The last 9 months, for me, have been a roller coaster of emotions. Extreme highs, extreme lows and many moments of in between. Change can do that. As I sit here thinking about what I've been through, what I have & haven't done, and the experiences I've shared, I gain a better understanding of the emotions I've suppressed. And why it's so important to embrace everything we feel.
For years I suppressed many of my emotions to meet what I believed were social expectations. I maintained the "standard" for men and more specifically men in the military. I showed just enough emotion to relay my desires. Many times my emotions were focused on the negative like anger, disappointment, and frustration. They were tools in which I motivated those that I worked with and the members of my family, all of them suffering because of it. A few years ago I went through a big change in my life. I became more aware of who I was; the mirror was held up to me and I didn't particularly like what I saw. That realization, along with the help of someone close to me, allowed me to start to embrace who I was at my core. I started to cast off the concerns for society's approval and became more genuine. The process took time. There were a lot of self-doubts as I wrestled with the emotions I had in my core and still a concern for what others may think. But in time I started to become more caring, more loving and expressed joy more openly. I saw a big difference in my relationships with people, especially my family. I wasn't afraid to cry, to admit when I was feeling down or to hug and squeeze those people I loved when I got the chance.
And now as I reflect back over the past 12+ months, I realize I could have done more to embrace all the new emotions that came up. I made the determination to retire from the Navy about 2 years ago. That in itself brings a flood of emotions. Yes, there is happiness and joy when thinking about all the great things life will bring after the Navy but also many emotions that can be hard to handle like fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Since retiring in August of 2016, the emotions have piled on, each bringing a new lesson with it. While I felt these emotions, sometimes I allowed ego and pride to stop me from sharing with others to once again keep up appearances. Or even more destructive, I suppressed those hard to handle emotions in hopes that they would go away. I "set them aside" hoping they wouldn't be there when I returned. They were.
But I believe it's never too late to learn, to embrace and to grow. When I realized that most everyone I know has felt the same emotions I have, it allowed me to once again open up, to be genuine and honest with myself and those in my life. And that is an empowering, cleansing feeling. Each emotion we feel inside is an invaluable part of who we are and part of our growth as a person. When we are honest with our emotions, acknowledge them and learn from them, we're able to move past them. We deal with them, not by suppressing them, but by being kind and patient with ourselves, allowing the emotion to run their course and grow more confident when that emotion comes up again.
Whether it's love, gratitude, fear, grief, or the many other emotions we're capable of, they are all our teachers. Don't tell them to go away. Allow them their place in your life. Embrace the feelings they provide and know without a doubt that you are human, you are growing and you have an amazing, deep, powerful heart and soul.