Monday, November 21, 2011

If I Were a Girl

I am a real girl. At least I think so. I think you can still be a real girl even if your emotions are a little fishy and don’t work properly. Most girls’ emotions occasionally get out of wack and we usually attribute it to certain times before, after, and during a certain time of the month. But mine, seriously, are messed up. I’m becoming more and more aware of it and an investigation has begun. The search for emotion might be ended if I received new tear ducts which actually responded to the prompt from the emotions I’m feeling. I simply cannot cry.

If you’re a woman, you know what it’s like to have days where you just feel like crying. It’s been a while since you’ve had a good cry and you’ve been feeling one coming on. All you need is a trigger: a good movie, a sappy story, or a sweet and syrupy song. Then the boo-hooing begins and afterwards you feel as refreshed as a clear spring day that just had a morning shower. You sigh with satisfaction and your day can begin once again.

I know this happens because I’ve been told about it. This wonderful experience where you feel like crying and decide to attend an emotional movie just to make that happen. Oh, how I wish I could participate in such a heavenly skill. But alas, I am destined to be a heartless, soulless automaton who has more in common with the witch in Sleeping Beauty than the golden-haired Aurora.

I first noticed there was something wrong with me when I went to see the movie Love Happens with my sister Corrie. There was this really emotional part of the movie where the guy is coming to terms with the death of his wife and is allowing himself to grieve for the first time. He wells up with tears as he starts to tell his friend all the things he loved about her and all the things he will never forget, even if he does find true love once again.

Just writing that stirs my heart a little so I wonder why, oh why, I responded the way I did. For starters I began to giggle. I turned towards my sister in order to say, “Can you believe this crap?” but was deterred. What were these wet things upon her cheeks? Oh no, are those tears? She was really buying this emotional mamby-pamby hullabaloo. Weird. So I sat back in my seat. There was something special going on between Corrie and this movie and I didn’t want to ruin it.

Now that I think of it, this lack of emotion began a long time before this movie. The very first time I noticed it was when my great-grandmother, Grandma Re, died. At her memorial service I sat next to my cousin who was sobbing and using her entire hand—not just a few fingers—to wipe away her tears.

Not to be one-upped by my cousin, I actually went to the bathroom and splashed water on my eyes. I didn’t want people to think that my cousin loved my great-grandmother more than I did. I was the closest great grandchild to her, after all, and would not be accused of not missing her.

The saga continues into other arenas. I went to see the movie Courageous with a few friends. I wanted to cry so badly! All the elements were right. I was PMSing, I had a glass of wine beforehand, and I was really tired. I was fully prepared to sob my eyes out and boy did I need a good cry! Low and behold the movie began. It proceeded through some very emotional scenes. At one point I started getting concerned. I thought maybe I should be crying already. I turned towards my friend Hayden and sure enough, big wet tears were covering her cheeks. I shook my head in dismay. If only I could learn how to do that.

This lack of emotion can seriously be a burden, especially when you are trying to heed the commandment to weep with those who weep. I once had a friend tell me that the greatest comfort to her when she lost a child was when people cried with her. From then on I was determined to cry when I was with a grieving person.

Unfortunately, crying on command doesn’t quite work. I’m sure there are those who have mastered this skill and it’s possible that I should seek out my own sensei. It’s definitely an idea. This weekend I decided it was time to begin a thorough search of a way to turn my emotions into tears.

For one, I was at church and the pastor delivered a very emotional sermon. This time I didn’t even bother to look and see if anyone was crying. I could hear the sniffles and could see through my peripheral the tissues reaching up to dab the eyes. I remarked to my friend afterwards that, “If my tear ducts worked properly I would definitely have cried in that sermon.” She replied that she balled through the whole thing. Seriously, just go ahead and rub it in.

That same day I went to spend some time with a friend who was hurting. While I was there I leapt for joy that a couple tears actually did come to my eyes. But they weren’t enough to really represent my grief so I had to inform her that my tear ducts were broken and that I was actually feeling more than I was showing, which was partially true.

Gratefully, I am not always dry-eyed. I went to see the movie Soul Surfer for the second time in theaters. The first time I didn’t cry at all. The second time the tears came. I knew I could shut them off if I wanted to, but I was so overjoyed to be experiencing deep emotions that I allowed those tears to just flow and flow and flow. It was glorious. I even remarked to my family after the movie was over that I was so glad to know I was a real girl.

Every woman needs her tears. They are a blessed accompaniment to a sad world. Our mercy hearts are more naturally compassionate and sensitive to the emotions of others. It is our gift to this world and to ourselves. When I once would scorn the emotional women, I now envy them. Of course, there are times when I just can’t stand the drama, drama, drama. And I have always found it very refreshing to hang with the guys while they drink beer and watch scary movies. It’s just so much fun to laugh at the aliens who have come to abduct the humans and use their bodies to fuel the space ship. And just think, some people actually call that a plot.

In conclusion, tears are a good thing. Emotions are natural and healthy. And, even though it doesn’t seem like it, I am a real girl with real feelings that just don’t show up very often, or ever. If I’m with you when your favorite cat dies, please don’t be offended when it looks like I’m crying into my napkin but really I’m laughing. Joy and thanksgiving to God that there is one less cat in the world is also an emotion. I promise.

Emotions are beautiful things and I look forward to gaining some more feeling in this little heart. If I don’t seem to be displaying emotions, realize that they are under the surface and if you’re lucky enough to catch a glimpse of them, you should feel honored. One day, I dream of crying more often and leaving the lack of tears to the menfolk. That will be a day for tears.

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