Growing up, I had little experience with healthy communication in my household. My parents always punished me for speaking my mind and told me it was never my place for input. My parents silenced my thoughts and instilled habits that would make me limit my expression of emotions (crying, venting, etc...). This, in turn, made it very difficult for me to maintain meaningful relationships later on in my life. I never had the experience of clearly communicating my thoughts and feelings without being punished or invalidated. I had lost many friends due to my toxic behavior and inability to have an empathetic perspective of their issues. I believed anyone could "shut off" their emotions at any given point, deal with a difficult situation later, or not process it at all and move on. None of these personal issues had dawned on me until I went through a tough breakup during the pandemic, which opened up the opportunity for a lot of self-reflection.
I lost my friends rapidly because I could not understand their perspectives. I
quickly began to deflect my feelings and spiral to other unhealthy coping mechanisms(i.e., excessively working out, piling on extraneous amounts of work). However, that method no longer worked; a pandemic left me with a copious amount of hours in the day to think. I couldn't get away from my problems this time. Soon after, I fell into a six-month-long depression and isolated myself from everyone I cared for. I began to
take walks and journal every single day. And even then, I was lost, alone, and needed help. My mom suggested the idea of therapy, and I finally felt like I had an out.
Speaking to a professional about my issues was the most validating feeling. It was like a breath of fresh air after diving for weeks. I learned how to address my problems head-on. I began to understand that a good friend would not invalidate my issues but would work with me to fix them. I only analyzed the parts of me that needed fixing instead of hyper-fixating on little details that didn't matter. It slowly became more effortless to express my emotions with my therapist in our safe space. And then, in turn, with my friends and family. I've let go of the "possible" outcome of communicating my feelings. It's more important to express how I feel and lose a lousy friend than keep it in and lose myself again.