I will no longer tame or apologize for them.
I’ve always been an expressive human being. I came into this world screaming and crying, and I haven’t stopped since.
For years as I was growing up and into my adulthood, I’ve been warned not to show emotions. I’ve been manipulated or called out because of them. I’ve had to learn to keep them in check. I’ve had to chain a large portion of myself in order to properly function in society. I’ve been told to keep emotions out of important discussions.
I’ve learned how to cage them. I’ve learned how to hide them. I’ve learned how to ignore them. All in the name of survival.
I recently got into an intense discussion about a topic I’m both knowledgeable and passionate about with a loved one. At one point, I started to get emotional. As my emotions started welling up, I felt the familiar “mayday” feeling in my body, along with the practiced physicalities that go along with attempting to hold everything back.
But then I thought, “Fuck that.” And I let my emotions run free.
Suddenly, I felt liberated. I felt like myself for the first time in years.
I didn’t start uncontrollably sobbing. I didn’t start angrily screaming. I simply let myself feel what I wanted to feel, and communicated that feeling in my words and tone.
I was debating something that was personal and important to me. Part of me feared if my emotions entered the equation, I wouldn’t “win” the debate. But whether or not I showed them, emotions were already involved. They always are, even though I keep them internally hidden.
Emotions are intrinsic to our humanity. Pretending that only worthwhile discussions are the most “logical” and “emotionless” ones is divorcing humans from what makes us special. And it’s also a tool used by the patriarchy to discount and diminish women and their contributions (though that’s a discussion for another time).
For me, I figured it was worth “losing” a debate in order to express myself authentically. I’m tired of this perpetuated notion that we should somehow be divorced from our emotions at all times in order to live our lives. Sure, sometimes we do need to compartmentalize in order to survive. But those instances aren’t as common as we think.
In everyday life, we all should feel free to let our emotions be as much involved in our discussions as our logic. One isn’t inherently more important than the other. They’re both parts of who we are and both worthy of respect. The more we repress our emotions or pretend that they can be divorced from our everyday existence, the more out of touch we get with them and the more power than can gain. When they do rear their head up (which is inevitable) we have no understanding of what’s happening or what we’re feeling. So it all becomes overwhelming and sometimes even dangerous.
Regularly expressing, feeling, living with, and understanding emotions can make us not only more effective human beings, but also generally better and more healed ones.
For example, if I recognize and admit I’m frustrated or sad when it begins to happen, I can take note of my situation, what might be causing those emotions, and express them in order to learn from and heal them. But if I feel those things and simply ignore them, they tend to only get stronger and stronger until I can’t control either myself or anything about the situation I’m in that makes me feel them.
In marriages, research shows that the couples who are willing to express all their emotions (and argue about them) stand the best chance of staying together long-term. They don’t repress or ignore or bottle up. They let it out when it comes then grow from the experience.
The same is true in our everyday lives. I am both a thinking and a feeling person. My thoughts and my emotions are both constant and, at times, overwhelming. And while I don’t need to share every single emotion as it happens just as I don’t need to share every single thought when it comes up, I can at least honor and respect them as equals.
So I, for one, won’t be apologizing for my expressed emotions anymore. Nor will I chain and hide them from the world. They’re as much a part of me as my limbs and my organs. And from now one, I will treat them as such.
I suggest you do the same.
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