This is a post about a girl crying. And it’s also a post about Acting As If.
The part where I cry…
Have you ever had an irrational response to something or someone? Like crying when presented with a live Maine lobster. Or bursting into tears when you misfire your fork at a Morton’s Steakhouse and your cauliflower goes flying across the dining room. Maybe it’s laughing to the point of tears when you see a scene from Family Vacation. Well, my Saturday evening this past week culminated in a glorious irrational response to something ever so simple — and involving someone I care about very much.
So this is the part where I cry. Not only was Saturday the first funeral/memorial service I’d attended since Jason’s back in November of 2010, I was at the end of my rope from a whirlwind week where sleep eluded me and the horizon wasn’t looking any better for rest. Feeling as if I fucked something up so royally had me cry myself to sleep that night, hoping I hadn’t decimated a relationship that’s terribly important to me.
In the midst of the tears (which probably needed to come out for many reasons beyond my fuck up), it occurred to me…
They didn’t get your memo.
You know. The one about your day. The one enumerating all of the things you experience, feel, and think but don’t share with people. All that shit that makes us respond the way we do. We end up in situations where — between two people — we each only have half of the other person’s story. So my response (irrational) was based on my day and my own bullshit and here’s someone sitting next to me thinking “WTFPSYCHOREDHEADBBQLOL.” And I only had half the story as well. But here’s the thing we’d all do well to remember: Two people with half a story each doesn’t equal a whole story. Unless we’re willing to share our bullshit, as uncomfortable as it might be. We’ll be stuck in Halvesville when the people we care for most deserve a condo in The Whole Story.
Something I would like to do better is reminding myself that there’s another half of the story with everyone I meet. We all should strive to Act As If.
Acting As If…
It’s the only way to act, I think. And granted, this is a conclusion I came to in the midst of a crying hangover (ever had one of those?). We should act as if the person before us deserves the benefit of the doubt. What kind of bullshit would we avoid if we extended that gesture?
How many of you woke up this morning nearly suffocated by the burden of the upcoming week? (raises hand)
Who out there looked at his inbox with dread as the server started dumping digital shit on your virtual desk? (+1)
Is there anyone reading this who has something personal she’s dealing with that colors every interaction and gesture? (ahem)
The thing that was clearest to me as I emerged (coffee-fueled, albeit) from my crying hangover was that I had to share the other side of my story with the person who got the brunt of my irrationality. Did I do it in a lame-ass email? No. Was it easy to pick up the phone? Also a no. But was it easier than letting the sick feeling in my stomach persist and share the other side of my story — no matter how irrational it might be? Yes.
And it was worth it.
When you Act As If, you’re giving the person in front of you the chance to share. Odds are you’re going to emerge with more of their story than you had. And isn’t that the best we can hope to do as human beings? Crawl into those uncomfortable places in life and let them challenge us. Respect our gut and say, “FUCK! I hear you already. FINE!” and Act As If our gut has something important to share or else it wouldn’t be bugging us like a yappy pup. Those uncomfortable places — while I’m not actively looking for them, I’m doing a better job of allowing myself to experience them instead of avoiding. I’m super excellent at running AND avoiding. And my life’s become a much richer place for giving myself the chance to see what’s waiting on the other side when I decide to deal instead of dodge.
So I ask…
Was it worth it to cry myself to sleep? Yes. Because I have a feeling I’d been due for a good cry (and not all for bad reasons). I had an uncomfortable conversation where I was honest and open and received exactly the same in return — which was a gift, and not necessarily one I deserved. I’m grateful I’d earned this person’s audience. And with any luck, I can leave that irrational broad behind and be more willing to share the other half of my story.
The people who are most important to me deserve to have both halves. Which means I’ll Act As If towards them and hope they do the same in return for me.
PS: I’m not pretty when I cry. And while Pinterest would have us believe otherwise, sometimes the most meaningful things in life aren’t pretty. They just are.