02 October 2007


You've seen this picture before. For awhile it appeared in the side bar. It's a pretty old photo and I believe it's the only family photo we ever had taken. I'm the little girl on the far right. I'm about 8 years old.

I'm pulling it out again because my emotional firecracker for today was set off when I used a painful scene from my Mommy Book to make a point with someone. It is over 20 years since the day of the incident but tears sprang to my eyes when I related it today. And tonight, remembering the ache I felt in my heart and gut this afternoon, I pull a picture from twice as many years ago as illustration for the blog.

What is memory? Why do we remember some things and not others? Why do we remember some things for a long time and then one day are surprised to discover we no longer remember them? I thought I would always remember his name....

I have a handful of painful memories that it seems I will never forget. In therapy years ago, I asked my therapist "Will I ever stop crying?" For most of my life I've been a cry-baby, by which I mean to say I have cried easily and often. In therapy, I talked about the past, pulled up those painful unforgettables and cried and cried and cried. Between sessions, I would write in my journal and remember...and cry and cry and cry. When I posed my question, I'd become self-conscious about all that crying. I feared it was a sign of something horrible or weird or defective about me--but I didn't know exactly what.

Sometime later I remembered that my paternal grandmother had cried all the time. I decided my lachrymose nature was genetically inspired. I stopped worrying about crying and eventually stopped crying so much--say, two or three times a week instead of every day...

A few years later, the thought dawned that perhaps my grandmother had been depressed. Perhaps that was why she cried all the time. Maybe depression and not mere tearfulness was the hereditary endowment.

My current belief is that I descend from a fairly long line of exceptionally sensitive people for whom crying was the dominant vehicle of expressing deep feeling. Whether due to DNA or environment, my people have been prone to tearfulness and so am I. My insecurities about crying have disappeared and usually it actually feels good on some level to cry these days.

It's a feature of my physical presence--like my gait--and my psychology--like my sense of humor. It can be controlled somewhat but I've decided why bother? Much more fun to shop for handkerchiefs.

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