During a particularly challenging time I found myself sobbing hysterically in my kitchen. Between racking gasps of breath with snot sliding from my nose I could barely make out the uttered words. Straining desperately I heard, “You need to stop crying, you’re overreacting.”
I know it was coming from a place of love but my heart broke a little.
That moment was filled with strong emotions, among them fear, embarrassment and worry. I felt weak because I was unable to pull myself together. I felt hurt because I was being judged. But nowhere in my heart did I feel like I was overreacting; I knew my reaction was exactly right-sized for my emotions. And standing there in my raw authenticity I wasn’t prepared to hear someone tell me that what I felt was wrong.
It hurt…a lot.
As I’ve watched people express their emotions throughout this presidential election cycle I have been reminded of that day. I remember what it felt like when someone I cared about told me that my feelings were wrong and so I’ve decided to do one thing: keep quiet and let everyone feel their own emotions without my judgement.
To be honest it doesn’t mean that I understand what people are feeling; I can’t wrap my head around the diversity of emotions that are out in the world right now. I’ve read as many articles as I can, listened to podcasts and engaged in conversations and still not everyone’s response makes sense. And why would it? Our country is large and diverse and I am reminded of the narrowness of my own worldview before I journeyed away from my hometown. This whole cycle has taught me that perhaps I need to journey some more.
The only sense I can make is within the context of my own experience. The experience of the white heterosexual middle-aged professional woman who grew to adulthood in an upper-middle class home in a bedroom community in the rust belt, who left home to go to a prestigious women’s college and who came home and married the boy next door. In my zeal to understand who I am and my reactions to the world I constantly piece together the thousands of experiences that created my framework of beliefs. Putting that thinking online as part of this blog is what makes me Too Much Mel.
But I don’t know as much about you and I won’t pretend I do.
So, I won’t be writing any Facebook posts telling people to feel more or feel less. I won’t be demanding that you get angry or that you get sad. I won’t be asserting that the world should make you hopeful or hopeless. People I love and respect are feeling every emotion in the whole spectrum of human existence and I am certain of only one thing.
Your feelings are valid, no matter what they are.