“You know, your hands can tell people if you are gay or straight”
It was a conversation started at the lunch table. I tucked my hands tightly under my legs pretending I was a bit chilled. I had no idea what she was going to say next, but I did not want my hands to be on display while she said it. Some of the girls didn’t believe her, some asked what she was going to say, and as a person always desiring to be the center of attention, she continued with or without the interest of the whole table.
“Let me show you,” she said.
She asked one of our friends to simply look at her own nails. Apparently, it was decided based on how you look at your nails; whether you turned your hand inward and curled your fingers OR you turned your hand outward and flat, determined your sexuality. The logic of fourteen year olds…
Regardless of how painfully silly such a comment and thought could be, it was just another reason I felt myself confused in an environment unwilling to be anything but small town, conservative USA. I was so grateful I wasn’t asked because I would have failed. I never cared about nails and furthermore, I shamefully chew them (even now) when I am nervous or thinking. So had I been asked, I would have curled my fingers toward me and looked at them.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe my sexuality was determined by this irrational “logic” of how I looked at my nails as a fourteen year old. But it walked with me. I actually went home and began practicing looking at my nails the so-called “correct” way. I’d never do it wrong again in public. Despite how irrational it was, it was my reality. It was my world. It was my new wound.
I think a lot of us look at thoughts or emotions and believe they don’t matter because they are as irrational as my fear of looking at my nails incorrectly. But if they are how you feel, regardless if it’s rational or not, they do matter. You can be utterly understanding of the irrationality you are feeling and still be fully loved inside that irrationality. Having feelings to process is never the problem. Never. Do you hear me? Your emotions are never a problem. The problem is when we take that irrationality out on those that care for us, or project them onto someone like they are guilty of a crime they never committed. That’s when it gets out of hand.
Never believe your emotions aren’t ok.
Never let someone say your value is less because your vision is unclear.
Part of finding ourselves and coming into our own is going through all emotions – the good, the bad, and yes, maybe even the crazy. I truly believe part of the reason my journey has been emotionally hard is because I felt like I was not allowed to feel. I felt like I had to be perfectly put together and empty of emotions. When I experienced jealously over my friends so easily falling for guys or when it was physically taxing for me to pretend, I had convinced myself I wasn’t allowed to hurt. I told myself I was being irrational. I believed feeling those things was acknowledging I was weak and that I was incapable of taking care of myself. I punished myself by creating a void inside me. I called myself strong, but really I was just barren.
There are a hundred different ways people do this to themselves (and others) every day. Some people carry a wound so deeply everywhere they go, it affects every word that comes from inside their mouth. I believe, more than I can express in words, that we often carry wounds far longer than we should because we never allowed ourselves to actually feel them. We say the hurt, or the mistake, or the break up, or the abuse, or the cruelty, or the bad joke, or the shitty comment towards us was our fault, our bad karma, or something we had coming to us.
That is so not the case.
And even if there was a small chance you helped create the hurt that took a swing at your heart, it never ever means you aren’t allowed to feel it. In fact, in many ways, you are feeding that evil or hurt by allowing it to fester. Wounds are like shadows on our spirits. If you don’t pour light on them, if you don’t expose them, and feel them, and allow them to heal they will remain…lurking… always threatening to invade beautiful moments.
Today’s confession is:I used to be a walking example of festering wounds and broken promises. I used to believe I could fix myself by voiding myself of real emotion and dodging the ability to get hurt. In many ways, this is a participant in what created the commit-a-phobia that lurks around the outskirts of my heart. I used to believe the absence of feelings was rational, but I realize it is arrogant. I was arrogant to believe I was bigger and better than that. Eventually it caught up to me. I broke. And that break was the best thing that could have happened to me. That break saved me.
You don’t have to walk through this alone; you don’t have to pretend you don’t feel. Write poetry, find a journal, grab a friend, or seek a counselor. Do whatever you need to do, but please don’t create a void that will take years to heal. I promise it’s not worth it.
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