I don't know where, or how, or when I learned it, but sometime, over the last two years I've developed a new skill. Suddenly, I just realised it was there.
I've learned how to cry silently.
Tears never came easily to me. I would have to be really angry or devastated before I ever shed a tear. And when I cried, I sobbed. Full-scale grimacing, snotty, sniffing, choking sobs.
I still get that, sometimes.
But often now -- far, far, too often -- I find myself simply overcome by some misery, one I cannot explain to anyone. Maybe it's the result of an unintended hurt, a careless word that wounds without thought or meaning, something that it would upset the person who said it beyond all measure if they knew the effect they were having. Maybe, sometimes, it is just loneliness.
And suddenly, I'm crying. I'm sitting, alone, with tears streaming down my face.
My expression doesn't change. I can be on the phone and there is no hint in my voice. My breath is calm and even. I can carry on a reasoned conversation.
Nobody but me ever knows.
I hate it.