My first instinct when I start to experience a strong emotion is to self-police: “You aren’t allowed to cry because of this tribute performance – you barely knew the guy.” or “Why are you imagining a possible future with this person? You aren’t even dating.” or “Stop waxing poetic about going to grad school; you have no idea what you’re doing and the probability of failure is high.”
I’m not the only person who does this knee-jerk negation. Maybe’s it’s some sort of defense mechanism: “Don’t get too excited because then it won’t hurt as badly when it all goes wrong,” or “Stop crying about this because if someone sees you they’ll think less of you.”
I’m equally sure I’m not the only person to apologize for having these emotions in the presence of another person. In fact, my closest female friends do it to me all the time. “Thanks for listening to my ridiculousness” or “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean for this to get so serious” or “Sorry I’m so emotional right now” or “lol sorry I got a little over-excited.”
When I started writing this post I had a point. Which is probably that it might do us all good to be a little more open with our emotions and allow ourselves to experience them. To be a safe space when our friends are grappling with their own feelings and need to share and be supported. To not tell ourselves, “You aren’t allowed to feel this way” for whatever reason. To be supportive of your own damn self. I certainly need to learn it. Because I’m writing this post instead of texting, “Sorry I started crying at the show,” to my friend, which is what I almost did. I am trying to figure out what I actually want to say to him. Probably, “Thanks for inviting me to that show. It was a lot more moving than I’d expected it to be, even before the tribute. Sorry that the mood I was in afterwards wasn’t conducive to socializing further.” Then I’m not apologizing for having the emotion, but for the fact that I bailed like someone who was pretty sure she was going to cry some more and wanted to do it in private instead.