I think being “emotional” gets a bad rap. Granted, I’m a girl, so I have more leeway to be emotional, but even so, they’re not always accepted, especially the negative ones. Anger, frustration, irritation…sadness…grief I think you get away with if you have a reason people understand, but grief over the loss of a relationship, for example, no go. And crying? Geez, it’s trouble in the making. Don’t do it at work, bottle it up, make it go away, don’t let anyone see you…oh wait, maybe those are just my experiences.
But the thing is, I AM emotional. I’ve spent the last 48 years 364 days bottling all of it up though. There have been periods where it came out and even I couldn’t explain or understand it. Crying that would never end. That was a few years ago, a forgettable phase I think many women this age could understand and happily live without. For the most part though, I’ve tried to be bright and sunny, but I’m not, at least not all the time. I’ll start to cry but then use all my secret ninja tricks to try and make it stop. Stuff it down. Ladies, am I alone in this?
Over the last year, I’ve tried to get better at letting myself have emotion, acknowledge it and not just brush it away. It’s been marginally successful. Rarely do I let myself have a good cry. Really though what is that? A good cry? Seems counter intuitive. If I start to feel angry, I’ll play with it a little bit, but there’s no monster coming out. But I need to let myself feel emotion. As I’ve gone through my coaching training, part of it, as I think I’ve talked about, is looking at your own stuff, your own crap I like to say. Helpful, incredibly helpful, but exhausting. It’s a non-stop barrage of processing emotion. Ah-ha’s are great, but it’s often a fist fight with myself to get there.
I think we often don’t acknowledge how hard it can be to process emotion, to have and feel emotion. When I used to ride my bike a lot, I rode with a group and I remember this one ride where my friend was trying to explain to me how to keep up with the guys. She said that sometimes you have to practically turn yourself inside out with effort, leave it all on the road. I think that’s how processing emotions can be at times. I think part of why I started riding my bike in the first place was to escape having to feel emotions, to process them, I just rode away from them, at least for that day. Not the healthiest from an emotional standpoint, but I did get a lot of relief, endorphin’s are a great thing.
Yesterday I was talking through some tough stuff with someone I care about, and it was hard, good, but hard. Today…I feel raw…like I’ve turned myself inside out. That same feeling as doing it in a physical sense during a hard effort. I worked hard to be transparent, to stay in the space, to share my heart instead of saying I was “fine.” Again, all good stuff, stuff that can bring people close together, but not for sissies. Stuff you fight your way through, fight with yourself and that instinct to keep bottled up vs. the freedom of just expressing.
I think to fail to recognize how hard it can be to process emotion is to undercut ourselves. There’s no right or wrong way, per se, to process emotion. We all do it in our own way. But if your way was like my way, stuff it down, I’m here to tell you that won’t last forever. Taking the time to understand yourself, to be brave and talk about how you feel, even if the only person you’re telling is yourself, well that’s worth it. You are worth it. You might feel like you left part of you on the side of the road, and maybe you did, but that’s often a good thing, don’t let it stop you and don’t turn back for it. I’m right there with you.