There's something beautiful about vulnerability. At the same time, though, there's something utterly terrifying about it. I spent years fearing commitment to any and everything. Such a fear seems to have been the natural product of spending the key developmental years of my upbringing in continuous disappointment due to my entrusting others with my emotions. I learned, painfully and slowly, a universal truth: Some people will deeply hurt you.
For me, it was my mother. She and I have a past that I don't feel needs to be thoroughly picked apart. Suffice it to say that we no longer have a relationship. Part of the reason why things have come to such a dramatically sour state is because, as a young boy, I wore my heart on my sleeve, only to have it time and again broken by her consistent absence and self-absorption.
I have vivid memories of standing alongside my classmates during school productions. Though we were uniform in dress and our choreography dictated synchronized movement, it was quite clear to me that I wasn't the slightest bit similar to my peers. They were performing to the pleasure of their parents. I watched as they scanned the audience, and then envied the bright look that came across their faces the moment they found their loved ones.
Meanwhile, I stood atop the stage, gazing out into a sea of relatively strange faces. My mother was seldom in attendance, thus giving me nobody to perform for. It was ironic - our performances garnered high attendance, yet I couldn't help but feel alone.
For years, I felt the aftereffects of being mistreated and deserted. I developed this idea of emotional expression as one in which any display of vulnerability was the equivalent of displaying weakness. Therefore, I snatched my heart from my sleeve and hid it from those around me. What ensued was a cycle of anger and misery.
My emotional expression became one dimensional; that emotion being catharsis. The pain I felt welling up inside of me manifested itself in the form of fits of rage, launched objects across my bedroom, and physical outbursts that stemmed from constant, inexplicable frustration. The scars that were left were waiting to be healed, but my ill-conceived understanding of emotional expression inhibited my dealing with my past in a healthy manner.
Eventually, though, I grew tired of being angry. I grew tired of being miserable. Such emotions don't allow much flexibility when it comes to enjoying life. When I made the conscious decision to eliminate the demons of my past once and for all, I found that I simply didn't know how. To express my pain would go against everything I'd come to believe. To show that I felt would, I thought, denote weakness.
How foolish I was. With the help of several very special people, I was able to understand that emotional expression cannot be healthy unless one is willing to be vulnerable and open. It wasn't until I released my painful past that I could begin to move on. Such a practice of open expression was, initially, a source of discomfort. But as time wore on, I began to see the fruits of what to me was my labor. The tension and frustration began to erode. I found a new, more emotionally in-touch side of myself.
People often ridicule me for being so open. I'm generally patient with those who have the audacity to make such jabs. They don't understand that this, what I do here on my blog, is instrumental in my recovery process. We all have scars and dark pasts and tragic stories to share, and I firmly believe that each of us would benefit from actually sharing. There is no shame in being emotionally expressive and true to your convictions. If you aren't comfortable enough with your past to share it with others, then you may find yourself anchored there, unable to move on and make the world your own.
I have much left to do in my journey of emotional recovery. I've merely begun the process of picking up the pieces of my once broken spirit, and I feel completion is distant. What I've learned throughout this perpetual trial is that you should never stop reflecting and introspecting. The more you evaluate yourself, the likelier you are to appropriately detect and assess your flaws, and subsequently resolve those issues. I take each day as it comes - whether that entails calming myself down when I begin to feel frustrated, or reassuring myself when my confidence wanes. I feel that such an approach is not only nice in theory - it's effective.
So, I urge you not to fear when it comes to being emotionally expressive. Vulnerability is often dangerous. My mother has confirmed that people are, inevitably, going to hurt you. But it's important to take that pain, express it, heal it, and find the strength to re-open yourself to others.
I've taken my heart out and again placed it confidently on my sleeve. I cannot predict what pain is awaiting me, but I can say that I'll never let it bring me to, as it once did, lose my faith in humanity. I'll never let someone else make me miserable. I refuse to repress my emotions, and I urge you all to pop your bottles and let it all out.