Monday, September 3, 2012

Big Girls Cry Annually

Two weeks from now, I will leave Portland to live on Orcas Island by myself for three months. While I'm excited about this opportunity, I think it's very likely that I will spend the first 24 hours on the island just bawling my eyes out. This would be a timely occurrence, not only because I'm experiencing a huge amount of change and loss right now, but also because I believe I'm due for my annual cry.

My husband is an excellent and well-versed crier. He cries when he's sad. He cries when he's happy. He cries when someone else is sad or happy. He cries when he's sleepy, startled, concerned, or simply feels like crying. I really admire his ability to engage regularly in the healthy, cleansing ritual of shedding tears. I, on the other hand, cry when I yawn or cut onions. Even when a situation is definitely cry-worthy, instead of crying, I find myself thinking, "I should totally be crying right now."

Over the past few days, I've experienced several endings that could or perhaps even should have been cry-worthy. I haven't cried yet. Occasionally I feel sudden, overwhelming emotions begin to flow over me, but my brain kicks in with the message: Yuck, negative emotions! Abort! Abort!  And then I stop thinking about whatever circumstance is creating the emotional reaction. I am certain this is an unhealthy practice. I'm probably going to have a brain aneurysm.

Eventually, however, I know I'm going to cry. It's been quite a while. At this point, I probably have about 2 gallons of stockpiled tears waiting to come out. I know how my annual cry cycle works, having gone through it enough times. For 364 days, I stoically face adversity without shedding a tear. But on the 365th day, something minuscule happens (e.g., I stub a toe; I spill my coffee; I see one of those dog food commercials where the dog and the kid grow up together and then the kid goes off to college and the dog sits on the front porch, waiting for him to come home), and I bawl like a baby for hours.

Ow, my toe!  And everything else that's happened for the past year! 

At the end of this ordeal, I'm left with a pounding headache and a feeling of extreme relief. Thus, the cycle begins again.

I've had quite a few periods in my life like this one, wherein I make the decision to discard the majority of the stabilizing elements of my life and start all over again. The first time I did this as an adult, I called one of my friends and told her, very calmly, that over the next month I planned to systematically drop everything in my life, pack a bag, go home to my parents, and go into crisis. She responded with a lot of support and encouragement, then remarked, "By the way, only you would plan a crisis."

I suppose I'm doing a similar thing right now - scheduling an appointment to cry in the not-too-distant future rather than just crying in the moment like a normal person. Although I realize this is bizarre behavior, I still find myself comforted by the knowledge that, once I'm on Orcas, I'll have a full day set aside to dehydrate myself via the violent expulsion of ten million tears.

Going to Orcas this fall is the fulfillment of a dream for me. I get to live in a gorgeous, magical environment and devote three months of concentrated time to completing the novel I've been working on for the past year. My observation as a human being in this world is that it is a rare thing indeed to experience the realization of a dream.

That being said, I am trying not to read too much into the fact that the calendar on my wall features the following image this month:


1 comment:

  1. Get lots of tissue! The soft kind!!! A good cry is very liberating!! Xoxo