I am a very emotional person. I feel all of my emotions with such force they can sometimes prove to be a little overwhelming. I think that’s one of the reasons my mother made me feel ashamed of my emotions when I was younger. She would yell at me for crying, as if yelling would make the hurt go away. All my mother did was make me feel ashamed about having emotions. That just produced an even more stressed out child and led to many more tears. Which led to more tears because of how ashamed I felt for having emotions. It was a cycle of hurt that I still haven’t fully escaped from.
I think one of the reasons my mother was so opposed to my emotional responses to things is because emotions, particularly the emotions that are manifested in tears, are associated with femininity (and by association, weakness). I’ve really never been sure that my parents didn’t just want me to grow up as a boy. They forced me into sports, encouraged rough-housing, and at times when I was particularly vulnerable the response I got was basically “Man Up.”
All of this socialization that encouraged me to have a tough skin didn’t actually make me any tougher, it just destroyed my psyche. My self-confidence received a bullet to the brain and I felt isolated from the world. Since I wasn’t supposed to express my feelings I couldn’t connect with anyone. I didn’t feel safe letting anyone know what was wrong. I tried to learn how to force a smile all the time because that’s what they wanted from me. It didn’t matter what I was going through on the inside as long as I forced a smile. Not to smile was weak and I always felt like shit when I finally broke down and cried. How could I be so pathetic?
It is only now as I enter into adulthood that I’m seeing that it’s O.K. for me to get in touch with my emotions. I guess in that way I can kind of relate to Elsa (the main villain-turned-good-guy in the movie Frozen). Her parents taught her to fear a part of her, in this case the power to shoot ice from her hands and make snow happen. By trying to contain it, instead of trying to understand it, she lost control. In a similar fashion I lost control of my emotions. I’m still terrified of feeling angry because I don’t know how to deal with that emotion. Similarly I don’t know what to do when I’m feeling very sad. Or when I’m stressed out. I haven’t even begun to understand my emotions and because of that they control me.
I didn’t want to write this blog post. (I got really sad writing it!) But I put the word bold in the title and I feel like I need to own up to that expectation I set for myself. I don’t want to be the girl that has to hide behind a smile anymore. I want to face my demons head-on. You know what? The tears never bothered me anyway.