Dammed

Tears are a tricky thing.  They need to come with a manual of operation.  You shed them too often, people get uncomfortable and assess your level of stability.  You don’t shed them at the right moment, you may be viewed as cold. They arrive sometimes on the doorstep of your lids uninvited.  Sometimes they push their way over the dam. Tears are interesting.  It’s really the whole gamut of human emotion that accompanies tears I find interesting.

There was a point in life that I cried a lot. Prior to that, I only really cried if I was really sad or really angry. I guess I was both in this particular moment. I cried so much that one day I decided I was done with crying.

I’ve never been angry to the point of not crying. I just felt like it was dumb to cry anymore.  I remember talking with a friend saying “tears are time wasted,” and she quoted a

I remember talking with a friend saying “tears are time wasted,” and she quoted a homie retorting, “Tears do nothing but wet your face.” That solidified it for me. I was done.

Years later, I’m ready to cry and can’t. I don’t even remember what it was, but I felt the moment needed a good cleansing cry and it wasn’t there. Do you know how horrible it is to want to cry, cleanse your soul, and not be able to?

lightning

See, a good cry for me is like a thunderstorm. It’s powerful, a little loud, rumbly, intense but when it’s over…the air is clear. You know lightning creates O3 in the air? That’s why the air feels and smells so fresh after a storm. That’s what I feel a good cry does for me…cleans the air and I couldn’t get it.

It felt like something was stuck in my chest. This went on for some time. I began to try to recall the last time I cried. I would get excited if I had a single tear, trying to coax more. Have you seen The Holiday with Cameron Diaz? She’s trying to cry and nothing happened? That was me.

cry

Then, This Is Us happened. I. Love. This. Show.

I cried. Cried, cried and cried. I was surprised initially because I’ve never been one to cry over movies and, definitely not tv, but this seemed to be a new thing.  Other movies that solicited tears are:

  • Me Before You
  • The Last Word
  • Lion
  • Moana

Just a few that I can think of right now. But This Is Us took me out the game every single week and I loved it. It made me feel. It chipped away at whatever was building up inside and allowed me to release it. I resonated with the characters and their stories and felt for these unreal people (though the stories and experiences are very real, even if they aren’t my story).

happy tears

I allowed nothing to stand between me and the tv at that time. I even think I let another show fall on the Hulu list because I was not missing This Is Us! It was a cathartic, cleansing experience. It was even better that it aired in the middle of the week because I was able to continue with whatever situations I dealt with at work. I had fresh air. (I also have a couple of theories on how Jack dies and cannot wait for the shows return.)

After This Is Us, I felt good about the ability to cry and was adamant about not losing the ability to do so. Who cares that someone may think something particular about me crying. I must admit, there were a couple of situations where I held my tears but, otherwise, I was crying everywhere.

tears

Kids. Kids will pull tears like nothing else. Why? Because they are so friggin’ cute! Actually, they remind me of innocence and fearlessness. They remind me to live. I remember crying watching SYTYCD season 13 with the babies. Yes, this was before This Is Us but the babies just pulled it out of me. Most recently, maybe the most embarrassing moment was in the mall.

The mall has a big open center in the middle. This is perfect for Christmas, Easter and any other event that comes because you can watch on that floor or from the second floor. This particular time, it was talent search. People of all ages signed up to be a model or part of some commercial.  Their first audition was right there in the mall. Parents walked babies down the runway. Kids skipped and danced and recited lines and I stood in the food court hanging over the balcony with my mom and other spectators.

I cried on a couple of occasions right in the middle of the mall. I looked at my mom and exclaimed, “I don’t know why I’m crying! They’re so stinking cute!”  Going back to emotions, it was a happy time but not necessarily a direct happiness. Nothing was happening to me. I didn’t know anyone that strutted, shuffled, skipped, spun, sang or waddled down that runway. But, I was ok with it.  Why should I have to hide my emotions?

Why do feel the need to hide emotions? I know it is a defense mechanism to not show emotion. I have mastered a blank face. Equally, I don’t think I should hide them. Of course, there are levels of appropriateness but, showing emotion is ok. Society, parents, they tell us not to cry. It’s a sign of weakness or it’s unneccessary. Any child who lived in a house where you can get spanked have probably heard, “Stop crying before I give you something to cry about!” Excuse me, ma’am/sir, you’ve already achieved that particular objective.

