In Public

I was doing a writing exercise which involved making lists. One of the lists was “times you’ve cried/came very close to crying in public, and why”.  I started thinking, and besides a few really awful instances, I had to think very hard to remember any time it happened. It was uncomfortable and scary, and I didn’t want to go there. It took some silence and breath, and I eventually  stopped bullshitting myself. A bunch awful things flooded back.

I would have appreciated a trigger warning. I don’t know what’s healthier, forgetting old shit or confronting it so you can dismiss it. Ok, I know what’s healthier, but it’s heavy. I’m an American man. I, like all American men, believe I’m 1 lottery ticket away from becoming Batman. Good ol’ninja detective billionaire non-public cryin’ Batman.

I’m not going to post my list, but aside from reacting to being hurt, most of the times I’ve cried in public (and overall) have been from shame, perceived injustice, or empathy.

If empathy can be taught, I had one HELL of a teacher. My mom was embarrassingly lacking in self-awareness. She was also a genius at understanding, even absorbing others hurt, and knowing exactly how to love them without overwhelming or frustrating them.

I used to be an empath. I still am, but I’m also used to ignoring it, I guess. I’m not tuned in to empathy. I used to feel deeply for people I hadn’t met. The Haitian Earthquake. Hurricane Katrina. Sandra Bullock. I was bonus depressed all the time, contemplating the ache and sorrow of the world. It drained me, and seemed dumb.

I think I am ready to be involved in sensing and addressing others pain again, which means I am a crazy. I drove past a homeless guy with a sign begging for ca$h the other day. I didn’t even try to make a “I’m sad because I don’t have ca$h for you” face. I just pretended he was invisible.

Me. I did that. The same man who organized weekly expeditions to the hood to wash homeless people’s feet (on Christmas day even), the man who gathered and donated like 500 coats in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. I was acting SO BASE.

That’s not me. I’m not that busy, my heart isn’t hard. I didn’t have ca$h for the dude, but I could have at the very least affirmed he was a human being.

Ugh.  I feel like I just opened Pandora’s box, or tattooed “KICK ME” across my own back.

I’ve  got a lot of work to do.






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