“It’s okay to cry” “Cry it out, it’s fine” “You have kept so much bottled up inside, let it out” “Ada, is there another problem?” “It’s okay nau!” Those were the words of Ada’s Mom and sisters, as they consoled her, when her dam broke, for the first time in years. Instead of any of these platitudes consoling her, she cried all the more.
When she had been going on for almost 30 minutes, non-stop, her mom left her with her sisters, to go and get their Dad’s dinner. Before she got back, Ada was gone. Through her tears she had managed to convince her youngest sister to call a cab for her and bring her car to her house, the next day, as she was not in any condition to drive.
She also knew, as her mom had gone to her dad, she was going to tell him everything, and that was one man, she (Ada) had no defence against. He would find out what was making her cry. The truth was, she had not articulated the reason for her pity party just yet.
On getting home she laid on her bed, fully clothed and gave full reins to the tears that wracked her body. The tears came hard and fast and then it tapered out to dry heaves, there were no more tears left in her, but she still felt the need to cry but the tears were no longer coming.
Why was Ada, a 35 year old woman, aunt to numerous nieces and nephews, sister to awesome moms, crying like a baby? Ada’s is a story of pain and endless cycle of disappointments, one coming on the heels of the other, with scarcely any room for her to breathe. As the pain kept coming, instead of crying, she grew cold. Events that would reduce most people to puddles of despair happened, yet, Ada just got still, hard, and cold. And that was exactly what many people called her too, after a while: Cold.
What they had no idea was, it was a coping strategy. That was how she could deal with not getting pregnant with her first IVF Cycle, which she had done according to the textbook. Implantation just did not happen, was what her doctor said and it killed her.
There was a lot riding on that cycle, her marriage, her future financial plans were all tied to that cycle and then it failed. She just went numb, when she got the result of the blood work. It was not what she expected, but was what she got. Sitting in the doctor’s office, she watched her world, as she knew it slip away.
All that she feared happened subsequently, she was sent packing from her husband’s house by his family, and he did not raise any objection. Her attempts to get him to help her, met with a blunt and uncaring statement, “But, you cannot give me a baby, which is part of every marriage contract, since, you cannot do that, let me try my luck, elsewhere”
That statement shrivelled any tears, that might have wanted to come. While dealing with the disappointment of a failed cycle herself, she now had to deal with the demise of her marriage. It did not matter that, they had not been married for long or that their relationship hadn’t been all that rosy. It did not matter that it had been like pulling teeth to get her husband to go to the clinic, first for investigations and later to drop samples. Now, there was even no husband to do that for her and she had no embryos frozen. Again her emotions ran cold and if it was possible, she became colder. An expert at hiding her true feelings.
As they always say, when it rains, it actually pours. Another tragedy struck. During a routine scan, they found a tumour in her lungs and it was spreading. From TTC, to losing her marriage, now there was something which wanted to swallow her whole. Everything else, she had been through paled in comparison.
During this trying time, all she had was the support of her family. But even they could not understand how she could be so stoic in the face of all that was happening around her. They were the ones crying, she was burnt out. In her head, she just kept telling herself, that she couldn’t break down, that she could not cry, that she had to be strong.
When her doctor referred her to an oncologist, she went, when they told her, chemotherapy was the way to go, she accepted and proceeded on treatment; her already thin resources stretched even more. Everything she earned was directed towards her treatment, which went on for months and then she was told, her cancer was in remission. She wanted to heave a sigh of relief but her mind said, better not, so she stayed hyped up and still unable to cry.
Something or should I say someone broke the dam one day. The three sisters and their children were visiting with their parents, when Ada’s four year old nephew asked an innocent question. He pointed at his mom’s growing bump and asked, “When are you going to grow a baby in your tummy like mommy is doing?”
Ada had laughed and patted the head of her precocious nephew, replying, “Very soon.” Mind you, this was not the first time, the kids had asked this question. As the young man ran off to tell the others about what Aunty Ada had said, Ada realised that tears were rolling down her cheeks and it kept coming faster. The more, she tried to continue by laughing, the more, it became obvious to her sisters, that this was no laughing matter.
The elder sister, on whose shoulder, they had cried for years, the one, who had been present for all the childbirth of her nieces and nephews. Ada, who had wiped their tears over the years, the one, who had not cried when her only IVF cycle failed, did not cry when her marriage collapsed, nor when she got a diagnosis of cancer. No one was prepared for the torrent, but it came all the same.
That was how Ada let go of her pain of many years, in one long day of weeping and melancholy. Her mom and youngest sister, later came to her house to stay with her. They did not try to tell her to stop, as they knew it was deep. But they were around, should she need them. She did.
From crying, she talked about all her hurt feelings from the failed cycle, the threat that had been hanging over her head before then, should the IVF cycle fail, the other reasons, he sent her packing. Everything was put out there in the open and it took a lot for her mom and youngest sister, not to cry at the new facts of the trials that their daughter and sister had gone through. It was a hard time for all of them it was also healing time for all of them.
Ladies, cry if you must, bottling issues up in your heart, while playing super woman is not only injurious to your health, it burdens the heart.
Like that Frozen Princess song, “Let it go”.
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