How I Am Learning To Make Friends With My Emotions

I'm not a fan of showing my own emotions...

I am really not a fan of feeling things. Emotions make me uncomfortable and I don't really know what to do with them. They are not a tangible thing that you can simple explain or understand completely and I think that's the part that scares me. There was time where all I did was just feel. I would wake up feeling sad and be that way for a majority of my day, or I would wake up mad and lash out at everyone that I came in contact with. There was obviously more going than that, but conclusively I just felt emotionally out of control and I didn't like it. When asked, "What's wrong?" I didn't have an answer. I couldn't definitively put into words how I felt or why I felt the way I did. Regardless of what mood I woke up in, I inevitably wanted to get to a mood that was tolerable.

Towards the end of my freshman year in high school, I started going to church and I found some peace in the midst of the emotional turmoil. To a certain extent, a lot of the sad or mad days are far behind me. Despite that, I still have my days. In all honesty, it's actually an everyday struggle, but I try to remember a beautiful childhood lesson when battling those dark feelings. When I feel that sadness, anger, inadequacy, or whatever come rising to the surface. I choose joy. "Jonathan, you can't choose joy." Yes, you can. I am telling right now that you can and I have come to realize that there is a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness, I feel, is momentary. I am happy when I have candy, or a nice  home cooked meal made by my grandma. Joy, on the other hand, is something that is not found in food or something that is easily obtainable. Joy is the feeling I get when I see someone who had absolutely no faith in his or herself succeed. Joy is pushing past the circumstances that tell you that you should be sad and you smile instead. Joy to me is beating depression, anger, and anxiety with a clear understanding that tomorrow is a new day.

Two women who have had a tremendous impact on my life: My mom and my grandmother. Growing up, we didn't have anything, but we had enough. When things looked absolutely terrible (Think homeless, mom dying, and no food). These two women still said that it was going to be alright and actually meant it. They chose joy. Despite circumstances, despite that everything in our lives shouted that we give up hope, and even when I had an absolute right to be upset and angry, they still said its going to be alright with a smile. Which at the time, both comforted and baffled me. I know they knew that things were bad, but I think more than anything that they had a hope that whatever we were going through wouldn't last forever. I am extremely grateful for incredibly emotionally strong women in my life.

Funny thing is, I forget. I forget those tough lessons of faith and joy. How??? Because I'm human, but I am no less thankful. I also think it's because in the good times, when everything is going your way, the bad times don't seem to matter as much. Ironically, the memories that taught you the hardest lessons are almost always the most important when they really don't seem to matter. I try to appreciate the little things, because there was a time I didn't have much of anything to appreciate. I try to listen to people, because I know what it feels like to be overlooked. I try my best to love everyone, because I know what it feels like not to feel loved.

Expressing your emotions aren't a bad thing. Far from it. I'm learning that, and again, I say I'm learning that. You can't trick yourself into feeling a certain way. I actually learned that lesson from a dear friend who told me that it is important to feel what you're feeling. That is a spot on step to take when moving forward with any emotional trauma, but for someone who is apprehensive about "the feels," that advice is a nightmare. Interestingly enough, the same friend who gave me that advice, was also the same friend that asked me the right questions. Questions that helped me understand what I was feeling and why I was feeling them. Then, I was able to allow myself to feel what I was feeling.

I'm still a bit hesitant of the whole "feelings." Quite frankly, I think its stupid, but that is just a defense mechanism (Look at me performing a psychoanalysis on myself). Whether it be some control issue that I have or that I really just don't like to be emotional ( I am a control freak, I am just going to stop sugar-coating it). I think the bottom line is that I have found value in what and how I feel. I don't wish to go through life pretending everything is okay. I do want to go through life with a joy that passes understanding, but also have a clear grasp on reality. To know when something is not alright, but know that it will be alright. I want to have a childlike outlook on circumstances like my younger brother, Reg. He once said, "Mom, we aren't broke, we just don't have money right now." Call me stupidly optimistic, but I think that's a great outlook on life. To make that a little more relatable what I feel, I'll look at it this way: I might be sad right now, but tomorrow is a new day.

Jonathan Dumas

Jonathan grew up in Chula Vista, California up until he was 15 years old. He then moved to a small town in the High Desert called Barstow where he spent his high school years. He graduated with a degree in History/Political Science from Vanguard University in 2014. He is currently working as a Resident Coordinator at Vanguard, while he is completing his Master's degree in Organizational Psychology.