My mother often told me while I was growing up that I wore my heart on my sleeve. I recognize that I was the only one in the household whose emotions were always close to the surface and thus, often spilled out. I was the one who would tear up at sappy commercials, hide my face at scary movies, sob when an animal died on TV, etc.
Because I was the only one, I believed that being like this was not a good thing. And, truth be told, I’ve been taken advantage of on many more than one occasion for being so emotional. While it is that status which turned me into a people-pleaser, it was also that status that alighted my ability for deep compassion for others.
I know I’ve written in other blog articles about being a ‘giver’ and how, at times, I have, in a sense, given too much. I have chastised myself on the occasions that I’ve been taken advantage of because of this. And I was only confused more by the fact that my mother would tell me that in a derogatory way, and yet our church, with which she was very involved, would tell us about sharing.
So, why am I such an emotional person? I don’t know the answer to that. I know that, for a long time in my teens and into adulthood, I learned to bottle up and keep silent about my emotions because I didn’t want to be chastised for having them. For a while, I believed that being such an emotional person was a short-coming, yet another fault to be found in me.
I wrote a good bit of poetry during that time, mostly sad stuff, because sometimes I needed to release a little of the pressure that holding those emotions inside caused. It was the only safe place I had to let out some of that pressure.
And yet, I’d like to think that no one but me recognized that was happening. I have to believe that, because the idea that my family and friends knew about it and obviously didn’t care enough to acknowledge it is heartbreaking!
The day I turned 40 – and yes, I can remember back that far, though it’s become a little hazy – I gave a birthday card to my parents, a subliminal way, even with what I wrote inside, to say that I was being born. I was ready to break free from the expectations of who I was and become my authentic self. It wasn’t easy at first…in fact, there are times I still slip back into that person without realizing it at first. And it’s been a journey that I still travel on today. I’ve fortunately been able to ‘weed out’ most of the people in my life who were more comfortable with my old, unauthentic self. Yes, there are people in my life whom I cherish deeply and with whom, I don my mask to downplay who I am at 100% level. A professional life insists that we all do that, and that’s not a bad thing. But if we don’t intermix that with people around with whom we can take off that mask, we begin to harbor our authenticity inside ourselves.
We have to be okay with who we are! Yea, I know, easy to say, not so easy to do. But until you can accept that you, just like the rest of us, are constantly growing and changing, that we are really just a journey in progress, you’ll never be okay with who you are. It doesn’t mean we don’t recognize our flaws and blemishes, it merely means that we’re okay that our work on them hasn’t finished yet!
So yea, I wear my heart on my sleeve! Trust me, that is one of my tamer flaws! Not everyone in this world is going to like being around someone whose emotions are clear and visible. Oh well. I sleep much more soundly at night being okay with myself than I would sleep if I were worried about what other people thought. And yes, it does matter what people think, but this doesn’t mean the general population at large. Be kind and considerate with those near and dear to you – always – but let your authentic self be present with them. When you’re lying on your deathbed, which do you think will be more important – how YOU view you’ve lived your life or how THEY viewed it???