The other day I was in the bathroom at work and I heard someone crying. A kind of hushed sob I know all too well. It wasn’t a loud cry but it wasn’t a little one either. It was weeping in a whisper. Soft, heartwrenching sobs.
It was clear she was trying hard to contain the sound for fear someone might walk in. I don’t think she knew I was there. My heart … ached. I wondered … what is this woman going through? A heartbreak? Loss of a parent? Bad health news? Or was her heart broken at her job? Was she feeling purposeless and lost?
Hearing her cries reminded me of my own dark season I only just now feel like I’m really getting out of. It is bizarre to me how windy and long the path to healing sometimes is … and how unique but also similar the journey is for all of us.
Last year, when I was going through my first and really only heartbreak, the tears and emotions took me by surprise. I expected tears, of course. I’m a cryer. I cry at a lot of things. (My third grade teacher even called me a cry baby at one point … rude.)
But what I didn’t expect was how often or how randomly I would cry as I did in those first few months after losing A.
Oh I cried in the expected places – bars (damn you sweet alcohol), places where we’d been that were romantic to me, the privacy of my home when I’d remember moments that seemed so special. But it was the weird emotional gut punches that came out of nowhere that I wasn’t prepared for that would have me crying in the most unexpected of places. Like on the elevator having a flash of a memory with his hand in mine and my heart racing. Or during a meeting, when I was supposed to be paying attention and suddenly I’d remember the way he’d hold my face in his hands, so tenderly.
The mind is so strange when it’s trying to heal. At least my mind is. It fails to compartmentalize. So the worst moments were when I’d be at work talking to someone about a project I was working on, totally engrossed in the details but somehow my mind would dart to a forgotten moment, like the first time he kissed me and all of a sudden tears would start to well up. In that instant I would remember everything so … fresh. The smell, the feel, how my heart leapt for joy. My mind would replay it clearly and so quickly, before I had a chance to put a guard up, and then I’m having to explain that no, no I’m not crying because I have small changes to this email I’m working on, I’m just tired or someone I vaguely knew passed away.
There were days I had to go to the bathroom nonstop to try and weep in private. It was my only solace. And it was terrible, because I’d go there, weep quietly, sometimes not quietly, then return to my desk assuming all the tears had been cried. Only to find out I was wrong, get back up a few minutes later and return to the bathroom to cry again.
I felt dumb. Hopeless. Here I was hurting over someone who .. didn’t choose me. Who abandoned me in a sense. I felt like a fool. It was embarrassing.
Some people might see this … display of emotion as weakness. And I did too. For a long time.
I don’t anymore.