A bit of public journaling.
Today, after 3 days of battling with DC’s gawd-awful website, I booked an appointment for a covid vaccine. I should have felt elated. But instead, I began to feel this annoyance, angst, and anger welling up within me. As I began stomping around the kitchen, filling the dishwasher, I engaged in a bit of self-curiosity. “Why do I feel angry right now? Shouldn’t I be happy, elated, ecstatic?”
But I remembered some of the lessons that my therapist has taught me. Anger is a secondary emotion, usually covering up something else. So, I continued in my self-curiosity. What is my anger covering up?
As I stood at the sink, I realized that I felt the urge to cry. Now, if you know me at all, I hate crying. I avoid it at all costs. But—I’ve been told—that crying can actually be good for you. When you suppress it, you’re not just suppressing sadness, you’re suppressing your ability to fully experience other emotions as well.
Emily walked into the kitchen at this moment, heading towards the trash can. But I stopped her midway and just asked for a hug and cried on her shoulder. (I figured that if we were hugging, she couldn’t see me cry. Embarrassment over been seen crying is one of the main reasons I always stop myself).
Why was I crying? I think there’s a constellation of reasons, but I’ll just punt and say catharsis. I mean, do we really need to explain our reasons for crying after these past 12 months?
After I held Emily overly long and wiped away those all-so-embarrassing tears, I bet you can guess what happened with my feelings of anger. They were gone. It was like a release valve had been opened, and all that welled-up emotion (that my brain was mistaking for anger) finally had an appropriate place to go.
It’s no wonder that men are known as the angrier, more violent sex. We’re told that big boys don’t cry, and then we wonder why we’re so angry all the time. Go figure, healthily expressing a wide spectrum of emotions can be good for you.
Anyway, two take-aways. One, have a good cry sometime soon. You probably need it more than you think. Two, when you get to sign up for or get your covid vaccine, expect some strong emotions.