Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Come Hell or High Water

I cry in my sleep.


It started happening a couple of months ago, and, until now, I hadn't understood why. I didn't understand why I would wake up mid-sob in the late hours of the night or with a tear-stained pillow in the early morning. The tears didn't come from the same dream, either. I was haunted with nightmares of death, stress, failure, and loss. My sleep was no longer the haven to my day that it used to be; instead, it became painful.

As many of us do, I ignored my bad dreams. I would lose touch with what they really were upon waking up, and go back to sleep to a better dream on a good night or, if I was unlucky, the same tear-rendering nightmare of before. I didn't recognize the frequency at which they were happening until, well, now. I woke up crying this weekend and thought, this has got to stop. What is wrong with me? I was flabbergasted.

And then it hit me: I am crying when I sleep because I stopped crying when I am awake.

I am a crier. I cry from sadness, from happiness, from disappointment, from achievement, from frustration, from bliss, from hate, from love. The list goes on and on. Anything and everything in this world has potential to make me cry.

I've never seen my crying as a weakness. It is a part of who I am. I get upset, I cry. I get excited, I cry. The sun rises, the sun sets, I cry.

I spent a lot of my youth in tears. The tears helped me cope with my emotional struggles; with them they carried and washed out the worries of the day. Yes, I cried on a daily basis in my childhood. And no, I did not have great cause for crying. At least not external cause, anyway.

The tears started to come in patterns as I aged; these patterns gave me better understanding and control. Now, instead of not knowing what specifically I was crying over, I at best started to know why I was crying. I could expect the tears, and that gave me better control. To me, knowledge is power.

My emotions have evened out over time, with age. Where I was a generally wistful person before, I am now a generally happy person. I might tear up over a lost love in a novel or a heartfelt moment in a movie, but other than that, I have had no cause for heavy crying. (Internally andexternally.)

So this is why I have begun to cry in my sleep. My body has been a mass producer of tears for my whole life. It worked on a supply and demand basis. Once production would complete, a mass exodus would ensue. Tears produced, tears washed out. It was a revolving cycle.

But now, the tears aren't getting washed out. They are not exiting en masse as they habitually had before. There is no longer a demand for the tears, but my body does not understand. It continues to supply at the frequency it always has, and I’m not giving it the catharsis that it needs. I'm essentially walking around with pockets of tears inside of me, ready to burst at any time.

Life has been so steady and positive of late, though, that I'm not bursting. At least not consciously.

A lot of you won’t understand it, this need to cry. I’m not sure if it’s a female thing, a genetic thing, or an Audrey thing. It’s ok, though—you don’t have to get it. For this kind of thing, I think it takes one to know one. And I’m thrilled that the world isn’t filled to its brim with criers like me; it’s you non-criers that establish a balance.

In gaining this self-understanding, I’ve come to terms with my nighttime tears. I know what my body is doing, and I accept it. While I’m glad that I don’t have anything in my life to make me cry too much just now, I’m a little relieved to know that I still have the ability. Crying is a part of who I am, after all.

I’ll leave you with a little bit of advice: if you need to cry, do it. It feels good. And if you never feel the need to cry, understand that others do. Even if it’s in their sleep.

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