Nandos is a place of sorrow for me, overshadowed by the death of my aunt. I was in the midst of a teenage date when I got the dreaded call. She was like my second mum and was going to leave a huge void behind – I was heartbroken.
‘Are you okay? Come on lets get out of here,’ my boyfriend said.
‘No, no finish your chips, there’s no rush,’ I responded calmly.
‘Are you sure?’
‘Yes, I’m fine.’
I patiently waited for him to finish eating, willing the chips on his plate to hurry up and disappear, whilst perfectly holding myself together until I got home.
Public displays of emotion do not come naturally to me, preferring to keep the intricacies of my private life at home, safe from the false sympathies of strangers. Only the OH sees my tears, frustrations and true emotions, things I do not share freely with others.
Rarely able to call on others for help, for fear of showing weakness – now a desperate woman, my life-long friend came rushing to my side. Relocated to the other side of the country and with a young son to look after, the hospitalisation of both my OH and father at the same time, I caved in and asked for some support. One night she relayed to me a conversation with her family, who were asking how I was coping. Her response to them – ‘it’s tough on her, but she’s not crying on my shoulder or anything – that’s not her style!’ The tears I shed that week were done in complete privacy.
In times gone past I wouldn’t even talk about personal matters with close friends. Increasingly I have recognised this attribute of my character and something strange happened a few years ago – I started to open up a little bit. You still won’t get true emotion out of me often, but beginning to share my frustrations is strangely therapeutic.
I used to think it was brave to not show emotion, but in reality it is worse than letting it all out with a good cry. All those bottled up feelings, with nowhere to escape, feels like I might implode. In some ways our characters are set from an early age, but I am seeing small improvements and maybe one day I won’t be ashamed to cry in the middle of Nandos.
This post was written for submission to the Yeah Write Writing Challenge #152.