I came to appreciate tears. I have shed them for friends. I have shed them for myself. I have shed them because I was so overwhelmed by the cutest of children. I don’t feel any less strong. In fact, I think showing emotion shows strength. A display of emotion is a display of vulnerability and it takes strong people to be vulnerable. So there. Having not been able to cry because I shut it off, I welcome the tears and emotions. I feel them, process them and find appropriate outlets to release them.

I encourage you to take a moment to stop and check how you feel. It can be easy to be too busy to feel. I’ve found myself on the too busy for emotions train which is crazy. Self-care requires self-assessment and self-alignment. Happy, angry, sad, scared, guilty, contrite…whatever it is, feel it. It’s ok.

gotchu

Reply to Visceral prompt

Advertisements

Toothbrush: A Response to a Prompt

tooth-brushHave you ever stopped and thought about the power of a toothbrush? Think about it. A toothbrush is part of a set of tools designed to provide you with the confidence of a fresh mouth.  Confidence in the hygiene of your mouth – correlated to the appearance and smell, leads to greater confidence when meeting someone knew, smiling big or knowing that plaque isn’t going to make its way to your arteries and cause a heart attack…at least not from a lack of oral hygiene.

And smiles?! Smiles are probably the most disarming thing out there…next to laughter.  Smiles are contagious, they release hormones, blah blah blah, good stuff, bunnies and unicorns.  I think you get my point. A toothbrush is powerful.

The other thing I think about when thinking of a toothbrush is vulnerability. Let’s say you’re meeting someone for the first time, personal or professional, you probably want to be sure your breath is fresh and there is no parsley in your teeth.  Maybe you aren’t meeting someone for the first time but you just had an amazing cheese steak sandwich that was loaded with onions for lunch and you have a team meeting right after.  Granted, you probably thought this through already but sometimes the cravings grab us by the collar and we don’t give two pennies of thought to what our breath may smell like.  In those moments, aren’t we looking for a toothbrush? Gum? Mint?

I mean, who cares if anyone else can smell it, sometimes it’s bugging you. That’s enough to be just a smidgen uncomfortable.

On the other hand, arguably the most freeing moments are when you are around people you’re comfortable with. Mom. Sibling. Partner. Bestie. Those folks can deal with morning breath, lunch breath, jalapeno breath. These companions will also, however, tell you when you are in dire need of a toothbrush – either for their sake or yours.

I have to admit, I love a good honest friend. To have someone that will call me on my stuff – stuff I sometimes don’t know I have, is powerful.  It causes me to pause, re-evaluate and move forward. Sometimes it causes me to freeze or change course. My best friends are those that challenge me to be vulnerable.

Vulnerability, as simple as it is, is not an easy thing. No sir. It’s not the response I may receive that i get anxious about. It’s the being honest with myself part.

I’m going to go on a limb, and you’ll probably disagree, but honesty has layers. Facts are real. The truth is relative. Honesty has layers.

ogres

Let me explain.

Fact: I was engaged. The truth about what happened will be different depending on who is telling the story. How I honestly felt about it changed at different points as I processed my emotions with different lenses.

I am angry. Why am I angry? I am moreso disappointed. Why am I disappointed? I thought we would work out. …I wanted us to work out. …I wanted us to work out because of my own timeline for my life. …Now that I look back on it, we probably pushed the dating idea due to pressures from ourselves and those around us. …The level of love and commitment and maturity wasn’t there for us to have a flourishing marriage.

That level of honesty with myself took years.  It also took a lot of conversations with friends who knew and didn’t know the situation. The stories my homies tell now surprise me. I didn’t know that I was so openly raw. But I needed to be. And I needed friends that would let me be. And I needed friends that would encourage me to be. And one of those friends and I keep coming back to a conversation about how we can be or why we aren’t just vulnerable.

Why does vulnerability have conditions? Haven’t we all seen the power of healing that comes from sharing one’s story? Connecting with people in a raw and honest way? But we, I, keep making “buts” about why I shouldn’t just be vulnerable.

You can probably guess by now that I love connecting with people. I’m all about making friends but best believe there are levels to friendship. And, you guessed it, there are levels to vulnerability with these individuals. And the question my friend keeps asking is, “What do you have to lose?” …I may have onion breath…

breath check
Toothbrush