I don’t think anyone but me and God knows how often this happens… has happened… I have a thought. One thought. I think of one detail, that sets off a slew of memories. Memories so vivid, and so real, that for the moment, that is where I am.
And once more I experience the moment my cat died. The second I read that my Grandma is dying. The look on my cousin’s face as she passed away. The very second I realized the adoption had failed. The fears. The pains. The smells. The sounds. Who I was. What I was struggling with. Where I was failing. Who was missing. What I wanted. How I felt.
All of it is there. And in half a second, I can go from laughter to heartbreak and tears. In the seconds it takes for that memory to overcome me, hundreds more fight for attention… set off by a tiny connection – what I was wearing, how I was feeling, who was with me… anything.
Next thing I know, I am reliving all of the pain of my past, and all of my fears for the future. And in those hours of tears – quiet tears. Silent tears. Hidden, lost, alone, all encompassing pain – I am fully in all of those moments, flashing by second by second, and repeating until I think I will go insane.
And sometimes they are noticed – by my husband, who coughs a bit, and says nothing. That is okay. Before we were married, I told him this would happen, and I told him he couldn’t help. Just be there. I’ll get through it… I always have before. Sometimes by my cat, who will lie on my arm, purring and kneading my shoulder. I like it when he does that. It helps. Sometimes by my dog, who will lick my hand, and go lay down at the end of the bed.
Mostly I experience it alone. Mostly, I have always experienced it alone. While my emotions are never well hidden (I can’t fake that even if I wanted to) these tears are the ones that come to me in the dark. In the silence. In the moments when no one else will see.
It isn’t because I am hiding it – though I don’t want others to see the depths of my pain – but because in the dark, and in the quiet, those sights, smells, memories are given full reign.
Yet on the occasion that someone finds out how I spent the night, they respond in shock, and concern. Their response catches me by surprise.
They do not know how very common this has been for me.