Being sad bloody sucks.
It’s that dull, achy feeling that knawes away at your stomach, and sometimes physically makes your heart feel sore. It’s constant, and it sometimes feels inescapable and even the greatest of friends and most wonderfully made cups of tea cannot take the pain away.
There isn’t a pill that can cure it, and while a glass or bottle of wine might temporarily conceal it, it is sure to rear its ugly head the next day, deeper and more visible than before.
So, what should we actually do when we feel sad? When our hearts are sore and when we just don’t know what to do? Sometimes getting out of bed doesn’t even feel like an option. Things feel hopeless and scary, and burrowing under our duvet’s in a makeshift blanket fort feels like the only thing that might just save us. Only it doesn’t. Because then we start to feel lonely and isolated and the lack of vitamin D just makes it even worse. And let’s be honest, there are only so many days you can go without showering, or giving a damn, before you start to feeling even more horrendous than you did before. (Like that was actually possible!)
Oh cruel, cruel world playing all these cruel tricks on us. But before we think about what we can do to alleviate some of the sadness, let’s be honest, sometimes dwelling in a stagnant pool of misery, is weirdly comforting.
So I am not gonna lie, a pity party does feel freaking amazing for the first week, and I’ll even push that to two. It makes us feel slightly vindicated and self-righteous and sometimes that well of self-deprecation and self-righteous despair is a little bit cosy (in a swampy, polluted, really unhealthy kind of way)….but after the weeks drag on it also gets a bit boring.
Don’t get me wrong, I love channelling my inner Bridget Jones and screaming along tonelessly to “All By Myself”, whilst I glug on cheap chardonnay and envision dying alone in my apartment and being eaten by Alsatians, (more so than most.) It’s a genuine concern. But then sometimes, in moments of clarity, I am also like “Fuck It”, this is a big-wide world, I have so much to see, so much to learn and so much shit to do. Am I really going to waste precious moments (and let’s be honest) precious calories hiding away from the world and following in the footstops of my favourite (but also, somewhat hopeless at times) movie heroine? In these moments I jump out of bed, with a massive “Hells No” and feel momentarily ready to tackle the world. But then I try, and it feels all scary and sad again, so back I hop into pity party mode. Oh, it is so comfy there!
Lately, I have been feeling – to use a beautiful Afrikaans word – pretty damn ‘Kak.’ I have been faced with feelings of (perceived) rejection, and some actual rejection (which is particularly delicious), and have then, due to feeling so kakky, further isolated myself. It’s a vicious cycle of loneliness and despair, and I seem to feed the beast repeatedly by making the same mistakes that got me to the point of sadness in the first place.
I am living in ground hog day of late, and it’s like I am just sitting there (in my duvet pity party, covered in pizza crumbs) rewinding the tape that is my life, pausing it at the extra shitty parts and then repeating.
As I was walking around Checkers yesterday, somewhat aimlessly filling up my trolley (and feeling really self-righteous and dignified in my self-pity, austere expression and ever so misty eyes – basically pretending I was Ilsa Lund from Casablanca) [Sidenote : Damn, I love that film, but I can’t think about the fact that she doesn’t choose Rick too much, because then the sadness is going to eat me up.]
Anyway, as this sad trolley affair was happening, I was somehow reminded of my favourite quote by the magical and whimsical Merlin (well, really T.H White.)
On being sad, Merlin offers us this advice;
This quote honestly gives me such immense hope. Because it is so practical, and also isn’t trying to erase the pain. Yes, you might feel heartbroken, or miss someone, or feel let down, and it fucking sucks, but as Merlin reminds us, you are also still able to learn. It’s the only thing that is constant. To discover new worlds, and people, and places, and things. To learn “why the world wags and what wags it” because there is endless, beautiful, fascinating knowledge all around us and at any given time we can tap into that pool of discovery and intrigue and expand our minds, and in doing so, maybe even our hearts.
I don’t know about you, but when I am feeling sad, I always find comfort in a good book. To feel close to the writer and to hear about their own struggles, and achievements and dreams. One of my absolute favourite go-to books is The Prophet by Khalil Gibran. When I was eighteen years old, my Dad gave me a copy and in it he wrote a beautiful inscription about how this book had changed his life, and supported him through some of the most challenging times.
My favourite chapter is one of his shortest and is the chapter on joy and sorrow. Gibran says;
“Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is it not the cup that holds your wine the very pot that was burned in the potter’s oven?”
This paragraph continues to blow my mind. 7 years after first reading it, it still speaks to me, and somehow brings me peace. That which has broken us, was sometimes that which brought us immense love, and joy, and hope. Sometimes joy and sorrow really are just two sides of the same coin.
If you are feeling sad today, I just want to remind you that you are loved, and that there are so many wonderful things to still learn, and witness and feel. For me right now I am learning how to tap dance. It gets me out of my head, and it brings me monumental joy. I grin from ear-to-ear during each class, and for an entire hour I am transported out of the over-thinking factory that is my brain, and brought back into the physical world.
Writing and reading also help, and whenever I learn new things, I feel this elevated sense of hope. I also find that laughing at myself helps, a shit load. Because sometimes the shit we get ourselves into, and the dramas we so magnificently create, are also just hilarious. Tragic, but hilariously so. Sometime’s you also just need the comfort of an amazing friend (my one had a recent tonsillectomy, which was perfect, because she just muttered comforting sounds as she stroked my back, and couldn’t call me out on too much of my bullshit!)
Perfecting that pity-party look and very bad fashion choices since 94′ 😉
In-between bouts of crying, she also made me laugh hysterically, and laughter is truly catnip for the soul. (But it also means you have to momentarily leave the pity party, so you might have a small moment of thinking “Shit, I am meant to be depressed…. Can’t laugh.” But I urge you, if the laughter is coming, and you’re making those amazing snorting sounds, and your stomach is hurting, just go with it!
What are you learning, or reading, or doing right now? 🙂