Something inside me broke last night, as I sat in a chilly theater, just five minutes into one of the best films I have seen in quite some time.
I am not sure that is saying much, as going to the movies is never a high priority for me—I would much rather be snuggled up on the couch in my sweats if I am going to indulge in two hours of anything, not a theater. But there I sat, with tears dripping down my cheeks, unable to control the emotional juggernaut that was derailing an otherwise enjoyable evening.
I often wonder where my emotions stem from, as I am admittedly at either a negative 14 or a 27—on a scale from one to 10. It is not only exhausting, but embarrassing at times, as I have a difficult time controlling the onset of those extremes. In that theater, I kept removing my glasses and wiping my eyes with my scarf, trying desperately to breathe, understand what was happening and why, and keep my desire to weep under wraps. I should have stayed home, that much was clear.
Or maybe not.
I sat in between two of my closest friends, even though our relationship together as a crew has diminished over the course of the last few years. We have each had trying moments—crises of faith, if you will—but not once have I questioned their loyalty to me and our friendships. I have been less than available to them fairly consistently, but when we do get together every few months, it is like nothing has changed. Six years of laughter and bitching and jokes and tears flood the restaurant booths we occupy for hours, and the hugs given at the end of those evenings are always meaningful to me.
But during the two hour cinema experience, I felt out of place and awkward in their presence. Not many know the extreme versions of me, and the negative 14 that was taking hold of my night could not have been comfortable for either of them. But there we sat, together, taking it all in.
A sweet voice rang through the speakers as the plot unfolded on screen, the words simple but profound, speaking directly to my emotional core with each sentence delivered. As much as I had a desire to run away and hide my eyeliner stained face from the world, I knew I was meant to be there, and with these two gems acting as pillars on either side.
To my left and to my right, they sat quietly (I think) enjoying the independent film, and were accepting as I apologized every three minutes for crying like a baby as the story opened up. It seemed neither cared that I was moved beyond words and beyond self control, but I could not stop the “I’m sorry” from oozing out of my mouth. We parted ways directly after the movie ended, and I drove home in silence. After tossing and turning most of the night, I woke up feeling less embarrassed, grateful for those who know me well enough to let me be me, even in public, and even at a negative 14.
Our emotional core is such an integral part of who we are, and when it is stifled, either through our own concerns of acceptance or others’ desires to quiet that part of us, we end up losing out. It has taken me years to begin to both understand and be comfortable in who I am, extremes included.
If I limit myself to only the one through ten range, I limit everyone else’s experience of who I am. Although that may be the least awkward for that specific moment, it is an inaccurate depiction of me, as a whole, and cheapens who I am each and every time.
I laugh, loud. I cry, hard. I get pissed off, dangerously. And above all, I love, deep. Hiding that away from the world does nothing but build up impenetrable walls that take an army to break down. It is impossible to live in that space for an extended period of time, I know that well.
My suggestion for this day is to embrace what comes—whether it be sadness or joy, comfort or discourse, pain or pleasure. The tears I give up in those moments eventually return me to a place of calm peace, subduing the intense waves for a short time until the ocean that is my soul decides to act up, again. I live for those quiet moments of reflection and self growth, and without enduring the turmoil, I am incapable of reaching them. So today, ride through those waves because on the other side is something beautiful.
Try not to get pissed.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Rachel Nussbaum