I have always believed that if you’re sad you must allow yourself to express those feelings because denying them the more they grow. Remember how we all used to sob watching the Hallmark commercials? That was acceptable back then. We used to do that as a family and the commercials touched us individually. Sadness is situational. But now as we reach out to others for comfort it is often difficult for them to tolerate emotions like sadness because we are not supposed to be sad. Someone asked me, “How do you feel sad?” What a question to ask I thought, not why but how. I pondered this for a bit because no one had really asked me how I felt sad or that I was required to define it. Others of course dive right in with their advice that is not at all helpful: “I’d love it if you would cheer up!” It’s all in your head, you’ll get over it!” “No one ever said life was fair” and the topper, “Don’t you know there are people out there a lot worse off than you!”
WOW you gotta love it, the remarks that you are not allowed to be sad. Everyone wants you to just whisk your sadness away. You know, poof and it is all gone! In reality none of us want to be sad but there it is often upon us before we even know it. Actually I believe sadness can be a good thing, it helps us come to terms with a situation and move on.
A friend called me said some things that should not have been said and was shocked that her words hurt me deeply. As I hung up the phone I just sat there sadness surrounding me and it took a while to digest the hurt and how I was going to deal with it. She was a dear friend and felt entitled to utter those words. Should I have reacted so strongly? Processing was painful yet eye opening. Why is that people say such silly hurtful things to make you sad in the heart beat of a moment? Humorist and Author Dave Barry said it best, “Everyone has a right to be stupid. Some just abuse the privilege!”
Sadness should be a right. If you feel sad something made that happen and who is to say you cannot be? Who and where are the “sad police” located anyway? I don’t compare myself to others it is my sadness, my own personal moment. Are there others out there much worse off than me? Of course there are but that is not the point and this is not a competition. I am not talking about long term sadness, depression or grief. Sadness often comes swiftly in a moment, a life-affirming moment in time to reflect or think about whom we are evaluating where we want to be or how to cope with what made us sad.
Sadness is one of the four main human emotions — the others being happiness, fear and anger. We sure do use the other three a lot. But, we are in a society that demands we seal sadness shut and remain upbeat and positive all the time. I have to admit I often wear a t-shirt my daughter gave me that says, “Good Vibes Only” but when the good vibes fade for whatever reason, embracing the moment I found is more my solution.
We have lived the last twelve months in wave upon wave of sadness from around the country. Turning on the TV is enough some days to plunge you into despair. Being sad about someone or something is private, personal and well within the ways we chose to cope for what touches our daily lives. I truly believe there is another kind of sadness. The kind that touches you deeply as we watch people rebound out of the struggle and heartache. It is a sadness that is a cross between the joy of watching things reborn and the sadness of what it takes to make that happen.
A Psychology study says sadness operates like a mild alarm signal, triggering more effort and motivation to deal with a challenge. When you are sad it often makes others uncomfortable and we are uncomfortable because we don’t want to appear to be unable to cope or a “negative” person. So where is our sad stand? Our emotional response should be valued and time out should be given as well as a pass for our brief moment of distress. I have read that sadness is an expression of the soul. My husband says, lately I have way too much soul!
I was in the bedroom a few weeks ago crying into my pillow having a really bad day when my husband walked in. “What do you think you are doing?” He asked cautiously. “What does it look like I am doing?” I said blinking the tears away, “I am crying because I am sad.” He eyed me carefully not sure what to say. “What do you have to be sad about?” He says utterly clueless. I just sat on the side of the bed tears running down my cheeks looking at him because it’s not bad enough being sad but now I have to explain? And seriously why do we have to explain? Why can’t we just have that sadness, quiet or screaming moment of our own? We don’t have to share it. Sometimes the best feelings have no words to describe them, its ok once and a while to have a meltdown. Even Charlotte Brontë said, “The shadows are as important as the light.”
Sometimes you just have to give yourself a little pep talk like I guess I should learn to smile more to avoid happiness advice. I look at a pillow a friend knitted for me that says, “We are going to be really cool old ladies” and I smile because she was right. I have been told all my life to act accordingly but you know, life is just too short to be normal so I am going to stay weird!
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