Extreme Makeover: Home Edition made me cry on most Sundays from 2004 to 2010. My family and I would watch people cope with tragic circumstances and receive help from Ty Pennington, the production, and their community. There was just, just…so much emotion.
I shed quiet tears at funerals. During my daughter’s 6th grade and 8th grade graduations; and, sometimes at her end-of-year dance recitals, I’d try to hold tears in and fail. Maybe once a year, I’d have a good hard cry about who-knows-what. Otherwise, my eyes were as arid as Arizona.
Then, I left the husband I’d watched Extreme Makeover: Home Edition with. I can’t remember if it was before I left him, while I was leaving, or shortly after that I came across Brene Brown’s TED Talk, The power of vulnerability.
I used to think that crying was weakness and something to have some shame toward, because being vulnerable wasn’t something I wanted to be. Brown helped me rethink it. Then, after my divorce, I re-read Eat Pray Love. After re-reading it, I decided Elizabeth Gilbert is right. The bathroom floor is a most excellent place to have a good, hard, snot-nosed cry. There’s something about resting my cheek on a cold, clean tile that is soothing. I’ve done this in our new house at least once. Side Note: I would never cry on the floor of a public bathroom. One must show restraint at times no matter how difficult it is.
I feel relief when my friend Mariah attends a tear-triggering program with me. If I’m tearing up, I can trust that she is too. Crying in public alone is one of my least favorite things to do. It happens.
Chris has had the distinct horror of getting to witness me fall apart many times. Mostly in private. There have been a few times in restaurants when the water welling up in my eyes has abandoned ship and slid down my cheeks. The last time it happened we were at Hefe Rojo. It’s a dark, swanky, Mexican restaurant in downtown Rochester.
We had just moved into our new house. My daughter had decided she wasn’t talking to me, because I wouldn’t give her the details on a private matter. I had unpacked our home mostly on my own and had everything as just-so as could be. Our new furniture had arrived. We’d entertained the weekend before.
Note: Chris’s work pays our bills, so I put my work on hold for a bit to do the majority of packing and unpacking. I know we’re very fortunate to be able to do what we did. Getting settled in would have taken much longer if we both had full-time jobs. Also, I would much, much rather do what I did than deal with the customers and stress that he has to.
It was in the new home that I realized that members of our household are obsessed with eating while walking around the house — our brand new, just built, perfect house with carpeting. One son chose to walk over and stand next to one of the $800 Soho Accent chairs that we’d just bought while eating pizza. As he walked over, I said, “Sorry, I’m going to have to be bossy. You can’t eat pizza over there.”
Yet, he persisted and not in the noble Elizabeth Warren way. He walked toward the chair again, took a bite of his pizza, sauce spurted out, and just missed the chair. My guy was nowhere to be found, so the son’s uncle stepped up and told him to sit down like a normal human being and eat.
One of the worst culprits was my guy. Who eats Nacho Cheese Doritos while standing on light grey carpeting? A man. That’s who! I apologize to all of my male readers, but really?!?! Come on! I don’t think I’ve ever noticed a woman do it and definitely not in our new house.
Not to worry though, I vacuumed up all of the crumbs that hit the carpeting on the steps before they could become orange stains on the carpet.
I felt like the sole defender of our home. Her worst enemies were our family. After being in the new house for two weeks, I was regretting the move. Chris teased more than once that he didn’t want to ever have to move into an even nicer place with me.
I wanted to go back to living at a place that I didn’t care all that much about. I missed having cleaners come in the Monday after a kid weekend. Correction, I still totally miss them. Right now, we’re on a budget.
Before I make anyone believe that I am some perfect homemaker…
I have ADHD. It’s so bad that my educator ex-husband who did not believe in ADHD became a believer after we lived together for long enough. My doctor tested and diagnosed me with it. Teachers used to dump my desk midway through the school year, because I couldn’t find any of my supplies. Being organized and keeping up on things exhausts my brain. So long as there isn’t too much else on my plate, I can do it well. It helps if I can make a pattern for myself to follow. I do love living in a clean, well-organized house; and, our house is.
Dinner Out at Hefe Rojo
While we ate dinner on date night at Hefe Rojo we had a discussion. Chris thought that I was being intense. I thought that our house was on the brink of descending into chaos, disgustingness, and that its value would be destroyed before we made it through a year of living it. There are nine months until the year is up, so we’ll see.
I started looking at my phone while Chris was trying to articulate a thought. He didn’t notice the tears screaming, “Abandon Ship!” as I tried to maintain my cool. There were so many people in the restaurant.
“Am I not being interesting enough?” Chris asked. If the roles had been reversed, I would have asked him the same. In fact, I’ve said the same to him before.
The tears would not stay safe in life boats at the edge of Ship Tear Duct. Out they rolled. I put my face into Chris’s shoulder. Chris did his best to comfort me. Then, he looked around and joked that some guy was going to beat him up for making me cry.
The server stayed away from our table for a bit. She seemed to feel bad for us. I felt bad that she felt bad. It wasn’t the first time tears had threatened at Hefe, but it was their first victory. My daughter, my granddaughter, the house, and other things had me stressed out. And, to be honest, my “friend” showed up the next day. Surprise! “She” was moving in too. Ugh!
Here’s the wonderful thing and the real point of the story:
Chris has never tried to make me feel guilty for my tears. He’s never attempted to shame them out of me. He comforts and affirms my right to feel and express my emotions however they come to me. Sometimes he may not understand why I feel the way I do about something, yet he doesn’t make his inability to understand negate or belittle my emotions. The result: I cry more than I used to, because I feel safe doing it.
This post is part of a series inspired by Eat Pray Love.