Letting our emotions out is the key to letting down our guard. 9

from book Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed

When Charlotte began her therapy with the author, she seemed almost emotionless. She spoke about everything in the same monotone voice, whether it was something positive, like a boss praising her work, or something horrible, like a sexual assault she experienced in college. But it wasn’t as if she couldn’t feel any emotions; she simply didn’t know what she felt or how to express it – a phenomenon called alexithymia.
Charlotte’s condition might have been on the extreme end of the spectrum, but many people experience some form of emotional disconnection. That’s especially true when it comes to their deepest negative emotions, like the fear of death or isolation. Most of us don’t want to feel those emotions, so we try to repress them. Some people resort to defense mechanisms. Other people engage in self-medication, as Charlotte did with alcohol.
But our deepest emotions don’t just disappear when we try to ignore, suppress or blot them out. They continue festering inside of us, and they often manifest themselves through unconscious behaviors and physical symptoms, such as a twitchy foot or a lack of appetite. A patient’s big breakthrough moment usually comes when they find a way of openly expressing buried emotions. That could mean admitting that your emotional detachment “feels like shit,” as the 25-year-old Charlotte did during the session that ended up changing the direction of her life. Or it could mean writing a heartfelt letter to someone, as the elderly woman Rita did to her estranged children. It could mean shouting a swear word over and over again, as the author’s patient Julie did when lamenting the terribleness of her cancer. Or it could simply mean letting loose a flood of tears, as the author and John the TV scriptwriter did when they each finally acknowledged the grief they were feeling.
Such tears might feel like a form of “breaking down,” but in fact, they’re a form of “breaking open.” In crying them, a person is letting down their guard and letting out their true emotions, allowing themselves to fully feel and directly confront these repressed aspects of themselves in the process. And there’s a simple word for what that represents: freedom. No, a person doesn’t instantly solve their problems at this point – but now that they’re openly acknowledging them, they can finally start to work on them.
In a way, the end of this story is just the beginning of a new one.