Emotions are not your enemy. (Image Credit: UnSplash / Maria Victoria Heredia Reyes)
Just seven years ago, I resisted each and every emotion that smelled like weakness (AKA all of the typical mental shit a twenty-something young adult experiences on a regular basis).
I would do everything within my human power to not feel the icky sensations that came along with being dumped by a guy I could imagine seeing by my side at my annual family reunions, or getting rejected by a group of friends I saw myself drinking too-sweet morning mimosas with after a long night of partying.
My longing for immunity from pain manifested struggles into most areas of my life: insecurity with men, a poor body image, perfectionism, inauthenticity, and an allergy to vulnerability.
Any time I was rejected by whatever it was that my heart yearned for, I felt weak. I felt gross. I felt shame. And worst of all, I associated those feelings of pain with being a “woman.”
I don’t know exactly what era phrases such as “you cry like a girl” and “you’re acting like a typical girl” became popular, but I’m assuming it was a little earlier than my birth. Regardless, I grew up hearing things such as this, like most of you reading, and it stuck with me.
In my opinion, it takes strength to allow yourself to feel every emotion on the spectrum. It means you’re admitting that you’re human and you value relationships, touch, vulnerability, and realness.
I began to fear emotions that were deemed “girly” such as longing that a third date would turn into a fourth date, and feeling shitty when it didn’t. I was terrified to feel sad when a relationship didn’t work out because I didn’t want to be a “typical girl” who attached to a guy too soon and made more out of it than there really was.
I never wanted to be the woman that made a big deal out of a small deal or felt heartbreak when there wasn’t really much of a relationship developed yet to justify feeling said heartbreak.
I was constantly searching for justification for an emotion, and if I couldn’t find it, I reasoned my way out of feeling it.
“Well, those girls are older than me anyway, and we probably wouldn’t have made good friends in the long run.”
“Well, he and I only went on a few dates so it shouldn’t be a big deal that he never called me back.”
“Well, my writing isn’t really all that great, so it’s no shocker they turned it down.”
“Well, yes she did say that to me, but I probably deserved it, so I really don’t have any reason to feel bad.”
That was my life from seven years ago right up until recently.
I’ve brought to the surface some of these ridiculous phrases that I grew up hearing and internalized, and I began to question their authenticity. I started to wonder how they have affected women and shame, but also men and their shame.
Recently, when something has hurt my heart I’ve given myself full permission to embrace the emotion. If I had really enjoyed somebody’s company, I’ve allowed myself to feel upset when there isn’t a third or fourth date…without feeling the need to search for justification.
If I’ve been betrayed by a “close” friend, I don’t feel shame for holding the friendship so dear to my heart when obviously they didn’t. I don’t feel embarrassed for thinking we were best friends when they thought we were just so-so friends. I feel upset, hurt and maybe even a little angry.
I no longer reason my way out of an emotion out of fear that I will look weak. In my opinion, it takes strength to allow yourself to feel every emotion on the spectrum. It means you’re admitting that you’re human and you value relationships, touch, vulnerability, and realness.
Vulnerability is my personal foundation for any great relationship. But with vulnerability comes the honest risk that you’re going to get hurt. It will always exist in the ether, anytime you’re opening up your heart and saying, “This is who I am. Welcome.”
There will be times when you will feel hurt because of that radical exposure. There will also be times when you experience the most authentic, beautiful moments with others because of that radical exposure. With both directions, you will feel more than you would ever feel if you were not practicing vulnerability.
This is why I appreciate my mental shit. The mental shit I go through whenever I feel hurt is what allows me to experience mental heaven. It’s the key to having a real, open relationship with not only others but more importantly, myself.
I cry on the bathroom floor, judgment-free, so that I can laugh until I pee myself a little. Allowing myself to break this “being a girl with emotions is weak” belief that I carried around has helped me to feel more feminine in other areas of my life too. I have fully stepped into my power as a female — emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally — and it’s opened up so many new things for me. I feel sexier, I feel stronger, I feel wiser, and I feel happier.
I believe one must embrace the shit to feel the shift.
The world I’ve created for myself internally is without judgment, which has allowed me to feel anything I need to heal. If you want to feel true, authentic freedom, allow yourself to endure some of the less sexy emotions. Then you too can embrace what it means to be a fierce, feminine creature — in every respect.