Lately, I’ve been thinking about sadness.
Maybe because I’ve been trying for five years not to be sad, not to say that I miss having my kids at home, not to admit that I feel a bit lost.
That lost sad woman just didn’t fit with the version of myself in my head. I had carefully been planning for years how I would handle this period of my life and what kind of parent I would be. Definitely not one of those needy clingy ones, always calling and checking up on their kids, driving them to cut off contact or just give the G-rated version of their lives. I was close to my kids when they were at home. We enjoyed each other’s company. We traveled, had adventures, climbed mountains and visited museums, weathered storms, and ate some fabulous meals—most of which we made ourselves. I didn’t want that to end. So I imagined that my children would sail into the proverbial sunset, we’d stay close, and I would resume my pre-parent passions.
They didn’t call because they were separating, as they need to. And, I didn’t want to do anything. I tried, really tried, but everything paled in comparison to taking long walks with Dietrich, having coffee with Elly and singing with Eva. I was just so sad. And I hated that I was sad. So I tried everything I could not to feel sad. I drank green juice and traveled to the Sedona vortexes and meditated for hours and hours and hours and did more downward dogs than my dog and read every book about sadness and empty nest and change and transition.
Still I was sad. And I wondered if I would ever not be sad. And that really made me sad.
Then one morning I woke up, sad, and I thought, I’m tired of apologizing for being sad. I’m tired of feeling like an anti-feminist because I miss my kids. I’m tired of feeling like a total mindfulness loser because I can’t meditate myself into joy. So I got rid of my “be happy now” books, and adopted the Ram Dass approach—“be here now”.
Here in the reality of my thoughts and feelings—whatever they are, however light or however dark. And when I stopped trying to be some version of myself, the sadness didn’t hurt as much. As Martha Beck says, “The degree of our psychological suffering is our distance from our own truth…when you come back to integrity, even if there is physical and emotional pain there is not this horrifying suffering that sends so many people into depression and despair.”
There is nothing wrong with being sad. There is nothing wrong with anything we feel. It’s all information. It’s our heart telling us what is going on, what needs tending to. It also opens us up to the suffering of others. I’m not the only one who is sad. When I own my sadness, I encourage others to own their sadness, and then we can hold each other’s sadness. And then the load becomes just a bit lighter.
You are a beautiful beautiful soul. Wherever you are today is exactly where you need to be. Reach out to your deepest self-love and self-compassion, reach out to your loved ones, be held and hold. We are all on this journey together, on happy days and sad days. Be easy with yourself and know you are loved.