Friday, September 15, 2006

Proud to be a Cry Baby!

My name is mka and I’m a cry baby. Hello, mka. Can you imagine what a meeting of Cry Babies Anonymous would be like? All that weeping and balled up tissues everywhere. I’m not sure I could handle it. And twelve steps to get over your emotions? Hmm, not so much! (Disclaimer: No offense to 12 step programs intended here, I promise.)

You see I am (in case you haven’t already figured it out) an empathetic (and possibly a bit empathic) soul. My first instinct is to put myself in someone else’s shoes. I just can’t help it – it’s the way that I am put together. There are even times when I think that I can actually feel someone else’s emotions. This has felt like a burden in the past. I mean it gets really exhausting feeling all the stuff you feel plus all the stuff that everyone around you is feeling, especially when you are not in the best of places yourself. After a day of all that feeling the empathetic soul needs about twelve hours of recuperative sleep!

I recently realized that I’m not taking in other people’s emotions as much anymore. I’m still me though. The empathy is still there. I listen to people and try to help them. I continue to be able to tell when someone is uncomfortable in a situation and needs to be elsewhere or needs a quick change of subject. I usually know when someone is feeling offended or is sad. The new thing for me is that I’m not carrying their stuff around with me anymore. I’m able to do what I need to do to help folks out and I think of them when I’m not with them, but I don’t feel their emotions the way that I used to. My theory is that now that I am a happier, more balanced person I am able to use these special skills of mine in a healthier way. It’s better on so many levels.

So maybe I could handle a Cry Babies Anonymous meeting these days. On the other hand, I don’t necessarily want to cure the cry babies. Ok, so the ones who are wrapped up in drama, yes, cure them, definitely. I’m done with the drama. And the chronically depressed cry babies - yeah, let’s help them too. Any suffering cry babies should be made to feel better, but keep the cry babies like me just the way that they are.

No, I’m not being full of myself. (You know me better than that.) I think my cry babyness comes from refusing to suppress my emotions as well as from striving to be truly present. I’m not a self-centered cry baby or a cry baby trying to get attention. When I have an emotion I acknowledge it and if that emotion needs to be expressed my tear ducts might just take over. (I should have known I’d end up this way all those years ago when I used to think my mom was way too silly when she’d cry at the end of every Little House on the Prairie episode or Hallmark card commercial. I put that out there and it’s come back to get me, but in a good way I think.) I’m not saying that I walk around weeping all the time. I save the all out stuff for big things. I can guarantee you though that there’s a little bit of crying every day.

A typical day might include getting a little teary if I find a sweet email in my inbox from a friend. Noticing some kind of synchronicity from my life in my morning reading of Simple Abundance or having a realization about some issue that I’ve been working on while writing in my journal can cause some sniffles. As can opening Louise Hay’s Meditations to Heal Your Life right to the thing I needed to see at that very moment. Ellen DeGeneres gets me because she does such nice things for people on her show. Recently my dad called to make an appointment with me to come over and do handyman projects. I got off the phone and climbed into the bathtub and had a nice cry thinking about how wonderful my parents have been since I moved and how happy I am that we are getting along so beautifully.

Well, maybe I’m not an actual cry baby – not in most people’s definition anyway. Maybe I’m just an emotional person or (as I used to hear growing up) someone who wears her feelings on her sleeve. No matter what you call it I’m proud of it. I have become a person who has an emotion, experiences it, and most of the time is then able to let it go. I think this is a good thing, don’t you?

One of my favorite kinda recent movies is Something’s Gotta Give. I absolutely adore the scene in which Diane Keaton’s character falls apart after it becomes clear that her affair with Jack Nicholson’s character was simply an affair. She sits at her desk, there’s this great cheesy shot of a big tear hitting the keyboard. She starts dealing with her emotions by writing. (She’s a playwright I forgot to mention that.) This moving on is not easy; she cries throughout the entire writing process. She goes through box after box of tissues, she wakes up in the morning and immediately starts weeping, she leans against the shower wall and cries her heart out, she walks on the beach, manuscript in hand, and cries. She goes for another walk on the beach, where she first really bonded with Jack's character, while telling the story to her women studies professor sister, who doesn’t have much patience for the whole thing. (It’s all quite hilarious.) In the next scene she has a discussion with her daughter about how she’s in love and that’s why she’s crying all the time. The daughter prattles on about her way of dealing with men, she self-protects.

Diane: “…I had the time of my life.”
Daughter: “I’ve never had the time of my life.”
Diane: “I know, baby. I say this from the deepest part of my heart. What are you waiting for?”

That’s what I’m talking about! You go, Diane! (Actually -you go, Nancy Meyers! - who wrote the movie.)

Be a cry baby if that’s who you are. I’ll cry with you if you need a friend. Then we’ll laugh and go drink a pot of green Moroccan mint tea or eat some organic Ben and Jerry’s. It’ll all be okay.


Chris A. said...

I have to ask: When you climb into the bathtub and cry, do you fill it with water first? I have this image of you sitting fully clothed in an empty bathtub. It's a much different notion than retreating to a bubbly soak. So lonely without the happy little chattering bubbles to keep you company.

mka said...

chris a.,

Hi there wise woman! There is water in the tub - it is a soaking situation. I never thought of climbing in there without water. Mitchell does use the tub sans water to play a game that we call bathtub rats. He thinks it's great fun.

xo, mka