It has all been tamped down for too long: The rage, the tears, the hysteria, the loud expressions of normal human emotions.
Today, I am feeling agitated and volcanic, as if I am about to blow – to yell and scream and throw things and tell people exactly what I think of them.
In reality, I haven’t lost it in years, probably decades. Not properly, anyway. Oh, I have withdrawn, run away, hidden, written my feelings down very precisely and articulately – but that tempestuous, healthy, cathartic PHYSICAL release of tension through the liquids and noises we humans are endowed with at birth, and get forced into swallowing down almost immediately thereafter? No, no and no.
A close friend, when I told him about recent weeping, was pleased, if surprised, and said, ‘What? You, the woman who never cries?’
I have known this man for three decades – and, in all that time, he has probably only seen me cry once…if that. This pattern is true for everyone. I know it is not a good thing. I know that crying is good for us (in moderation), that letting tears wash out the toxins is healing, beneficial.
But, I find it so so hard. I am not quite sure what the terror is all about – but I definitely feel like a sea creature without its protective shell when caught with tears in my eyes.
What the hell am I frightened will happen, though? Is it fear of being told to man up and shut up? Of being taken advantage of in some way – sexually, to be precise? Of being told, ‘I don’t have time for this now. Go away.’
I suppose the truth is very simple: When we cry, we revert, at some level, to childhood vulnerability and need, and my deep fear is that the warm arms (whether real or metaphorical) and the kindness and comfort will be withdrawn from me because my sorrow is, in an odd way, judged not deserving, false or self-indulgent.
So I switch the internal water tap off, pretend all is fine – or say that I am unhappy, but keep the stormy emotional evidence to myself.
Something hit me yesterday – and has really shocked me because I thought I was reasonably self-aware: I often think in the third person, as if Alienora were a separate person from the me in my head. I did have a moment of panic, thinking, ‘Oh my God, am I an undiagnosed case of DID – what used to be called Multiple Personality Disorder?’
But I do not think it is that. I think it is far simpler: I have learned to divorce myself from the raw truth of instinctive feelings; have learned to analyse them endlessly, write about them movingly – but actually feeling the buggers, without that one-remove layer of safety? Petrifying verging on the impossible.
I think about the way I am feeling, even describe it in my head – and, this way, I don’t have to actually get my metaphorical hands dirty in the dust and crap and blood and sweat and tears of the genuine article.
But, the liquids and raucous noises are rising up inexorably anyway. I cannot hold them back for much longer. Nor, in all honesty, do I wish to. I think this truly is a case of, ‘Better out than in…’
After all, I am allowed to be angry, to feel hatred, to be bitter and twisted and less-than-nice. I don’t have to be obedient and considerate and kind and eager to please all the time. I can be a bitch at times too.
Remember the old children’s rhyme?
There was a little girl
Who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead
When she was good
She was very, very good
And when she was bad, she was horrid…
I think that defines human nature, as it should be, very well: That we are all a mixture of good (even very very good) and bad segueing into horrid.
I have crippled myself trying to force my personality – which contains a large slab of darkness and badness! – into the tiny glass slippers of goodness. To attract the attention of a prince? Absolutely! Though said prince has not always been a male human being.
Do you recall the desperate measure the Ugly Sisters went to in order to fit the slippers? Lopping off their own toes! Yup. Been there. Done that. Got the scars to prove it.
Every time I put on the mask and hide the tsunami within, I am, in effect, putting another toe on the chopping board and bringing the No: 5 Sabatier down on it.
And for what?
I don’t like wearing glass shoes anyway, and life as a Princess would bore me rigid.
Sometimes I feel so wild and out of control that I want to rip my own clothes off, and dance naked in the garden in pouring rain or shriek at the top of my voice until I am hoarse, or break plates against the tiled kitchen floor or scream swear words into a thunderstorm.
Or just weep, not caring who sees or what they think of me.
It has all been tamped down for too long – and it has got to come out.