The Value of a Good Cry

We don’t watch a lot of TV in our house.  For one thing, there always seems to be other things that need to be tackled.  For another, we’re in the middle of remodeling our house, and we are currently living in only 1/2 the house.  That means the bed is in the living room, and when one person wants to watch TV is about the same time that the other person wants to rest or read.  I would watch more TV, but Matt doesn’t like all the noise, so the invention of the DVR was ideal for me.  It makes it easy for me to record my shows and watch them when Matt is outside or at work or just generally not in the house.
One of my favorite shows is Grey’s Anatomy.  I like the dialogue and the characters.  And I’m almost always guaranteed a good cry.

Normally, I’m a very even-tempered person.  Matt has accused me of being too even-tempered.  He said once that if he came into the house and announced that he won the lottery or that he ran the car through the garage door, my reaction would be the same:  “That’s nice, honey.”  I don’t think that I’m that even-tempered (I would get excited about the lottery), but I would be the first to admit that most things roll off of me very easily.

I am a true believer in the saying “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.  I have toughed it out through issues and crises and emotional upheavals that I wouldn’t have expected myself to make it through.  Some of my hardest battles have been in my fight against clinical depression.  I have felt like King David in Psalms, wondering

How long, O LORD will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
Psalm 13:1-2

With help of family, friends and professionals, however, I have been able to see my way out of each of my episodes of depression (Thank You, God).  I can recognize the warning signs of an episode and seek out proactive help before it gets any worse.  God has been good (and obviously never forgot me).

One of the interesting side effects of my therapy for depression is that now I rarely cry (I think that it is the medication).  I get sad, sometimes have the blues, but crying is an uncommon event.  Matt can probably count on both hands how many times he has seen me cry since we have known each other.

While I am glad that I don’t cry all the time, or at the drop of a hat, I had feared that I had become so cynical or hard that I was unable to cry.  That is why I so appreciate the cry I get each week watching Grey’s Anatomy.  It reminds me that I have the capability to be empathetic, sympathetic, and vulnerable.  I am reminded that (even though scripted and sometimes hokie) there are people out there struggling with their own sets of problems, and somehow surviving through what may seem unendurable.  Somehow, those five or so minutes a week that I silently cry is cathartic.  I usually feel better during the closing credits than I did when I sat down.

Am I weird?  Maybe.  Could I find a better way to let go of some pent up emotion?  Probably.  But for right now, I am grateful for some small things, including that God has helped me fight my war with depression, and yet I still have the ability to have a good cry on a regular basis.  I feel like I got my cake and I’m eating it, too.

A New Year

We’re halfway into a new year and I have spent a long time thinking about the year that has just passed. What makes a year a “good year” or a “bad year”? Wines have good years, i.e. “Oh, the ’92 pinot was outstanding”, but I think there might actually be criteria used to in bestowing that label. How do you decide if it was a year that you are glad to see end? Can a year be full of fun trips, time spent with family and friends, quality interaction with your spouse, etc. and still be a bad year because of one large devastating event?

I spent the last five months of 2009 just wishing to get to the end of the year. After my dad passed away in August, the year became a “bad” year, perhaps one of, if not the, worst of my life. But up to the point, eight months had passed with what I would have judged to be great events: I sold my house, Matt and I finally were able to live together, we started remodeling our house, we took a great vacation to Playa del Carma in February, and neither of us lost our jobs in the middle of the economic downturn. We were blessed and felt blessed.

One phone call changed that stable feeling for me. One call that informed me that my dad was gone. And with that, eight months (actually 39 years and 3 months) of being Cristy disappeared. What was left was Cristy, but one that was different than before, and 2009 changed thenceforth.

So, I looked forward to 2010 with great anticipation, expecting to feel somehow fresh and new on January 1, maybe not as heavy. The truth was that I didn’t feel much different than I did on the day before, or that I did two weeks before. I have decided that 2009 was a life-altering year. There were good things that happened to me and mine in 2009–Matt and I made our marriage “official” by finally being able to live together (and living together is certainly life-altering!) and I moved to a new town to do so. I also lost a parent in 2009, and nothing can prepare you for the change that takes place from that event. I will never be the same person I was because he is gone — I do not have a earthly father anymore and as such, I am altered irrevocably.

Was it a bad year? No, it wasn’t a bad year, but it will forever be linked in my mind with my dad’s death. As such, it will always be remembered as a bad year because I was forced to face the reality of losing someone I love. I am surviving, though, so I will continue to have hope and faith for the new year.