The Good Cry

My one and only bad ‘falling out’ with a female friend was rough. We had a couple disagreements because she was/is a militant vegan and while I have always danced around vegetarianism throughout my life, I never made a full, conscious commitment to practice it (I’m a ‘commitmentphobe’ after all).

We met through a mutual friend. Another vegan I dated briefly when I was still a virgin and I wouldn’t let him go all the way unless he would agree to have a relationship with me. He didn’t so I stopped seeing him cold turkey, cried my heart out and was haunted for months by things that reminded me of him. It was a “good cry”. The kind that leaves your face contorted in an ugly mess, where faucets of tears don’t stop streaming down your face and the taste of salt hits your lips.

I didn’t see him again until a decade later when we met in NY, fully de-virginized and jaded by life experiences and no longer shielding myself from virgin “can’t have sex without a relationship” mentality. I let him have the only thing he wanted for a decade: my pussy. In exchange, he let me crash at his apartment for two weeks and I was relieved that for one week overlapping, he let a couple he knew via the girl crash at his place as well, so I wouldn’t have to fuck him on the nights they were around; a convenient cock block.

The whole thing seemed so demeaning and slightly ‘off’ that I considered booking Thailand tickets over New York, just so I could avoid his offer. When Thailand didn’t become an option, out of technical glitches that wouldn’t allow me to proceed the booking, I decided the Universe wanted me to go to New York, and ultimately, I was glad I did, for other experiences and connections that felt real.

I didn’t cry in New York because I already cried years past, and by the time NY rolled around, I had no feelings for him.

By this time, neither of us was still in connection with our ‘mutual friend’.

She treated me rudely, in the brief time we had a friendship, and didn’t seem like a real friend.

When she “dumped” me she called me a stupid airhead, and got her other friends to agree and tell me too. It was just like high school only she was a good 5 years older than me in her mid-to-late twenties at the time. She defriended me from MySpace and deleted me from all lines of communication. The whole nine yards.

It hurt but I moved on. Shrugged it off and didn’t make female friends for over five years afterwards. Five years.

In my twenties, I was much more content to stick inwards and hole up in my introverted ways. I had a long-term boyfriend so I was “all set”, meanwhile feeling jealous of his healthy network of friendships and community, something that I just didn’t have, and spent five years avoiding. I never integrated well with his group of friends and would cry in private when we were with them because I felt so inadequate and out of place. I was so unconscious that I didn’t even realize I was avoiding friendships, or how triggering it made me feel. I didn’t even realize the origin, that of course it was related to the falling out of my friend. When he helped talk me through it, five years later, I finally allowed myself to have a good cry. I had ignored it for so long, become numb to the idea of friendship and connection, that the only thing I had was my boyfriend. It was an unhealthy balance. It wasn’t balance at all. And then it finally hit me.

I was gutted.

This pain I had kept hidden, even from myself, finally surfaced after five long years and I was a mess of tears on the floor, curled up in a fetal position, stomach queasy, throat hurting from all the unexpressed rage and frustration, of all that I let myself miss out on. This lack in my life showed up in ways where I clung even harder to my boyfriend and it was a wonder he put up with me for as long as he did. He held me on the floor, hugged me, and embraced me when I couldn’t embrace myself. I cried for an hour. Maybe longer. It was a good cry, an a-ha moment, a visceral reaction. The best good cry I’ve had in my life, but it was five years long overdue.

The good cry felt more painful, in many ways, than my most painful break-up. I was genuinely surprised how my body reacted to the realization that one blonde, vegan hipster had such a powerful effect on me. I cried for many nights over my ex–the one who had comforted me on that faithful day–but always with a lace of hope that I would get through to the other side, that this was part of my growth and self-discovery and necessary for my autonomy when I was nothing but a shell. Breaking up with him was a form of self-care and I knew it was a journey towards healing. I hadn’t yet met my “free-spirited independence” that people know me for. I was anything but independent, and crying over failed friendships felt more hurtful, frustrating, self-defeating and deadening than a “failed love”.

The friend break-up was hard on me, and it literally felt like a break-up, one where I could never contact her out of the blue and friend her on Facebook and start seeing her again. I’ve had falling outs with friends before, but usually as a natural drifting apart, and not as a deliberate event that leaves you feeling icky. I am highly sensitive and if it took me more than five years to start cultivating friendships again, I don’t feel so bad knowing that it’s taking me nearly a decade to open my heart truly to another man again. To let him in my life for the long haul like I presumed I was doing in my 20s, young and dumb and infatuated. I’m not there yet. I prefer short-lived connections and I know it, with the realization that sometimes short-lived connections can feel more profound and amazing than my connection with my ex. Time does not exist for the heart. I am unavailable for the rest, but I want so much to be available, to stop being a commitmentphobe and the shallow experiences that gives me and start committing to my life, my work and my foundation. I’m working on it.

It was a mourning. A realization that for five years, I was not living a healthy life. My foundation of cards was fragile, without a sense of self, community or strong friendships to keep me grounded, my relationship with the boyfriend was on its last leg.

I found a group of friends through Craigslist. A women’s walking group. I finally started to realize that maybe girls weren’t evil after all, and would actually be a path to my healing that I had been missing.

