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Cahayan pens essay for The Star

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An emotional lesson

By Denise Anjali, Senior 3 Hope

Some people keep their thoughts completely private while others prefer to broadcast them. I was a kid who kept everything to myself. Any thoughts or opinions I had, I locked them away in my head.

I am an only child who is used to silence and solitude. My mother is a single working parent whom I avoided. We used to get into a lot of arguments. I would keep mum about my issue that I was going through until it had passed or someone found out, like when I was bullied in kindergarten.

Emotions and feelings hurt. They cannot be stored away. They gather and collect dust in a corner of the mind until something triggers them, turning the dust into pins and needles that pierce and sting with every thought.

I did not understand people’s need to talk about personal issues to others. I was awkward and tactless when someone confided in me. I never truly knew how important it was to open up to someone until I was 11 years old.

When I was 11, my paternal grandmother was diagnosed with leukaemia. I spent most of my weekends visiting her with my father. It was odd seeing my strong-willed grandmother looking so frail in the hospital bed. Eventually, she bacame almost unresponsive. I felt scared and helpless whenever I saw her.

In hindsight, the sporadic crying fits that I had that year were probably due to these feelings. I wanted to scream out, write and simply find a way to get rid of those feelings but I could not. I did not know how.

When my grandmother died, I did not cry at the news, funeral or even after I got home. I still do not know why. I felt guitly though that I could not cry for my favourite grandparent and did not know how to comfort my father.

I finally understood why people express their emotions instead of supressing them. Emotions and feelings hurt. They cannot be stored away. They gather and collect dust in a corner of the mind until something triggers them, turning the dust into pins and needles that pierce and sting with every thought.

The whole experience changed me, for better or for worse. I became anxious. I worried incessantly whenever my parents were late. I began biting my nails and peeling the skin off my fingers.

Every time I spoke to someone new or unfamiliar, I would feel like I was choking afterwards, fearing if I had somehow offended them.

However, I also started to open up. I would tell my mother if I was feeling stressed, I allowed myself to cry and have panic attacks instead of swallowing them painfully.

I found out that emotions did not have to hurt. Now, I am learning to trust and open up to more people.

I believe I am doing quite well.

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