I like pretending that I am not an emotional person. It’s always seemed like it would be so much easier to get through life if you just didn’t have emotional responses to situations or people. Thus I decided that making it seem as if I didn’t care would make it easier for me to get through life. The problem is I do care.
I secretly cry more than the average person. I read articles about war-torn countries taking the lives of children halfway around the world, watch stories about young athletes overcoming disabilities and adversity, see homeless veterans begging for food at intersections and I can’t stop the tears welling up as my heart begins to ache inside my chest. I say secretly because I hate crying in front of people. When it happens, I turn my head or leave the room and fight it as best I can. Most of the time, no one notices; I’ve gotten very good at it.
It’s my mom’s fault. She is an emotional basket case. At least once a week, I call my mom and we talk about what’s happened in each of our lives over the previous week. She shares a plethora of opinions and I have a retort for every one of them. At least once every couple of weeks, she will inevitably cry. 99 times out of 100, it’s over something that would seem trivial to most people but she doesn’t care, it’s meaningful to her and deserves tears. That’s where I get it from.
I got something else from my mom: my love of people. From an early age, she has taught me tolerance and acceptance. She has tried to teach me to meet people where they are rather than forcing them to come to me. She hasn’t always been perfect at practicing it but she has always worked to instill that in me and my siblings.
In a recent TedTalk entitled “Love, No Matter What”, Andrew Solomon shares a saying his mother used to tell him:
“The love you have for your children is like no other feeling in the world; and until you have children, you don’t know what it’s like.”
I can’t know if that’s true yet. I don’t have children and I’m not positive I ever even will. But I do know how much I love people and I know how much my mother loves me, my brother, and my sister. I know that she has made mistakes in life because she is human. I know she has had uncontrollable setbacks because this is a broken world; and I know that there is nothing that could compromise her love for me.
I’m grateful for her. I’m grateful for her life. I’m grateful for her love, and I’m grateful that she has passed on to me, a genuine love for people. I hope I will always be an emotional basket case just like her, crying when my heart aches for others. I hope that I am able to love others even half as much as she always has and always will love me.