Things That Make Me Cry

I'm actually a soft-touch when it comes to weeping. Sappy movies, empathy for others -- but in my day-to-day life, I don't get teary that often.

Tonight was an exception. There's nothing huge and tragic going on for me, just a lot, lot, lot of little things, but I'm feeling discouraged and down tonight, which is very unusual for me.

I think part of it is a series of gear-ups and let-downs that I've experienced recently. I really needed a webcam for a project that I'm working on, and I worked out this perfect trade with someone who had a great cam to trade me for something they wanted as badly as I wanted that camera. It arrived in the mail today, and I was all excited like a little kid -- but it doesn't work on my 'puter -- not without significant fussing, and expense. I just felt like someone had pulled the wind out of my sails.

Now this event, by itself, wouldn't have done that. But honest to fuck, the last couple of months have been challenging -- not in a death and dying, or broken bones/spilled blood way -- a printer that died (got another one from a friend, and it, too, doesn't want to work -- techno-HELL!), a huge slow-down in my work, concerns about my mom's health (that thankfully, turned out to be a false alarm), bills piling up, my Beloved and I talking about whether we can afford to keep living here, the beloved elder cat who is struggling with her health right now, and my own internal wonderings about what constitutes "right action" for me in all of it.

I've kept my chin up, really, through this and more -- every day, there is far more good than bad, and I've honestly felt that -- savored it -- felt rich in a time when money is thin because I am truly blessed in so many other ways. I'm a genuinely optimistic and upbeat person, and I've seen far, far worse times than this. Generally, I consider these inconveniences and challenges with equanimity -- but tonight -- I don't know -- tonight I am just feeling like my stuffings got knocked out.

It's such an unusual state at this point in my life that I'm not even particularly resistant to it -- it's new and unfamiliar in some way, and I'm just observing it and the inertia it seems to be breeding in me right at this moment.

Maybe it's because it was my "day off", and I was looking forward to R&R, and playing with the new camera that was supposed to (and did) arrive today. Instead, I ended up fussing, and googling, and trying to find workarounds, and freezing up my computer, and going to two stores to see if they had a part, and thinking that even if they did, I really shouldn't spend money on it, but the camera could be a source of income-production, so maybe I should spend money on it, and I was feeling so hopeful and upbeat and excited about it before all this happened -- and -- as I was driving away from the second store (that didn't have the part I probably shouldn't be spending money on anyway) on the way home, I just started bawling.

That's really unusual. It was that kind of sad, disappointed kid crying -- but I knew it wasn't just about the camera -- that was just the excuse for the release. It was a tired sort of weepy crying that says to me that I'm tuckered out.

It's not just the stuff in my personal realm, either, I don't think. I tend to believe in that stuff about "If you do what you came to do, the Universe will support you" -- so I think I'm having deep questions about what seem like frequent obstacles and tepid support recently -- questions about whether it's all a message that I need to be doing something -- or many things -- different/differently.

There's also the fact that I personally know people who are dealing with far, far more difficult things than I, so I feel a little weird and give myself a hard time that this shit is getting to me. Then I think, "Well, maybe I'm releasing for others who don't feel as comfortable releasing".

I honestly don't know. I just know that when I sat down to blog tonight, with all these ideas about what I might write, I found myself sitting there, staring at the computer, and needing to express this -- just to get it out there and out of my way, I suppose -- to clear the thing that's clogging the pipes.

So this is a post with little cohesion or direction -- just an expression -- like my tears in the car.

OK. I wrote that part so that you could see the kind of process that I go through every fucking year around this time.

You see -- around 49 years ago, I had a very bad thing happen to me at this time of year. I won't go into the details, because I'm not at all sure that they're important anymore -- suffice it to say that when people hear the full story, they always seem to look a little haunted afterward -- as I once was.

I spent years in therapy healing the wounds that resulted from that time of my life, and am now remarkably whole, considering my history. This time of year used to be a crushing weight for me -- a time of fear and depression and despair. For years, before I had any clear memory of what had happened to me, this crushing weight came down anyway, in the weeks before Christmas, and I spun like a top in a maelstrom of emotion.

After I remembered and began dealing with my past, the storm continued to descend annually, but at least I had some idea of what was going on for me. My understanding didn't mitigate the difficulty of this season, but it did at least give me some way to deal with it.

I stopped thinking of myself as just a neurotic mess and began thinking of myself as someone who was having a response. That didn't take away the fear, or erase the depression, or dissolve the despair, but at least I could grab onto my newfound intellectual understanding as some kind of anchor as I tossed and turned and whipped around and wailed.

For six-seven years of my life, healing was pretty much all that I did -- and slowly, slowly, I did heal.

Now, mid-December approaches me and I do not shrivel up and crawl into a corner.

In fact, it's gotten to the place now that, like tonight, I forget that I might be responding to something much deeper than the surface, physical events that are happening in my life -- that I may be experiencing an echo of something that, while mostly healed, still presents patches of scar-tissue in my psyche.

