Shove Me to Snivel

Ever since I had kids, and my head got full of other voices, I tend to figure things out when I’m running.

During the hour or so a day when I’m alone, when my body’s motion is overcoming my Fatigue of Brain, thoughts gel. As feet turn over, I think forward.

It’s actually become a household joke, this thinking while running, to the point that, when I get home from a run, I sidle up to Groom and ask, “So, do you want the download now, or should I wait ’til later to lay it all on you?” Generally, the thoughts that comprise our debriefing have to do with: 1) What we should get his mom for her birthday; 2) Why I think we should get new carpet on the stairs; 3) What I should have actually said as a rejoinder when our neighbor suggested I put a camera in the shower with me and then post it to YouTube; 4) Why I love Philip Roth so much; 5) Which weekend we should hire a babysitter so we can ride bikes to the brewpub and play Cribbage on the patio while drinking Big Boat Oatmeal Stout.

It was no joke the other day, however, when Groom and I both took advantage of a kids’ birthday party at the local nature center to go run and bike on the trails there. He biked; I ran. He hummed along and dreamed of the Thai-grilled chicken he planned to cook that night; I,

on the other hand,

contemplated why so many days, of late, have felt long and sad and down,

Why, as I whisper thanks to the universe about how beautiful, smart, and healthy my children are–as I actively savor the rich comfort of my marriage–do I feel like my heart is catching itself in a sob, like I want to curl up and cuddle my own belly, like the hours would fly if I were left to my own devices, yet they trudge in the company of others?

Even more, why am I recently suffering occasional insomnia, where I wake up at 3:15 a.m. and finally get back to sleep five hours later? Why, when I wake up, do my thoughts pace around a dread about going back to work in August, around fears about travel and breaking daily patterns (two things which have been a source of huge excitement, traditionally) if I should get a sabbatical next year? Why have I, a flowy person who hates predictability, become anxious about far-off possibilities?

Out-of-whack sleep patterns, plus the unrelenting togetherness of summertime, when no one in the family gets up and heads out anywhere, ever…well, they’ve conspired to make me feel desperate every third day or so.

Part of me thinks it’s hormonal, that I’m heading into a kind of peri-menopause that is shifting my innards just enough to cause a whole-being shake.

But since I’m only, *cough cough*, 24, it couldn’t be that.

Here’s where the running helped:

I realized the other day, as Groomeo biked at the nature center, and I ran for a long time, that I’ve always had two ways of dealing with stress:

1) Don’t let it accrue in the first place. Example: if someone at work puts out a call for a meeting, my habit has been to view that meeting as extraneous to my existence, pack up my work bag, and head home for a long run and Thai-grilled chicken. Second example: if someone is groaning about not having finished a project on time, I think to myself, “Maybe do the project when you first know about it, Weezer. So glad I did my project two months ago. Now I’m heading home for Thai-grilled chicken and a run.”

2) When it does land in my gushy lap, I process the stress promptly and throughout my entire body with a rapid and intense weep. Three minutes of sobbing every few days have continually kept me balanced and skipping. I’d actually never realized this–merely thinking of myself as a big, wussy crybaby–until my mother-in-law pointed out the beauty of this tendency, with a smidgeon of envy, a few years ago. She noted, in relation to her own long-delayed grief over having had a child who had died a few days after birth, “The way you allow emotion to blow through you is so healthy. When something is happening, you feel it then, at that moment, and then you release it.” Her wise observation heartened and awakened me to a previously-unrecognized gift.

Due to these naturally-evolved strategies, I’ve managed to trip fairly blithely through my days.

As I considered this the other day on my run, I had a flash of “Whoa, Nellie Olson (and Michael Landon in his turn as Pa), but I’ve got it: I’ve been feeling internally weighed down and low because I haven’t been crying. Everything in life is going along so swimmingly, from kitchen remodel to love of husband to amazement at children, that I’ve neglected my crying time.

