Other people’s words about … sadness

Why was she so sad? The unspoken question had dangled over the [therapist’s] beige couch and the framed degrees and the economy of Kleenex. He commanded a cache of Ohs and I sees in varying grades of volume and texture, knew when to prod and when to sink with her. Why was she so sad?

Ada was sad because she was sad because she was sad. She experienced extreme difficulty in reaching past the tautological.

From ‘Infinite Home
by Kathleen Alcott

Some time ago, for much the same reason as Ada in the passage above, I quit therapy. I had come to my therapist feeling sad; but years of therapy later, I still felt sad. It seemed to me at last that, whether my sadness was unique or universal or — like Ada’s — purely tautological, the time for exploring it was over.

In the years that have passed since then, I’ve learned that I feel better when I try to make peace with sadness than I do when I try to overcome it. There is much to be said for acceptance and for patience. And for seeing things through.

I took the pictures in today’s post on a day when I had just heard that I will be losing my job at the end of this year. I felt, that day, as though I had been cheated of something — of an income, yes, but also of something less tangible, some essential part of me that I couldn’t actually name. I felt anxious and old and vulnerable and as though I had failed. Most of all, I just felt sad.

What I saw

I couldn’t sit still with my sadness that day; I couldn’t see it through. So I did the only thing that seemed manageable to me in the moment: I took myself off for a run by the beach. I ran what seemed to me a long way, the furthest I’d ever run, in fact — although the distance didn’t matter, really. What mattered was that I was outside: moving, breathing deeply, looking around. Seeing. Sadness, I’ve found, stops me from seeing. But stepping outside returns my vision to me, at least for a while.

Losing a job — especially a job that you love, especially when you are nearing fifty — entails a specific kind of sadness, one that is wrapped up in grief and fear. Still, I’m curious. What do you do when you are sad?

9 thoughts on “Observation

  1. Yes, physical activity is, for me too, the very best remedy for sadness. It can be hard sometimes, because getting outside and moving might be the last things you feel like doing, or the effort to do it seem too great. This is even while there’s a small quiet part of your brain telling you that you know how much better you will feel once you’ve done it. A swim or a long walk … preferably in the bush.

    Hugs xx

    1. Thank you for such a lovely, lovely comment, skychronicles. (I tried to look you up on the inter webs because I do like to support anyone who comments on my blog by commenting back on their blog in response, but it looks like your blog has been pulled down … Or have I got that wrong?) Anyway, I’ve found, since the run on that day that I described in that post, that it’s been much harder to make myself get outside and run during the low moments I’m experiencing right now, but I am continuing to do so, sometimes just slowing down to a walk when I have to (it’s funny how when you feel fragile emotionally, it can make you feel fragile physically, isn’t it?) because you are right — that small quiet part of your brain is a wise voice 🙂 xo

  2. Oh, gees, that is a blow. It is hard to face such news, esp. if it has been a long relationship, and we aren’t so young anymore as well. I think your response was perfect. Getting out in nature always helps me regain my balance without fail. How are you feeling these days? Are you adjusting?

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Eliza. It’s still early days for me, to be honest, and I still feel very vulnerable. However, as my sister reminded me: when one door closes, another opens. And as my mother reminded me: you can’t keep a good girl down! First off, I’m lucky to have people who love me making such supportive comments like that. Second up, both comments are true, and I’m working towards agreeing with them … ! Hope you’re surviving the transition into the darker, colder days in your neck of the woods xo

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