All my life, I have been avoiding the “bad” or “negative” feelings such as anger or frustration. Or at least tried not to show them. By doing so I ended up experiencing bursts of absolutely terrifying blind rage and more, all the way to the sensation of being nothing but an insignificant spec of dust floating in the vast universe. Thankfully, through therapy, I slowly came to accept them as vital parts of myself.
In the past, when I had moments of being close to showcasing my anger, I held it in since I was told that it is not ok and that I should not be like that. I should just calm down and walk away, or better yet, repel the bully with a smile and a nod. I had no guidance to help me handle it, cope and understand that feeling angry is actually alright. This unfortunately lead me down a path of self-destruction, as the anger was stored in my tender mind until it eventually blew up, leaving me unable to control my bursting anger and becoming a real threat to myself and others.
I never really learned a healthy way to deal with arguments either. At home, nobody really fought or even got into heated debates. And once I had my inevitable first true clash with my mother as a teenager, I fled the house and ended up wondering for quite a while if I could come home or if my insults had made it impossible to do so. To this day I have issues when people raise their voices, it triggers a panic reaction in me. It triggers the deep fear of being hated and possibly abandoned, I have real trouble coping with perceived anger from others.
In our day and age, it shouldn’t be taboo anymore to voice out or otherwise showcase your inner pain. It is a normal occurrence in the human experience after all. Yet, it took me a long while to just start talking about my shadows and to begin seeking help with them.
For me personally, and I imagine it hits home to many others in my predicament, it can be very difficult to differentiate if I am angry about something or purely in pain due to how my mind is behaving. The secondary emotions and reactions have entirely taken over and hidden the true feeling, the vulnerable self, under the raging Banshee. With that, I am progressing and have begun to see the true emotions underneath the reactive self.
It is not easy for people to understand the turmoils of my mind or anyone else’s for that matter, and I don’t expect them to do that either. All I’d ask from those around me is that the first reaction to my inability to get up and about wouldn’t be “Get over it, Get a grip”. After all, on those days I am most likely feeling that there is nothing worth my time to do, or worse yet, I myself am not worth the time of others. These sentiments have regularly only deepened my hatred towards the world, as beating someone who is already down and bleeding (sometimes literally) is a clear sign they have no empathy nor will to understand that I did not choose this way of existence and that my mind is a chaotic mess of agonizing cacophonies.
Loss and pain
Everyone handles it in their own respective way, on their own time, and at a pace that is suitable to their mental and physical resources. Showing the agony you are in in the form of tears is entirely acceptable, no matter what society has made us believe ( I had an encounter with someone who thought it necessary to apologize since they were an adult and it was just that their dog passed). At the same time, trying to force people into some mold of sorrow is not going to help anybody, since we all express it in a variety of ways. Some cry, some brood in melancholy, and some keep going with a deepened purpose in life.
Our place is not to judge other people’s coping mechanisms or to religiously shove ours down their throats as the one true way. Restricting or ridiculing our fellow humans on their emotional expression will not bring about a brighter future, I am sure we can all agree on that. Of course, it has to be said for those inclined to misread my meanings, when things get rowdy enough to start being a danger to the environment or to the person being rowdy, it has to be put to an end to protect the individual and the community.
Shame and guilt
Now here is a feeling I don’t want to face, nor do I want to get into the things why I feel it, even if it would be helpful sometimes when done correctly and constructively. Being pretty much entirely a social construct, shame can be a powerful ally in our journeys.
The norms guide us into fitting into our communities and adjusting our behavior so we may avoid conflict and belong to our chosen group. It becomes an enemy, however, when people are ostracized for their dreams, choices in love, or even their life in general. And then there is the whole matter of guilting others to protect your own ego and the bad kind of selfishness, which is abundant in areas like individual fashion. When did it become ok to go out in whatever you thought was appropriate, to punch holes into your baby’s ears, or to clothe them in an entirely adult wardrobe? I am sad to see the concept of appropriate being tossed out the window.
While I truly believe that there is no shame in being who you are, in chasing your dreams, and in wanting a better life, I also believe there is a time and place for everything. We can come up with ways, ingenious human beings as we are, and climb the mountain of our future without these grotesque things being forced upon the bystanders on the basis of our selfishness, reserving some of our more extreme acts and views in their own space.
Behind the stigmas
In the end, nobody knows who we are deep down. Perhaps we don’t know ourselves either. That is why it becomes a true need and a skill to be attentive to those around you, to foster an environment where we can all truly feel safe. And I don’t mean safe in the way that we have to accept everything into our space or be labeled bigot. I mean in the way that we can respectfully express our opinions and ourselves, to be true to our paths.
Emotions that we have been taught to perceive as negative and undesirable are actually incredibly important. They are great tools to learn more about our inner worlds and what we need to work on within ourselves, as well as being an alarm to tell us to slow down and to be wary of things that seem shady. It is our duty to learn to read into these feelings properly and to learn ways of expressing them that are not a danger to the surroundings or ourselves.
During my therapy, I have learned to validate every emotion as a part of myself, they can and should exist, just as they are. The tricky part is to realize we are not one with our random, intrusive thoughts, nor with the intense waves of emotions. This means, that we have a choice regarding how we react to the things happening in our minds.
We all have a choice when it comes to the action we are about to take.