Cry You a River

I’m not a wimp, I swear.

I don’t know what’s gotten into me lately, but everything makes me cry. Around Christmas, I figured this is normal, or as close to normal as I’m going to get. I have some relatives who are gravely ill, and seeing them or not seeing them evokes the same response — tears, natch. Candlelight communion always gets me too. And then there’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” and all the other holiday specials that pretty much flatten me around that time of year.

But I’m usually over it by now.

I think I spent half of last week either in tears or choking them back. I can’t bring myself to blame Hillary Clinton for starting it, but when I saw her on TV, genuinely moved, I was too. I love Hillary, and I’m not voting for her in the primary, and I’m unhappy with myself about it, and I found myself with big movie-ish tears welling in my eyes while I watched her. Then the media’s star collection of mouthy dolts spent the rest of the week talking about that moment, and I got so angry I found myself fighting off a whole different brand of tears. What the hell, people? Everyone swallowed that shtick about W hugging the teenager who lost her mother on September 11, but I didn’t hear every jackass with a microphone expostulating about it for an entire week. God save me from the “liberal media,” and other fabrications.

It was books that got me next: The Autobiography of Foudini M. Cat, an old favorite by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer. I recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who’s ever loved a pet, but there are a couple of moments in it that’ll make you reach for the Kleenex. I sniffled my way back to some dignity, stopping along the way to give Spike a huge hug he probably could’ve lived without. Then I also reread Elizabeth Berg’s Talk Before Sleep, possibly the best thing I’ve ever read about women and friendship, but it’s also about losing someone you love, and not only that, the first time I read it — not realizing what I was getting into — was less than two months after the unexpected death of someone close, someone I miss just about every day. It’s a beautiful, moving book, but dear God, I don’t know what got into me, reading it right after Foudini. I might as well have spent the evening stabbing myself with scissors.

Politics bit me again. I went to a John Edwards rally. I’d heard bits and pieces of his stump speech, and I knew his background was very much like my own, a family living in a mill village and working in a mill most of their lives. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of mills in the south, they’re the 20th-century descendants of plantations, for all practical purposes. He’s an exceptional speaker anyway, and when he talked about the worth of the mill workers being the same as that of the mill owner — words that, 50 years ago, would’ve got him run out of town — I only held onto myself by biting the hell out of my lower lip and thinking I’m surrounded by news cameras and I’m damned if I’ll be shown crying on the six o’clock news. I wasn’t, but it was uncomfortably close for a moment or two.

I want to emphasize that I knew the movie John and I watched this weekend was going to make me cry. I just didn’t know how much. We had a choice of “We Are Marshall” and “Gods and Monsters” this weekend, neither one of which we’d seen, and we picked the football movie since the season’s coming to an end. Look, I had very low expectations. Matthew McConaughey hasn’t been at the top of his game in a while, and he hammed up his character with an enthusiasm worthy of William Shatner. But the story of the movie got to me. It was a little close to home, about a small town that has everything emotionally invested in its football team (Clemson, anyone?), and there were a couple of scenes toward the end that even choked John up a little. I, of course, cried all over the sofa.

Then I went home the next day with a migraine, which knocks my defenses down a few degrees anyway, and tried to explain the movie to a friend on the phone, and ended up bursting into tears all over again, damn it.

Her: Are you crying?

Me: (sniffle) Uh, no.

Her: You sound like it. Movie really got to you, huh?

Me: I’m not crying!

Her: (silence)

Me: OK, maybe a little, but it was really good.

Her: Have some chocolate. It’ll make you feel better.

Which it did.

So what the heck is up with this? I can’t possibly be menopausal yet. I’m too young and not lucky enough. But I’d like to be able to go out in public without there being the chance that I’ll, I don’t know, hear “Fire and Rain” on the radio and not drive off into a ditch somewhere, sobbing.

And that’s all before the grand finale I’ve got planned for tonight: I’m going to watch “The Green Mile” for about the 10th time.

I have a box of Kleenex and a very furry cat in case I run out. Check the news for flooding in the southeast…

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18 Responses to “Cry You a River”

  1. Don’t know how old you are, but I started getting strange around 37…I thought I was too young too…the symptoms go on for years and years. I’m going for a Guinness record! It may also just be the winter blahs…

  2. Soy shakes. I recommend soy shakes, for both of you. And tigereye, stand in front of the mirror and repeat the mantra of yours I found and told John about–he’ll tell you which one. Do it loudly.

  3. jojovtx1800 Says:

    You big sissy!
    Perhaps it’s college football withdrawal syndrome. 🙂

  4. This past summer I went through a phase when I couldn’t stop crying. I knew that there was a problem one day when I stood at the gas station filling up my van with tears pouring down my face. At that time I was miserable and the miserableness had been going on for longer than I was comfortable with. I did the zoloft trick for a few months. I’m not saying that you should I’m just saying that I did. I do think that times of melancholy are important to pay attention to. It’s not all that bad.

  5. Don’t have any idea what age you are, Tiger, but when I started into menopause, I cried at least once a day, over things that ranged from a Hallmark card TV commercial to things a little more worthy. One day I found myself tearing up trying to tell a perfume saleswoman “No,” and that’s when I decided something was wrong. I talked to my doctor about it and he put me on Celexa. I stopped all the silly weeping. It didn’t numb me. I still cry at appropriate times, but not getting mail doesn’t sent me off on a boo hoo.

  6. I never got like that when I was menopausal.

    I got like that every time I was pregnant.

  7. I’m totally menopausal and do this all the time. I’ve been just looking at the inside cat and Gus through the windows, lately, and the tears flow.

    I know you’re too young for this. If it keeps up, you should probably get a check up.

  8. TheOtherIvy Says:

    Stress can contribute to this (I say from experience). Transitions can be very stressful.

  9. TheOtherIvy Says:

    Being sick, too.

  10. I cry at the drop of a hat too. It was easier to quit fighting it.

  11. pandemonic Says:

    Hey, hey. I didn’t cry during menopause. I cried FOR menopause. My immediate thought at all these tears would be “are you suffering from SAD?” Because if you are, you might need light therapy or antidepressants.

  12. I probably need a better antidepressant. The ones like Prozac and Zoloft don’t seem to help much, but the tricyclics did, and I’ve had to cut back on the dose of ’em I take for migraines, so that may be it.

    I’m SO glad Hallmark commercials do that to someone else, Vicky! The one with the girl and her dad walking in the snow just floors me every year.

  13. JoJo, I think you’re more right than you know. I have to go six months without college football — of COURSE I’m depressed.

  14. Sounds like me when I watched Whale Rider. I told my brother it was the onions.

  15. I think it’s worse not to be able to cry. I can’t do it unless I’m in almost-unbearable physical pain (like having an osteopath shove an eight-inch flexible needle right into a joint. Holy crap, that was bad) and then once I start I make a big embarrassing mess of myself. I think it’s probably better to get it out more regularly. Maybe not continually, but regularly.

  16. All I have to do is watch the Holy Trinity of weepy movies: The Green Mile, Schindler’s List, and Out of Africa. That’ll keep the old tear ducts in fighting shape.

  17. I guess it’s the season. I’m too depressed to even cry. I’m just numb or something waiting for my life to get better but doing nothing to make it any better.

    I haven’t left the house except for the absolutely necessary. My daughter has missed science club twice because I won’t get dressed and take her.

    The economy sucks. It’s brutally cold outside. I think the feral cats I feed froze to death.

    I always cry on my kids’ birthdays and this is the first year that I didn’t. I feel bad about that for some odd reason.

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