Monday, August 18, 2008

It's my blog and I'll cry if I want to

My son Jonathan is a very sensitive soul. He is very attentive to other people's need and wants. He is very loving and huggable. He is artistic and relies alot on his emotional side. All very good good traits for a boy to have and not something you necessarily can teach as much as they just seem to be born with. The unfortunate downfall is that he cries more than other boys his age. He takes teasing and name calling rather harshly. If things don't go his way he tends to break down quickly and start sobbing.

You'd think by the way I'm a cold fish nowadays when it comes to tenderness that Jonathan has picked up this trait from his mother. While his mother does have her crying fits (like any of you women- sheesh), he really does get it from me. As a boy, I was just like Jonathan when it came to crying. I would well up with tears at the drop of a hat. I'd even wallow in my own pity and hide in my room or in our closet. The darkness would make me feel secure as I'd felt sorry for myself. Perhaps this was some early manifestation of my mood disorder or perhaps you can chalk it up to being a kid and a tweener.

Somewhere around age 14 I found the control to stop crying altogether. Even if I was in pain I wouldn't tear up- I'd scream alot instead. I don't know if it's a healthy thing but for the most part even if I want to let it all out and cry I can't. In the past 24 years I think I've only had one instance of a flat out bawling.

It was when my mother was towards the end of her battle with cancer. I was working at home at the time (and living away, go figure) and there wasn't much to do. I came down for a break and sat next to my mother who was watching TV (I think it was the OJ trial!). Her liver at that point had grown so distended that it was bulging out of her stomach area and was hard as a rock. You could hear her smacking her lips audibly as she would experience dry mouth often during this time. When I sat down I reached over and held her hand as she seemed to be in a bit of distress and pain. Her hand felt so bony and she clasped my hand solidly and somehow we seemed to speak to each to other without saying anything. A flood of emotions fell over me and for once I think the grave reality of her dying hit me hard.

I always logically knew that when she got cancer that she would likely die within that year of diagnosis. For some strange reason I emotionally denied or ignored that fact. Perhaps being in my early twenties I felt somewhat invincible and untouchable. I hadn't experienced any real loss up to that point. Needless to say when I suddenly came to my senses and acknowledged her dying I was awash with grief. Holding her hand and feeling her die was the most surreal experience I've had. I pretended to go for a smoke in the garage and I lit my cigarette and didn't even get a puff beyond that point. I wept and sobbed uncontrollably. The only control I could exert was the noise level as to not alert my mother to the fact I was crying. All the cliches were present. I fell to my knees and the dam of tears burst. It was like having a seizure of uncontrollable tics and I was barely able to draw my breath in.

I haven't done that since. Even 2 weeks later at her funeral. Mind you, I was visibly upset but I think I was more disturbed at the open casket and I was fighting a 105 degree fever that day. I will also admit to getting misty eyed on occasion, but I just haven't felt the urge to cry like that again. I don't know if the loss of control that I don't like or perhaps that I've gained some perspective as I've aged. Life is good. There hasn't been too much for me to get upset about. Sure, there have been some minor bumps along the way, but nothing so far has hit me like that day has. I have a wonderful wife and two great kids, a decent job that pays alright and lots of good friends. I'm happy and I don't need to cry right now. If one of those things gets taken away, then all bets are off. But until then, I'm fine with my stoic face.


jeff cothren said...

One thing that constantly impresses me about your blog is your forthrightness and candidness as to your mood disorder and your emotion.
Stoicism is an option, always, though as a standpoint for existence, it requires experience - you've obviously a good deal of this. Thanks for the post.

Brian said...

Thanks for the kind words about this blog Jeff, that means alot to me especially when I consider your writing and blog to be of excellence.

I seem to use different masks for different situations. I am stoic when it comes to being sad, I am overly gregarious when it comes to having fear and I use inappropriate humor when it comes to being angry. Practice has little to do with it as I fall naturally into these stances. It's a defense mechanism that I've grown comfortable with.