Thursday, November 18, 2004

Sometimes You Just Need a Little Help

Being brought up as a male in a very traditional nuclear family, I was never encouraged to show my emotions. I was never encouraged to hide them either, but for most of high school and a good portion of college that's what I did. I filled the masculine stereotype of the typical male--never show your emotions unless it is anger or happiness. Sadness, fear, longing, insecurity, and even strong feelings of love were to always be kept inside. I would tell myself, "Rick, you're a man and you can deal with these weak human emotions. You don't need to express them." Sadly, I had myself convinced for so long that this was the way I was supposed to handle them.

In my senior year of college, however, I met a very special girl (you know who you are!) and as I got to know her and grew closer and closer to her, I began to open up. Slowly but surely the barriers I had constructed around my heart and around all of those "un-masculine" emotions started to wear away. I had finally learned that it was ok to feel, and express, the full range of human emotion. For me, it was such an odd, yet liberating, feeling to be able to express what I had kept hidden for so long and not be judged or viewed as "not being a man".

Even more recently I began to experience many of these feelings all at once--fear, sadness, joy, love, longing, hope, doubt, and many others. Never before had I been awash in so many different feelings that I thought it would tear me apart. Constantly I was torn between so many conflicting emotions that I had no clue what I was supposed to do. How was I to reconcile everything that was brewing inside of me?

Thankfully, that special girl was still there for me as she always has been. I was able to pour out everything I was feeling to her. I felt at ease laying my heart out on the table in front of her. I allowed myself to cry like I never had before. One of my biggest fears in life was appearing weak, and I always saw crying as a form of weakness, so keeping the tears locked up was something I saw as essential. Because of this preconceived notion about crying, I would never let myself do it--never would I let my guard down. I couldn't because then I would be weak.

It took a very special woman, and almost two years of being close to me, for me to finally realize that by crying, by opening up myself, by showing what's behind all of my barriers, that I wasn't weak, I was simply human. As much as I wanted to be the strongest and most secure person I could be, I still had weaknesses. One of the greatest feelings in the world is finally making the realization that even though you have weaknesses, it is still possible to be loved.

It's taken me over 23 years to be comfortable enough to open up to my parents, the people who gave me life, and tell them how I actually feel, it's taken me 20 to be able to relate emotionally with my brother, and it's taken me almost 2 to be completely open and at ease with my emotions around that special girl that started this whole process.

So what's the point of this outpouring of personal realization? Why did I feel the urge to sit and type about this? Simply put, my heart just wanted to say thank you to that special girl. She's helped me to blossom emotionally, and I can't imagine a more wonderful person to be able to express my emotions with. Thank you, Kristin.

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