Although I don’t always show it, I am an emotional person. Earlier in my life, I seldom if ever showed my emotions but felt them none the less. I am empathic. I feel the emotions of others.
Ever since a young age, probably early teens, I have had a self imposed filter; actually one of many, but that’s another story. Let’s call this one the ‘Male Identity’ filter. It was always on guard against my natural emotional reaction to the input or thoughts in my life, careful to screen for what were not considered normal ‘Male’ reactions. Any emotional responses not in the realm of maleness were not allowed to get out lest anyone think I was not sufficiently male. A product of my upbringing? The typical gender-centric guidance that occurs in Western society? Probably a bit of both. But I knew at some point that operating in this manner stifled my natural responses and ultimately warped the being I was and was intended to be.
So one day I said ‘Fuck that!’
I knew I had lived that way long enough. I had suffered under a yoke of self-imposed repression for so long that I had developed a difficulty in feeling my emotions at all. They lay smothered under a blanket of guilt and fear of what others would think. My life was truly governed by people to whom I gave over all control.
And so I changed. I began to allow myself the freedom to experience my feelings and responses. I explored the emotions I felt and dared to venture into areas I had previously automatically shunned as a matter of course. It was extremely frightening in the beginning and I would fret for hours after letting even the smallest part of myself show through to the outside world for fear of non-acceptance.
Is it easy to change that type of thinking? Of course not. It comes little by little and a day at a time. But slowly the fear began to recede and to be less and less important. I knew that I had not only a right to my emotions but I had an obligation to myself to be the person I truly was. This thought kept me on the path I currently continue to travel.
This filter is almost entirely gone now. I feel comfortable in expressing my true self; at least the true state at which I current reside. It constantly evolves. I don’t know that there is a true me in the sense of an unchanging self but rather I exist as a changing, evolving being that is now capable of living my life as I experience it with no barriers, no filters, and no fears.
© 2014 Stephen Boothe