I’m Not Crying, You’re Crying

When I was about 12 years old, something upset me and I started crying. My father, who was there to witness the whole thing, told me that he never wanted to see me crying again. He acted as if it was a waste of time and emotion.

Being a people pleaser, I vowed to never cry again. And I didn’t for almost 15 years. No amount of sadness or emotion could coax a tear from my eye. No matter what, I was stoic and could stay straight faced through any insult, death or disappointment.

(Looking back as an adult and a parent, I now wonder if I misunderstood and he just couldn’t stand to see me cry, but being a practical and rather literal kid, I took it literally- don’t cry.)

Not until I dated Tim did I realize that it was ok to show emotion, not only tears, but love and joy. When I saw Tim tear up for the first time, I knew that not only was he the guy for me, but I would be better if I followed his lead.

I am certainly more of a crier as I get older than I have ever been, but from what I read and how I feel, that is a good thing. Letting your emotions out makes you healthier and happier, not to mention a better person and a better actress.

Lately, a couple of friends have come to me with troubling news that they are coping with. One is a friend who cries at the drop of a hat and I dearly love her for that. She is so organized and pulled together most of the time, but anything sad, sappy or sentimental and she is in tears.

My other friend feels that she must hide those tears, rise above them, not display the emotion even to her closest friends. I feel for her because I know what that feels like and I also know how freeing it is to cry when you feel the need.

After my mom died, I thought I would never stop crying. Eventually I did begin to hide those tears because I felt they were a bit excessive. I felt that people were going to turn and run when they saw me coming with damp eyes. I eventually did stop crying all of the time, but I still have days when for no reason I will just think about her and tear up. Planning Jon’s wedding has turned the frequency up a bit.

When I gave him my mother in law’s ring to give to his betrothed, I wept a bit. I knew there was another ring in the works but I’ll be honest- it was tough letting go. I was told it would take about 2 weeks to design and construct the new ring. The timing would be perfect, about the time that Jon would propose my new ring would be ready.

When the time came, the new ring wasn’t done. Illness had hit in the jeweler’s family and I was put off a week. Then two.

Tim and I were planning a working road trip for the next week and I just knew that the ring would be ready by then. I was wrong.

I began to have nightmares that the new ring would be dinky, disappointing and not at all what I wanted. I envisioned the most hideous rings you can imagine as I waited and waited. The conversation with the jeweler had been what I think you do with an artist, give them inspiration and then let them create. Maybe I had been too vague. Maybe I had been too easy going. Maybe I had not been as emphatic as I should have been. Maybe my respect for another person’s creativity was about to bite me square in the butt.

Finally, after 6 weeks of calling every Thursday to check on things, the ring was ready. I went to the store worried that I was going to be let down in front of salespeople and other customers. Quiet little me was going to have to make a scene! The salesman I had been working with walked up with an envelope and began to pull out a ring and said, “Wait, this is the wrong one!” and turned around to go back to his desk.

Again, I felt the panic rush up inside of me.

He quickly came back with an identical envelope and pulled out the most gorgeous ring, more than I had ever imagined and yet exactly what I had hoped for. Nested in the middle was the small stone from my mother’s ring.

Instead of having to complain about the ring in front of all of those people, I found myself crying in front of all of those people. I was relieved, happy and overwhelmed by the beauty, but I was more overwhelmed with the emotion. My mother would have loved everything about this- the ring, yes, but more so the reason for the ring. The fact that Jon is so happy, that he is marrying such a great young lady and that we are all honoring the mothers who came before us.

Yes, I was a bit embarrassed to be so emotional in a jewelry store, but I am so glad that I have learned to wear my heart on my sleeve. To really feel the sadness, the disappointments, the losses in life. Because it opens me up to feel the joy, the wonder, the excitement, the tradition and the love that life has for us everyday.

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Marietta is a graduate of the University of Montevallo with a BFA in musical theater. She has been performing for over 50 years on the stage and continues to perform, direct and teach. Marietta is married to Tim, has a son named Jon, and a cat named Penny.