Each time I was pregnant, the second and third trimesters always brought out the tears. And I mean, I cried at everything. My hormones kept the tears close to the surface and free-flowing. However, once my babies were born, I stabilized … for the most part.
But then something happened a few years ago that changed everything. Well, a lot of “somethings” happened, to be honest — and they all came one right after the other. Terrifying, blood-curdling somethings, like pediatric pancreatitis, job loss, betrayal, harassment, cancer, divorce, and even foreclosure. My blood didn’t curdle, though; instead it ran cold. Everything did. Things just kept happening — events that would reduce most people to puddles of despair, and yet I just got still, hard, cold.
That’s exactly what many people called me, too: Cold. Even my own mother wondered this aloud.
“I had to be,” was the answer buried in my head that hadn’t yet been able to cross my lips. Faced with such life-threatening catastrophes I had to get very still, very calculated, very intense. Very, it seems, cold. Frozen, really.
I didn’t shed tears, though inside I was a tidal wave of emotion. But there was no time for that. No room for that. In a state of emergency, you must keep your head. My family was in a critical state of emergency and I am “the Mommy.” I am the one who has to keep it together.
And so I did — day after day, week after week, month after month, for over five years. FIVE YEARS. It was interminable. I wasn’t sure it would ever end. I couldn’t see the light at the end of the dark tunnel. I had to go on faith that we would survive, or at least that my kids would. I honestly wasn’t sure about me.
Last year we finally “ran away home.” We got out of our proverbial matrix. We beat cancer, we beat pancreatitis, we ditched public school, and we surrendered to bankruptcy. We darn near severed a limb to get out from under our heavy cloud of difficulties, but out we did get. We were together and embarking on a new path, healthier and happier.
It was just mere weeks that we were in the new space we were going to call home — our “Panama Canal” to the future — when something went wrong. Not a humungous something, but still big enough. Still draining.
That time, though, the cold didn’t wash over me. There wasn’t even a chill. Instead, I felt a drip of wet. Then more, and more, until the dam broke and I was awash in tears. My pain, my fear, my anguish, my despair — they were all thawing out inside of me, and the result was a deluge of sobs. They were gut wrenching, ear piercing sobs that I thought in the moment would drown me from their ferocity.
It terrified my kids, who had not heard these sounds from me in any recent time, if ever. They had no idea how to shore up my pain. But the truth was, neither did I. I was as shocked and unnerved as they were, especially when it happened again, and again, and again. Everything was making me cry! Nothing was beyond the reach of my raw emotions. Was I losing it? Had I finally run out of my sanity? Was the move too little, or was it too great? Why was this happening?
It wasn’t until recently, while lying in bed, that it finally came to me: the reason for my overflowing faucet eyes. The reason I was crying was because I finally felt safe enough that I could. When we humans cry like wounded animals, we tend to crawl off to a place where we feel safe enough to expose our vulnerability.
After five years of living in abject fear, instability, and uncertainty; five years of a Herculean exertion of energy and strength; five years of trying to keep the negative forces from sucking my children and I down into the abyss … I was finally free. I was free to feel all of the emotions I had denied myself in my staunch effort to keep my kids safe. I no longer had to hide. I no longer had to freeze my pain. I could safely thaw it all out and let it flow, for as long as I needed to, until my river of agony ran dry.
Once I understood what was happening to me, I explained it to my kids. We all breathed a sigh of relief, and then laughed heartily. They were relieved to know that Mommy wasn’t crazy-crazy, just “regular crazy.” Normal. They gave me a group hug and told me, “It’s alright to cry. Crying gets the sad out of you.” My little corny monsters were quoting a song to me. But it was true. I had always told them it was okay to cry, and now, they were telling me.
They still think of me as “super mom,” but now they recognize and care for the mere mortal that I actually am.
Funny how a little crying has made me happier than ever before.More On