Sunday, December 30, 2007

How to Cry

If you're me,
1. Go into a dark room, alone.
2. Shut the door.
3. Put on headphones and listen to either
Ben Harper's "I Shall not walk Alone", Sufjan Stevens' "Seven Swans"
or just about any track from Sarah McLachlan's "Solace."
4. Accept that there's still only about a 5% chance this will work.

The London Daily Mail ran an article in April about clubs where Londoners can go to get their cry on. Forget the release of alcohol, the oblivion of cocaine, or the sweaty debauchery of gyrating with scantily-clad twentysomethings until dawn (well, don't forget it...but put it off for tonight). The ultimate release, in a hypermedicated and plasticized society, is that of genuine emotion, experienced with others who are 'going through' the same thing and thus are able to sympathize (or at least witness it without looking uncomfortably away). And screwed up as paying for entry to a 'misery club' may be, I understand why someone would do it. There have been periods of my life when I have gone literally years without crying, and the incredible energy that's released when tears finally come is mind-blowing. Imagine crying for the first time in three years. Imagine all the pent-up rage and frustration and sadness and guilt and shame and EVERYTHING that would be pouring out of your eyes. Like a lake bursting through a dam. Intense.

I'm still not a cryer. Often I'll WANT to, but won't be able to--probably too much information, and profoundly uninteresting, but I'll just say that it's frequently as if I can see my emotions in a glass case, like the one Snow White was kept in in the old fairy tale. I know they're there, and I can go up to the clear, cold pane and rest my hands against it; but I can't break through, no matter how much I pound. Is this my own psychopathology (yeah, I know it probably is) or is my Effexor and Depakote and whatnot, an iatrogenic numbing? When I was last in the hospital, I cried...let's see...about a dozen times in a period of three weeks. That is, by far, the highest day-to-sobbing-episode ratio I have ever managed. One of the therapists admitted candidly, "Your problem is that you don't cry enough. I'll just say it frankly: part of my job these next few weeks is going to be to try and make you cry." Awesome. My insurance is paying how much a day for someone to monitor my eating and try to reduce me tears?

But to anyone who's ever had a really good cry, I ask: what's better? It sucks at the time, and I hate the feeling of vulnerability, like I'm melting and pieces of me are sliding down my face, and I worry someone will see me and think I'm weak and hyperemotional and that's the last thing I want anyone to think when so much of my time and effort is invested in creating this facade of invulnerability and indomitable competence, but at the same time I also just want so badly for someone to come and stroke my hair and let me cry on her shoulder. You know? Maybe not. But then you're done, and hopefully you feel better, and for a while after that your breathing stutters every now and again (I have coined a term for this: the crygasm, appropriately enough, since I've had some sob sessions that were better than sex; whether this speaks more about the quality of the emotional release or the quality of the partners I've had is up for debate).

There's also a website, Crying While Eating, where people post pictures and videos of themselves (duh) eating and crying, with notes re: what they're eating, and what they're crying about. Reasons for tears range from "She really loved him" (awww...) to "He missed the biggest pizza party of the year" (for a guy eating a single pizza crust).

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