When I heard the theme for this month’s issue was “Stronger” I thought to myself, here goes that word again: strong.
“You have to be strong, Priscilla.”
If I only had a dollar for every time someone has told me that. As someone who has been known to cry at every wedding, during every Subaru car commercial, and even if I hear the first two lines of a Sarah McLachlan song, I have been known as the quintessential crybaby.
During some of the harder times in my life, crying has been my go-to method for coping. And throughout my childhood, and even into my adult life, I’ve had people react to this by telling me how I am supposed to feel.
“Just relax.” “Calm down” “Keep your chin up.” “Stay positive.” “Be strong.”
When everyone is telling you to keep your chin up, sometimes all you really want to do is tuck it down so hard and burrow it under your pillow with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s.
Just a few weeks ago, we found out that our last embryo we implanted made it only nine days before we lost it. I was pregnant. And then suddenly I wasn’t. And after two years in a frozen petri dish, weeks of hormone injections, and $3000 in medical bills, our embryo was gone. We were now going to be back at step one. And worst of all, we no longer had our little embryo that we had so hoped would be the final piece to our family and that we had naively become so attached to.
In my moment of sadness, feeling strong was the last thing on my mind. I went through my typical routine of crying hard for a day, feeling dejected and angry about everything and anything, and finishing off the week by moping around the house, still with tears filling my eyes.
I know that throughout the world there are thousands of people in way worse situations than myself. So I write this all to you not as a pity to me but as a way to use my voice to help promote empathy for anyone out there who needs it. And hopefully to show that crying is sometimes the strongest thing you can do.
During that last week I continued to hear those ever-persistent words of encouragement from family and friends to “stay strong.” I realized that maybe by crying, I was portrayed as weak and incapable of seeing the silver lining.
And then one day while driving around town, and I don’t know if it was the song on the radio, the nice weather we were having, or the sound of my toddler in the back seat singing “Jingle Bells” in his sweet misarticulated speech, but for the first time I realized that just because I am sad it doesn’t mean that I am not happy. When things happen, it’s okay to be sad and it’s okay to cry. But it doesn’t change who I am. Maybe crying is the body’s way of accepting that you are feeling passionate about something. But I also realized that if this is the universe’s plan, for it to just be the three of us with no more babies, then yes, I would be sad. But at the same time, I will also be the happiest gal on the block.
So next time you see a friend crying remember that in this moment crying may be the the strongest thing they know how to do. And to sit down and cry along side them can be the best thing you can do in return.