Sometimes I cry when I’m happy, excited, sad and all that stuff. Although for the most part I don’t cry very often and it’s usually stemming from grief and loss and strong sadness. I also cry pretty easily at movies, books and theatre. Sometimes I cry when I’m in an argument because my anger and frustration just pour out my eyeballs, that can be a little annoying since it makes me awfully hard to take seriously. But the only time I’m guaranteed to cry, the only time I have genuinely no control over whether I do or not is when I’m struggling in a classroom/learning setting and I feel misunderstood or lost. Then the tears gush instantly with enough warning that I can dread it but have no ability to stop them. It’s happened all my life, usually involving things like math, science, and computers. I hate it more than most things about myself and I hate that I’ve never been able to keep it from happening.
Last night was the first night of my third class of the summer, Technology for Information Professionals. It’s a class I’ve rather dreaded because it deals with things like coding in HTML and CSS and creating web pages and all of that is stuff I find intimidating. It’s also stuff I’m really excited to learn and that I know I need to continue successfully in my profession. The first half of class, lecture style, went fine. In fact it was slightly reassuring; the professor is approachable and knowledgeable and everything he talked about was something I was already somewhat familiar with. Then we switched to the tech lab across the hall.
I’ll leave out the details because a) they don’t matter too much and b) I’m a little fuzzy on them now but the long and short of it is: I had an issue with something on my computer, I asked for help, the professor explained what was wrong, I understood and fixed it. Then I had a different but related question that I clearly did not express well because the professor explained exactly what he had previously about the prior issue and I was suddenly reduced from a confident(ish) 32-year-old woman and grad student to a humiliated feeling and weeping 8-year-old girl. The professor wasn’t mean or rude or anything that might have warranted any of my emotions. I just couldn’t get across what my second issue was and my whole body reacted as if we’d been horribly shut down and dismissed. It was awful.
I stayed in my seat at the computer and let my hair hang in my face and felt grateful I had my glasses on to help hide behind and the tears streamed down my face and my nose got all drippy. I knew the students on either side of me and across the table could tell I was crying and that made it ever so much worse. What frustrates me so is that what needed to be fixed wasn’t so difficult, I did it pretty quickly (on my own) and yet internally I felt quashed and helpless and like a blithering idiot and could not stop the tears. I didn’t want to leave and miss anything important or draw attention to my red, wet face so I just sat and tried to catch up and eventually tried to blow my nose all sneaky-like. After 20 minutes or so I was pretty recovered and the rest of the class was fine, I understood everything and kept up and all was “well”.
Except for the huge and overwhelming fear that it will happen again. I’m 32 and it’s been going on as long as I can remember regardless of therapy, self-confidence, knowledge, or medications. Some part of me is vaguely optimistic that last night was the last time and that writing about it now is somehow freeing and cathartic. I sure as hell hope that optimistic Clare is right because otherwise its going to be a fucking long eight weeks.