Photo by Emily Long
It’s not that I didn’t have feelings. I just always felt that I had a firmer harness on my overt emotional reactions than many of my friends did, both men and women. If something was really sad, of course I would cry. If a close relative died, I’d cry. If I had a particularly brutal fight with a loved one, I would cry. And if an animal died at the end of a movie, well, if you don’t cry at that you’re made of something cold and dark.
I suppose what I mean is that I considered crying to be an appropriate reaction to extreme sadness. The physical effects of emotions that cannot be contained. If you could contain them, why wouldn’t you? What’s so bad about bottling them up, anyway?
But something has happened inside of me of late. It all started a few months ago, when, sitting in my cube during my lunch hour, I clicked on a Buzzfeed list featuring veterans surprising their family members upon their return to US soil. As I scrolled down the list of smiling uniformed men and women and the explosive elation of their loved ones, my body started to react. My lip twitched, my skin raised in goosebumps, and then I began blinking. Furiously. There was nothing I could do. The tears started falling. Slowly at first, and then in a downright pour. I could barely catch my breath; I was sobbing! And…I liked it.
The next day, same time, same place, I looked left and right to make sure no one could see, and typed in the words “vets returning home” into YouTube. And I began clicking. And I began crying. An hour later, I was practically dehydrated. And I felt incredible. Absolutely rejuvenated. I was hooked.
Then I reached for the hard stuff. “Dogs’ Reactions to Veteran Owners Returning” was a gateway to the entire “Buzzfeed Cute” section, featuring endless videos of handicapped but smiling dogs, piglets tripping over their own legs, lion cubs learning to “rawwwr” (OMG). Then I remembered “Christian the Lion.” Then came the elephant videos. Baby elephants. My God, OLD elephants. Rescued elephants, freed from the the chains of a lifetime of circus performing. Elephant mother and baby, reunited at last. I was in deep.
Sometimes, for a quick fix at work, I would turn on Susan Boyle‘s first performance of “I Dreamed a Dream” on Britain’s Got Talent, and that would get me through the afternoon.
But now, the addiction has crept over into my real life. When my boyfriend’s family surprised me on Christmas morning with a pile of presents under the tree and a stocking stuffed with goodies, I got misty! When he brought home a box of chocolates for me on New Year’s Eve, “just cuz,” I quickly turned away as a teeny tear fell down my cheek! What is going on?! I’m cooler than this!
I’ve been desperately trying to figure out what is causing this odd behavior. I’ve considered the possibility that perhaps this is some sort of rite of passage into female adulthood, as I’ve noticed that the older ladies seem to do the most blubbering at weddings and showers. Is it possible this change is hormonal, at the age of 26?
Or maybe, just maybe, I’ve somehow emotionally matured and am now accepting the art of Feeling. The truth is, I’m happier now than I think I ever have been. Is it possible that my heart, like the Grinch’s, has just grown three sizes? Are Internet kitties my Cindy Lou Who?
The true reason for my addiction to crying ultimately remains a mystery. For now, I’ll keep a secret stash of tissues at my desk and, when things get slow around the office, I can allow myself an emergency hit of the good stuff.