Today’s First was selected to take me to the edge of my comfort zone and beyond. When I was four years old, I decided not to cry any more. It seemed pointless. And so just like that, I turned off the tears and have very rarely shed any since. Over time it became difficult, even painful, to cry even if I wanted to. And so I learned to avoid sad situations and sad movies, so that the struggle to cry could be avoided as well. I’ve missed a whole genre of movies. As a child and youth, I’d leave the theater during a sad scene, such as Bambi wondering where his mother was . As an adult, I just refused to go if I knew in advance that the movie was sad. I got tricked into seeing “Titanic” and thought my chest would burst at the end, from repressed emotion.
These last few years, as I’ve sought to integrate all of who I am into a whole person, my avoidance of negative emotion became an issue that I’ve wanted to deal with. I knew this was a First that would address my reluctance and definitely take me beyond what’s comfortable for me.
At both my daughters’ recommendations, I selected “My Sister’s Keeper” for the first sad movie I’ve ever deliberately chosen to watch. It was a beautiful movie. And it was sad. It was also powerful and poignant and I connected with it. I felt for the family as their whole existence revolved around saving the life of Kate. And I admired Kate’s courage in letting go and making it okay for her family to let her go. I loved her “book of everything” that so intricately captured her life journey. Tears trickled slowly down my cheeks. Sometimes the fear or dread of something is much worse than the actual event. My chest didn’t explode. I can see that crying can be a wonderful form of release. It’s not a sign of weakness. Kate said “There’s no shame in dying”. There is no shame in crying either.