altered version of the you they last saw. Like I said, I had two such things happen to me last year. While it is almost unbearably simplistic, we will call one of these things a 'good' thing and one of these things a 'bad' thing.

What these things were does not matter, but the long-lasting effect they have had on me does. One effect, in particular, is marked, and does not seem to be going away.

I cry all the fucking time. All the fucking time.

Not about the things that happened, although obviously, for one of them, I did at the time. But I'm still crying now, months later (and it is, it's months, and that's crazy to me because at the time it felt like not a single hour would pass without dragging its painful feet and where have those hours gone), over everything. It's like what happened - both the things, not just the bad - have brought my spare tears to a new place: right behind my eyes, only seconds away from the world. And now, when something happens - when anything happens - they are there, waiting, ready, fighting to get out. Thinking back, even over the last three days, I have cried perhaps six times, equally divided between tears of happiness and tears of sadness.

This is an entirely new phenomenon to me. Before last year, I can remember two instances in my life where I cried with joy: the two things were, largely, simply not associated in my mind. And crying with sadness? I cannot deny that I did, but it was rare. I was brave, and more importantly, proud. But the combination of these two things has changed that. Changed me.

First, before I wax away too lyrically, I should point out that while I used to have some sort of control over when I cried, now I do not. Suddenly, the day that the thing happened, that power was taken from me. Now, if I begin to feel the first stir of tears, I can rest safely assured that crying will happen no matter what I attempt to do about it. That lump in my throat and heat behind my eyes that used to scream 'suck it up, Amy' now scream 'quickly get out of this here public place, Amy'. There have been times when I would have done better to heed that warning: bursting into tears in the middle of a crowded Queensgate mall because the Muppets movie had sold out* may, for example, have been a good time to dash to the bathrooms at the first sign of trouble. And yes, that is the level of crying we're dealing with. A grown woman, sobbing, in a mall, because a child's film has sold out. Just in case you though I was exaggerating.

But, while it's true I have no control over this super fun new phenomenon, I have some theories around why all this crying isn't actually such a bad thing (unless you're the unfortunate person who happens to be with me in the mall when said bursting into tears occurred, in which case, I am, again, sorry). I think that part of me learned pretty quickly when the bad thing happened that expressing your pain does not make you weak. It's not being brave if you're getting in the way of yourself getting the support you need. I was sad, inexpressibly sad, and when I did not cry, when I did not let it out, when I did not show that I was hurting, it got worse. When held inside, tears multiply, while simultaneously corroding your sanity, then come bursting forth in inopportune places when you least have the resources to deal with them.

I also have another theory, for those of you wondering what on earth the good thing that happened to me has to do with all this crying. I think when you are in a place where you feel completely supported, and in an environment of absolute trust, there is nothing scary about crying. Making yourself vulnerable is not dangerous. Crying is not a particularly attractive sport, but that doesn't matter either. And the fact that you are very high-maintenance, fragile and potentially very embarrassing (mall) does not constantly weigh on your mind. You can just cry, if and when you need to, and know that you will be held, or soothed, or laughed at, if you're able.

So, yes. I am now a crier. A total and utter crybaby. Make me sad? Tears. Make me happy? Tears. Confuse me? Tears. Scare me? Tears. Send me a picture of something cute? Tears. I have substantially and irreversibly changed, and I'm okay with that.

I hope we're still friends.

*Full disclosure: not only did I cry when The Muppets was sold out, but I cried upwards of three times during the movie, and then again at home afterwards when I listened to one of the songs on YouTube.

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