I’m a pretty emotional guy, but I think I used to be a lot more expressive about it. Â I remember having a few breakdowns in college, screaming and crying like a girl, having my brain shut off, and almost passing out from my overwhelming FEELINGS. Â Those feelings mostly revolved around how much I hated my college. Â Maybe some first world problems right there, but it was how I felt, and I expressed that. Though I did hate the school I went to (conservative christian environments for the not-win), I had a good community of guys, support of friends, etc etc, and I recall having more positive expressions of emotion.
After college in the REAL WORLD, that started tapering off. Â I had people around, but continually connected to them less and less. Â I still was an emotional guy, but couldn’t express it so well. Â I “knew how” to argue “properly”, communicate with people, and make my thoughts known, but I did not connect to my own thoughts and emotions. Â I could just play the role, and not with much feeling expressed to other people. Â After a bad breakup, things got even worse. Â It wasn’t about her in the end; it was about me. Â I know that because I became friendly with her again, but still did not connect my emotions to my expressions. Â It wasn’t particularly healthy, but neither the end of the world.
This is the part where I talk about how my wife reconnected me with some of my emotions. Â She grew up in a significantly more emotional environment than I did, probably in both positive and negative ways. Â She got me to reconnect with myself (and still does…I have to practice it daily or I can lose it), and not in a way I thought would be positive.
Anger. Â She was a very angry person when we first met…orders of magnitude more than she is now! Â That’s good, or the getting married thing probably wouldn’t have worked out. Â In her past, when you felt something, you expressed it. Â I don’t think that’s always good….but I err far too much on the side of not expressing anything that I feel, and communicating my thoughts on a purely intellectual level. Â She had ups and downs with my family, and she expressed plenty of emotion about that, and I received plenty of emotional communication from my parents…but I spent all my time and energy parsing through her and their emotions and trying to intellectualize solutions than to consider how I myself felt, and express those feelings to either party, both which love me greatly.
So what were my breakthroughs? Â Anger. Â It connected me to myself. Â I’m not calling what I’ve done good or bad; I’m simply acknowledging at this point they worked to create a more positive ME. Â Even if it is bad, I LIKED it, and felt good about it. Â All that happened was I ripped the legs off of Â a table, and proceeded to use the table legs as a club to destroy the rest of the table. Â That was some time ago…maybe a year or year and a half. Â I don’t even remember why…I just remember purely expressing my emotions. Â As a male,Â testosteroneÂ can make those expressions more on the violent side, but it felt good to have emotions connecting to my brain. Â I felt pushed too far, and acknowledged my emotions, and acted on them. Â When I was a kid, I got angry, and wrapped glass bottles in a big towel. Â I went up into the woods, and smashed the bottles on rocks. Â I wanted to go up and just smash the bottles on pure emotion, but I knew that was dumb because then I’d be littering, hence wrapping them in a towel so I could dispose of them properly. Â Little me knew better sometimes than adult me. Â Sometimes you need to express things. Â Maybe through tears, maybe through smashing things, Â maybe through smiling and dancing.
I can’t recreate my table-smashing fervor all the time, or I’ll have no furniture, but I learned that emotions which are deemed “bad” must be acknowledged. Â It’s part of the human experience that I believe God shoved into our skulls. Â I don’t know why, but that’s how it worked for me.
Understanding how to connect to my own emotions helped me both connect to my then-girlfriend now-wife, my family, and also helped me learn to build appropriate emotional defenses during arguments with loved ones. Â I can love them, care about what they are saying, and still appropriately feel my own emotions and allow them to color my behaviour and arguments, remaining true to what I believe, loving others, and coming to positive resolutions.