This morning I woke up crying, which most anyone who has hung around me much knows this is something I almost never do in waking life. Sometimes it’s a problem. I want to cry, but I can’t. I feel emotions very intensely and yet somehow I manage to express them with a great deal of distance, as if I am telling someone else’s story. I don’t know why I do this- I mean, I have some theories, most of them stem from childhood trauma and the result of growing up in a stoutly patriarchal society, where my worth was measured in how well I conformed to pre-suffrage movement expectations of women. I was shamed for “overly dramatic” displays of emotions, so I learned not to have them. I know this experience is not unique to me but rather common among women from a multitude of backgrounds. However, many of them still cry, so clearly my theory is flawed…
In any case, this morning I was crying.
Really crying, not just a few lonely tears, but small icy rivers slipping out the corners of my eyes, creating a large salty pool on my pillow.
I was dreaming, and in my dream, I was dreaming. I dreamt that I was watching myself cut myself open. What I was cutting looked exactly like me, but as it was cut away I saw that it was a hard exoskeleton and lying inside this shell was a softer version of me. The sight of her startled me awake.
More accurately, I woke up in my dream and began to process what I had seen, noticing that there were three of me: one who was watching, one who was doing the work and the one who was quite literally being broken open and set free… she was the one who was crying.
The symbolism of the dream was obvious even to my still dreaming self. I sat there awake but still in my dream, replaying the dream within the dream and analyzing what took place. I could still hear someone crying…
That is when I woke up, momentarily not comprehending that I was crying. With tears still falling from my eyes, I realized the sound was my own.
Everything was so much more beautifully tender and real without a filter. I wasn’t crying because I was sad. I was crying because I could feel.