It's a catch. A snag. Catching you by surprise, it starts in your chest, just above your stomach. It plummets into your gut and then springboards back up into your throat. That's where you try to stop it, but not before it pulls the tears from your eyes and the breath from your lungs. You push it down, hard. It's not the right time. Not now. You take a few deep breaths. In. Out. In. Out. You close your eyes to keep your focus - and to keep the tears from falling and betraying the illusion of normalcy you've worked so hard to maintain. You purse your lips and hiss the air out. Slowly. Calmly. You clench your fists, flexing your fingers with each exhale. And it works. For now. Until the next time when the emptiness becomes too much for your soul to support and your heart breaks all over and over and over again.
It's exhausting to continually keep myself from crying at random - or not so random - moments. I never know when tears are going to overtake me. When a word will hit my ear wrong. When a memory will loosen itself within my brain. When a thought of a future that doesn't exist will stir my soul. "Oh, no, not again." A "normal" day can turn on a dime.
When these moments find me, I want so badly to give into them. To surrender to the sobs and just let them wash over me like ocean waves. To let the foundation I am working so hard to rebuild crumble into pieces. A good cry is often what we need - but it's not always what we can do. If I let these moments dictate my actions, I would be perpetually in tears. I would sob uncontrollably when the woman at the airport lovingly fastens her baby into her stroller, or when the color of someone's shirt reminds me of the color of her nursery walls, or when I, for no reason at all, begin to wonder if Kenley would have liked to eat bananas. I push back tears on a regular basis. It's just what I do now. In the same way you brush your teeth in the morning, or use your turn signal before changing lanes. It's habit. It's life.
Sometimes, I let myself cry. When I'm in a position to do so. Like at home or with friends. But, not at the grocery store, or at a restaurant, or doing the regular day to day activities I have to do. Sometimes, I cry anyway, despite my best attempts to thwart it. Sometimes, no matter how hard I push it down, the walls that contain my tears break and the flood gates open. And I am a sobbing mess in the corner booth, or aisle 6, or the next car over. It just happens.
I don't know if I will have to be en guarde for regular crying jags for the rest of my life - or if they will slow down eventually. I hope they do because I am exhausted - and probably also dehydrated.