Growing up, my parents always encouraged us, by example and word, to let it out, so to speak. Happy, angry, sad, excited. All emotions were welcome. Admittedly, sometimes those expressions got out of hand (read: teenage Lainey), but I never felt suppressed.
I can’t pinpoint when that changed. For some time now, when approached with a difficult or sad situation, I project this stoic, cold, and unfeeling persona. Tears are suppressed when they need to flow the most. Sadness is shown as anger. Troubling times are shadowed by small talk. It’s a smoke and mirrors act.
I hate that I do this. I hate that I’m so afraid of making my loved ones worry about me, that I push down even the most expected reactions. I hate that I’m so fucked up.
A year ago today was one of my worst offenses. I knew Nanny didn’t have much more time. She had been declining for months, and was completely without speech. We went to see her on the way home after my cousin’s wedding. Took her for a walk on the grounds; sat and talked to her about the wedding in the gazebo; Told her how well Bob was doing in school; Showed her pictures of the wedding on the iPad. The nursing staff told us it was time for her to eat. So we brought her to the dining table and sat a little while with her.
I was devastated. I knew in my bones this was the last time I would see my Nanny. But I kept the tears in. I put on a smile, chatting away like nothing, when all I wanted to do was curl up on the bed next to her and sob. To let her know how much I love her. To ask her to stay. To tell her it was ok to go.
I said goodbye and got up to leave. I looked back at the table and she was looking at me. I waved and said “Bye Nanny. I love you.” And she kept looking. And I turned and walked away.
I didn’t want those tears to leak out. Because if they did, they never would have stopped.