Through a handful of friends, one stood out who I’ve managed to keep in contact with today, and I consider one of my ‘besties’.

Since the life-changing good cry, I have tried to clear my emotions at a much more timely and healthier pace. I know that I need a good cry to clear it. If I don’t cry then I don’t consider it cleared. Crying is a release. It is healthy and nourishing.

If I can cry for a man I had never had sex with, who would never be my boyfriend, and of unrequited love, then I could cry for men I’ve had sex with, no matter how short the connection. Five years or five months. It is all significant. Time doesn’t exist for the heart. It experiences things as is, in the present. Raw and fiery and bold.

I cried the night I left Germany. My heart was with a man who ditched saying goodbye to me for a work conference and nights of drunk partying. It was just as well. A Buddhist goodbye like I had given my ex abroad. A goodbye that was not acknowledging goodbye. Not acknowledging an end. A Buddhist goodbye is not saying goodbye at all, or not even making a thing of it. Friends nicknamed him the Little Buddha because of his effortless Zen approach to life, without attaching to words like Zen or Buddhism, but just living it. Here I was, attached to my experiences in a Zen monastery, calling myself a Buddhist, when I struggled to live how he lived every day. In the present. I envy people who so effortlessly live Zen when it takes work for me to achieve the same thing. Meditation helps, but my mind is an endless battle.

Perhaps part of his silent goodbye was in feeling we would meet again. We had a way of “talking” with few words, and letting the silence pervade our space like being alone…together. It was somehow comforting, like an old married couple. We skipped the getting to know you part and went straight to silence. “Being alone is better with you.” Our “talks” never delved in feelings and emotions, and I felt like I was walking around eggshells, hiding myself from radical honesty, because we just didn’t talk. When we did talk, it was matter-of-fact, and we agreed that this was something we wanted to explore and continue and that we’d live together in Asia.

A good cry is an ending. It’s a shift. A phase of transition, where you realize that something is gone, or something must be gained. I cried that night knowing that I may never see him again. Although I verbally agreed we’d continue, my instincts and intuition told me otherwise. For someone who told me he didn’t have feelings for me, I just couldn’t go on with someone who was lying to himself and who wouldn’t be able to meet me at the level that I wanted to be met. I knew as hard as it would be, that I needed to truly move on, and not accept anything less. He was my Mr. “Good Enough” and good enough just isn’t what I want.

The good cry happened immediately, but I still tried to convince myself he might be the one. It seemed like a natural continuation. With ties to the same province, and families who are neighbors and friends, it almost seemed like the Universe set us up. That somehow, we were bound to cross paths, and this could be the equivalent to an antiquated arranged marriage.

I would try to reason with my heart. My head wanted it to work out. Still, my heart knew that there was someone better, and not to settle for good enough. Not to be the “roommate” that could invite others in, and only share beds when we wanted it, but not every day. It was his idea, but something in me knew that polyamory wasn’t what I truly wanted, even when it was what I originally requested. That it would be messy. That it would be hurtful. That it would keep true connection shallow, and spread too thin. That it would never be “enough”.

The good cry allowed me to let him go, and admit that even if it felt like fate and serendipity, it didn’t mean it was meant to be captured or forever. By the time I was over him and closed the window five months after my departure, he was still trying to get me back to Asia and eventually admitted he shouldn’t have let me go and he would do things differently if I were there again, siting das Schicksal–fate–as a hope for the future. He knew that he had blown it, but it was too late. I had moved on. Deleted him on Facebook. The whole nine yards.

I am the girl who gets away. But just once, I’d like to be the girl that stays.

When I met ‘someone better’ it seemed too good to be true, and it probably was. Life circumstances meant the timing wasn’t right. But the timing is never right with me, symptoms of my unstable, nomadic, free-spirited ways as a result of the ugly break-up, from one pendulum extreme (house and mortgage) to the next (wandering vagabond). The travel had become disorienting and too chaotic. I needed to ground and find my equilibrium, not for the sake of finding someone better, but for my own sanity and growth.

The good cry didn’t happen immediately because I held it in. Crying would mean the admittance of an end, and of shifting energies. Still, crying was a release, as it always is, and I finally took the first steps in letting go, admitting I’m not the stoic ‘non-attached’ Buddhist I might seem to be on the outside. That balance between letting go but not giving up. That maybe, or maybe not, a hard one to master. Shades of gray. Letting life happen, and taking my part to own my experience and emotions. Trying my best to live in the present, open to new connections and acknowledging more short-lived relationships as I work to create my own foundation, curious to see what life has in store for me and who’ll cross my path next.

The good cry was a series of many months of nights and days with the one I had considered the ‘love of my life’, but since then, all it takes is one good cry, not nearly as visceral as the good cries in the past. My confidence has increased by leaps and bounds since a decade ago. I am a different person. Endings and goodbyes no longer shake me up as much as they used to, but they are still significant to my growth.

My worse, ugliest, best good cry is a remembrance and reminder that sisterhood is nourishing, and that’s something I feel good about that’s present in my life today. By cultivating these experiences of friendship, and continuing to cultivate my self, my house of cards that fell so easily in my previous relationship will be replaced with a strong foundation.

It couldn’t have happened without the good cry, and without the man who held me at my most broken moments.

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