I never used to cry much. Crying wasn’t encouraged when we were kids. Stiff upper lip and all that. Emotion was not to be displayed. So I didn’t cry when my first boyfriend cheated on me with a friend, I didn’t cry at my grandmother’s funeral, and I never cried when I first left home for a year in Bangkok. (That year though I did learn to cry in the shower. It’s very therapeutic, you know.)
So when I lost my first pregnancy, and I cried, it was a surprise to me. In fact, the emotions that were released then were shocking to me. I'd always felt a degree of control. But suddenly control - of my body, my emotions - was gone. Then came the stress of trying to conceive again, and a second ectopic pregnancy. By now, the floodgates were well and truly open. I like this analogy. When we were children, we used to drive an hour or two up into the mountains, and along a series of lakes created by a hydropower scheme. (My Dad loved to go fishing, and we used to go too sometimes on picnics. My one and only fish – a brown trout – was caught in one of these lakes. I didn’t like fishing, though I loved the natural environment.) Anyway, one of these lakes had a large dam, with floodgates that were opened when the lake was full or in danger of overflowing. The sheer volume of the water pouring out was always staggering, and I often wondered how they would ever close the floodgates against the magnificent power of the water.
I discovered personally that closing floodgates isn’t that easy. I cry at everything. I cry at pretty much anything remotely emotional. I cry at great sporting victories or achievements, and medal ceremonies always get me, whether I know the winners or not, so I’m bracing myself for the coming Olympics. I cry at anything remotely moving; happy moments and sad ones, newspaper articles and TV advertisements. A while ago a friend was sharing that she and her husband were going to do something exciting with their about-to-be adult daughter. My eyes filled with tears – happy tears, for her. Fortunately, she understood and did the same! I find it a bit debilitating. I even struggle to tell stories that move me. My husband and I joke about it now. “Stop (talking/watching/reading), you’ll cry,” he’ll say. “Too late!” is invariably my response. And I would have liked to have said words at my father’s funeral. But I wasn’t physically capable. The tears would have come, my voice would have cracked, and I would have turned into an undignified mess.
Initially I hoped that, as I healed from my losses and accepted my life without kids, the floodgates would close, and the tap would turn off. But no, not really. I feel as if I go through life now, skimming along the surface, knowing that there is a huge well, no, a lake of tears, suppressed but not controlled, just waiting to burst through. Of course, hormones/age could have something to do with it. Perhaps I can hope that in ten years time I won’t be so emotional!
On the plus side though, I have learned that tears are great mascara removers. I wish I could bottle them. I’d make a fortune.