From my earliest years, I have found the sight of extreme emotions embarrassing. I think this is because I was brought up in a typical English Stiff Upper Lip home. Airing one’s emotional linen in public was Not The Done Thing – and any evidence, in less inhibited friends and relatives, of free-ranging emotions had me cringing and blushing.
Then, this morning, I blew a gasket – and, suddenly, all that ridiculous childish embarrassment seemed a total waste of time and energy; seemed, in fact, like the strait-jacket it undoubtedly is.
It is time we, as a society, moved on from condemning others for the open expression of their emotions; time we lost the fear of embarrassment factor and accepted the health-giving properties of a damn good cry, scream or rant!
Last night, I paced, agitated and tigerish. I couldn’t settle, was trying to outrun a rising tempest. The landscape of my body, buffeted by violent emotional wind and rain, thunder and lightning, lay flattened and damaged, branches snapped off, rhynes flooding, the storm a howl of rage and pain waiting to be unleashed.
This morning, goaded by inclement familial weather beyond endurance, I bundled Jumble into the car and drove towards Velvet Bottom, hoping its beauty and peace would soothe the climbing tornado, perhaps even send it off in another direction.
But I did not make it that far. Road works meant I could not drive up Burrington Coombe – and, as an ambulance flashed past, all blue lights and sirens, I lost it completely.
It started with a deep wail of pain, a gutteral and loud groan accompanied by rising Nile-type inundation from the eyes. Then the screaming started. Raw, wordless initially, a throat-scraping roar of suppressed rage and pain. It hurt, but I was powerless to stop. It sounded like the harsh cry of a raptor, a nasty and discordant noise. My larynx was taut and tight and stinging. My usual voice had gone, swallowed up in this primal outpouring of grief.
Then the words joined in – Oh, such angry words; such a torrent of fury and desolation and things bottled up for far too long. The rancidness of emotions crammed down has about it the nastiness of opening a tomb and smelling the overwhelming putrefaction of the dead.
I shrieked and shrieked and shrieked, more bean sidhe than human being.
But the death I was foretelling was, I feel, the demise of trapped words and feelings; the end of pointless politeness and stupid emotional martyrdom; the burial of that self who holds back the fears and tears, cries and yells in order to placate and please; the inhuming of that part of my spirit which feels it necessary to condemn her own weather system as dangerous, flawed and wrong.
I stopped the car. Looked in the mirror. Medusa met my gaze, her lethal snakes a green and toxic flame round the hideousness of her visage, her mouth a gaping and poisonous hole, the outpouring of grating noise music’s polar opposite.
Did I care? No.
Did I stop? No.
Only for jagged breath every once in a hoarse while.
It passed. Eventually. For the moment. Ragged sobs replaced the destruction of the tsunami. Much had been swept out to sea. Broken trees and buildings marked where the rage had been.
I am entering an inclement phase. Allowing it to happen. Not welcoming it, exactly, but not preventing it either.
The rage last night was so vast that I feared I would be consumed by it. Post Primal Scream, the atmospheric pressure has dropped.
It will rise again.
Probably sooner rather than later.
And I will ride its storm.