To varying degrees, we’re all creatures of emotion. When I was younger I believed I had more right than anyone else to have emotions, and, more specifically, to channel those emotions in whatever way I saw fit. After all, what did the other kids in my class know about loss? What did they know about feeling unloved or unwanted?
In my young and narrow mind, I believed they knew nothing. And as other children do, I even went so far as to believe that I was the only one in the world, that no one else had feelings, that only I could experience the world as I did. I lacked empathy, or the basic understanding of others’ emotions and the will to feel the same way.
Empathy, as with most things, came as I grew older and as I learned that others did, in fact, have the same association with loss and rejection as I did. So did the ability to understand my emotions and the reasons behind them. It was no longer enough just to feel sad or angry: I had to know why I felt the way I did, which led to understanding, which led to (hopefully) not taking those emotions out on others.
But when I was a child, with emotions so much fuller and so much more untameable, this maturity was beyond my grasp. All I knew was that I felt angry, or fearful, or happy, and I didn’t know how to keep my emotions inside where adults told me they belonged. So instead of keeping it all bottled up, I let the inside out.