I am a super emotional person. I mean, like, super, super emotional. No, that doesn’t mean I walk around crying everyday, or cry for every little reason. It does mean, however, that I wear my heart on my sleeve. When I am sad, you will know I am sad.

When I am angry, frustrated, happy, joyful, excited or anything else, the same goes, you’ll know. It’ll be written all over my face. After many years of hard work, I have developed a pretty mean poker face, when needed, but most times, I’m kind of dedicated to not hiding my feelings.

There can be a lot of freedom that comes with wearing your heart on your sleeve. You can liberate yourself from being tied down to the emotional elements of one moment. In living freely in expression of one’s emotions, you allow yourself the room to first, acknowledge that you have emotions, second, actualize what those emotions are and third, own those emotions by displaying them proudly.

That freedom is the reason why I’ve never felt comfortable with burying my emotions. I always feel less free. Like a prisoner in my own thoughts, heart and soul.

Yet, as emotional I am, my personality is large and robust. In such that, any display of true emotion from me, easily gets interpreted as dramatics, by critics. So, while I am dedicated to displaying what I feel within and without at all times, I also typically shy away from displaying all of my feelings at once, as they’re usually too large or too overwhelming for other people.

I’ve honed this terrible complex of putting the comfort of others, before myself. I will hold back from wearing my heart all the way on my sleeve, if for whatever reason, I perceive it to make someone else feel uncomfortable or intimidated.

In doing so, so I’ve learned, I am doing a tremendous harm and detriment to myself. A habit so strong and yet, subtle, is now apparently taking years to unlearn.

“My need to compensate for other’s emotions, and insistent willingness to rank that need over my need to honor and actualize my own emotions, is one of my deepest pathologies.”

As articulate and well versed as I might be, via written and verbal words, I am a horrible communicator with people closest to me. The more emotional attachment I have to a person, the harder it is for me to communicate my feelings, thoughts and emotions. My inability to fully honor my own emotions and thoughts, at the cost of hurting someone else, encourages me to often keep my truest feelings quiet.

That dreadful practice of bottling my deepest emotions, for the sake of others, builds incredible resentment, frustration and eventual anger. I become fixated on how much sacrifice I make, for the sake of others, and how unappreciated it makes me feel. All the while, willfully ignoring the most important person responsible for my bottled emotions, myself.

My need to compensate for other’s emotions, and insistent willingness to rank that need over my need to honor and actualize my own emotions, is one of my deepest pathologies. Such a pathology, surfaces from my own personal lies centered in unworthiness, survivor’s guilt and  a severe abandonment complex. One of the most dire consequences of harboring personal lies as generational and pathological as mine, is the backlash it creates.

For myself, that backlash usually comes in the form of some degree of a verbal lashing. I have a whip fast tongue, and boy, can I use it?! I had to learn the hard way, after hurting far too many people, the evils of the tongue. Unlike the heart, or even the mind, the tongue is a completely rogue and untamed being, capable of stark pain and volatile damage, so deep, it can’t be seen, only felt.

Harboring so much pent-up tension, anger and frustration, will almost always inevitably lead to an explosion. When enough is enough for me, I go from 0 to 100, real quick. I transform from an emotionally passive apologist, to an unapologetic, in your face, take it or leave it, verbally brash angry Black woman/ pissed off New Yorker/ ratchet wild child. It’s crazy! Like, seriously!

And it isn’t until right now, that I’ve fully said, enough is enough. Virtually all the parts of old me are long gone, only leaving a reminder of how much I’ve grown. Except for that emotionally inept child, seeking a way to be heard in such a loud, uncaring and harsh world. I need to let it go. Let her go! Goodbye Old Me! All of you! And hello, in full entirety, to New Me! I welcome you with love, appreciation and grace.

As I’ve begun working on acknowledging my behaviors and actions, regarding my translation of my feelings and emotions, I’ve quickly been reminded of hard it is to change. There are so many people and outside factors, encouraging you, daring you and even challenging you to be your old self. As hard as it is for us as individuals, to accept change of ourselves, it as is hard to accept change of others.

“As such, nothing in the past can truly define or remain attached to me, as long as I release it.”

Some people showing disdain toward your personal growth, may have personal gain and selfish ambitions to concern about, that can easily be threatened by you moving on or becoming better. Others, who are maybe less selfish and more supportive of your growth, may simply struggle with finding a place for themselves, amongst your new or improved changed self and/ or life.

The primary circumstances usually productive to a fluid, encouraging and enjoyable process of change, is when those around your are not only supportive of your change, but also seeking their own change, as well. When people can grow together, as individuals first, and together second, it fortifies your entire growth period, ten fold!

In all, no one around me right now, is really about the hard, fundamental, ‘no playin’ games’ growth. In such, I’ve been facing some stark opposition. People consistently reminding me of how I used to deal with my emotions; imploring me, more for myself than them, to duly take note of the fact that today, is in fact, today.

As such, nothing in the past can truly define or remain attached to me, as long as I release it. Even if I have only been the new me for ten minutes so far, so what?! I am the new me, right now! What can you say about yourself?

When I do find myself falling into old habits, feeding into people’s negative energy and twisted behaviors, I am bombarded with negative reminders that these habits are old, bad and still occurring. I then, again, more for myself than them, remind them, that I too am human.

There is this great myth out there that, Shaquana Gardner must honor everyone’s imperfections and make due with their shortcomings, while everyone can expect perfection from me, because I am of course, perfect. It makes no sense at all. And such a misconception and strong social pressure, has helped cultivate my own complex of the dire need to be perfect.

By calling people, and myself out, for expecting me to be perfect, I am strengthening my growth. By checking myself in the moment for resorting back to old, dangerous habits for emotional communication, being harshly negative with myself or leaving little to no room for gentle understanding of myself, I am making progress.

I have to continue to take it one step at a time. Reminding myself of who Old Me was, and who New Me is. The next step that lies ahead, is building a team of people who can support, love and honor the New Me.

It’s always a new step, another path and a whole other chapter to begin, in this spiritual journey. I welcome it with open arms! We’ve gotten so far yet, it is only a wonder for what it is to come! Until next time, peace, love and afro puffs =)!! Stay blessed, gracious and beautiful!