I can really only count on one hand how many times I have lost control of my emotions in public… and that’s not counting when I’ve been moved to tears in church.
A few years ago, when my youngest baby girl was starting her first day of pre-school, I decided to go to the grocery store by myself. I had this idea that it would be a magical experience because I was BY MYSELF without any children running around and asking if they could have every bad thing or toy they came into contact with. As I entered the produce section, an overwhelming feeling took hold of me and tears began to roll down my face. My little helper – the one who loved to get the plastic, see-through sacks and twist-ties for me – would no longer be making these morning trips with me. I remember someone coming up to me and saying “Hey! How’s it feel? You don’t have any kids with you!” As I turned to look at her, her face changed and she said “Oh no! What’s wrong?” All I could say was “I don’t even know what I’m doing right now? I thought I would enjoy it, but I am so not!”
It got worse as I went through the store, too – because, what is up with that music? There have been a few times where I have danced around to the tunes playing in the grocery store, but I go to that place A LOT and, for the most part, the songs have an “institutional” quality to them. I find myself shaking my head in disagreement with most of it.
A few days ago I was having an emotionally charged day…and it was still pretty early in the morning. It was a Friday, so I should have been happy, but we were in the middle of “stupid-busy” season – where every member of our family has something important they needed to do or somewhere important they needed to be all weekend – and all those things were miles apart. I had a birthday date scheduled with my husband (and it’s for a milestone birthday) that was going to have to change because of said schedules.
And I was tired. Tired of trying to figure out everyone’s stuff – including my own, which is bad enough in itself. Come to think of it, I believe it is always about this time of the school year when I have my first big mental breakdown.
On this day it would take place in the grocery store parking lot (before I even went in).
I had lost all control while I was parked in my spot, talking to my mom on the phone. It wasn’t anything she had done or said, it was just us talking about life. After we hung up, my face hit the steering wheel and I sobbed. I kept urging myself -“Get a hold of yourself, woman! You have things to do – dry it up!”
Looking around the parking lot, it didn’t seem to be very busy, so I cleaned up my mess of a face as much as I could (luckily, I hadn’t put on makeup yet, so I had that going for me?) and headed in to get what we needed as fast as possible.
I spent some time in the greeting card section – one, because I actually needed some birthday cards, but also because I didn’t want to make eye-contact with anyone for a while and this seemed like a great place to hide out. However, something made me look up and there was one of my friends, with her dad, whom I had yet to meet.
Isn’t that the way it works.
I hid out there for a little longer – and I’m not real sure what God was trying to do to me, but I turned around and saw a good-looking man that looked really familiar walking right toward me. Crap… I sleep with that man.
“Hey! You were hiding!” and then his face changed – “Why have you been crying?”
What I wanted to say to my husband who I never run into at the grocery store was, “What the heck are you doing here?” Instead, I started crying again.
I mean, HELLO! What is the deal? First of all, why am I crying? Secondly, why am I crying in the grocery store? And also, what is that music??? I felt like I was on the edge of insanity…
Before I had turned onto aisle four, I had seen the friend and her dad, my husband, my grandma, and my ex-boyfriend from high school’s parents (true story). I really should have remembered that you run into everyone you know when you are about to lose your mind.
Life gets real at the most inappropriate times.
Sometimes life makes you say “yes, yes I will buy the pre-packaged cookie dough today – and I will enjoy every raw, risk-taking bite!” Sometimes life has you buying a bag of Cheetos Puffs so that you can do your best Winona Ryder impression from Reality Bites. And that’s okay, as long as we remember that the day will come soon when we will be crying in the gym parking lot.
My friend said it well in her text to me as I left the store that day… “A good cry never hurt anyone. Just be sure to pick yourself back up. You are blessed!”
If I wasn’t blessed, I would have nothing to cry about. I’ll just try to do it in the comfort of my closet next time.