I’ve neglected to register how stressful it is to have a work crew, however cool they are, in our house all day, everyday. I’ve neglected to give myself credit for being the sole wage-earner in a household of four. I’ve neglected my need to holler, “Hell, people, could I just be alone in my house now so that I could sit down during daylight and read a book?”

Because everything is so wonderful, I haven’t let all the tiny indignities register. I haven’t let them add up into a good wail, albeit for no good reason.

As I ran the other day, I finally got how much I am craving–emotionally and mentally, but also physically–a really good sob.

Naturally, right as I cottoned to this fact, I stumbled across my beloved Groomeo. There he was, suddenly, in the midst of many kilometers of trails. He biked towards me as I ran towards him (evidence of our Kismet). With me punching my stopwatch and him hitting his brakes, we merged for a chat. Within a minute, as he kept his bike from toppling down the steep and rocky hill, I’d poured it all out on him, ending on a weepy note. “And I think I just need to start the crying right now,” I laughed, as I burst into tears and hugged on his sweaty shoulders.

He kept his wheels from spinning down into a ravine, and I lightened my heart, assuring him, “Oh, this is just the start. I need a real Kleenex-depleter of a cry some night here, soon. I think I need to find a really sobby tv series or movie and have it unlock all these little stresses I’ve let build up. Too damn bad I’ve seen Slings & Arrows, eh? The last episode of the final season of that one had me tearing through four tissues, at least. Hmmmm. What will do the job?”

And that’s where I leave you now, Gentle Readers. I need a cathartic bawl. I’m not looking for something cliched or sentimental, so no Nicholas Sparks, please. What gives me the best yowl is usually a moment of tremendous beauty (such as the last few episodes of Slings & Arrows, wherein Shakespeare and modern life prove one and the same, in scenes of startlingly gorgeous theatre; or in the closing scene of the Glee pilot, when those uppity kids sing “Don’t Stop Believin’”; or when Robert Duvall in Lonesome Dove and Anthony Hopkins in Remains of the Day slice me in two with profoundly-felt, frozen emotion)…or a moment of stilted adoration, per Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy.

I actually Googled “top sad movies” last night and have been tipped that Atonement and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind might toss me over the desired edge. But I dunno. What I need now is help in achieving a breakdown.

What shows or films have rendered you a pathetic heap of tears, chocolate, and crumpled tissues? What has cracked you open?




36 responses to “Shove Me to Snivel”

  1. chelle Avatar

    ha! I am an emotional, HORMONAL mess I need no cue to start crying. Try getting pregnant, worked for me like 3 times 😛

    Hope you had a good cry and returned to your normal state of bliss.

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    yesterday i watched the season finale of mtv's "16 and pregnant" (i've caught pieces of other episodes, but his one was advertised as different…and it was) …i surprised myself with the bark of a sob and cried through the last half of it. don't know if it's online somewhere, but egads.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    it is on you tube…watch catelynn's episode. seriously.

  4. Midlife Jobhunter Avatar
    Midlife Jobhunter

    Jocelyn – You cover too much for me to reply to your incredible posts. Perimenopause? Yes. A remarkable mother-in-law? Yes. A husband who meets you on the exercise trail and listens to you. I'm so jealous.

    Wanna cry? I won't give you Nicolas Sparks ever in my life. But try Steel Magnolias. Strong women and not too soppy. Guaranteed cry.

  5. Yo is Me Avatar
    Yo is Me

    can you "read" a good cry out of you? the time traveler's wife. if you can wait until august 14th, it'll be in the theaters.

    recently i watched seven pounds with will smith. he came over and we watched it together.


    seriously. beautiful and moving.

    go. NOW.

    i'm going to steal your email address and keep you updated on other sad movies i think of.

  6. Anonymous Avatar

    up made me bawl like a baby- from the beginning of the movie through the whole thing. Caught my boyfriend totally by surprise.

  7. Wendy Avatar

    I do that crying thing too, but lately have been shoving it back down just to stop myself from crying constantly.

    But today I let myself, and it felt *good!* It was a commercial… I'm getting teary again at the thought.

