In Which MaryBeth Rants about Emotions

Chase and I have been discussing emotions pretty often lately. I'm not really sure why, but it keeps coming up in conversations, books, and discussions. I feel like many people don't like to recognize negative emotions, and try to only show the positive ones. Like seriously so many people.

I think this might be more of an affliction in the Christian culture, because Christians are never supposed to be depressed or sad or upset about anything, because in the Bible it says to be joyful or something. I fully disagree with the notion that Christians should be happy all the time. Not only is that a completely unrealistic goal for everybody besides Joel Osteen, it's also obnoxious and fake (also like Joel Osteen). There are times when I'm not happy. There are times I feel sad. There are times I feel depressed. And avoiding those emotions and smiling instead does not make me into a happy person. It makes me into a sad person who's faking happy. Uncool.

For about a semester during college, I had depressive symptoms. I don't think I was clinically depressed, but I had a miserable few months where I never felt happy. I kept trying to deny it because I had absolutely no reason to be sad. My life was seriously going well. But faking being happy didn't make me feel any less sad. Eventually I started feeling like myself again, but it was a pretty rotten time in between. I kind of wonder if I would have felt better by just talking about how I felt and being honest and open with my negative emotions. Who knows?

One thing I'm thankful for though, is that my parents were really good about recognizing and validating whatever emotion we felt growing up. Many well-meaning parents unconsciously affirm all the positive emotions a child feels, while trying to change the negative ones. It's totally natural. If a kid is sad about something, you try to distract him/her and make the kid happy. Because everybody wants their children to be happy. But in celebrating happiness and avoiding sadness, it sends the message that sad emotions are to be avoided and hidden. Nobody wants to see sadness or depression or anger or frustration. But I thing that's so damaging. I think all emotions ought to be recognized, regardless of if they're positive or negative.

For me, I want people to take how I feel seriously. If I'm sad about something, do not freaking change the subject or try to distract me. Tell me you understand, and you know it sucks. I will move on from it, but allow me to feel what I feel. To me, there is nothing more obnoxious than telling somebody about a problem I have and them responding with some bullcrap like, "well think about how much worse it could be." or "You just need to focus on the positive." or "Think about the people in Africa." Thank you for being royally unhelpful. Those are the type of people I mentally move from my friend list to my acquaintance list. Clearly we're not a good match.

A person is comprised of so much. There are so many emotions that go into who I am, and if the negative ones are suppressed, that means a huge chunk of me is not accepted. Several of my friends have told me recently that in their families, they rarely argued or fought and everybody was happy all the time. Great, right? But now, they can't even bring up controversial issues because nobody wants the possibility of an argument. Which honestly sounds miserable to me.

I'm an extremely expressive person, and everything I feel, I feel really deeply. I hate hiding how I feel. Even more than that, I hate it when others hide how I feel. One time I was lifting weights with Chase and I dropped the squat bar. It felt like a really. big. deal at the time, and I was so embarrassed. I went home and cried. Rather than Chase being like, "it's not a big deal. Get over it, MB. It happens all the time," he was like, "I'm sorry you feel like that." And hugged me. And the next day I was over it. It really wasn't a big deal. But if we minimize the problems and feelings of others it seriously sucks. Let me be sad. Let me be upset. Let me feel. I will get over it, but for now just listen and respect that I feel this way.

I think I used to believe that if I hid how I felt, then I wouldn't feel it anymore. But I've realized that if I just put words to my feelings, I can deal with them so much faster. So now if I'm sad, I'll say, "I feel depressed." Saying it doesn't make me feel more depressed, but it helps me validate my own emotions. Which I believe is a huge step to being self-aware.

So to my parents (who don't read this blog), thanks for being real with your emotions so that I could be real with mine. And to Chase, thanks for knowing when to talk to me and knowing when to just shut up and hug me. And to everybody else, Freaking Be Real. Be real and honest with how you feel and be honest with how other people feel. Don't try to be that obnoxious happyeverysecondofeveryday person. Everybody knows you're not, so just stop.

And that's the end to this rant.