Crying Will Kill You

lolol ari omg
lolol ari omg

Or so I thought.

As a child, I was convinced crying meant I was dying.

…aside from the cute rhyme scheme, that sounds pretty bleak, right?

Okay, so I knew I wasn’t ACTUALLY going to die. At least not from crying. But it became some weird game I would play with myself: that each time I swallowed tears, I would be gaining extra time on earth. If I could just choke back those emotions, I’d be golden. I’d stumbled upon some elixir or fountain of youth from being robotic.

Yeah…it made no fucking sense. Like, zero. But we’re quick to buy into the tooth fairy, an overweight man flying around the entire world in one night, so I don’t know, maybe it’s not THAT strange to believe.

I’ve made a habit of trusting my own messed up neurosis anyways.

So, yes, I’d continue telling myself this irrational piece of information: if you don’t cry, you’ll live longer. It’s as if I thought tears were bits of my soul escaping, and if it happened too much, well…I’d just stop existing.

Because how does one live without a soul?

My soul would be all used up. And I guess things don’t do well in droughts. California knows that, and I wanted to save my water. And that meant stop crying.

Maybe “game” isn’t a great word for whatever that was because game usually implies fun. I don’t really know what it was. A weird psychological trick I was attempting to play. I wanted to cry all the time. But I wasn’t going to allow myself. I thought covering it up was better.

I came from a very emotionally expressive family: a father who talked to me about everything and was never afraid to show affection. A mother who gave me real hugs, told me strength and stoicism were not the same thing. So it really made no sense why I started convincing myself crying would be a sign of weakness.

But I did. I’d feel the hot pangs beneath my tear ducts and want to ghost from everything. I just couldn’t cry.

Once, I was on the playground and my friend was about to tell the boy I had a MASSIVE crush on that I liked him. I could feel the tears welling, but instead of just allowing myself that expression? I turned it into anger and smacked my friend in the face.

Um, HOW WAS THAT HEALTHIER?! I imagine myself, a feisty nine year old just so convinced strength meant something drastically different than what I’ve learned it to be. Strength was being on top. Strength was being in control. Strength was never letting others know how I really felt.

And honey, that’s not strength. That’s denial.

A lot of my life has been denial. I don’t think I really understood that until now. Now that I’m trying to tell the truth. Now, when I can’t just hide everything anymore. I was hiding from myself. And maybe I still do that sometimes.

But I’m not afraid to cry. It’s my body trying to be honest. And the truth shall set you free. Or at least, that’s what they say. Right?

I cry a lot these days. Probably more than I should. Alcohol hits my bloodstream and I’m teary. Or I’ll be driving (NOT AFTER DRINKING THOUGH, DON’T DO THAT OR YOU’RE AN ASSHOLE) and something hits me. Not another car, but the enormity of this sadness. I don’t know. I’ve got to find a balance. It’s suffocating, this blue is coloring everything lately. Because I know there has to be something in between denial and depression.

So what is it? TC mark

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Ari Eastman

✨ real(ly not) chill. poet. writer. mental health activist. mama shark. ✨

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