    A soldier walked alone from an airplane, through an empty airport. There was no one at all. And I wondered what was going on. He walked alone through an empty city, empty construction scaffolding, empty streets, empty stores. He crossed an empty intersection, completely alone with his bags in his hands.

    Then a person comes into view, walking toward him. He's in civilian dress, but you can tell he's military. He reaches the returning soldier and stops, shakes his hand.

    Suddenly, the city is full of people, they were there all along. And the second soldier says, "Welcome back."

    The commercial was for a group, I don't remember the name, encouraging other soldiers who've fought in the Middle East to remind other soldiers, random strangers, that they aren't alone.

    Sorry for the long comment. It's late and I'm delirious at the moment. lol

  8. Yo is Me Avatar
    Yo is Me

    oh, i know that commercial! the one wendy saw! oh. just…. oh.

  9. AmyTree Avatar

    Jocelyn, you are my hero. I learn something every time I read your blog – sometimes fun stuff, like how dang cute kindergardeners can be, and sometimes necessary stuff, like I cry all the time too!!! And I assumed I was a wussy crybaby but now I'm going to go with your take on it, which is much, much healthier. You rock.
    I recommend:
    Paulie (talking parrot, cute as hell, might be too maudlin though)
    The Colour Purple
    Any of the telephone ads where they connect long-lost families…

    And for reading, I definitely second Time Traveller's Wife. Sobbed my guts out to that one (don't know about the idea of a film though…)

  10. Erin Avatar

    I offer Gran Torino as a good cry movie, but it doesn't really hit until near the end. Or the Bucket List. Witty and thoughtful.

  11. Amy Avatar

    The movie Up. For a kid's movie, it's surprisingly emotionally complex with themes meant to hit an adult's heart directly. My kids were embarrassed to be seen with me afterwards, so busy was I wiping my eyes and blowing my nose.

  12. kmkat Avatar

    I'm not a crier (any more) so I cannot help you with that part. But I wanna say, your mother-in-law is a treasure! Mine was dumb as a rock.

  13. secret agent woman Avatar
    secret agent woman

    I cry even for some commercials so I'm not the best person to ask. But I'm trying to think of recent movies that made me cry. "Seven Pounds" did.

  14. Shieldmaiden96 Avatar

    I just finished a book called 'Blessed are the Cheesemakers' by Sarah-Kate Lynch, which made me laugh AND cry. As for sad movies my favorites are Steel Magnolias, The Green Mile (especially where he goes and visits the warden's wife– "I dreamed of you….", abd of course Beaches.
    Another great laugh/cry book is 'A Prayer for Owen Meany'. I can't tell you how many copies of that I've given away.

  15. Jeni Avatar

    When I started reading this post and your insomnia issues, I thought maybe I'd been writing so much about being up all night with Kurtis that you were channeling me. (But usually, even when I am up till the wee hours of the morning, I scrounge some nap time somewhere during the day -most often immediately after I eat ANYTHING and can not keep my eyes open then.)
    But, stress relief and crying -oh my yes, they go together like peanut butter and jelly! My problem is that sometimes I don't realize I'm stressing over something and get all discombobulated and then, all of a sudden, something totally unrelated will happen and I fold up like the proverbial accordian.
    One thing that really brought me to tears (and I don't think you are a fan of hers though) was reading Jodi Picoult's book, "My Sister's Keeper" -which had both my daughter (Mandy) and I totally shaken and in tears. Certain songs that bring up memories for me but because I never remember artists and/or often, the names of songs, can't list them here.
    But I can tell you one thing that can elict a tear, often more than one, is when I look at the two little grandkids here and think of just how far they've come -and how far Mandy and I have come too, in learning so many things other parents/grandparents often take forgranted in the child rearing process. You're more than welcome to come here -anytime -and see how fantastic these two are, even though right now they are both drumming on empty coffee cans and driving my ear drums (and head) crazy! All I have to do there is think of what my life would be like without them -totally LIFELESS -which is what I would be and that can bring me to immediate tears!

