When Sad Is Good

I woke up sad today. It had nothing to do with recent events, because I actually woke up feeling pretty positive about the day and inwardly rejoicing over recent accomplishments. And yet, at the same time, I was sad.  It was a deep, pervasive sadness that could not be pushed away by focusing on the daily tasks at hand. A second cup of coffee didn’t help, even though I ground fresh beans.

I finally gave in and went back to bed.  It’s 90 degrees today with 50% humidity and we don’t have air conditioning, so that wasn’t actually as comfortable as it sounds. I ended up sitting cross-legged on the bed doing breathing exercises in an attempt to clear my mind, and once I surrendered to the focus on my breathing and stopped trying to think my way out of emotions, I felt much calmer and was able to think clearly.

I realized that today my subconscious forced me to pay attention to something I have been habitually pushing aside for years because it doesn’t feel good to feel it. This inability to shake off the sadness was the first line of defense to shut me down and say, “Hey, Muffy, you cannot ignore this any more.” If, as I have done in the past, I continued to push it aside, the next step would be physical ailments. My shoulders are already so tight I’m having to take pain killers and get physical therapy. I spent two days in the ER a couple of months ago with chest pains that were finally diagnosed as stress related. So as much as I hate this feeling of sadness, I had to give myself permission to just feel it and let today not be fun, because the physical manifestations of stress I already have are bad enough that I honestly don’t even want to think about what state my body could get itself into if I continue to carry this around.

It’s not hard to find the root of all this sadness. I have a lot on my plate in the sadness-inducing category. But the point isn’t to seek and destroy the sources, because believe me, if that were an option, it would be done by now. The point is to acknowledge that these trials I am living my way through are actually making me feel something and that it’s okay to feel it. So today I let the sad have its way and went ahead and felt it.  I let my mouth droop. I stopped trying to focus on tasks that required concentration and ran errands instead. I drove across town and back with tears slipping down my cheeks. I even cried through a massage appointment for my poor beleaguered shoulder. And by the end of the day, the sadness receded.

It occurred to me a few weeks ago, when my shoulder started seizing up as it does a couple of times a year, that my usual reaction of acknowledging, “Oh yes, I carry my stress there” implies that I have no control over it.  It hit me that it’s a really stupid way to deal with stress and that perhaps I could find a different method. So today when I found that I could let myself feel the emotions I used to distract myself away from, and that while they weren’t pleasant, I didn’t actually die, I began to think that maybe I was on to something.

Maybe, instead of CARRYING my stress around, I could just let it go.  Maybe the whole actually-feeling-what-you’re-feeling-as-you’re-feeling-it thing is a way to avoid needing to store things up and schedule the emotions for later. So as much as I didn’t enjoy feeling sad to the point where I couldn’t accomplish anything, it’s much healthier to admit that that’s the state I’m in than to pretend that life doesn’t ever get me down. It’s much more honest. And it’s certainly more realistic.

The next time I’m tempted to shove aside a negative emotion, I think I’ll ask myself if I’m lying to myself.  I’ll remind myself that honesty is the best policy. And I’ll look back on today as the day that I realized that sadness can actually be good.

3 thoughts on “When Sad Is Good

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  1. I love this!!! Most people won’t take the time to experience sadness, let alone allow the sadness to have its way. The fact you did is so powerful because it allows things to surface you may not otherwise be aware of. This is why I allow myself to freewrite in my journal. It’s such a beautiful way to find out what I am really feeling. Thanks for sharing this!! And the comment on carrying stress in your shoulders especially hit me, about how saying that means you don’t have control over it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am so glad that you found a way to acknowledge the issues in your life in a positive way. Stress is so rampant in people’s lives today and most will either not acknowledge it or simply live under its weight. You have found an excellent way to let it go. In a movie I have – Mandy and the Secret Tunnel – where she asks the housekeeper what she is going to do when she wakes up in the morning knowing that her daddy and uncle are dead, and is told that she should not fight the pain but feel it. That is exactly what you did. God bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

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