I was driving with my best friend at 8 p.m. We were going to get milkshakes because, as she put it, “boys are dumb.” She had been going through a rough time with a serious boyfriend and she felt dragged along, lied to, ignored, disrespected, mocked, and unimportant. She loved this boy, but she was constantly sad and worried and upset. As we drove and she expressed her fears to me, she continually said, “I know it’s dumb I feel this way,” or, “it’s silly and invalid, but I feel. . .” She began to apologize when she became emotional.
I finally stopped her and told her that she had to stop disregarding her feelings and playing them off as dumb or unfair. I told her that what she was feeling was very real. She didn’t have to make up excuses or discount them, because it did feel raw and real to her.
We do that. We discount our feelings and we apologize saying that they aren’t valid– in relationships or trials or hard times, even in great and exciting times of joy.
The Terrible Twos
When we are young, we express our emotions intensely and unrestrained. We cry and scream and pout and hit. We haven’t learned about our feelings and we don’t know how to express them. We are taught often by an adult acknowledging our emotion.
“Are you sad?”
“Are you mad?”
“We don’t hit. Use your words.”
And so we begin to learn. Just as sure as we learn to say please and thank you, we learn to express our feelings in an appropriate manner.
Right of Passage
As we get older and learn how to use our words, we grow out of hitting and screaming, but we sometimes think we have grown out of feeling, too. We take the consequences of our actions as a consequence of the feeling that caused the action.
We forget that feeling mad isn’t bad, but spreading rumors and acting rashly is. We forget that feeling hurt isn’t bad, but rallying and revenge is.
We begin to be blamed for being too sad or too excited or too upset. We begin to be blamed for feeling. We begin to be blamed for being human.
You are allowed to feel– whether that be a short burst of frustration or prolonged sadness. You are allowed to feel deeply and show that emotion and talk about it and absorb it and ponder on it.
If you take the time to feel, if you don’t bury it and discount it, but accept it and address it and understand where it’s coming from, you will see more clearly and act more rationally. You will be more at ease with yourself and understand yourself more.
So cry, vent, write, draw, run, cope– and remember that it’s fine to feel.