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On Sadness

Feb 28 2018

I'm going to write about sadness today. Sadness is my least favorite emotion and one I don't really know how to *feel*. Anger is my go-to reaction and the only emotion I'm comfortable expressing often. In the past few weeks, I've had some situations arise that evoked sadness in me – nothing serious happened over here – more like nostalgia-related sadness. This comes up sometimes in the normal ebb and flow of life. But usually, I freak out and do everything I can to not feel this emotion. It comes out in the form of mood swings, depression, naps, overeating, anxiety, impulse purchases and staying insanely busy, which are all token ways of hiding from a tough emotion.

The fear of having to *feel* sadness is what holds me back. In my mind, being sad is going to be tragic, destructive and so bad that I must run and do anything in my power to defend myself. I write long-winded stories in my mind – narratives that are usually so off-base that simply feeling sad would hurt less than experiencing the What If scenarios I write. In the past week, I've been acknowledging this behavior and thinking about how to change it. As they say, acknowledgment is the first step! I realized that my core issue is that I berate myself for feeling this way, like, what I'm feeling isn't valid and I have nothing to actually *be* sad about. Seth thought this was pretty insane. He and I were talking on my couch last week and he asked..."Why can't you just be sad? Why do you need a reason?" Well SHIT, I don't know, I had never thought about that. It got me thinking, do people really just feel sad for no reason? But, then what!??? My Italian mafioso side screamed "YOU'RE WEEAAAKKKKKKKK" as I pondered such an idea.

I've always known this idea of weakness covered with intense anger. If someone wronged me, my first reaction was to get angry, threatening and righteous, as if it was my job to "show them who is boss." I learned this concept pretty early and can say, damn, it's really hard to unlearn. Sitting quietly in your hurt – letting it penetrate deep within – that shit is HARD. Really hard. Anger is easy, cheap and a cover-up for the wounds inside.

What I'm learning (though I have not grasped it fully nor do I understand it yet) is that forgiveness is key. True forgiveness. Forgiving those who have done you wrong, washing them clean of your psyche, and truly letting go. And from there, moving on. I have/had issues with several people in my life, and most still affect me because I refuse to let what they've done go. I just can't right now because (as I'm learning) I have a need to right the injustice against me. Those people need to feel how bad I feel!

The thing is, "those people" probably don't give a rat's ass right now. And if they did feel the hurt I feel, then what? How would that make me feel, like I've won? Won what? Shit, I don't even know because I've never thought about it that far. I would probably feel the same and it would bring me no comfort.

The goal for me? Sit in the sadness.

This post was born today because I was sad yesterday. For no real reason. The day started out okay...I had a client call and then I started tending to the millions of creative projects I have going on. I painted a canvas. I sketched my alley streetlight, which I've named Herbert. I did the dishes. But sadness was there the whole time. Exacerbated by caffeine as noon approached, I started to panic – frantically popping between browser tabs on the Internet (I do this when my brain races) second I was in my bank account, the next on Nordstrom. Then, Instagram. All the while, scrolling, scrolling, scrolling but not taking anything in, living but not feeling.

By mid-afternoon, I recognized my avoidance and tried to stop. I gave myself a pass for the afternoon. Meaning no yoga class and no grocery store (these were on my To Do List today). I sat on the couch with my cat, Sweet Pea, and took a nap. I woke up, felt a little better, and wrote this post. I still don't know how to let go of the people and situations that have hurt me but I do know that I must. I wish there was a guidebook of steps to take so I'd know the way. But there's not. I have to trust that things will change if I'm willing to change.

*How do you relate to sadness? Have you had to forgive and let go in the past? If so, how did you do it? (I don't have comments set up on this blog yet, so if you're feeling like you want to share your story with me, just drop me a line.