A very long time ago, in the middle of a grief-stricken moment, my mother accused me of being stoic.
As I usually did, I went to my bedroom and cried, where she could not see. In those days I also mastered the art of crying in the shower, outside behind the barn, in the car . . . anywhere so that my family could not see. On the day my dad moved out and told my mom he wanted a divorce, I cried all the way through my SAT test but was dry-eyed at home. How odd that I thought it less invasive for my entire class to see me cry, but not to let my mom and brother?
Years passed, really, before anyone saw me cry. My college roommate did once or twice, more from pure frustration and in moments of great despair, but even then I would run to the bathroom showers and drown my sorrows with hot water.
But then, there was this moment on the phone with Chris – before we even met – when I curled up on the bed in my graduate school apartment and sobbed. I know the reason, but it is not germane to the reality. That was the first time in years that I wanted to be held when I cried. Each time it was a little easier – whether it was leaving him at an airport gate, or the beginnings of a resolution when we disagreed or disappointed each other, or the loss of a long-held dream.
Now, more often than not, my inclination is to find his chest or shoulder before the tears start to flow, before emotion sets in. It’s not always possible. Distress, despair and loss still cause tears when I am alone. Pregnancy wrought an endless flow of them for six full months. Anger, as rare as it is, still pushes me to privacy; hiding in the bathroom crying is a sure sign that I am truly upset with him about something. But most often, my emotional pain is held within until he has the time and opportunity to wrap me in his arms and let me be a little girl, rocked back and forth and held tightly.
Tonight, I think the tears will flow against his chest. They tell him a story in words I am incapable of speaking. They tell him a story that is painful to write.
They tell him about me.