^Tattoo it on me please.^
With my birthday approaching, I thought it was time to really sit down and determine what I've been reflecting on lately. This entire summer has been a period of reflection for me. You may or may not know that I struggle with depression, or depressive episodes, but I had been in one for a while. And there is only so much misery I'm willing to live with. Not to say that anything in my life was miserable, but I was not feeling like myself. I was not content with where my life was heading. I felt like I was stuck in a big ol' rut. I knew deep down that I needed to make some changes and so I slowly began making them. Change is really hard for me. I'm an adventurous person, but life changes give me so much anxiety. I crave newness, but I end up having panic attacks in the process. It's a difficult battle, but it's one I've been fighting my entire life and I get a little stronger each time.
The first change allowed me a lot more time to myself and to delve into some mental spaces I had been avoiding for too long. I had a few years worth of emotions that I left unattended. You see, I try my hardest to escape when I don't want to feel things for all that they are. This time was different. I needed to work on forgiveness. I needed to forgive others and I needed to forgive myself. So, I stopped running and I just dealt with it. I let myself be sad for the time I needed to be. I allowed myself the emotions that were happening and accepted them for what they were instead of feeling guilty about them.
So often we are told that how we feel is wrong. Everyone's reaction to sadness is to tell someone not to be sad, as if we are supposed to be happy all the time and if we are not happy, then we better get happy as quickly as we can, like having any other emotion is an imposition. I am so not okay with this. Happiness is a concept that we are told to believe, but I think it is important to focus on being a whole person with the acceptance of all that we feel. Everyone's emotions are valid. When someone says they are hurt, you shouldn't tell them that they are not. They have been brave enough to say it loud, so recognize their emotion as real and valid. This is something I can do with others, but it's taken me longer to accept my own emotions, especially the icky ones.
However, I have noticed that when I allow them to hit me at full speed, I get over things so much faster. It's just a motion I have to go through so that I can get on to the next thing in my life. I know that gender roles play a huge part in how we express ourselves. I can only speak from a woman's perspective, but I have seen the struggle men have with how they feel and not knowing how to express it. It saddens me that we are taught that emotions are meant for women. We are taught that being emotional is a bad thing, a weak thing. Thus enforcing the notion that being a woman is bad and weak. It's a disgusting cycle. I hate to break it to you, but emotions are a human thing with no regard to sex, skin color, gender identity, etc. Repressing emotions does not help anyone or anything. Verbalizing your feelings requires a larger emotional vocabulary (i.e. upset, hurt, frustrated, angry, confused, scared) and a lot of guts. I repeat, emotions are not weak. In fact, I think it takes a lot of courage to speak up about how you feel. I honestly cannot think of anything more courageous than saying exactly what you want to say. We can teach children new ways of expressing themselves, but we should also give each other the room to do so, too. Learn to let your emotions flow through you like a current, recognize them for what they are, accept them, and soon they will pass. Sometimes the emotion will be there longer than you anticipated, but you must remember that it will eventually pass. And you will be stronger because of it.
Another thing I've been thinking about lately is the energy I give to others. I have spent so much time on other people instead of on myself. Often we are told to put others first and that it is selfish to say "no" to someone. Listen to me when I tell you that saying "no" to someone does not make you selfish in any way. The amount of apologies that come out of our mouths is unnecessary. If something does not sit well with you, you do not have to do it. We have instincts for a reason. They lead us to great things and lead us away from bad things. Listen to your intuition a little more closely. I understand taking chances on things, but if someone is making you feel like you are not important, you do not have to give energy to that person. I have learned this the hard way. I'm finally making an effort to break the habit. I realize now that I do not have to compete for someone's attention, I do not have to do anything impressive, that my existence is perfectly enough. So is yours. Just because one person does not see how amazing you are does not mean you are not amazing. We all have different ideas of what we find to be spectacular and our definitions do not always match up with someone else's. That's okay. It's a great lesson to learn to not take things so personally. By being yourself you are going to attract people into your life that appreciate you. Promise.
Until next time,