“Scream,” he said.
I stopped sobbing for a minute and turned slowly to look at the man who would eventually become my husband.
I’m a horror movie buff, and this was like nearly every movie I’d ever seen. I’m an Asian and I’m female (already two strikes against me), and I was alone in a car with a man in the middle of nowhere Texas, my closest landmark a set of railroad tracks.
I was well after midnight and there wasn’t a street light to be seen, so he didn’t notice the look that I was giving him. He repeated, “Scream.”
“You are shaking with all this pent up anger and pain. You can’t even begin to feel better until you let it out. So scream. You don’t have to use words, just release the energy. Close your eyes, open your mouth and scream.”
I hesitated for a couple of seconds.
And then, I screamed.
When I finished, he looked at me and said, “Better?” I nodded and croaked, “Yes.” If nothing else, I had at least worn myself out.
Marriage is a popular albeit not entirely successful activity in my family. I had decided at a young age that there was no way I’d get married more than once.
Tonight, I had finally come face to face with harsh reality—my marriage of nearly a decade was over.
To say I was a hot mess is putting it lightly. I may be the only person in history to be let go after being clocked at twice the posted speed limit which is a felony in Texas, by the way. Looking back now, I can’t help but feel bad for the guy. When he stuck his head in my passenger side window and saw me, he muttered some expletive then climbed into the car. He sat and talked with me until I calmed down. When he finally deemed that I was safe to carry on about my way, I finished driving, slowly and carefully, to my friend’s house.
When I finally arrived at his house, it felt like I had crawled there. I’m not entirely sure if it was because of the speed I’d been traveling prior to my conversation with the county Sheriff, or if time just moves that slowly when you are miserable. But, thankfully my friend was waiting for me out front.
He looked me over, taking in the shaking hands and swollen bloodshot eyes, and held out his hand and said, “Keys.”After a moment’s hesitation, I handed him the keys to my beloved Camaro and climbed into the passenger seat. He got in and we drove in silence. By the time we pulled into the gravel area near the railroad tracks, I’d managed to get all wound up again.
In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have gotten married.
But hindsight is always perfect because we can look back and see all the foreshadowing that we didn’t realize was foreshadowing. Every sign that we ignored. Those little details or nuances that we glossed over, we can now see were actually giant warning flags.
In my family, we really didn’t talk about “the feels.” We just kept it all inside. But I had finally sought out a therapist after realizing that this was no way for me to live. My therapist, as amazing as he was, did not help me cross over from heart-rending pain that seemed to intensify with every breath, to the road to healing.
But that scream did.
Following the scream that felt like it went on forever, I did feel better. I’d held onto that pain and anger so tightly and for so long that it had begun eating away at my soul. I’d lost myself in the swirling pool of sadness and pain. Looking back, I realize that that night in the dark with my friend by the railroad tracks, was my turning point.
It was on that night that I began to heal.
It was not the only time I screamed though.
I did it many times over the next few months as I staggered through the separation, my first solo house purchase and ultimately, my divorce. I would scream when my attempts at dating ended horribly. I even screamed when being alone in the quiet house got to be too much for me during my single years following the divorce. Every time I felt myself starting to “fill up” with pain, angst or stress.
Four years later, I married the man that took me to those railroad tracks, and today I have far fewer reasons to use this method of cleansing my emotional palate. Every once in a while, I will drive to a random parking lot, in the peace and solitude of my truck, I will let loose a scream.
But I’m a happy, finally. For the first time in my 40 years on this earth, I’m truly happy. I’m not talking about surface happiness either. Not “I just bought a new car” happy or “I love chocolate” happy. I’m talking honest to goodness, bone deep happiness.
It takes work and there have been bumps along the way. But I am convinced that this level of happiness can only be achieved if, every once in a while, we unburden ourselves and heal our souls with a scream.
Give it a shot one particularly stressful day. I suggest going some where that you can’t be seen. I can attest to the fact that the looks you receive will cause you to hold back, and prevent the therapeutic effects of this exercise from taking hold.
Once you’ve arrived somewhere safe, cleanse your emotional palate.
Close your eyes.
Take a deep breath.
Author: Julie Livingston
Image: Jeff Warman/ Pixoto
Apprentice Editor: Tess Estandarte; Editor: Khara-Jade Warren