Thursday, November 15, 2012
As I was driving home from work the other night and reflecting on the events of the day, I did two things I don't normally do: I smiled, and then I cried. Usually I just sigh heavily, and more than once. But that day? That day made me think about the movie "Armageddon."
Yep. The one with Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck. Where the guys all sing "Leaving on a Jet Plane" before they go up into space to save the Earth? That movie marks the point in my life when I started to go soft. I didn't know it at that time, of course, but a change was underway. Up until I saw that movie (reluctantly, I might add), I was probably best describes as...a hard ass. Pure sarcasm. Bitchy. Cold. Detached. Indifferent. Unemotional.
I am not any of those things.
I'm not saying I didn't behave that way for a good chunk of my (adult, married) life, I'm saying that I wasn't being authentic. Big difference.
Anyhoo, I had noticed that more than a few of my Facebook friends were posting daily "I'm grateful/thankful for..." statements in anticipation of Thanksgiving, and I was thinking about what I was grateful for, what I should give thanks for. As I thought about the myriad people and events in my life I was thankful for, my mind wandered to how lives are seen by others- in books, movies- which led me to the aforementioned movie. I know, my focus needs work some days. And that I'm thankful for becoming a Crybaby.
That movie was the impetus for me earning my Crybaby Badge. And like I said, I didn't know it at the time (we never know the importance of events as they are happening, do we? That's why reflection is so important. Again, I digress...), but there was a shift which led me to who I am today: I cry at everything.
Really. And not because I'm sad. Not all the time anyway. Although I am struggling with how much I'm struggling with a few things (Um, Yogi Berra much?), its more related to the thankfulness for second chances, for renewal. And so I cry.
I cry when I'm hit with the smell of dish soap and garlic and whiskey and cigarettes and a wood fire. I cry at the unique papery musty smell of a deck of cards used over and again. I cry when I see the brightness and feel the warmth of the sunshine on a sliver of my bare skin during these Autumn days.
Sometimes the crying is triggered by a word or phrase, or the memory of the word or phrase being spoken: Where you going, Jim? He reminds her of her father. Did he make it? You abandoned us. You're so self righteous. For always and all ways. Anytime. This is true. Are you sure?
Sometimes it's a song or a scene from a movie- or even a television commercial!- that sets me off, something in the deep recesses of my psyche is given a little nudge (or a big ol' push). Sometimes it'll be when I'm reading to the kids at school that I turn into a giant mush ball (see: Where The Red Fern Grows and Charlotte's Web and James and the Giant Peach).
Most of the time (and especially in my Old Life) I respond to emotions like these by suppressing them. My modus operandi for dealing with emotions or with hearing something uncomfortable/not what I want to hear is to immediately get busy stopping it from being fully realized: one hand gets busy building a wall to protect myself from further exposure to those feelings, and the other hand gets busy filling sand bags to keep those emotions under water. Reactionary rather than rational. Of course, it's a direct response to other people's problems: codependency behaviors die hard.
Fucking other people.
I realized that I had recently employed that behavior, and now having given myself the space to reflect on the situation and my response to it, I feel sadness that I allowed myself to revert, at how I might have made the other person feel. No one deserves to be ignored, especially not those we love. It's not fair for them to be adversely affected because of our vulnerabilities. *sigh*
And so first I cry. A lot. My next step after behaving badly is to move everything- the emotions, the situation that precipitated them, the people hurt by my actions, the aftermath- to the periphery. Avoidance! At some point, though, we need to deal with those emotions- those bastards!- otherwise we lose sleep, we are irritable, we are listless, we walk around in a fog and are unable to explain our way out of it. Still crying, too.
What next? Actually dealing with our stuff is often uncomfortable or even more painful. This (I think) can be due to our innate Fear of the Unknown. What will those apologies sound like? How will those we've hurt respond to those words? How will we respond their reactions? How can we aptly express gratitude for ____? We don't know what we don't know (Yogi Berra dies hard, too.). Of course we want to believe everything will be okay (and it will be, eventually): believing takes practice. Give thanks for the opportunity to try again. And cry s'more.
And so we come back to my Crybaby status and those Facebook posts. All of these things I've mentioned- the books, words, songs, movies, memories- those human experiences in another format, those everyday moments and all of our actions that make up our biographies, we can see them there on the pages, hear and read the pain, confusion, sadness, joy, contentment- all of it. It is there in our voices and in our every action as we tell the story of Self. Status Update What's on your mind? I am grateful for tears of pain, confusion, sadness, joy, contentment; for memories, for potential, for dreams. Tears of thanks.
Until next time, friends.