There’s a Sheryl Crow song with this title that she wrote with Bill Bottrell.
It contains these lyrics…
So much for pretending
This bad luck’s never ending
And so much time I’ve been spending
With my heart in my hands
Waiting for time to come and mend it
I can’t cry anymore
I know those are kind of downer lyrics for me. I’m normally much more optimistic than this. It’s just that the past couple of weeks have been really emotional for me (but almost no one can tell), and I’m having a tough time moving past all of it. Because I’m…stuck.
My brother got married, and some family developments happened for me personally regarding that (that I’m going to write about in more depth tomorrow) that were upsetting. And then D’s mom died out of nowhere, and that brought up a bunch more sadness for both obvious and complicated reasons, on top of a really heavy dose of nostalgia and some guilt-ridden, complex joy about just getting to see D after a long in-person absence.
Unsurprisingly, I’ve cried some in the past couple of weeks.
And I know the title of this piece indicates that I’ve just cried myself totally out, therefore, I can’t cry anymore. It implies that I’ve cried so much I don’t have any tears left in me, but that’s not true. I actually think I need to cry a whole lot more, but I can’t seem to let the emotion go.
I am so good now at holding emotion back and not showing any after decades of being told my feelings don’t matter and are stupid and immature and irrational and embarrass and anger other people, that I can’t normally release them in front of other people at all, even when they are universally considered ‘appropriate.’ Hence ‘I can’t cry anymore.’
I am not emotionless, though. I don’t show them on the outside, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. In fact, sometimes I feel like my feelings are so big, I can feel them physically making my heart swell. But I can’t let them out.
As a girl, when I would cry, I’d get told, ‘Don’t cry,’ no matter what I was crying about. Whether that was something like feeling empathy for the characters in some book I was reading or movie I was watching…”Jesus, Jen. It’s just a BOOK/MOVIE/TV SHOW…it’s not REAL…”
Or that I broke my arm (really) or was having a panic attack (really) or was in some other kind of acute physical or emotional distress (sore legs, illness, moving away from long term friends to start over in a new school and city, relationship break-ups, struggling with higher math I couldn’t seem to understand, deaths in the family…)
I got told I went ‘overboard’ and I was ‘so emotional’ and ‘what are you crying for?/are you still crying over <that>?’ every time I cried. Every. Time.
“Don’t cry….Don’t cry…Don’t cry…Don’t cry…”
I’ve never seen my father cry. Not once. Not when his mother or father or brother or sister died. Not ever.
And I’ve only seen my mom cry twice. Once at an aunt’s funeral (I’ve been to several funerals with my mom, including her own mother’s and father’s…she normally doesn’t even cry at funerals), and once at my brother’s wedding two weeks ago (tomorrow’s entire post is going to be about this).
So, I mean, my parents conditioning me not to cry at least wasn’t hypocritical. But hearing, ‘Don’t cry,’ so many times in my life has adequately brainwashed me to the point that while I was sitting in the very last pew at D’s mother’s funeral service this week…by myself…thinking about D and how awful and complex his feelings must be and how I wish there was more I could do for him than just show up and I got like this…
My own inner monologue went like, ‘Shut this down, Jen. Zone out. Think of something else or clear your head. Don’t do this here. Be strong for D…’ and then it repeated that old refrain, ‘Don’t cry…Don’t cry…Don’t cry…Don’t cry…’
My mom cried hard dancing with my brother at his wedding reception a couple of weeks ago. Every woman at the reception (and some of the men) cried. Except me.
Several people at the reception asked me how I could possibly hold back tears, seeing that. Seeing how obviously emotionally moved my mother was. Seeing such a tender moment play out like that. Seeing all that soft emotion. Didn’t it affect me? Didn’t I have any feelings? Almost like they were surprised that after a lifetime of being drilled not to cry that it stuck with me.
I didn’t feel like crying then, anyway (more about this tomorrow), but I don’t cry in front of other people. I’ve learned not to. I’ve learned to cry alone or not to cry.
I was speaking to a friend about this yesterday, and I asked her (she’s been around me in person more often than most people in my life for the past 10 years or so…and both of us have gone through some emotionally dramatic life events and internal turmoil that we’ve shared with each other) if she’d ever seen me cry.
The only people who have seen me cry since my elementary school days are D and J and The Boy. And all three of them, while they obviously prefer I didn’t cry, because they associate crying with pain and would prefer I didn’t feel any, have never said the words, ‘Don’t cry.’ They’ve always just let me cry. Sometimes J and The Boy ask, ‘Why are you crying?’ if they don’t know why. They ask after my welfare. ‘Are you OK? Are you going to be OK?’ They ask if they can do something to make whatever it is better. But they have never told me not to cry. Which I appreciate more than words can say, but I still really don’t even feel totally secure crying in front of them. Because I don’t want to be asked about it. I still hold emotion, particularly tears, back to only let out when I’m totally alone. It’s one of the main reasons I miss my dog. She would let me cry like I was alone, without actually being alone. These past couple of weeks have been difficult and withholding, emotion-wise, but I’ve really been stifling myself since April, when our girl died. Since then, I’ve really only been able to cry watching or reading or writing something…alone.
I know I need to cry now. I can feel it building up and making my heart swell.
And I really hope I’m not at such a blocked place that I can’t cry anymore.