Expressing emotion doesn’t make you less of anything

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I was going through some past posts here on the blog and one jumped out at me that I wrote a few months back “Can’t get mad and can’t cry, being stuck in emotional limbo“. Perhaps the reason it caught my eye was because of some recent twitter conversations with other survivors who have problems connecting with and expressing emotions.

Some connect so much that they feel like they get angry all the time, or cry all the time. One friend recently commented that it’s hard for him to “feel like a man” because he was so emotional lately. He feels like so much has been hitting him recently,in terms of memories and emotions, that it’s just overwhelming. Believe me I can totally relate; I mean some days I swear…

In chatting back and forth in a safe support group*, myself and others of course were quick to chime in and reassure that it’s OK to connect with your emotions. There’s nothing wrong with crying. There’s nothing wrong with being angry because of what happened to you. In fact, it’s healthy to let those feelings out and release all of that pent up anxiety, fear, and frustration.

As I wrote in that article before, I have so many problems connecting with my emotions that it causes about as much anxiety and frustration as just remembering and working through my trauma in the first place.

So I’m sad, get depressed, feel overwhelmed,  and get totally discouraged at times. All of that is perfectly understandable and I get that I feel that way but I’m so tired of being in emotional limbo. It’s a feeling of every emotion hitting at once and not being able to figure out which one to deal with first.  I’m supposed to be angry but I can’t. I’m supposed to be able to cry and I can’t.

There is a bit of a bright spot though, since those months have passed I have been able to connect with and express some of the emotions. The sadness and anger that has been stuffed away a box in the corner of my mind for so long is slowly starting to find it’s way out.  Through therapy, writing, and becoming vulnerable, I have been experiencing some growth. Still stuck on that whole minimizing though. Damn!

In fact, I just had lunch with a friend recently and they could not believe how far I’ve come over the last year or so.  I say that not to toot my own horn, because God knows I don’t like giving myself credit, but to show that with work we can make great strides.  I keep telling myself that it doesn’t happen overnight, but my impatient mindset will probably always have problems accepting that.

That fact that I’ve been able to begin expressing emotions related to my past trauma is pretty mind blowing. I’m always just the mellow, low key guy that goes with the flow. One of the first things that people say about me is that I’m so easy going. Well I am I suppose, but that’s partly because I suppress so much of my inner turmoil and wear a mask to conceal the hurt and pain. I’d rather hide it then feel what I need to feel.

That suppression strategy obviously doesn’t work forever but it’s all I’ve known for a long time. So this whole connecting and feeling emotions thing is still relatively new to me but I have to admit it is starting to feel pretty good.

It’s more socially acceptable for a woman to cry, but society thinks guys shouldn’t do that.  I hate stereotypes, ya know!  I say, if a dude wants to express himself and share what’s on his heart then go for it! Who cares if you cry! If a woman feels the need to cry, then do it! Why do so many things have to be gender specific anyway?! Guy or gal, emotions can hit us hard and sometimes out of nowhere.

Letting it out in the form of crying, or laughter, or whatever you choose to do shouldn’t be stigmatized, ever.

For that matter, expressing emotion doesn’t even  have to be in the form of crying. Turn up your favorite music full blast and rock out! Go for an ice cream sundae just because it’s comforting and tastes good. Go somewhere and just scream your head off and vent. There are so many things we can do to “let go and let it all out”.  My personal favorite is writing.

Anyways, coming from someone who still can’t shed more than a tear or two every once in a great while, I’m envious of those that can express themselves in that manner.  You have my support, admiration, and validation that you are no less of a human being. In fact, you are more of one!

-Matt

 

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Blogger-Podcaster-Advocate for Mental Health.

Matt is survivor of childhood sexual abuse & narcissistic abuse, living with Dissociation, Anxiety, & PTSD.

This blog exists to inspire all who have survived the trauma of abuse. All posts, podcasts, and videos are my life as a survivor shared openly and honestly to help inspire as many as possible to speak up, speak out, and not be ashamed.

6 Responses to " Expressing emotion doesn’t make you less of anything "

  1. Don says:

    I remember being beat if I didn’t cry and then if I cried too much, I’d get beat for that. I was a sensitive kid and so I cried at a rock being crushed. I’m still very sensitive, but finally learning that this is okay. It just took me many years to understand that. Sometimes I wish I could shut the sensitivity off because at times, it is just too much. Our world doesn’t condone it.

    But enough about me… You’re making great strides. When all the systems get shut down, you can’t bring them online all at the same time. Many parts need to be oiled first. You’re making it dude… you really are!

    By the way, sometimes I go and put my face in the pool and scream loudly. No one can hear me and no one gets freaked out, but sometimes – it just helps! Great way to move some of that stuff. Got to be careful you don’t hold your head under water too long… LOL!

    • I was also beaten when I cried too much. My father has never cried in his life, so his tear ducts dried up with some strange condition and he has to wash his eyes with baby shampoo to open them up. He never cried, so I wasn’t allowed to either.

      • Don says:

        I don’t remember seeing my dad cry or his father. In fact, we had come to visit my grandparents and instead of my grandfather saying goodbye, he held the newspaper up so we couldn’t see his face. My last memory of him is that image. I don’t think I ever got to see him again after that.

        It Sucks the crap that kids have to endure.

        • Matt says:

          Interestingly enough I saw my dad cry somewhat often, I mean relatively speaking of course. He didn’t show that emotion every day but he would at times. He could connect with that part of himself while I still find it incredibly difficult.

  2. I always feel really sad when a man thinks he shouldn’t have or express emotion. This is so damaging, to the man and also women! To think that women are always ‘hysterical’ which literally means ‘of the womb’ in Latin, is just a cop out. This is not the fifties anymore, men are ALLOWED to emote, and we should all encourage that and stay away from thinking that women can’t control themselves because they are the ‘weaker vessel’. Personally, I find a man who expresses himself (through writing, music, art, etc) incredibly attractive and most of the women I know feel the same. These kinds of stereotypical gender associations are especially harmful to the male survivor, who is told that it is wrong or unnatural for him to be a sex abuse victim because he is not a vulnerable woman, and that when he is abused, he isn’t even allowed to express it!

  3. Kami says:

    This reminder is needed in our culture and I’m so glad you shared. Expressing emotion is natural and healthy – wish our culture would accept that more than it does! Writing has been a way for me to process, also. Keep up the brave work sharing your story!

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