Sometimes I feel that becoming a parent leaves you with your guts poured out on the floor. All of you, in its messy gloriousness, spread everywhere for the world to see.
As it is literally with childbirth, I suppose it is only rational for the rest of you – the inner, emotional you, to follow suit. The inner to mirror the outer.
But I don’t think you need to have the physical experience of birth to feel this way. To be a little “inside-out.” For the outer façade to crack a little, letting your inner ‘innocent self’ leak out. Tears streaming.
I have throughout my life felt I was naïve. Vulnerable. Maybe a bit emotional. And our culture certainly does not value being emotional or naïve. So I – like many others – have adapted my personality and behavior to avoid appearing this way, and detouring around messy spills of myself onto unsuspecting passersby.
Because the last thing anyone wants is a bunch of stares and sideways glances, of people wondering “Why is she crying? What’s happened?”
Hidden for so long under the stoic surface, emotive force was always a hairsbreadth away from cracking my calm, still demeanor. I feel that I reach this emotional cracking point, or tear-stricken ‘event horizon,’ multiple times per day. And it is not due to sadness or melancholy or grief in humanity, although those things are indeed everywhere you look.
For me, this ‘cracking point’ is most evident in ordinary moments of life. In loving my family, feeling profound love, talking about oneness, seeing people come together. By being thankful and bowing to greatness within. Being happy and moved by whatever that “Cosmic Infinite Source” is.
This makes going to any kind of church or having spiritual conversations without tears impossible. So I tend to avoid them. Or to tread with caution.
Because I don’t desire to be a blubbering mess (as society has trained me to believe is “weak” or “inappropriate” outside of grief), I close myself off. I will avoid eye contact. I won’t first reach out to hug someone in distress or sadness. I may clam up and not engage in conversation. I mentally wander away in order to avoid the subject at hand and keep my eyes dry. I push past things without realizing it. I put up walls.
I have been told many times that I am “grounded,” or calm under pressure – and I take these as great compliments. To be a calm within the storm. To exercise my control in the situation, and remain as still as the rocks at the shore. To be pummeled by the waves, but showing little evidence. But sometimes, usually after the fact, I think I come off as cold.
Cold, hard and jutty – just like those rocks.
Maybe it is okay to be a part of the storm from time to time. To join it. To feel it.
I often use these “grounded” compliments as excuses not to cry joy at everyone I meet every day. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, as our neat and buttoned-up world would like me to acknowledge, but being a blubbering mess does hinder my communication verbally, and would lead to many stares and personal assumptions from others. My want to keep my emotive forces under control in daily life is my adaptive behavioral response to a messy, spiraling, stormy world around me. A world that makes assumptions and sometimes labels me unfairly – whether I wanted to be or not.
We humans like exercising control, and if we cannot control the government or the Syrian refugee response, then we can at least control our emotions and other people’s perceptions of ourselves. Right?
In a past entry, I hypothesized emotions as a divine ‘energy’ or ‘force’ that perhaps we pull from the Cosmic Soup and translate into a specific type of kinetic energy – emotional energy. An energy that we use to drive forward and compel our lives and that of the world.
Some energy is draining (fear and hate), and some insanely uplifting and life-giving (joy and love). Depending upon the energy you express, you will interact with and achieve typical results from either of the two.
In essence, we use our emotive forces to propel forward our world and society around us.
I read some articles recently (here and here – among others) that crying is the body’s biological response to excess stress – and that some studies show people who cry in times of duress are more likely to get their anxiety and stress more quickly under control than those that don’t.
This made me wonder…if crying is a stress response of the body, does that essentially mean it is a stress response to an overload of kinetic energy? An overdose of divine cosmic energy, flooding through you as a particular emotion? Maybe an overreaching thought, but an interesting one.
As someone who cries at ANY powerful emotion no matter what it is – anger, sadness, frustration, happiness, friendship, love, joy, passion – it seems a good explanation. It means I have just pulled too much energy for my body to biologically make sense of, so it must create a response to calm me down and get back to equilibrium. That in fact, through the act of tears, I can be swept away by the storm, but am able to be brought back to the shore more quickly and resolutely.
That in losing yourself in the tears, you will also find yourself – and ground yourself – reliably.
Even taken with a grain of skeptic’s salt, this thought gives me solace. But not necessarily the green card for sobbing at the office in order to gain equilibrium for a mounting workload.
More and more, though, my rocky surface is starting to erode. The storm starts to poke through. The stoic gates come crashing down much more easily than it ever did before.
Once you let the flood into your heart, it returns and pours fondly. Again and again.