I received a visit from the Gaping Wallow last night.
The Gaping Wallow is like that friend who continually nags you to catch up over a cup of coffee. You don’t have the energy nor the time but, upon finally meeting up, you find yourself happy for having gone.
The Gaping Wallow is very much like that sweatshirt that your mother insisted you bring for when the nighttime chills your shoulders. You reluctantly throw it balled up in the back seat of your car, but you find yourself thankful when your arms get chilly.
The Gaping Wallow is a long, much-needed (though not anticipated) cry.
It comes to us in the most unexpected of moments. Wrapped Up and Ready in the Sad Song Lyrics of Yesterday’s Memories. Tied to the Fringes of a Bad Day or a Harsh Comment.
It is that cry that seemingly comes out of nowhere and in the oddest of places. When we are driving to the grocery store. In the parking garage after work. In bed at night when our eyes are searching for closure.
It is that long stream of sobs and sorrow that makes us question if it will ever cease. It is that cry that makes us wonder if we are holding all the tears of the world in our eye sockets or if we should call Noah and instruct him to build an ark because our tears are so high in numbers that we might just drown the world.
The Gaping Wallow operates on its own time. It never asks to stop in or phones politely to make its arrival known. No, no. It sweeps into town, knocks on your door and demands your attention.
And this is exactly what happens when the Gaping Wallow arrives: It starts with a single solitary tear, peaking out from behind the eyelids and plummeting down over the hump of your pallid cheek. And when one tear comes, it is as if that tear gives orders to the followers. And they come too. Following their Leader. Forming a Puddle.
At first you thought you were crying over something menial. A messy room. A stubbed toe. A day that you wish the calendar would just erase. But before you know it, you are sobbing. Reaching to Find Breath to Catch.
Long Sobs. Short Sobs. Salty Tears. Tears That Won’t Stop.
Crying over what happened a year ago. What you should have gotten over four months ago. Sobbing over your fears for the future. Dying a little inside over the people who refuse to sit anywhere but in your past.
The tears that the Gaping Wallow brought (like cupcakes to a birthday party) won’t stop coming for a while because you know they have been pent up for too long. It is as if your mind has filed these tears into a database after every sorrow or little thing that did not go your way. And they sit and wait until they can make an appearance. All over your cheeks. In the runs of your mascara. Below your nose.
But we never really can predict when that appearance will be, when the Gaping Wallow will visit.
The Gaping Wallow is as unreliable as the weather. Or perhaps as reliable as the tide.
But there are advantages to him and the tears he brings with the visits he makes.
The Gaping Wallow allows us to believe in the sunrise of a new day, the turn towards a blank page, the calmness in the air that follows after a storm.
You know, full and well, that when the tears stop coming and the Sobs Cease, that you will feel better. Drained, tired, but better. As if the tears have wiped away the built up stress and worries that had begun to collect interest on your shoulders.
It is as if the Gaping Wallow, though showing off as big & robust & demanding, carries with him a quiet voice that is for you. Just You. And he kneels down beside you, as you are curled up in the left-hand corner of your king-sized bed or with knees folded under you in the driver’s seat of the car, and he delivers some reassurance.
“Cry now. Cry now. Just be sure to let it all out. Cry for Yesterday. Cry for Tomorrow. Cry for all the things that hurt you good today. All the things that batter you with Confusion, Doubt, Insecurity and Restlessness. And don’t discriminate against your tears. If what you are crying over happened six years ago, I don’t care. If it happened when you were seven, I still don’t care. Just cry. Just push those tears into existence and validate them for once. Your tears are like every human being: we all want validation. Let it all out so that when you are done you will find that there are no more tears to use. And you will be ready to pick up a smile and a brand new day and start all over again. Without me and the tears I brought for the visit.”