For years and years, my friends have joked with me about my even temper and generally stone-faced expression. I don’t often jump for joy. I never cry. I rarely look panicked… or sad… or happy… or excited. I just sort of take life in, process it, absorb it, and then do my singing and dancing on the inside. As a result, the often-quoted refrain from my friends is, “You’re dead inside.”
If you’ve been reading my posts this week, you know that I’m an extremely high C on the DISC assessment. That means that I live most of my life in my head, sorting through facts and information, analyzing, processing, and making judgments essentially devoid of emotion. I’m not a robot or a Vulcan; I just don’t feel things as deeply or as outwardly as some others.
For example, let me tell you how Maryalice and I found out she was pregnant. We both had a hunch that we were, so before bed one night, we planned on her taking a pregnancy test first thing the next morning. So, when nature called at 5:30am, she went and took care of that, then came back to bed. We waited in the bedroom for the requisite 3-5 minutes, and then walked into the bathroom together to check.
Two lines=baby. One line=no baby. We had two lines.
Now, that moment in time is a magnificent picture of how Maryalice and I react with differing degrees of emotion. She was beautiful. This amazing, sweet smile slowly spread across her face, her eyes welled up, and she immediately melted into my arms. In contrast, I studied the test stick, determined if the faint second line was enough for an accurate reading, picked up the directions to make sure she’d done the test right, and then asked about the accuracy of the test and proposed that we take a second test the next day before we allowed ourselves to get too excited.
Thank God, my wife knows me well and understands that’s just how I process emotional moments. Looking back, my reaction could have easily inserted a dark cloud over the happiest moment of our lives.
In my analyzing and deep thinking, I still felt the moment. It was real. My heart was soaring instantly at the thought of a child. I pictured the tiny little hand that would soon wrap itself around my finger. I saw the little feet that I would kiss and tickle. All of that still happened, but somewhere between my heart and my face, my brain took over and I had to thoughtfully and carefully reason my way through the entire experience. It’s what I do.
I’ll admit it. I sometimes like the fact that I can stay calm while others get red-faced and angry. I often enjoy the clarity of thinking that comes in an excruciatingly tense situation. But at the same time, I wonder how much of life I’m missing by not feeling things as deeply and passionately as some others can. What amazing experiences is my mind robbing from my heart?
My natural inclination is to say, “I’ll never know.” But I will. I get to see all the highs and lows, in all of their emotional beauty, in my wife. She feels so deeply and expresses herself so openly, that I can’t help but be clued in to moments of heartfelt significance. She supplies the capacity for feeling that I used to believe was missing in my life.
That’s why I am so excited to enter into this life-changing journey with her. She knows that I probably won’t cry when Abby is born, but she’ll also know what’s going on inside of me. Even if no one else can, she’ll see the excitement, pride, frustration, adoration, and amazement that fatherhood will surely bring.
I’ve been hurt a lot. I’ve cried myself to sleep once or twice. I didn’t like it, but I did it. I laugh a lot. I’ve felt such joy and gladness that I thought my heart would burst. I liked that better. I take all of this stuff in, the good and bad, the fun and the sad, the exciting and the depressing, and I feel it. I try my best to understand it, to wrestle it to the ground with reasoning and logic, but I still feel it. And why wouldn’t I? It’s not like I’m dead inside or anything.