Last week I went out for wings and beers with a few coworkers after a particularly rough day at work. One pitcher turned into four pitchers, one bar turned into three bars, and before I knew it, the marimba ringtone I have grown to hate ripped me out of my heavy drunken slumber like a giant toddler breaking down the door and screaming in my face. I blindly fumbled for my phone to snooze my alarm four times until I could no longer delay the inevitable. I had to get my disheveled ass to work.
Realizing I was still in my work clothes from the day before, I turned the shower on and hung my head over the sink. I stepped into the shower and tried to get my mind into a space in which I could at least put up a facade of presentability. What if the first words I speak to a human are muffled by the telltale post-bender rasp? Can I blame my bloodshot eyes on allergies? Why do bars insist on stamping my wrists with ink that can withstand a fucking acid bath? Can I call in sick? Fuck, I went out with coworkers; I wouldn’t dare be the one to call in sick.
I mentally went through my calendar for the day. I had to lead a 10 a.m. meeting with the partners. I had to hit a deadline for a client at noon. In my condition. How could I be so stupid? When will I stop letting myself get shit-housed on work nights? When will I grow a single ounce of self-restraint? Suddenly, the pressure and self-loathing became too much and I broke down. I sat under the stream of water, put my face in my hands, and wept.
Not just a couple of cute little tears. There was nothing cute about it. Full on sobs could be heard from my bathroom. Like Tobias Funke after his wife got the gig he wanted. I then became even more distraught because I was crying. I cried more. This vicious cycle lasted about five minutes – a precious amount of time considering my snoozing hadn’t left myself with much.
I am not a crier, normally. I abide by the Ron Swanson rule of crying: acceptable at funerals and the Grand Canyon. I amend it to include getting pulled over and any time Alicia Keys sings the national anthem, but crying is generally not within my ready wheelhouse of reactions.
However, in this moment I realized I had been severely underrating its benefits. Crying is the single most cathartic activity a person can do. In my particular event of an imminent work hangover of colossal proportions, crying my eyes out provided a welcome relief. I was learning that emotional detox can be just as effective as a physical detox.
Once I made this realization, I decided I was going to get my money’s worth. I cried about being due for a dental checkup. I cried about having to get new tires soon. My childhood cat that died 16 years ago? He got some tears. The potatoes I burnt in the oven last week? Poured some out for those little homies. Every slight mishap or inconvenience I could recall in that moment flowed through my soul, emptied out of my eyes, and washed down the shower drain.
After a few more minutes of ugly bawling, I sacked up enough to escape my warm, steamy sanctuary. I got dressed, ran a comb through my wet hair, and hit the road slightly more ready to take on the day. Physically, I still felt simultaneously like I needed to eat a double-double from In-N-Out and like I needed to vomit, but emotionally, I felt refreshed.
If I were to offer a takeaway, I would suggest crying in the shower the next time you feel crushed under the massive boulder that is a work hangover. It won’t solve any of your actual problems, but it will lighten your emotional load. And at the very least, it’s better than crying at your desk..
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