I haven't yet decided how this post is going to go. I usually start with a plan, having thought about what I'm going to write for a little while. Today, I haven't.
This post is emotional, impulsive and instinctive. There is no preparation here and I'm loathe to edit it at the end, either. Maybe a spellcheck, maybe not. Life isn't editable in the way we want it to sometimes be; perhaps that's the point of this post.
I want to cry. I can't cry. I used to cry all the time, now I struggle even when I want to. When I say 'all the time' , I mean literally at anything; adverts, stories, Facebook, bumps, knocks and grazes, insults, laughter and rage. Now, I find myself wanting to, very badly, and falling short. Sometimes I feel that prickle behind my eyes and in my nose a bit, but I get more actual crying action from a spot of onion chopping than I do from real emotional catalysts nowadays. Frankly, my cooking is appalling, and rare, so it's not even like that occurs regularly.
So, what is this catharsis I crave, and why do I find it so elusive? Is this what being a grown up is? Is this what it feels like to be a man? It sounds like a non-problem, like a #firstworldproblem, like a Waitrose problem. But I feel trapped inside this emotional blockage, inescapably enshrined in a facade of strength.
I'm not a chanter, a meditator, nor am I at peace with my stillness most days. I'm neurotic and optimistic and forward thinking, and I'm not relaxed, I'm impatient. I no longer crave perfection, but I desire constant progress in everything. It is this momentum that sweeps me along in its wake, never stopping to dwell on hurt, or failure, or fear.
Yet, we need to. We need to acknowledge the pain that changes our futures. We need to learn from the mistakes that we make before we zoom along to the next decision. We need to confront the things which we know to be true, and damaging, instead of hoping to outrun them. The moments which destroy us are as important as the ones which lift us to new places.
I am struggling with the balance. We must accept all of these things without falling victim to the wallow factor. I tried imposing time limits on things that made me sad. 24 hours to feel pain, then move on. I'm not sure this was the right strategy for me - I just got impatient and cut it even shorter. Compartmentalising every hurt in its own box where it can't get to me... and I can't get to it.
So, what do we do to meet ourselves in the middle? On this occasion, I'm open to suggestions, and humble enough to acknowledge I don't have all the answers. But, please, no Steel Magnolias, no chanting, and no onions.
Edit: I wrote this yesterday and didn't publish it. I felt it lacked a satisfactory conclusion, was bereft of wisdom, or value. Maybe that's actually valuable in itself. Honesty, authenticity, uncertainty and fallibility - human traits that lack perfection. Every one of us has questions, imperfections. Every day is a challenge in some way. Do not be afraid of your own humanity, and do not confuse it with weakness.