Emotional Honesty; The Ultimate Taboo

Someone sent me a message yesterday telling me my blog was very honest. This is a rough explanation as to why I like being so honest about my issues, at least through my blog If not in person.

People are odd. Spending nearly 3 years in sales roles I got very good at reading them professionally. The change in people’s voices when you say something that grabs their curiosity, how their tempo can tell you their mood, the use of language can give away their personality types, all these are things that I was very good at discerning and even better at exploiting. Talking to someone who is bubbly and chatty? Ask a question and let them go. Then listen to their answers and build on it. Someone is being very short? They either hate you or are just being very pragmatic. Keep your responses short too and just cut to the chase. Have figures ready, they love that. Someone called you a twat? Cut your losses and say bye. Simple.

Unfortunately, most of life isn’t done over the phone from one office to another. You’re surrounded by your friends, family, people who have an idea, an image of you that you’ve spent many years building and developing. Hopefully, that image is actually of you. They see the real you most the time and know that’s the case.  However, there are the people who have built up a detailed and dedicated façade that they wear. Rather than ‘the real you’ (ergh, that phrase is terrible), they see a carefully calculated facsimile made up of your best parts and what you want to be.

So, when you start experiencing things that don’t fit this image of ‘you’ that you’ve conjured up, it is all so easy to keep them locked up inside. If it doesn’t fit the new model ‘me’ it doesn’t get seen by anyone. This is, of course, incredibly bad for your mental health. Horrendously so. You end up, to quote Eddie Izzard who used to do something similar, “emotionally dead”. You can find yourself incapable of feeling anything. You know that sadness is a thing that exists, you recognise it in others when you’re giving them advise, being empathetic, but you’ve managed to successfully shut it off inside yourself.

I started this blog originally as a place to vent my anger and frustrations out at the world. However, that really doesn’t make interesting reading. It comes across as bitter, tortured, and just mean. So I decided instead to simply talk about the way I feel around other things that I have a passion for – film, radio, general nit-picking. It makes it more palatable and nicer to write.

When I went for counselling during my first and second years at the university of Leicester, I was introduced to the idea that I might be always wearing this fake ‘me’. At first, I thought it was ludicrous. ‘Why did I need to do that? I was always popular and smiling and helping others. Surely if that was the case I’d not have anyone to call a friend.’ But just thinking it over between sessions it was obvious – I had tried to kill all my negative emotions to the point where I just became numb.

I tried counting back to all the times I had cried before that day. I cried a little when saying goodbye to my kitten before leaving for university (not when I said by to my parents incidentally, just the cat), and then I couldn’t remember. I thought it was on the day of my Grandad’s funeral. And then before that it was out of frustration at GCSE revision. Between the ages of 15 and 18 I’d cried 3 times, if that.

When I told the counsellor this he wasn’t best pleased. Nor was he pleased that every week I would try as quickly as possible to make a joke after everything he said. “Stop trying to be funny whenever you’re faced with emotion. Life is not a joke,” he paused, “at least, not a funny one.” He then told me off for laughing.

But I had learnt a lesson from him, despite my best efforts. Your emotions and mental health are normal and need a place to be let out. I’m still not comfortable talking about them with very many people, and oddly enough my family is still not on that list (I think mostly because we’re British and emotions are not table talk), but I do feel comfortable writing them down.

I know that some people who read my ramblings are not people I would ever open up to, and that’s fine. If, in my ramblings, someone sees something that they find relatable then that’s it justified. Because you’re not alone and you’re not the only person who feels the way you do or deals with emotions as you do.

In conclusion, why am I so honest? Because you need to be honest somewhere. Honest about yourself, about how you’re feeling, and about which Sherlock Holmes is best. We spend so much of our lives pretending about who we are and what we’re feeling that emotional honestly seems out of place.

Once in a while, it’s good to be you.

Published by Adam Unwin

Yeah, I write stuff occasionally, make things up on stage, and like saying words other people have written in a dramatic way.

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