For the Year 2020, Allow Yourself to Feel

Monica R. Lopez

EVERY time someone I love needed a confidant, I was ready. When the tears have been shed, the conversation makes a slow transition from heavy to light, without missing a beat I always say the words, “Don’t be like me.”

It feels cryptic, almost like a warning like it’s so bad to be me. So who is this “me” then?

“Me” is the person who, one minute, is all laughs and smiles but when faced with a problem, shuts the world out with just enough view to still peek through to check in on people but answers “how are you’s” with the ever comforting “I’m fine” even though that wasn’t the case.

Make no mistake. “Me” is the person that talks. A lot. Especially to those she’s long loved and trusted—and that's her family and her constants. “Me” is the person who is ready to be there for anyone but all too often, is careful with whom to trust with her heart for many reasons: an emotional pain felt years ago that to this day leaves her frozen; people who come only to let her down...too many to say without her voice breaking.

To those she barely knows, she can tell you she has trust issues. But she doesn’t trust you enough to tell you why. Not just yet.

“Me” is the person who is not in any special circumstance but feels strongly about typical life-changing predicaments. It consumes her without warning, following her like a shadow. “Me” is the person that refuses to share the things she’s loved and lost, things too precious to her for fear of being called weak and sensitive.

“Me” is the person who loves to see the world through rose-colored glasses. The Peter Pan who knows it’s time to grow up but refuses to fully morph into one. The one who hates to ditch toys for responsibilities that won’t seem to go away, making the world feel less like a playground as every hurtful reality hits her left and right: not all dogs have a beautiful life, not everything will stay the same and, sadly, the ones we love can’t live forever.

Unintentionally, “me” puts up a timeline to feel. “You can cry about it, but you have to get over it,” “Give me five minutes and I’ll be done.” It applies to everything from childish disagreements to losing a loved one. A habit made for self-preservation, to train the waterworks, so as not to be a burden—whatever. It had nothing to do with lack of love and everything to do with the hope of not crumbling down.

“Me” is a person who was raised tough and is proud of it, but acknowledges everyone’s feelings but her own.

There was “me,” a ticking time bomb. A sinking ship. A mess; more tragic than beautiful because despite her best efforts, “me” whose intentions were to just keep it together, failed because—to state the obvious—dictating one’s emotions was never going to work.

For this year, I refuse to be the “me” that I was. I was too hard on myself. I profusely apologized to someone for “taking so much of their time talking about this stuff,” when that’s all “me” wants: someone who says they see me and they listen to me. I’ve had these people all of my life, but I’ve just never fully and thoroughly accepted the offer because I thought I could handle it. But, as tough as we are, we can’t handle it all by ourselves. Even our own emotions.

So for this year, don’t be like what I once was. Express yourself without bounds.

Talk for hours on end about something you’re so passionate about that anyone can see the gleam in your eyes. Call up someone you trust and tell them honestly what and how you have been feeling. For all you know, they might have thought they did something wrong which caused your sudden disappearance from their lives.

It takes two or more people to make a conversation. For this year, share your thoughts and don’t hold back. Resist the urge to think that maybe they don’t care what you think. They wouldn’t be here spending time with you if they thought that way.

Lastly, as a way to care for yourself, for this year, give yourself time to feel everything about anything, especially the sad bits in your life. Give yourself time to dwell, to mourn, to let all emotions wash over you. So that once all of that has passed, you come out strong, wise and most of all, healed. And when you’re ready, trust again.