Once a week, I get on the train, put my earphones in my ear, and attempt to do my Sudoku puzzle when I feel it. It starts in the pit of my stomach, growls up to my esophagus, spreads throughout my chest, then collects in my throat. I hold it there. It must wait until I get home. Sometimes it does. Other times, it will not be denied, and it rushes to my head. I do my best to hold my head down. Who really wants to be the crazy crying lady on the bus? I vent my tears as quickly as possible, and I'm usually collected enough to walk to my car.
Some days, I can scarcely figure why I'm crying. Those are typically the days I can avoid the episode. Other days, I know the precise reason behind the tears, which is why I can't hold them back. I tried to relate this cycle to my brother from another mother, and it was he who diagnosed this as "the other side of strength."
Lately, I've questioned if my strength is really just the workings of an exceptional actress. I realize that my strength is born of necessity. People have it in their mind that I'm going to make it, simply because I have made it so far. I can't recall the last time someone asked me how I was doing and I felt as though they wanted a real answer. They expect to hear fine. They NEED to hear fine. They are not prepared to deal with the helplessness that comes with hearing their strong friend is in the dark, and they can't even throw up a flare. They have their own shit to deal with. And so, being the person I am, I tell them what they need to hear. And I tell them that I'm fine. And I crack jokes. And I talk about things that don't matter; because the things that do matter or either too painful to recount, or too difficult to verbalize.
The thing about being strong is that people expect you to be that way all the time. And if you falter, they by no means expect it to be a chronic condition. When we see Superman weakened by kryptonite, we do little more than wait until he regains his strength. Not if - when. When Peter Parker declared himself "Spiderman no more" we knew it was a matter of time that he abandoned such a silly idea. Not if - when. Ultimately, we see our hero back, and better than ever. The momentary lapse was but a memory. That shit is for the movies.
When people, real people, are weakened, or suffer crises of faith or conscience or whatever, they can be forever altered. I'm not so sure of who I am anymore. The people in my life that I once believed to be central either don't call me, I don't call them, or some combination of both. Outside of a call from one of my sisters, if my phone rings once a day, that's plenty. More often than not, the call is not for me. I haven't talked to my father in months. I have a sister to whom I don't speak at all. My cousin, to whom I used to speak every day, I maybe speak to once a week. I've even taken to going to lunch alone more often than not. The Chupacabra Hunter and I have repaired our friendship in a fashion, but we do little more than exchange superficial greeting emails. I can't remember the last time I spoke to him about anything of real consequence. That's a blog post in and of itself. I know where to begin, I'm just not sure there's any point to doing it.
And that's life. And the people in my life see this as normal, because I must be okay. And the reason I cry is because this has become okay. I have little to no desire to rage against it. Why am I not raging against this?
I'm not giving up. I am actually complete ignorant of how one goes about giving up on life. But I am resigned to the fact that there is no true glory in strength. All it seems to do is increase the number of people that walk away from you.
Talk about a blue ribbon for your ass.