I recently told a friend a trick I invented as a teenager, and it worked so well for him that I felt inspired to share it. I’m not sure why I’ve kept it to myself all these years. It has something to do with my worry that it’ll lose all its secret power. But I’ve decided to believe that’s not how the universe works. And now, I’ve officially given it way too much of a buildup. You’ll probably all be like- DUH, everyone knows that one.
As a teenager, I had a problem with inappropriate giggling and/or weeping (still do, sometimes). This was a problem for me as a soon-to-be star of stage and screen, but also in AP History class (the French Revolution is no laughing matter), synagogue, delivering my grandmother’s eulogy etc.
I came up with this: if I’m ever in front of an audience and I feel an inappropriate urge to cry, I let the tears fall out my feet. The ground can take it. It’s big.
I use it less in real life than I do on stage. In my real life, I’m fortunate to have plenty of space for inappropriate emotional outbursts. It’s not like I spend my days in corporate board meetings (though I imagine that would be a great place to use this).
But when the Sandy Hook tragedy happened, I was completely unhinged. I felt like I had a responsibility to protect my son from not only the horrific story but also from the emotional fallout. It’s not that I don’t want T to see me having difficult emotions- he sees me sad and mad plenty, believe me. It’s just that I didn’t have any context to offer him and I thought it would be confusing and worrisome. Really, what I wanted was to be present and grateful, not to veer off into some anxiety spiral. So every time I would look at him and the horrific slideshow would start to flash before my eyes, I let the tears fall out my feet. I did it about twenty times a day for a couple of days until my anxiety stabilized a bit.
A friend of mine told me that whenever she has paralyzing mom anxiety, she sings. I use that too, now. We all develop our own personal little language with the world around us- ways we ask for help, ways we get through the day. This is one of mine. Hope your days have been merry and bright, and if by chance you still feel an uncontrollable urge to cry, try letting it fall out your feet.