I've cried about three times in the past couple of days. All for different reasons, but necessary, all the same. And, what's even crazier to me – each time has been in front of other people. I'm the type of person that loves to suppress intense emotions to the extent that I didn't even know they were there, to begin with. This unhealthy habit is toxically praised as a sign of strength, particularly with protecting a warped portrayal of masculinity.
But, to be perfectly honest, this sort of pressure to keep things under wraps has bled over these gendered lines as an expectation for everyone.
The truth of the matter is that crying, showing, or telling emotion, whatever it is will never be indicative of weakness. In fact, vulnerability is so telling, not to mention really quite helpful when we show it to the right, understanding people. Usually, if we choose to confront our emotions, it's privately and later dried, wiped away, and masked as if nothing had happened. But the longer we perpetuate this, the longer we allow for this to happen, the less okay it seems to not be okay.
For the longest time, I thought there were very few things that made me emotional. I always kiddingly attributed it to being a detached air sign to my friends in tune with astrology, but I've come to realize so much of it was for self-preservation or rejecting a feminine stereotype. I never wanted to be labeled as weak or more susceptible to my feelings, but ultimately I was supporting societal pressures that I had hoped to someday help dismantle.
And, once I realized this, I just sort of let go and let people think whatever the hell they want. If I was compelled to purge my emotions in some way, I was going to. It certainly made me feel better.
The other, more deeply-rooted issue behind this suppression was my lack of enthusiasm in coming to terms with the things that made me want to cry in the first place. No, they aren't fun to think about, and I certainly must pace myself if I do so. But, in a way, they're inevitable.
If you let things sit and fester, they're only going to be much, much worse of a mess for you to clean up later on.
Before I started really committing to this practice in therapy, I interpreted personal issues as something that threatened my whole self-perception. I wasn't attentive nor aware of what was even happening in my heart, and so there was no way to separate being "too busy" to sit myself down from being too afraid.
I can certainly say that if someone wants to peg me as "an emotional woman," it won't be something to get upset over. I'm the healthiest I've ever been mentally, and I still have a ways to go. But, at least now I know exactly how to get there.