Sometimes You Just Have to Cry

I’m feeling very emotional today. It’s a combination of things in my life, in my friend’s lives, in blog posts, and just all the crappy news surrounding us. But I hold my tears inside, which may not be the healthiest thing to do, because sometimes you just have to cry.

If you feel like I do, here are a few things that might help nudge some tears out.

Don’t call me Drama Queen and Other Rules of Interaction

A few years ago, at Thanksgiving, I tried to share with my mother something that was really bothering me. I don’t remember exactly what it was; I think it had something to do with my sister. But that doesn’t really matter, what does matter was that she actually responded with, “Lisa, don’t be such a drama queen.”

I lost it.

“I hate when you call me that! Just because I feel something doesn’t mean I am a drama queen.”

And that’s the truth.

I learned to keep my emotions to myself, to the detriment of my own health. I learned to keep things inside because letting them out leads to accusations of being over-dramatic and over-sensitive. But of course, keeping things inside add to the truly dramatic moments such as this particular one with my mother, a crying screaming fest of hurt feelings and accusations that led nowhere.

Sarah is a lot like me, in that she is emotional and is very hard on herself. Yesterday she started crying in the morning when I asked if she had practiced the piano the day before (she spent the day at the theater with Nathan, while I tried to get some things done at home).

“I forgot,” she cried. “And I have a lesson today!” The end of the world as we know it.

“It’s okay, Sarah. Michelle will understand.”

When I picked her up after school she said, “I’m sorry I got so upset this morning.”

“Why did you?” I asked.

“Because I was angry at myself.”

She is me.

So, how does one interact with a person who internalizes every perceived error as further evidence of the imperfections of her own personality? How do you comfort someone who sees the world through emotions? How do you help someone who is  hardest on herself?

How do you interact with yourself?

Here are some suggested rules of interaction with this type of individual:

  • Don’t call her drama queen. It hurts and it’s not true.
  • Acknowledge her feelings and then try to get her to look at them intellectually. “Why do you think you are so angry at yourself for dropping the cup?”
  • Allow her to feel things, but remind her that not everyone sees things the same ways she does.
  • Tell her you love her even when she makes mistakes.

And of course, perhaps the most important rule of them all:

Don’t feed the Drama Queen! It makes her fat and even more dramatic.

Cultural Divide

Singing with the man.

A young American woman moves to Japan in the early days of her adulthood; a country whose ways and traditions are completely different from her own.

During the first few days there, she meets a man; a native of that world. They slowly break through the language barrier and, over weeks, become friends.

Except the woman, who is pretty naive when it comes to relationships, thinks she is falling in love.

All around them, couples are pairing off.  Many of his native friends connect with her gaijin (foreign) friends.  Fast forward a few years, and most of those couples are married.

But the two don’t get together. Something is preventing them. Is it her? Is it him?

They spend one night alone together in her apartment. They cuddle, and snuggle, and talk . . . but nothing more. During that night she begins to realize that he does have feelings for her, but he won’t let those feelings go anywhere because he believes the cultural differences are too big. He doesn’t think they can be overcome.

A year passes, and they continue to be close. When it is time for her to leave, he gives her a present (a stuffed animal that she will treasure always) and tells her the truth. His truth. He admits to caring about her, but that he couldn’t let go that she was gaijin. He couldn’t see past the cultural divide.

She returned a few months later. Same town, new job.  She was determined to let him go, and get control of her own feelings. She spent less time where he was, and concentrated on new friends.

She hooked up (briefly) with another gaijin, but she was not in love with him. When the Japanese man found out, he said “I knew it had to be a gaijin. If it was a Japanese, it would have been me.” Her heart shattered in a zillion pieces.

Flash forward to now, years later. The young woman, now married to a wonderful man (who happens to be Japanese/Korean American) finds herself again on soil that seems foreign to all she is used to. Except this time she is in her own country. She feels as different as she did when she was truly a gaijin.

In this state, she lies in bed and reflects on her first true experience with loving and being loved. She wonders, what if? What if she had tried to make him cross the divide? What if he had been willing to look past her American ways. In her heart she knows, it would never have worked. But is that because of the cultural divide or something else?

In a flash of clarity she recognizes the truth. Her truth. The thing that divided them, and to this day makes connecting with people a challenge for her, has nothing to do with culture. It has to do with herself.

Keeping Up Disappearances

I admit, sometimes I choose to disappear. I stop writing; I avoid Facebook (or at least I avoid public appearances on Facebook); I only respond to necessary e-mails; and I censor my calls. I usually do that when I am feeling most out of control with my own emotions. I don’t want to dump those emotions on other people, and I don’t really know how to reach out for help. So I hole up in my inner self and disappear.

BUT, there is a big difference between choosing to disappear to regroup, and being made to disappear. Currently I am facing the latter, and it is making me angry. In a way, though, anger is good because it has made me choose to reappear. I refuse to be made to feel inferior anymore. I know that I am talented. I know that I know my stuff. I know that I have a lot to share. If I’m not welcome, then so be it. I’m going to find my own path. I still don’t know what that path is, but I’m sick of this. So, hello world. I refuse to disappear anymore!!! I’m here to stay.

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