Anyone who has known me for any length of time and who also follows this blog must be wondering when the aliens took over my body.
Self reflection and emotional openness are pretty new to me.
Dennis Leary used to do a bit in his stand-up act where he talked about therapy where he grew up consisting of someone smacking you in the side of the head and saying “Get over it”. I have to say that sort of hit home for me.
I grew up in a working class suburb. My father was a foreman in a factory; my mom stayed home and took care of the kids. Most of my friends had the same kind of situation. The dads were laborers or mechanics or plumbers and the moms mostly didn’t work outside the home. Dad came home and had a Bud or a Black Label (“Lite” beer hadn’t been invented yet) not a martini.
No one “did” therapy, or at least no one admitted to it. Being outwardly emotional was considered a sign of weakness or strangeness. Self reflection was unheard of.
From time to time I look back at what I’ve posted here and some things I have written that I don’t share and it amazes me how open I’ve been, first with myself, and then with others.
I have my wife to thank for that. She has never stood for my Nordic tendency towards emotional aloofness. Given my current situation, I have to say I truly owe her a great debt right now. If the old me who kept everything inside had tried to navigate the emotional mine field I’ve been in for the last several months I’d have blown up several times already and possibly thrown emotional shrapnel all over everyone I care about.
Many of you reading knew Kev and are suffering various levels of hurt over his loss. You may have suffered other painful losses which they are trying to deal with. I would urge anyone reading this to heed this advice. Don’t keep your emotions bottled up inside. Find an outlet. Be it a close friend who can listen without judging, or blogging or journaling, or be it therapy with a helpful professional, we all need to let our emotions flow.
Start by being honest with yourself. That can be painful in itself from time to time, but in the end deluding yourself is not going to help you work through your issues.
If we try to hold your emotions inside they will find a way around the dam. You may experience uncontrollable bursts of grief, or anger. You may suffer depression or anxiety or you may find yourself numbing your pain with behaviors and substances which are better left alone.
Feeling your emotions isn’t wrong, or weak, or crazy and they should not be avoided. Feeling is necessary. It’s fundamental to the human condition. If other people indicate to you it’s somehow wrong to feel, you are NOT the one with the problem.