I’ve been doing a lot of laughing so I don’t cry lately. I realize it’s a bit of a cliché to say that, but the phrase really resonates lately. There have been a lot of uncomfortable feelings to push past lately, and an awful lot of holding back tears. At least laughing brings some levity, right?
As much as I love a good laugh, I also LOVE a good cry. Pre-pandemic and pre-mommyhood, it was typical for me to cry…a lot…and frequently. I’m a sensitive person. To throw another cliché out there, I wear my heart on my sleeve. Historically, I’m not really all that good at holding back my tears.
It goes back further than I can probably remember, too. I have distinct memories of a grade school teacher repeatedly calling on me, saying, “Sarah doesn’t like to be called on because she is SO sensitive.” Holding back tears, I recall the burning in my eyes and I still feel the red-hot embarrassment on my cheeks even now as I write this, some 20 years later.
Mortifying grade school experiences aside, as a kid, I eventually embraced my sensitivity as a somewhat self-entitled strength. My emo-hipster-punk-wannabe years were nothing if not cathartic, and I found a “pretty okay-ish” rhythm and acceptance for the part of me that tended to cry when I’d unexpectedly hear “landslide” on the radio. Warranted or not, a good cry could be refreshing, and I’d often lean into it.
All this to say that when my options are to laugh or cry, most of the time the decision is made for me, and I’m okay with it.
Factoring in the postpartum stage, wrought with sleepless nights, self-doubt, and the surprisingly emotional ups and downs of feeding a newborn, I’ve certainly had my fair share of overwhelmed crying this year. I’ve also cried from overwhelming love and joy in the simplest moments, like the other day, when I noticed avocado lumps stuck in my son’s tiny baby curls, and a million other tiny, unexpected moments.
Happy crying, sad crying, or unrelated to crying, I’m constantly striving for the elusive balance in life, especially now with a little one. I even feel like I hit a good stride for a while.
Then the pandemic hit the US. The survival mode I was already in as a first-time parent was amplified to a point I did not realize was possible for me. As we juggled our full-time jobs sans daycare with our concern for what the future would hold, there wasn’t time for much else. I’ve shared before, my self-care was one of the first things to go in the world of this “new normal.”
I’ve gotten a little better about finding the time I need for myself and my sanity, but these days, there is very little time or space to cry, whether I want to or not. Usually by the time I let myself cry, I’m boiling over, making it even messier and harder to get through than if I had just let it happen in the first place.
That’s what happened to me today. I was holding back tears all day, just waiting for a moment of peace so I could write. I was feeling like I finally had some time to myself, and I could write today’s post…but I just couldn’t do it. I’d hit the wall, and I’d either need to stay in the corner or let the tears out.
The tears started flowing first from frustration but I stifled them, trying to press on. That close friend of mine, overwhelm, invited themselves over again, bringing tears with them, and I still resisted.
Hours later, and many a distraction in the meantime, the tears again came to a head and I had no recourse to resist. First throwing a little fit in our kitchen, I vocalized (i.e. blubbered) my feelings to my husband, and we managed to make it all okay, even laughing about some of the hardest parts of the day.
Sitting here now to share this with you, I’m realizing that I completely failed to take my own advice to make time for micro self-care this week. Instead of taking a little time each day to refill my cup, I got caught up in a million other things that needed my attention.
A few hours ago, I’d have thrown a nasty glare at the suggestion that I could be laughing over the day, but here I am, smirking and shaking my head. I spent a lot of time and effort today trying not to cry, not realizing it was exactly what I needed. Once again, I was unaware of the weight that my world was putting on my shoulders, and I feel so much lighter now.
It’s not exactly lipstick, but it’ll do.