  16. Jeni Avatar

    I'm back already! Actually, today I am ready to cut loose and bawl because I have been dealing with internet connection problems for the past two days and to add insult to injury with that, my computer doesn't like to open easily at all using either browser (Firefox or EI8) and anytime I lose my internet connectivity for any length of time -10 minutes or more -I am a total mess and either in tears or on the verge of tears until things get corrected! (And I definitely would not wish those issues on anyone!)

  17. ArtSparker Avatar

    Not a question you asked…but aerobic exercise is huge in aiding processing. I have a friend who from the age of three has been a storyteller. She used to jump up and down to facilitate her thought process, is now nine and paws the ground, like a bull about to charge, as she is thinking of her narrative.

  18. Jazz Avatar

    Funny, just Saturday the Mr. and I were watching a movie and he was crying. I shoulda been crying but I was totally dry eyed. That blackened, dryed out husk I call a heart just won't do the crying so I can be of no help to you.

    I do envy you though, believe me deary, that capacity you have will be extremely useful when you hit the peri. Oh yeah…

    Let's get together over a bottle of wine and discuss.

  19. phd in yogurtry Avatar
    phd in yogurtry

    Oh .. without doubt, that would be Shadowland. I saw that in a crowded theatre when I was 8 mos pregnant with my first born. I was crying so hard I thought I would burst. Of course, I was pregnant. But still. I recommend it to my clients who need a good, hard cry. Another one: Terms of Endearment. It's an awfully long movie, though. But that oldest boy? His anger? Oy. Gets me every time.

    There's some new research about the therapeutic benefit of crying — meaning, physically what is happening in the body. I have a post languishing somewhere.

    And yes, the remodelers in the house? Each time my husband would take on a remodeling job he would bring me in to assess the strength of the marriage. And I would issue strong warnings to have a lawyer on retainer. Let the demolition begin. It's so stressful. We've watched too many people come undone.

    And thanks for posting this. I have days like this, too. Days of wondering "WTF is my problem?" As you say, I've got all good things in my life, I'm exactly where I hoped I'd be in my 20's, and yet, I sometimes feel depleted. Worried. Panicky out of nowhere out of the usual what if's in life. Hormones could be a part.

    A stiff drink sometimes helps.

  20. jess Avatar

    Oh, my dear Marscapone, I so hear you. I'm a cryer too and it's really necessary if that's the way you purge. When I was depressed I cried every day, way too much, but then meds made me stop crying altogether, which was better at first, but then… not. A good healthy cry every once in a while is a wonderful thing.

    Here are my picks: Movies- Witness, Dead Poets Society (it's no coincidence that Maurice Jarre wrote both scores- good music combined with a moving scene can reduce me a sniveling ball of snot), the part in Anne of Green Gables where Matthew dies, Atonement IS a good one too- great adaptation.

    Books: I second The Time Traveler's Wife, also, Possession, The Book Thief, Only Forward.

    Have a lovely cry. 🙂

  21. Chantal Avatar

    The last movie that made me bawl (and I don't see movies often) was the Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

  22. Michelle Avatar

    I cry all the time as of late. I know that is sounds silly but I take it as a good thing, to me it means I am in touch with my feelings and not shoving them back down.

  23. Becky Cazares Avatar
    Becky Cazares

    Okay, up until I remembered you're merely somewhere in your youngish forties, I was thinking menopause, too. But it does seem a tad early.

    And then I was remembering that you said you cut out caffeine… was that you??… and that would DEFINITELY bring on the weird morbid thought patterns. Many years hence I decided I could live without the daily caffeine fix… right up until I found myself casually, distantly considering whether life was worth living. So I don't tempt fate anymore.

    Then you said you do the periodic cry burst thing and had broken that pattern. Hmmm…

    Anyway, tear-enducing movies? Out of Africa always sets me bawling (don't get me started!), umm, yeah, Steel Magnolias was a good one, too, but only saw it once. Found a new one recently called Pans Labyrinth – it's in Spanish with subtitles.

