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When the Right Move Isn’t Exactly the “Healthy” One

·414 words·2 mins

I wrote this post on an afternoon that I cried for hours. It wasn’t the first day in a row that I’d spent multiple hours crying.

I told a friend this. “Wait,” they said. “I thought you were working then.”

“I was,” I replied.

“Then how did you cry for hours?” they asked.

“I did both at once,” I said.

“Wait a minute,” my friend said. “You cried for hours and you worked through it? Were you writing sad things or something?”

“No,” I said. “I was writing the most straightforward scenes. Fiction. It wasn’t even sad stuff. And I cried and cried.”

“And you kept writing?” they prompted me.

“Yes,” I said.

“Uhhh, Page,” they said. “I love you. But that’s weird.”

I shrugged.

“I’d say it didn’t make sense,” they replied. “Except…”

“Except?” I prompted.

“Except I know you,” they said. “And if there’s anyone I know who could ignore how they’re feeling and just do what needs to get done, it’s you. I’m not saying it’s healthy or anything…”

“It’s not,” I replied. “I’m well aware.”

“But it’s very you.”

“What’s very me?” I said.

“You have this stubborn refusal to be led around by your emotions. Again, I’m not saying it’s healthy–“

“It’s not,” I cut in.

“–but it’s very you. It’s like you refuse to be defeated by them. And it’s honestly kind of admirable, even though… it’s not healthy. Which even you admit.”

“I do,” I replied. I hesitated for a moment. We talked about other things, before they brought it up again.

“I’ll admit,” they said, “I find myself wondering what drives you. Why you’re so suspicious of your emotions.”

“Well,” I said. “I think that’s the root of it. I don’t trust my emotions. It isn’t that I don’t value myself — maybe that was true once upon a time, that I didn’t value myself, but I’ve worked on it quite a bit. And these days I’m more likely to devalue my emotions rather than myself. Because the reality is that a lot of those reactions aren’t helpful or factual. They’re more the voices of people who hurt me, who wanted me to feel bad about myself. So I can cry through a rough patch while waiting for it to pass. Ignoring it feels like depriving it of oxygen. It seems weird to other people, but it feels like the right move.”

“If not the ‘healthy one,’” my friend said. “In quotes.”

“In quotes,” I agreed.


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