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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The one where Chandler can't cry

The title is a reference to an episode of Friend's where everyone learns that Chandler can't cry, even at sad movies like ET.   When Joey asks him if he cried during Bambi when hunters shot the mother deer, Chandler replies, "Yes it was very sad, when the guy stopped drawing the deer.". Eventually everyone determines that Chandler is dead inside.  And some other stuff happens, but that's not the point of this post.

I can't cry.  Ever.  Not when my father-in-law died suddenly at the age of 60.  Not when my brother-in-law committed suicide.  Not when my biological father died.  Not when three of my four grandparents died.  Not when my children were born.  Not even when the guy in the Folgers coffee commercial sneaks home secretly and wakes his parents up with aromatic coffee on Christmas morning.

I occasionally tear up.  One or even two errant tears may make their way down my cheeks, but I don't cry.  I think I'm dead inside.

When I was younger, I cried pretty regularly.  I sobbed for days when Eddie and I broke up.  I was devastated when my dog Bear died.  I cried from time to time during the first several months of marriage.  My emotions were quite overwhelming.  My mom once said I was neurotic and she didn't mean it as a joke.  I don't remember when I stopped crying.  I think it had to do with some things that happened early on in my marriage.  I felt really, profoundly let down by my husband. 

If I have a strong emotion now, it is likely to be anger.  I have said and done things in anger that I later regretted.  I have broken things and said hurtful things that I can't take back.  It doesn't happen often, thank God.  Mostly I just coast along on a pretty even keel.  I'm neither super-happy nor super-sad.  I just am.

I used to use food to insulate myself from my emotions.  I ate when I was angry, stressed, sad, whatever.  Sometimes I still do, but not usually.  Usually I  Which kind of worries me.  Am I really dead inside?  Of course I know I'm not, but can you truly have joy without some sorrow? 

Can anyone relate or am I the Chandler of our group? 


LDswims said...

I don't think it's mandatory to feel sorrow through tears. Not being able to cry doesn't mean you don't feel sorrow. It means that your tear ducts are controllable. And, to me, that's desirable.

I've read enough of your blog to know that you are absolutely NOT dead inside. You are very able to feel complete joy - as well as sorrow. You handle your frustrations well, from what I read, but you still feel them.

I think just being able to be is a perfect way to be. It's so hard but once you can achieve it, seems to me, it's the healthiest approach.

Lonicera said...

As I started to read your post I thought - well she wasn't like this before, not the way she wrote about Eddie... and then you mentioned it yourself. From my own experience only I would tell you (though I'm sure you know) that when you go through powerful emotional pain, your brain, your heart, say 'enough, I can't stand this any more - I'd rather not feel anything'. And my feelings went into suspended animation - everything was fine, I wasn't exactly frozen, but I'd remember the unhappy emotional times and just think 'don't want to go through that again'. And then something happens years down the line, and you realise that it was just that - suspended, not disappeared. Your kids are well, you're not particularly in love - or it was irretrievably damaged - and that's all.
Our great-grandmothers and ancestors lived like that. Their grief came from hurt to their children, but rarely from their partners, as they were more likely to have married with their heads in those days.
The trouble is that if you know emotional grief in later life, for whatever reason, it might hit you very hard because you're unprepared. But it may not - you may coast along. There may not be great highs, but there won't be those hideous lows either.
I don't mean to sound negative - I love your thought-provoking posts! (And they make me write too much).

Lee Ann said...

It's definitely thought provoking. I wish I could have better control of my tear ducts. I'm the opposite. I had a rough childhood and refused to cry or show emotion at all cost. I wouldn't let my mom "win" by letting her see how things she said & did hurt me, so I was super stoic. Now, I seem to be very tenderhearted and can cry or sob very easily (unless she is around, in that case, I'm 'dead' inside too). Otherwise, it's like everything I pent up as a child has come pouring out. IDK. Weird.

Anonymous said...

I think we all react differently to things (happy and sad) in different phases of our life - I kinda think it's natural?
I cry sometimes during a really sad movie, but not always at the same times as other people... hubby will sometimes look over and be like 'really, you're crying at that? ha ha!'. If something sad happens in my real life I don't usually cry. I contemplate. Sometimes I even feel detached.
If something stressful or slightly dangerous happens, I giggle. Definitely not appropriate, but that's how my body responds.
I think your physical reaction to things is much less important than your physical and spiritual reaction (not talking religion here either...). If you can observe a situation and acknowledge that it is sad / joyful then you aren't dead inside. If you smile and feel uplifted at times, you re experiencing joy. If you feel down, deflated or mournful at times then you are experiencing sorrow.

Ronnie said...

I'm the exact opposite. I cry about everything. I cry on the toilet. EVERY TIME I GO TO THE BATHROOM! I don't know what it is about bathrooms, but my tear ducts open up without provocation every time I "void" my bladder.

Sorry to have made that about me. But the moral of the story is: I don't think it's weird that you don't cry, and I don't think you're dead inside. *hugs*

Anonymous said...

