Wednesday, October 4, 2006

I Get So Emotional, Baby

To paraphrase Grey’s Anatomy, there is a land called Irrational Hysteria, and I am their queen.

I am an artist working on a tear-streaked canvas of indignant rage, a master sculptor of outlandish ultimatums, a thrower of glorious fits. I am an emoter of the highest degree and I say woe unto him who tries to navigate my deep and tempestuous waters.

If you didn’t think I was dramatic, see above paragraph.

Seriously, though, if there was a prize for emoting, I would win it. I have always been prone to extreme hysterical outbursts. When I was two, I screamed, cried, and tried to climb out the window of a car because I wanted fried chicken that was being transported in the trunk. At age eight, I had a tantrum at my birthday party because people weren’t arriving on time and, as a result, we were going to be late for The Gods Must Be Crazy II. Most infamous (among my family members at least) is the Great Christmas Cookie Incident of 1992. Every year, my mother, sister and I bake and decorate roll-out cookies. After a tumultuous start to my junior high life, during which I started a new, incredibly competitive school and developed insomnia, resulting in my sleeping on a futon on my parents’ floor and sobbing when asked to return to my own bed, I was looking forward to the familiar comforts of holiday traditions … until I dropped the cookies. I dropped the whole tray, and the cookies broke on the floor. I was inconsolable. I screamed at a pitch that only dogs could hear. I beat my fists against the wall. I cried until my eyes were swollen shut.

This episode is a good example of how I roll, emotionally speaking. I have – for better or worse, genetically encoded – a tendency to feel things very acutely and indelibly. I also have a compulsion to express every feeling I have, which results in the sort of over reactive hysteria that one associates with silent movie damsels in distress or, of late, David Gest.

I don’t really question whether this behavior will go away (it won’t), but I constantly struggle with how to live with it. On the one hand, my emotional outbursts embarrass and humble me – coming down from the high of passionate feeling, I am humiliated by the things I said, the way I acted, and the very fervor with which I justified my behavior. On the other hand, I’m secretly glad that I’m so passionate and emotional. It may make me a bad sport sometimes, or a scary girlfriend, but it also makes me a compassionate friend, a great artist, and someone who loves very truly, madly, and deeply.

There’s no conclusion to this post. I just need to end it by wondering: how much can we really change about ourselves? Is it more important to accept ourselves as we are, or to try to change so that we can avoid the embarrassment, guilt, and sadness that comes from letting our messy selves come out to play?

I wish I could come up with a good, thought-provoking metaphor to close this post. Here are a few; choose your fave:

1. I guess, in a way, we’re all reaching for that fried chicken in the great trunk of life.
2. I guess the Gods really are crazy.
3. I guess, in the end, I’d rather be the queen of Irrational Hysteria than a mere page.


  1. Anonymous9:25 PM

    you're so good.

  2. I can't believe you only got one comment.

    That is the $64k question: change or accept. Here's an answer: if you can keep your friends, accept. If you lose them, change. I still try to change. I'm 50.


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