I’ve been listening to this podcast called “Crybabies” with Sarah Thyre and Susan Orlean. They discuss their crying cues and feature guests who speak of their own “when you need a good cry” influences. They speak so highly about this impulse that so many of us hide. I hate crying in front of other people. I appreciate the weight lifted when I have a good cry, but it isn’t an activity I seek out. It makes me think of when I was a Child Life Intern in a hematology/oncology clinic. One of my duties was to accompany patients to their blood draw/port access and distract the child with play.
If you ever need a kid to get through a needle prick use a distraction board with a bunch of random objects and have the child try to find a specific item. Or an I Spy book. I had kids who didn’t even feel the needle because they were so invested. It felt like an easy trick. But some kids were impermeable. They committed to their fear and as I tried to convince them to find the googly eye on the board, they wailed while being pricked. They experienced everything and were the worse for it. We used a toy box to kind of apologize I guess and let children take home a gift of their choosing. But each visit would be filled with tears and fear.
I expressed a concern that some of my patients were crying through their visit. I listed the different toys and techniques I used. Techniques that usually work. Some kids were a piece of cake! We play our little game and then they left feeling no less confident in their safety. Tears were a failure in my book. But my supervisor reminded me that while crying can be upsetting, it is also a coping mechanism. These children were getting through it the best way they knew how. I understand that even more now after listening to Thyre and Orlean talk so lovingly of tears.
I’ve never cried more than I have in the past five years.
Falling in love turned me into a ball of emotions I never thought I would experience. I’ve always been the Wednesday Addams, Posh Spice kind of girl. I had a strong notion that none of the men in my life were worth a minute of my time. I believed that if I focused on myself and worked on my own happiness I would be usefully biding my time until the right man crossed my path. And then I met him and everything made sense. It was the right time for both of us and the justification in that long held belief of mine validated this sense of wonder I had in the world. I had a feeling, I cultivated that feeling and it paid off. It sparked a sensitivity in me that has been difficult to navigate. They crying is just one of the side effects of being in love.
Timing has been so important in my life. I was with my sister and our two best friends at The Strokes concert in 2006. We had endured the opening act, Wolfmother, and began plotting how we could sneak into seats closer to the stage for when The Strokes performed. There were too many ticket checker and security to feasibly pull off this plan so after some brainstorming, my sister pulled us away to check out the merch table. While I stood in line with my sister I heard my best friend scream, and when I turned towards her I saw a member of the concert staff looking at tickets. Four guys had seen us and gave us their four tickets. They had come to ONLY see Wolfmother. They had front row tickets. We glided down that aisle like we were queens. The adrenaline made my vision blurry, so all I remember is a sea of smiling faces as we progressed closer to the stage. When we got to our row, people cheered for us.
What if we had mulled over sneaking into seats for longer? What if my sister didn’t want to get a t-shirt? Maybe those guys would have seen four other people to give their tickets to. We would have had fun, but it wouldn’t have been such a highlight in our lives. We love telling that story.
I think I’ve always hated crying because it never does feel like the right time to cry. I’m never alone enough, or I’m in the middle of an argument. There is no warning to my tears these days. My siblings and I have always poked fun at my Mom for her effortless tears that would fall over a sweet commercial or just merely seeing anyone else cry. She never could get through the book “Love You Forever”. I’d always end up finishing it myself while my Mom stepped out to collect herself and then come back to tuck me in. Now I can’t think too long about my kitten before triggering tears. I cry at commercials. Pictures of humanitarians passing out food to refugees.
I have been having a hard time seeing the good in the world lately. I don’t understand the hate and the bigotry that fuel so many members of our species. Don’t they know how truly amazing it is that we even exist? What a miracle it is that you were even born? Unique and wonderful you? Why squander that for others? I wish we all celebrated our lives and the lives of others. How is it possible that we don’t spend every day throwing huge parties for this beautiful planet and everything that inhabits it? Every day I am struck by the awesomeness of Earth. I don’t have time to hate or oppress others because I am too busy watching ‘Cosmo’s’ over and over to ever come out of this bliss I feel over being a human on this little blue dot.
Sometimes it becomes too much. I consider the people really at the front line fighting for black people, women, immigrants, animal rights. How do they get through each day? What pushes them when it seems like nothing will ever change? Maybe that same quiet hum that pushed me towards bettering myself exists in them as well. They know the road will be hard but they believe that something good will come, so they keep going. During my internship there was an emphasis on self-care techniques so that at the end of the day we weren’t bringing our patient’s home with us. If I found myself stuck on an interaction with a patient while I was at home I would close my eyes and visualize myself on the train home, physically moving away from the hospital. It took a while for my heart to catch up with my body sometimes. This visualization helped to bring it back to me, and reset my focus to my own life.
I’m out of the field, but I find myself using the same self-care techniques to get through everyday life and the hazards that seem to throw themselves at humanity on a daily basis. Visualizing myself on a quiet ride through the Milky Way helps. But mostly I just cry. I punctuate the horrors and the beauty with tears. I’m coping.