I don't know what overtook me today, but for the first time in maybe 30 years, I heard Aretha Franklin's "All the King's Horses," which I've posted above, and started crying. My first thought is that I needed to cry because I've been holding so much in over the last year (family deaths, health concerns, a variety of fears).
Once in my life I was known for crying often--sobbing because someone hurt my feelings or rejected me, weeping at sad movies, and sniffling over Hallmark commercials. I learned that I had to toughen up and stop that or nothing would ever get done. Plus many people that I have known think crying is a sign that the weepy one is a manipulator. Really, that was not the case when it came to me.
I know it was not the case because my mother used to say that people use the behavior that gets them the results they want, but no one ever gave me anything because I cried. I have not been the kind of woman that people rush to assist, and much of my crying after a certain age, I did alone because I didn't want a lecture from anyone telling me not to be so sensitive.
But, Lord, this old Aretha tune got to me.
I cannot lie, the song made me think of the unraveling of my marriage, even though I know divorce (a type of death) was the right thing for me. The song hurled me back to when I was a teen listening to it on my stereo, having no idea that someday in the future, the feelings in the song would be mine.
You never know how deep a wound is, even your own--sometimes especially not your own because stopping to investigate its depth would toss you into a pit of non-functioning. As the saying goes, "Don't pick at a scab," and so we learn not to contemplate the harder stuff of life: the pain and sorrow, the moments when we think perhaps life is meaningless and the silence that bounces back to us when we don't sense the presence of God or the Universe with us. Who wants to pick at a scab and watch new pus erupt?
Perhaps, as a person drawn to poetry, I can't help but think on such things. Perhaps it is part of my sometimes gloomy nature. I think now of Jericho Brown's opening lines of his poem "Again" from Please:
You are not as tired of the poemThe speaker of the poem is returning to a troubling childhood memory and is aware that others are weary with his worrying over the past.
As I am of the memory.
A returning toothache
On either side of the mouth.
Yes, some events mark us, and our thoughts return to them. However, we do not return to wallow in being wronged or in the guilt that we've wronged someone else, as someone seemed to suggest in a comment once on another post about divorce; we return to assess where we've been and where we're going and to try to make sense of our existence.
Ask anyone who's experienced a death or another deep loss, the brain returns and rehashes; it recirculates memories as the heart does blood, those memories that shape who we become. I think that while it's true we should not dwell too long with misery, it's equally true that if we ignore or fail to acknowledge that we still hear the echo of painful moments and wonder what they may have taught us or that we still sense sometimes the phantom of something that feels unresolved, then we run the risk of emotional clotting the same way we run the risk of getting blood clots if we ignore symptoms of physical circulation problems.
Healing takes for each person however long that it takes.
I didn't want to run from whatever it was I felt when I heard the song. I had to probe it at a deeper level, which is something that poetry also causes us to do, according to poet Julie Kane. And whoever wrote the "All the King's Horses" lyrics was also a poet (I think Aretha herself wrote the lyrics).
We sat on the wall of happinessAnd then, of course, there's the Queen of Soul singing. That had to make a difference.
We sat on the wall of love
We sat on the wall of security
So high above
With his arms all around me
It was like a fairy tale
Two people so in love
Tell me how could it fail
The wall started shaking
I heard love cried out
Happiness is given away
Security is coming down
He fell, I fell
And all there is left to tell
Is all the king's horses
All the king's men
Couldn't put our two hearts
More lyrics: LyricsMode