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I've gone through all my blog settings and I can't see where to enable following, but on my page right up the top on that blogger bar there is a follow button, does that show up for you too?

Nella said...

Sometimes I wish I had some control over my emotions but sometimes I find crying very therapeutic!

Rachel said...

My mom used to be very emotional, but when she immigrated to the states, she said she stopped crying. She's tough. I think you are tough. I've seen your sensitivity, kindness, compassion and humor on your blog so I don't think you are dead...JUST TOUGH!

The Cozy (not crazy) Coconut said...

Oh gosh, I just wrote you a long response and LOST it! Grrrr - anyway. I wanted to tell you that if not crying means you're dead inside, than I am too! I never cry either. Its actually a running joke among my friends b/c they noticed long ago that I just don't cry over things. It wasn't always this way for me either. Now that I think about it, the last time I really cried was when my Dad died. I was very close to him and watching the horrible process of him dying from cancer, I cried every night for 6-8 months before he died and 6 months after. I was so devastated.
I didn't cry when I got married, I didn't cry when my kids were born (my husband did), I didn't cry when I found out I was losing my job (my co-workers all did). I think we just process emotion differently. I know that while I was offended at first when my friends started giving me a hard time about not crying, I also realized I just handle stress or crisis differently. My brain downshifts and think very calmly and logically. When crisis or emergencies arise, I am the person who thinks clearly and knows what to do. I don't freak out, I don't have a typical response to crisis and I'm ok with that.
I'm not sure if its a coping mechanism or what, but I don't care! So, I raise my hand when you ask if anyone else doesn't cry because I'm a Chandler too!

Lyla said...

A person who is dead inside would never ask the question in the first place.

I don't really know your life story and I certainly do not want to step on toes. But it sounds to me like you've maybe had some loss experiences and have shut off your grieving process. You might be able to get through life very well this way, or you might find yourself losing that emotional control in an unexpected circumstance. Also, some people just aren't criers but that doesn't mean they don't feel.

Either way, you come across to me as a very thoughtful and caring person!

Bonnie said...

I think if you are asking the question and are concerned that you can't cry, then you are not dead inside. Everybody is different. It's what makes the world go around.

Read said...

I totally agree with Lyla's first sentence - you wouldn't ask - or wonder if you were actually dead inside.

I can completely relate to your post. When I was a kid my mom told me I was too shy and too emotional - I stopped being both (it was obviously a little more involved than that). I shut it down flat and pretended to be very outgoing and gregarious and unemotional. The point is - I didn't cry for decades, and I doubt I even teared up during that time.

I don't know what started to change that for me, I did therapy for a while though I never cried during that and I got older. For me, the further I got away from what "caused" this personality "mask" I was wearing - the more I was able to recognize what it was - that it wasn't really me - even though everyone in my life only knew me in that one way (except my mom and sister).

For the last several years - maybe as many as 10 I've slowly been re-emerging. And now I cry again. It's still damn rare regarding something actually meaningful to me. It started with those folgers commercials and things like that - the National Anthem, watching a kid go to kindergarten, or graduate - or watching a wedding (even on tv or in a book). Other people's big moments get me big time.

I think on some level I'm "practicing" with other people's stuff - and it seeps into my own real stuff now and then but it has to be a big deal.

My point is - is I bet you'll get back to the crying part one day - and it's not a symptom of being dead inside - it's more likely a defense mechanism of some sort.

Bec said...

I understand what you are talking about. I feel flat all the time, but I then dip low more than high. And I cry very easily. My mum says she can't cry. She said she used to cry a lot but doesn't anymore. I think I have cried so much that I could fill my bath tub with tears over and over again. I feel like I can cry most days, just like I could right now. Just because you don't show the tears or emotion on the outside, doesn't mean you don't feel it on the inside. It is your way of handling things. I hope ykwim

Barbara said...

Well I am probably not the best person to be responding .. but I will.. I was pretty stoic in life.. and then that one thing hit me and hit me hard.. and I have been crying .. so maybe its a trigger.. maybe the sadness needs to be overwhelming to cry.. I dont know.. just sharing my personal experience

MandaPanda said...

You've already received such great responses. I don't really have much to add other than this blog is proof that you aren't dead inside. My 2 cents is as we go through different phases of our lives, we react to things differently. I used to cry at the drop of a hat but rarely do now. I never remember my mother crying when I was younger but I've seen her cry several times this year. I also think that, as women, hormones can play a big role in our physical reactions to things.

Jess said...

You're too thoughtful and caring to be dead inside.
I cry too much, uncontrolled and depressing. It sucks. I can't watch anything remotely touching or heart breaking because I will instantly relate it to my life in some way and cry and cry and cry. It leads to awful thoughts and fears and I just freaking hate it.

I say "just being" isn't so bad. I would much rather NOT wear my heart on my sleeve. When I was younger I NEVER cried. I was pretty "together" and now I am a wreck.