After years of failed relationships, I realized I had a serious problem: I held everything in until it came out in a tearful public meltdown. Clearly, this wasn’t working for me, but I was worried about seeming insane to the guys I dated. Then I tried a different route: being honest and upfront about my feelings from the beginning no matter messy they were. Turns out, it was a total game-changer.
Holding things in was hurting me more than I realized. Aside from the spontaneous crying and anxiety, it messed with my health. My relationship with food was totally screwed up, either leaving me unable to eat or unable to stop eating. I was constantly nauseous and zapped for energy because of all the stress. Being able to be able to talk about my worries made me feel SO much healthier almost immediately.
Sometimes all that worry is for nothing. I’m a worrier by nature, so it was a huge adjustment to give myself permission not to worry unless I had an actual reason. I would bring up issues in small doses, sticking to one topic at a time and more often than not, it was well received. Had I spent days before going through the discussion in my head and preparing for scenarios in every detail, it would have all been for absolutely no reason.
I should feel comfortable opening up to my partner. I didn’t see it as a red flag if I was scared to tell my partner my feelings. It seems pretty obvious, but I was so used to skirting around tough subjects and sugar-coating everything. By doing that, I was not only hurting myself but hurting my partner with dishonesty. If you’re in a loving relationship then talking about difficult topics will need to happen and since I was afraid of that, I was obviously with the wrong person for me.
It may bring up something that we both feel is important. There were quite a few times that I mentioned something that was bothering me and my boyfriend told me he had the same feelings. Had I not brought it up, it may have never been solved. Sometimes we’d be talking and he’d bring things to light that I hadn’t even considered but were definitely worth a conversation. I started feeling safe and made me want to talk about the deep stuff because ultimately, I knew it made us closer.
I realized that having your own voice can build trust. When I started voicing my concerns, my boyfriend actually told me he respected the fact I was able to disagree with him. He liked that I was comfortable enough to speak up, even if we didn’t see eye to eye. It made the compromise a lot easier to reach because of the trust we had. We knew having differing opinions didn’t mean our relationship was in trouble—it was just natural.
It gave me greater confidence in other parts of my life. By getting over my fear of opening up to someone I loved, I was able to open up in many other relationships. With my family, I could have an opinion and not just always go with the flow. At work, if I had a suggestion that was against the norm, even if it wasn’t implemented, it didn’t break me down and cause me to never speak up again. I learned that sometimes you don’t get your way but you shouldn’t be afraid to say what is on your mind.
It taught me the importance of leading by example. I have friends and family that often felt like I did—they were scared to let it all out. They sympathized with my fear but once I started breaking my “bottle up everything” pattern, I was able to talk about this with my loved ones and actually show them the benefits it can have.
I was able to determine the difference between emotional and rational discussions. One of the reasons I think I was so afraid to let my feelings out is because the only route I knew was being super emotional. I would let it linger inside so long that when I finally let it out, there were tears and rambling sentences that hardly made sense. As I grew, I was able to communicate those feelings with a more rational mind. I learned how important it is to respectfully explain how I felt so it was understood by my partner.
It’s okay if sometimes I fall back into old habits. It wasn’t as if the sky magically opened up and I was suddenly free of my burden. It took a few tries before I was able to fully let things out without any shred of fear. That’s how learning works! It was news to me because I had a hard time whenever I faltered but I would just pick myself back up and try the next round. Eventually, being emotionally open became my new routine and I’m much happier and healthier because of it.
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