A Brief Reflection on My Emotions

How can you stop yourself from feeling too deeply? I’ve wondered and tried and found that it’s impossible for me. Even when I decide not to feel anything at all, it only numbs the emotions and stores them up deep within, weighing me down and making me foggy and unintelligible to myself. It’s not possible to just stop feeling and, more importantly, it shouldn’t be allowed.

My greatest regret in life is that I feel too deeply and my greatest achievement is the same. I have acres of empathy for everyone, but the cost is a burden. It doesn’t just tire me out, it destroys a part of me. Every emotion that courses through my body is like my heart and soul being used as punching bags. My soul is strong enough that it isn’t affected by it, but my heart is weak and timid. My heart is naive and believes that its only purpose is to keep me alive and happy. It has never considered that the longer it keeps me alive the longer I’m faced with unhappiness.

Recently, my therapist told me to just not feel as much anymore. She said it with such matter-of-fact nonchalance — as if it’s as simple as flipping a switch or, rather, like a dial that will increase or decrease how much I feel and when. If only it were that easy. Maybe I have fallen into the habit of letting my emotions rule me, but once upon a time I used to be proud of that trait. Once upon a time it was an asset rather than a burden. I remember one friend in high school praising me for letting my emotions rule me. When did that stop being a good thing? Have I just grown up and experienced more of the bad than good feelings and that’s why I’m harping on the agony of feeling? Or have I come to believe all those people who say that emotions are a sign of weakness?

It wasn't until recently that I considered that I was actually an incredibly strong person and that it’s my emotions that I credit for my strength. The ability to feel so much and still carry on with life is a feat. Every little thing a person does effects me: when a stranger gifts a secret smile to a small child, I feel it; when I’m given a random compliment by a fellow commuter, I feel it; when people litter, vandalize, insult, praise, whine, cry, emote, I feel it all. Whether it’s directly related to me or not it does not matter. I avoid reading the newspapers because I know it will send me running under my covers, curled into a ball, weeping at the state of the world. I avoid talking about my late father because talking too much will awake emotions I’ve no yet managed to face in my ongoing mourning process and I will be put out of commission indefinitely while I sort myself out. I can no longer have deep conversations with my mother or brother because, unlike me, they are much more in control of their emotions and pity me for my inability to control myself. I am a slave to my emotions and I’m on an eternal see-saw of love and hate for them.

My passion and my saviour in life is writing. I only realized this recently when I took it up again and suddenly found the perfect balm for my life. But in order to write I need to feel. I write predominantly as a form of self therapy where I either have civilized discussions with my demons through my words or take a break from fighting them to just breath on my own and return to my problems with a clear mind and fresh eye. If I don’t feel — if I eschew my emotions — I end up inevitably bottling them up and being weighed down by them. When I write, my body is like a pressure cooker: always releasing the excess in a safe and constructive manner. So, I’m at a cross point where I want to not feel as much, but I also cannot stop writing again. Which in turn makes me wonder how accurate the advice of my therapist really is when she says I ought to tone down the excessive feeling. Her mode of survival doesn’t depend on her emotions. She doesn’t need to feel as much to deal with the world, but I need to feel because I need to write. Then I wonder why I even bother with the opinions of people like that, people who don’t understand the relationship between emotion and art, people who don’t understand that to feel is necessary to survive.

Perhaps my problem isn’t that I feel too much or too deeply at all. Perhaps my problem is just that I lend myself to too many conflicting opinions from people who fail and refuse to fully understand me. Perhaps I actually need to feel more: more than just sadness, happiness, distress, pain. I need to feel angry at the people who think they know better how I should live my life. I should feel angry that I allow outsiders to dictate what is best for me. Perhaps I am perfectly fine as I am, emotional to a fault, because (for the most part) it works for me. In the end, isn’t that all I ought to be concerned with?