When I made my first appointment with my mental health counselor, I started our session with telling her, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”
I shared stories and situations with her and as I told my stories and spoke to my counselor, she identified a common theme: I was apologizing a lot.
When I started crying mid-session, I said sorry. When I was describing how I felt in my stories, I said I felt bad for crying or sorry for expressing my boundaries to others. I felt bad for doing things that some others would not feel bad for.
When I told her that I didn’t know what was wrong with me and that I cry at the littlest of things, she simply asked me, “What’s wrong with crying?”
“It makes others uncomfortable,” I said. “And I feel like I cry too much.”
“But you are expressing your emotions. Is that not better than suppressing and holding them inside?”
Her words, although few, made a strong impression on me. We worked over a few sessions to settle my discomfort and to increase my comfort with myself. I was basing myself off of what others wanted me to be and I was not being who I truly was. I felt bad for crying because growing up, I was told crying is unlucky and that I shouldn’t do it. I felt bad for being “masculine” because I was interested in martial arts and was told that it is something only males do. I felt bad for expressing to peers that I did not feel comfortable doing certain tasks. I felt bad for doing things that I liked and things that resonated with myself. My counselor helped me realize that I shouldn’t feel bad for being myself.
I was still concerned, however, that my crying was more frequent that my other peers. I cried during Finding Nemo and other movies. I cry when I am frustrated, and I cry when I am angry. My counselor helped me accept that this is my way of expressing myself and a part of who I am. Though I could work on refraining from crying in certain situations, I should feel safe expressing myself when I can.
Crying was something that made me feel shame and embarrassment in the past but it is something that I am comfortable doing now because it is a part of who I am. I am lucky to have found a partner and friends that understand how I express myself and do not shame me for it. It is still something that I am still working on within my family as there is a big stigma against expressing emotion and being honest with how we’re feeling, but I am in a much better place since my teen years.
Now I realize that there wasn’t anything wrong with me. The people around me just made me think there was.