I’ve been spending inordinate amounts of time crying the last few months. In fact, my daily goal – my “super objective” for all you actor/theatre types – is to get from when I wake up to when I climb back into bed without shedding a single tear. Some days I achieve this goal, but many days I do not.
For those of you who perhaps do not know me as well, I would not label myself as a weepy person by any means; never the girl who cried at every sad movie, scraped knee, unrequited crush. I’m not prone to tears, never have been even when I was a little girl. Oh sure, I had my moments, but I cannot remember a time in my life when I cried buckets of tears the way I have been as of late. Whatever dammed up those tears in the past has obviously been demolished: the Hoover Dam of my eyes is gone and the water is flowing freely.
I’m not sure if what I’m going through right now can be described as a “quarter-life crisis” or simply a series of unfortunate events (more on THAT later), but one thing is certain: whatever it’s called, it totally SUCKS. It’s like getting gut-punched over and over again from all sides. Just when I think I’ve blocked it, I get attacked from the side or behind or above; it’s inescapable. I keep trying to outthink or outrun it, and I can’t. I have resigned myself to its destruction, hoping I can climb out from beneath the rubble and emerge better or wiser, if slightly worse for wear. I’m a molting phoenix, waiting to become ashes so I can be reborn.
People always say crying is good for you, it’s healthy. “Get it all out,” they say. Trust me, I’d like nothing more than to stop all the crying, to make it end, cry out every last tear so I can just be done with it all. But shit keeps happening, and more tears come without my consent. Nobody likes a person who cries all the time; I should know, because I get annoyed when I see certain acquaintances who cry over every damn thing. But for once, I understand what it’s like to try to stay composed every minute of the day when the weight of everything is pushing down on you and how that can be too much to bear. I used to think tears were a sign of weakness, not for other people but for me. I now know tears come because you’re fighting so hard to remain strong, and you can’t bear that weight anymore.
It’s not uncommon to see people sobbing on the subways or sidewalks here in New York or perhaps a park bench. When you live in a city of nine million people, it’s hard to find a place you can be alone to scream, YAWP, and yes, cry. And while you’re never truly alone, this place can still make you feel that way, that no one understands the struggles you have, everyone is doing better than you. At least in Los Angeles, you have your car for these moments (and only eating salads and no carbs is reason enough to make any person with a spray tan cry). But here in New York, you have no option, and oddly enough, people sympathize with you and lovingly ignore your bleary-eyed sobfests. I’ve cried many tears on crowded and not-so-crowded trains. I’ve held them in until my walk home from the subway where my sobs grew increasingly more pronounced with every step closer to my apartment. I’ve tried to hide them behind my giant sunglasses as I sat on a bench in Central Park. And you’d think my bed was actually a waterbed because of all the tears shed there. I’ve done all of these things in the last few days, weeks, and yes, months.
My heart has been beaten and broken, my spirit shaken, my strength tested. These last few months have been the worst of my life, and I have never felt smaller and humbler; almost serf-like. I cry because I do not understand whether I am being punished for something or being taught a lesson. I cry because I don’t know if I’m being tested and for what purpose. I don’t understand any of what has happened. Am I meant to? I don’t know.
But crying feels good. It’s the only thing that does, so if you see me bawling my eyes out, please know I am struggling, hand me a Kleenex, throw me a sympathetic glance, and let me alone. It’s going to be a while before I stop.