Ugly Crying

On the day after the night I decided to quit drinking, I ugly-cried the whole morning away. Everything set me off into a frenzy of whimpering tears, including when my roommate asked me if I was ok after he walked in on me sobbing into a plate of eggs—at which point I scrunched up my face, started shaking my head frantically, and held my hand against my mouth as if that would quell the new wave of emotion from rising up out of my chest and compromising my dignity. It didn’t, I just cried harder and he was like “awww, baby, it’s ok. Do you want a hug?” I said no.

I had just told everyone—even the small, unimportant people standing at the peripheries of my life—that I am an alcoholic and I was embarking on a journey of sobriety. Tempters and naysayers beware.

At that point, I chalked up my heightened emotionality as a byproduct of the second day of my continued hangover. I’m normally a calm and restrained person…sensitive? Yes, but rarely possessed of crying or tears and on those rare moments, they had better be momentous occasions like comforting my mother after she heard my cancer diagnosis or learning that the police found the body of my dear friend two days after she took her own life in a hotel room. But never because of a hangover!

But let me tell you this: after I ugly cried my face off, I felt on top of the world. I was possessed of a new vitality, a new will, a new purpose even. And on reflection, I know why. This was an expression of bottled up grief and I was finally unblocked after I confronted myself and took responsibility for my life, no longer hiding under the mantle of youth. Tim Krieder says in his insightful essay, “You Can’t Stay Here”:

The young and the drunk are both exempt from that oppressive sense of obligation that ruins so much of our lives, the nagging worry that we really ought to be doing something productive instead. It’s the illicit savor of time stolen, time knowingly and joyfully squandered. There’s more than one reason we call it being “wasted.”

What a superpower it is to grieve and let go. In the past two weeks there have been many other moments of suppressed grief finally kicking through years of accumulated sediment, with overlapping layers sealed tightly in a sticky residue of alcohol. The only thing those emotions needed was just a little wiggle room to begin pounding against the walls—and now it’s time to address what lies beyond the hazy fog of inebriation and brain damage.

Though I do have to say, it’s extremely sad to me that the fun times—as I know them—are over. I wasted my twenties but I became a more interesting, insightful, and braver person because of it. Here is to more ugly crying and the freedom that follows.


I still do this :point_up_2::point_up_2::point_up_2::point_up_2: joyfully, on purpose and deliberately. For me this is needed time to cope with life in a healthy way, I will never consider it “wasted” or substitute it with something “productive”.

Thanks for this quote :pray: It reminds me to just be and have a good time :blush:


I’m learning how to do this in a responsible way. I always get the feeling that my life is in shambles when truthfully it really isn’t. I’m looking forward to the day I can just be, without judgment and without anxiety.


When my good friend knew she was dying last year, she spent a lot of her remaining time writing in a notebook for her children to have after she was gone, when they were old enough to read and understand. She shared some of what she wrote with me, and I was struck by one note, in which she told them that she had learnt it was okay not to be constantly “doing”, “achieving”, “getting” or even “feeling”. In fact, she wrote that when she was too weak from treatment to do much more than lie on the couch, she would actively avoid TV and would instead play some games on her phone. This was, she said, an entirely neutral, pointless activity that gave her body, her mind and her soul peace, calm and quiet. She was better able to regroup after having “not-wasted” some time just playing, giving herself some rest.

Now, obviously you don’t want “doing nothing” or playing mobile games to become a modus operandi for life, but her use of it at the end of her life, when you would think she’d want to be making the most of each minute, absolutely struck me.


I find these moments in everyday life like playing with my cats (and not giving a fuck on the work waiting to be done), cooking and enjoying a nice meal, calling it a day and hanging around on the couch doing what I like. If I like to do nothing, well, then I am grateful for the cozy couch and content with doing nothing.
It’s not a steady state, it’s moments adding up. Maybe try to find one moment daily, that makes 365 just-be-moments per year :people_hugging:


Thank you for sharing. This was so bittersweet and I’m gonna think on this.