Dean desperately wanted to be free to be who he really was inside. But he was trapped within his public self--even when alone, most of the time--held fast by years of learned bullshit; this stifling Toxic Masculinity.
Ever since he was ten years old and made to believe he must be bad and wrong for thinking his thoughts about other boys--by the idiot box; kids at school; even his old man's bigoted opinions Dean would hear his Dad sharing liberally with an embarrassed Uncle Bobby--Dean had locked the real Dean away inside an invisible cell, for safekeeping.
He'd never felt safe though; only captive.
Dean wished he could let himself out… but just couldn't. It was as if he needed permission from someone, but had no idea who. He was silently seeking some unknown authority to acquiesce, so he could switch off the fake confidence and let himself just be... himself. To show it when he felt shy. Maybe sometimes be more gentle, a little softer; allow himself to be fucking delicate if he wanted to be. Let himself--shit, just feel pretty, damnit.
The day Cas told Dean he was in love with him was the day Dean was finally handed the key to the cell.
...the day Dean was free to be Dean.