I forget, and an unexpected crying jag overtakes me in the car, and for a minute or two (or a half hour, or sometimes even an hour or two), I am very mean to myself about what a big baby I'm being -- and then -- I remember.

I remember that I am not a wimpy whiner who can't handle disappointment, but rather, a miraculous testament to the perseverance of the human spirit.

I remember that it's a miracle that I survived my childhood, let alone those years and years and years of confused anguish.

I remember that it's a miracle that I made it through the six years of constant examination of incredibly difficult material, and the inching advance toward wholeness.

I remember that it's a miracle that I am a basically optimistic, and that 99.9% of the time, I believe in the potential, goodness, and worth of human beings -- because the things that I survived might have just as easily turned me into a very justified cynic.

I remember that I am a miracle.

There is this particular sensation I get at very specific times -- not whenever I cry, but whenever I cry in this particular way. It comes when I watch movies that are very sad in a certain way -- usually about human beings being unjust to one another, or yearning in vain for real connection with one another. It's that heart-breaking stuff that gives rise to this sensation.

Anyway, when I cry in that particular way, from that particular stimulus, I often get this very distinct sensation in the side of the tip of my left index finger. It's always in exactly the same spot, and it's like a sharp pinchy ache. I can feel it as I start to tear up, and the more I try to suppress tearing up, the more it aches until I cry.

It was so consistent and so peculiar that I looked it up on an acupuncture chart -- the spot that hurts is precisely on the Large Instestine Meridian (LI1) -- and in some disciplines, the "negative" aspect of that meridian is associated with the concept of guilt. The affirmative emotion suggested for its healing is "I am inherently pure and good. I am worthy to be loved."

Tonight, as I started this post, still crying, and listening to little assholey arguers in my head like: "Well why in the world would you post that? What earthly good will that do? Why do you think these people would even care about you?" -- I kept crying, and I could feel that spot in my finger aching. I can feel it now.

Much of the healing that I've done has been about learning to stop thinking that what happened to me was my fault. It's weird to me, at an intellectual level, that I could think that -- I was three years old when it happened -- but there were once large parts of myself that thought that.

Those voices are dimmer now, and I don't give them much weight anymore, but I think that they are my last bit of healing to do -- the voices in my own head that discount my experience, and denigrate my own strength -- the voices that tell me I'm a cry-baby, or weak, or whining. I think the stingy ache in my finger is stimulated by that inhumanity that I harbor in my own head toward myself.

I will go gently with myself in these coming weeks. I'll let myself cry when I want and need to. I'll give myself permission to let myself off the hook when the little stuff seems overwhelming. I'll open my heart and embrace the miracle that I can open my heart.

I'm sharing this with you in case you're struggling with this season -- or in case you struggle with any season -- so that you can remember that you are a miracle, too.

Posted byPortlyDyke at 10:00 PM  


Shel said... December 11, 2008 at 5:18 AM  


Thank you for posting this. And yes, I'm a stranger, but I DO care.

Perpetual Beginner said... December 11, 2008 at 5:40 AM  

Seconding the thanks. Release and crying is something I struggle mightily with after a lifetime of internalizing the message that sadness and anger are bad, unacceptable emotions that I am not permitted.

And now I'm mightily curious about the several places where I'm prone to twinges out of nowhere when stressed. I hope somebody gets me the book on traditional Chinese medical theory I stuck on my Amazon wishlist last month in anticipation of Christmas.

Bob said... December 11, 2008 at 7:52 AM  

In my experience, a good cry is always beneficial.

Brave Sir Robin posted the best quote about it just yesterday, from Jim Valvano's acceptance speech for the Arthur Ashe Courage Award:

Laugh, Think, Cry

Another thing that's good is hugs, so...


Anonymous said... December 11, 2008 at 9:59 AM  

Hey there, Portly--you're so brave. I became curious when you mentioned the connection between finger ache, sadness and the digestive system--is it possible that you are hungry for something?

Sending love vibe...


NameChanged said... December 11, 2008 at 10:36 AM  

(((((Portly)))))) You are a miracle, and we do care about everything you write, or else we wouldn't be here.

Release; I feel like "catching" you, but I don't know how.

pidomon said... December 11, 2008 at 6:54 PM  

well after reading this you are not the only one crying
that was beautiful and thank you for sharing

you're an inspiration and a miracle.

hoping I can achieve the same some day!

Shey said... December 13, 2008 at 5:40 PM  


Someone wise once told me that you can never fully estimate the positive impact you have on the world by just being you and doing your thing.

That said, Thank You a THOUSAND times for writing this. I struggle too this time of year, and knowing concretely that I'm not the only one and that things get better and people keep people-ing, so I can keep being a people too even when I hurt like this, helps. Kudos if you followed that sentence. ;) Thanks for being brave.


Anonymous said... January 23, 2010 at 5:03 AM  

Pretty nice blog you've got here. Thanks for it. I like such themes and everything that is connected to this matter. I definitely want to read a bit more on that blog soon.

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