Friday, September 24, 2010

Of Pity Parties and Colossal Crying

I am a crybaby...always have been. One of my family's favorite shows when I was young was Little House on the Prairie. It never failed that during a tender scene, my eyes watered and tears would slide down my cheeks. While most of my family remained stoic, my dad and I were two peas in a pod with our tears. In fact, I would say that we endured much familial persecution through the years over these tears we shed. Still, as my teary habit has continued throughout my lifetime, I've noticed several things about it.

First of all, at any time and at any event these tears are capable of coming out of nowhere. I have oftentimes been shocked by them and their audacity to make a showing at sometimes the most inopportune times. I recall my eyes beginning to glisten at one of my son's tennis matches, and I thought, "Really? Right now? In the middle of this match? Why? What's wrong with me?" It's even worse when hubby looks over and asks, "Are you crying?" and then shakes his head. I can just as easily cry at a baptism as a piano recital; it just depends on how it hits me that day.

I am also a compassionate crier. If someone...and I mean anyone, shares a heartrending story and begins to cry, it's all over for me. The tears well up and spill out. It's my way of identifying with that person in some way. Something else about this crying characteristic of mine is that when I am prepared to cry and absolutely know I'll cry, I don't. For instance, I was completely expecting to sob at my son, Nick's, graduation from high school. I didn't. Something weird happens to me at moments like that. I begin willing myself to cry. It's not right that I don't shed tears at an occasion like that. I must cry. Everyone expects me to cry. In fact, my whole family is staring at me, looking for the watery pools, ready to nod their heads as if to say, "Yep, she's crying. All is right with the world." Disappointment reigns in their faces if they realize they don't get to make fun of another crying episode.

Bear with me as I transition to that particular type of crying that we all have most likely participated in but hate to experience...the UGLY cry! These are the gut-wrenching, pull out all the stops sobbing that we don't forget. Not too many days ago was THE event for me. Let me set the stage for you. It was a fairly ordinary day. No sad news, no tragedies. It was simply life piled upon life, if you know what I mean. Tony and I had been working through some family issues among the more trivial day to day stresses, and something pulled the pin out of the grenade. We had been discussing over lunch how to handle some situations, not necessarily agreeing about the solutions. Ok, I was less than cooperative if you really want to know! He decided it was time to go back to work. Smart choice, I'd say. Sitting at the kitchen table alone, the dam broke and water came flooding out of my eyes. It was like the Jordan River at flood stage. Water was everywhere and apparently so was my makeup. Black streaks ran down my face; mascara had vanished from my eyes. I needed not only a make-up do-over but also an emotional do-over. So, after reapplying what the tears had destroyed, I did what any middle-aged, Bible toting woman would do to re-energize herself--I moped! I held my own pity party and secluded myself from anyone that might encourage me in the right direction. I had become the poster child for what not to do after a complete emotional breakdown.

The very next day as I was lunching with some friends, I happened to mention my mental catastrophe in the course of our conversation. Of course, I made it sound not quite so pitiful. To my astonishment, one of my girlfriends said that she had experienced the same type of day as I had. She wondered why I didn't call her. Why didn't I? Perhaps we could have encouraged one another. Perhaps by talking things through, the situation might not have seemed quite so gloomy. Instead, I wasted the rest of the day feeling sorry for myself, thinking no one could possibly understand. I made a choice to wallow in self pity instead of looking up.

Instead, I should have remembered the leadership meeting I recently attended in which Vickie Carmichael, the assistant Women's Minister, gave each woman a card on which we wrote "I know how you feel". As she gave us various scenarios, we were supposed to pass the card to another woman to remind each one of us that we've all been there. Most likely, many of us have sobbed our hearts out, felt rejected or unloved, seen too many wrinkles on our faces, wondered if our husbands still find us beautiful, pondered if we'd ever get married, worried about our futures, our kids, our finances and perhaps even questioned whether God really loves us.

I should've called my friend that no good, horrible day. I should've remembered that she knows how it feels to experience the Ugly cry, to feel hurt and alone. That day might've been redeemed from the waste that it became because in all likelyhood, she would've pointed me to the Friend who knows everything about me and who definitely knows how I feel!

1 Spout:

So true, yet I find this difficult to do. My pride always gets the best of me.

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