I’ve always been considered an emotional person. Sensitive. When I was younger, my family would hide things from me that might make me sad or hurt my feelings. I’m sure they meant no harm and truly thought they were trying to protect me. I could usually figure out the truth, though.
This has continued into adulthood.
It made me feel like it wasn’t okay to be sad or to express how hurt my feelings were. I continued to struggle with this through my life. Five years ago, when I gave birth to our first baby, I experienced a roller-coaster of emotions. I tried to suppress a lot of these feelings of sadness that I had until I was diagnosed with postpartum anxiety. I began to see a therapist to work through this during the first two years of my son’s life.
During that time, I watched our son grow and learn how to express emotions. When something happened that he didn’t like, I realized that he was expressing emotions the only way that he knew how — usually a frustrated tantrum. It was then that I really started to do some research about how we could teach him to deal with his feelings in a healthy way. It was our job to help him identify how he was feeling and what he could do.
We helped him label his emotions and how to navigate them. We wanted him to be emotionally intelligent and that starts when kids are toddlers. Our culture has categorized emotions and feelings into two categories: good and bad. The “good” emotions are being happy, joyful and excited. The ones that are labeled as “bad” include anger, frustration and sadness. We’re taught that it’s only acceptable to express the “good” emotions but it is not okay to express the “bad” ones. I wanted this to be different with our son. I wanted him to know that his feelings, whatever they are, are valid and important. I wanted him to learn how to express them and deal with them in a way that would be beneficial for him.
Before I could do this for my son, I had to learn how to do this for myself.
I’ve been working on this over the past few years, and I’ve come not only to accept that I’m an emotional and sensitive person, but I’m happy that I am. It’s not a bad thing. I’ve learned to better communicate and that has led to healthier relationships. I’m more mindful of my words and actions. It has made me a better parent. It doesn’t make me uncomfortable when other people get upset and show their emotions. I’ve become a lot more empathetic. I’m now equipped to help my children navigate their feelings. We feel all the feels here! We encourage our children to have conversations with us about how they are feeling. I was often told as a child not to cry. For the longest time I felt ashamed to cry. It’s tough being a kid that’s feeling sad or left out or lonely and then feeling ashamed for feeling that way in the first place.
Now I cry at everything. I cry when I’m sad. I cry when I get really mad. I cry at times when I’m really happy or when I watch my kids do something that they’ve worked hard to do or when they’ve reached another milestone. I’m that mom bawling in the drop-off line on the first day (week…month?) of school. I don’t ever want my kids to feel ashamed about the way they are feeling. I want them to grow up knowing that showing emotions isn’t the same as being irrational. I’ve learned that my feelings and emotions aren’t problems. They are a part of life and they are normal. I’m not crazy because I feel emotions so intensely. I don’t feel the need to “fix” myself anymore. When someone describes me as emotional or sensitive, I no longer get offended because I know I’m the best version of myself this way, and that’s a really freeing feeling. So here’s to all the mommas out there that feel overwhelmed by their range and depth of emotions.
It’s not a bad thing and you’re not alone.
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