    However, don't discount the "everyone's underfoot" issue. I'd go stark raving mad if I didn't have hours to *myself* without the dear darling presence of hunky husband. Not that I don't cherish time with him, but I gotta have some to myself, too. You moms with kids (and half-formed kitchens) truly amaze me.

  24. Fragrant Liar Avatar
    Fragrant Liar

    Gosh, see I'm with you on the crying jags — I'm sure I need one as I have been ever so weepy lately, for no discernible reason other than life (and less and less of it as I age) makes me emotional. But I'm afraid to cry. I probably need to do it, as I used to do whenever the mood struck when I was young, and now it feels less cathartic and more a sign of some dormant neurosis.

    So, I HEARD that _Me and Marley_ will trigger the tears post haste. I'm avoiding it for exactly that reason.

  25. Midlife Jobhunter Avatar
    Midlife Jobhunter

    Okay, I have to add to this even though I already commented. (sorry, I've been thinking of crying ever since I read your post.) I was going to say The Color Purple and Dead Poet's Society. Or Little Women, when Beth dies, or, Old Yeller. Oh, yes. Old Yeller will do it. I promise.

  26. geewits Avatar

    First off, I've said this many times, but emotional tears release nasty toxins from your body. That's been scientifically proven. So you are smart to seek the big cry. As for tearjerker movies, since you remind me of Bette Midler, I have to recommend Beaches and Stella. Good luck getting those toxins out!

  27. sid Avatar

    City of Angels gets me EVERY freaking time. Grey's Anatomy also gets me all teary.

  28. Anonymous Avatar

    Cinema Paradiso will do it for you.

  29. Lisa (Jonnysmommy) Avatar
    Lisa (Jonnysmommy)

    "Finding Neverland" left me a mess… a crying, sobbing, pathetic mess.

    Johnny Depp and what's her name…..Oh. Kate Winslet. That's it.

    It really did get me.

    Then there is that scene in Cars (Hello. I have a 2-year old boy at home) where James Taylor sings "My Town" and about how it used to be booming and now no one comes there anymore and …. oh crap. I gotta go cry now. Dang it!

    Well, if you can't get a good cry, I will at least!

  30. lime Avatar

    when i went to see the movie "up." it got me. really such a good movie that kids can really enjoy but with whole other levels of rich menaing for parents (not just jokes to keep mom and pop engaged, but meaty meaning).

    oh, and "PS I love you." dear lord, i cried through about 90% of that movie.

    you are blessed to have figured out what you need, be able to give it to yourself and have a husband who will let you sog up his shoulder so willingly. happy crying, my dear.

  31. Karen ~ Avatar
    Karen ~

    The book "Sarah's Key" did it to me something awful about a week ago.

    And then the movie "Up" – my kids, too, were embarrased at my tears, but it was just so moving.

    And Seven Pounds was a goodie, too – just saw that one a week ago, too.

  32. actonbell Avatar

    Great post! I sort of have this going on, in a different way, too. And I must confess: I daydream while I run, nothing useful goes on in my nogun at all.

    Nice Collin Firth picture, btw. Sad movies? You really want them? Did you see Bridge to Terabithia? That should do it.

  33. Patois Avatar

    I hope your crying jag has the cleansing power you're looking for.

    Spotless Mind did nothing for me. The original Sweet November has always done the trick. (I've no idea if the remake would work.)

    "Happy" crying!

  34. Anonymous Avatar

    I was just telling someone about this scene yesterday, and you know I'd post the link if I could, but I can't find it now on You Tube.

    The scene in LOVE ACTUALLY when Emma Thompson realizes Alan Rickman (the pig) is cheating on her. With Joni Mitchel's haunting late version of BOTH SIDES NOW. Slays me everytime.


  35. Anonymous Avatar

    …and it's not just me either: see this blog post will ya?

    and another thing, LOVE ACTUALLY has Colin Firth too.


  36. Jill Avatar

    I know I'm late to this one, but not only did I sob through the end of "The Green Mile," I sobbed all the way home from the movie theater. I think it kinda freaked out Slag.

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