I am not fond of airing my dirty laundry to someone, unless I am paying them to listen to me.
I hate with all capital letters crying or expressing vulnerability in front of most everyone, even those I am paying to listen to me.
I am a fruitarian who has a square of raw chocolate and a bowl of slightly warm miso soup every day.
I am a yogi who is totally judgemental. And I use swear words daily.
I am strong and independent and love myself, unless you comment on my body. Then I am a co-dependant, insecure mess.
I love people, just not new people, or groups of people, or people in my house for long periods of time.
I am full of contradictions. I don’t fit into the boxes that I try to put myself in, the boxes others try to put me in, or the boxes I try to convince people I fit into. It just never seems to really work out that I can be all of something and none of something else.
There is a part of me that wishes I could be fully spiritual and wise all the time. I want to be the one who has it all together, never needs anything from anyone but is totally able to support, love and hold space for others. The one who looks at everyone and everything and sees beauty and perfection. Even though I know in my head that this is not a balanced way of being, that we learn through those vulnerable moments where we let others in.
I am pretty good at being there for others. Knowing that I can offer words of advice, comfort or even (gasp) wisdom to another is what gets me out of bed in the morning. I love it.
That being said there is still the part of me that starts crying in the middle of a bike ride with a friend and can’t explain why. That really did happen to me. This weekend. In front of that friends boyfriend who I had just met a few hours prior.
Let me paint the picture of horror for you.
My friend, her boyfriend and I had set off to bike through the forest near my friends house, stop to eat some fruit, and then bike back. I have never been a big fan of biking but my friend and her partner really wanted to go. I put on a brave face and pedalled along side them them for the first bit of the trip. We were chatting and laughing and I was doing my best to pretend that I was not despising every moment of it. They were having fun and I really did not want to ruin it for them. I was holding it together pretty well until we hit some hills around the 4 KM mark. I was having a tough time keeping up. I didn’t want to think it was due to my being unfit, it was just that my bike was just smaller, and I had not figured the gear things out. Or maybe I am just unfit.
They drifted ahead of me, chatting with other cyclists, as I fell more and more behind.
“I hate biking.” I thought
“I really hate biking and I hate the forest. I don’t know why I didn’t tell them I didn’t to do this. How much longer until we are done?”
I hear someone telling my friend that the end of the trail as after 11 Km and we are at 4. My eyes start to burn.
“Shit. Don’t you dare start crying.”
I blink back some tears, and my breathing rate starts to rapidly increase.
“Oh my god. Are you serious. You are fricking having a panic attack and crying right now. Stop it. This is mortifying. Can I just turn back? Would they notice? I don’t want to ruin their bike and picnic. Holy fuck I am like really crying now. stopitstopitstopitstopit.”
I pulled over, as other bikers pass me and I cry. Real crying. The kind where your face is all messed up and you can’t breath and snot drips from your nose no matter how furiously you try to sniff it back.
I looked up through my blurry eyes to see my friend biking back towards me. I am half relieved, half wanting to die i’m so embarrassed and disappointed in myself.
She pulls up and asks me if I am ok.
“Yeah.” I squeak through gasps of air – Um really? You are crying in the middle of a forest when ten seconds earlier you were chatting with you friend and her partner about raw foodies they know in England.
“Whats wrong?” My friend asks, a totally logical question given the circumstances.
I don’t have an answer for her. I really don’t know. This mortifies me even more. I have no words. I can’t explain this away and make it make sense by giving her a really awesome reason why I am having a meltdown.
I can’t justify this weird behaviour.
“I don’t know.” That was all I had.
Fortunately for me, my friend is awesome. We sat down and had our picnic and chatted and then rode our bikes back to the car and went out for Thai food.
I remained mortified of what had happened in and amongst the trees.
I was wracking my brain. Was it because I was over tired? Was it because I missed My Love and My Baby Sister? (both were out of town.) Was it because I was moving half way around the world in 9 days time? Was it because this? Was it because that?
I tried valiantly, but in the end I could not land on anything. There was no one thing, no sentence or word or thought that could explain why I had spiralled into the ugly cry. Having no real reason was so uncomfortable.
Then I began to think. I justify a lot in my life. I always have a reason or an explanation for my actions and behaviours.
“My childhood was messed up.” – That is a fav.
“I was picked on in school.”
“I am a vegan.”
“I am an aquarius.”
“I am a woman.”
“It is August 14th and the moon is in Taurus and the sun is in Virgo and I have only had 2 mangoes to eat today and I’m cold.”
Are all of these reasons, these justifications legitimate? Maybe. I know that I do try to pick the justification that will work best on the particular crowd I am with.
But what is the point of doing all of this justification? Why can I not just say, “I am crying now.” “I am feeling emotionally irrational and crying at this random time is the thing I am doing now. I may be able to make sense of it later, but now it is just snot and tears.”
What would be so wrong with that?
I wonder if we as a society have a serious concern that people are going to think we are mentally/emotionally unhinged if we cannot come up with a legitimate (and legitimate is going to be different for every crowd you find yourself in) reason for any emotional or mental state that is not happy. Crazy people walk around with mood swings and depression. We have medication for that. It is a diagnosable disease. No one wants others to think of them like that. We as a society tend to like happy. We do really good with people who are doing well. It is all the other stuff we tend to have to rationalize, make excuses and reasons for, justify.
I have decided that I am not going to work to justify my behaviours anymore. This does not mean that I am going to be emotionally/mentally/spiritually irresponsible and just flail free in the wind. It also does not mean that I have some mental imbalance I need to have check out. What I mean is that I am going to allow myself to be myself without having to have a reason why I am myself. In a word, I am going to allow myself the range of human emotions, thoughts and feelings without fearing that I am never going to be happy or OK again.
If I am bothered by the mess in the house, I am not going to say it has something to do with my moon cycle and that is why I have to clean it up. I am going to be honest and say “in this moment, the mess bothers me and I want to clean it up.”
If I snap at someone, I am going to take owner ship for that and apologize with no excuses for my behaviour. Or I will honestly tell that person why their behaviour caused me to act the way that I did, and still say sorry because it is still my responsibility how I react to others.
In the end, I am just me. I am a sum of all the experiences, neuro chemistry, bio chemistry, and pixy dust that make up my life. I may never fully understand myself, nor will I ever fully understand someone else. So why make up all the excuses for being when we can all just allow ourselves to be?
I am Ali. I am sometimes clean, sometimes messy. Sometimes loving, sometimes harsh. Sometimes hopeful, sometimes scared. I hate crying but I cry. I snap at people and am judgmental when I feel unsafe. I am all the things some of the time. And I am OK with that. Now.