Monday, July 8, 2013

It's me

It happens occasionally. 

I hear something that touches my heart, and I weep. Or I get to sing something that means a lot to me and my emotions take over my voice box and I choke up and can't make the notes come out the way I wanted. 

Once in a while that happens in public. And every so often, I can tell when someone is puzzled by it, because that individual questions me on it and makes assumptions that I must have experienced some great loss recently. It's as if the person believes that the singing is the performing part of Judy (first wrong assumption: I don't perform. Music is a part of me; I can't "not sing"), and the emotions have only to do with something that people are "supposed" to get emotional about. Like, say, grieving a death or something like that. And only a recent death. If I behave otherwise, it's instant judgment (or at the very least, bewilderment) because the attitude is that one should maintain a "stiff upper lip." I'm regarded as weird if I am affected by something beyond the accepted time frame, or if I am moved by something that means a lot to me. Like music. Or the beauty of nature. Or yes, even the death of someone who's important to me - and it doesn't have to be recent, or even someone I know personally. 

Thanks to David Castillo Dominici
who took this photo,
"Little Boy Covering His Face"
and posted it at

This happens to a lot of people; it's not just me. I remember a young girl of my acquaintance going to school a year after her older sister's sudden death (which happened under mysterious circumstances and to which there was never any closure), appearing "down" one day, and being told by a teacher that it had been long enough for her to "get over" her sister's death. 

As if you ever get over something like that. Really

I have a great deal of trouble with the mentality that denies and subjugates emotion as something "bad" or at least embarrassing and to be avoided. 

Here's the thing. I'm me. I'm a sensitive soul and I know it. I don't make apologies for it. In fact, I find it odd that people aren't more affected by beautiful sights or sounds, or by the misfortunes of others, because I am. I've wished in the past sometimes that I wasn't affected by things so much. However, even though sometimes I still want to not be quite as affected by the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune," I've come to understand that it's my sensitivity and my empathy that make me who I am, and I don't need to apologize for it. It's my ability to have compassion and to 'weep with those who weep' - or to access the emotions attached to memories from my past - that will eventually (one day) make me a good counselor ... even if it is hard on my head sometimes. 

Emotions are part of the human experience. They were designed as a built-in early-warning system and pressure relief valve for the human spirit. They're normal and healthy. I would rather feel the things I feel, even if they are unpleasant, than to shut off those emotions, and then eventually, never be able to feel ANYTHING ... even the nice things. That is what happens when one makes a habit of clamping down on emotions too consistently. I've seen the results of that, and they are not pleasant. 

So - this is me. Bumbling with emotion sometimes, tongue-tied and thinking of a million things I could have said after the fact. Emotional and glad to be so, given the alternative. 

As the song goes, "I just want to live while I'm alive."

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