Sadness: The Doorway To Our Soul

 

In my last two blogs, I have looked at anger and fear. Today I am going to focus on the emotion ‘sadness’. Sadness is regularly labelled as “over emotional” and seen as a bad thing. We often try so hard to look happy and positive, and yet deep down in our hearts, tears are rolling down our cheeks. Sadness is often avoided or even supressed. If people have learnt it is weak to express their sadness, then they will often channel their hurt into anger. This never works! In the same way that crying when angry will not shift anger and will certainly not show you the truth behind the anger, being angry when it is appropriate to be sad will not shift the sadness. Inappropriate anger will keep you stuck in emotional pain unless you melt the ice, feel into your heart and cry.

The Gift of Sadness

I have read that crying is the door way to our soul! What a beautiful idea!!! I know when I allow myself to cry deeply, I feel relived afterwards and just want to sleep peacefully. I like feeling sadness around water.. .. .. When it’s raining, in the bath, near a river or the ocean. Water calms me and brings up the feeling of sadness so I can cry.

Like all emotion, sadness has body wisdom and a message for us to hear. Grief and sadness tell us something important. It tells us that we miss something or someone when they are gone. Without sadness, we would never know just how meaningful and important they were in our lives. So sadness teaches us to love and honor what and who we love.

Trudy’s Story: Inconsolable Sadness

Trudy had always strived to be happy while she dragged around an empty heart. She could not work put why she continuously felt a deep grief within her chest. She just put it out of her mind and kept smiling.

This worked fine, she thought, until the day when her last child left home. Adrienne was 19 years old and doing well in his life, and it was time for him to go to a university in another city. Trudy desperately tried to keep face in front of everyone else. But when she was by herself she just constantly cried.  Trudy had no idea why she felt so deeply sad all the time until she found in an old friend who had been there too.

One Friday afternoon, Trudy sat in a coffee shop. She thought no-one she knew was around, so she put down her happy facade and became lost in her own thoughts.

“Trudy?” She heard a voice say and turned upwards to see tall woman standing before her. At first she could not place the face, but then it dawned on her.. .. .. Catherine, a teenage friend she had lost contact with years ago.  “I was walking past and saw you. You look so sad!” Catherine stated.

As soon as Catherine’s words were said, tears started rolling down Trudy’s cheeks She tried to wipe them away and excuse herself but Catherine gently reassured her that it is OK, and that maybe she should talk about it. Reluctantly at first, Trudy started to talk. Trudy shared with her that Adrienne had left home and that she was crying all the time. Catherine nodded and smiled while stating “that happened to me too so I saw a counsellor. What I learnt was that the sadness was far bigger than my grief for my baby leaving home. I didn’t realise I was holding that much sadness for things that happened way back in my life! It was painful to talk about it at first but it was a relief in the end. I feel much better now!”

Trudy listened to her old friend Catherine. The synchronicity of seeing Catherine on that Friday afternoon was perfect. Both of them had childhoods where they were not allowed to express their sadness. Trudy learnt in counseling that while her mother was sick, she was not allowed to cry or else she told that she was being selfish and was worrying her mother unnecessarily. She further learnt that because she couldn’t cry and express her fears and sadness, that she had bottled it all down. As a child she was scared her mother was going to die, like Catherine’s mother had. While Trudy’s mother was sick for months, she eventually recovered and all was forgotten.. .. .. Or so she thought! From that experience, Trudy learnt to suppress her sadness for others. She further suppressed her feelings because she thought they were not legitimate because she had not actually lost her mother wile Catherine had.

Throughout counseling she also caught up with Catherine. They were able to speak with each other far more openly than they could in the past. Their friendship deepened as they learnt about themselves with each other. Bit by bit, Trudy’s sadness diminished and she began to feel joy at times for the first time she could remember.

Trudy’s story is a great example of how suppressed sadness can block our ability to feel joy. It is also a reminder that as we open to another with respect and love, how feeling our emotions that we once suppressed can deepen interpersonal connections.

Has there been a time of sadness that you have suppressed?

Have you tried to simply ‘move on’ from a sad experience well before you are ready?  I would love to hear from you..

 

 

[Note. All stories used in this blog are fictional characters based on the wisdom I gain from working with clients. No character in this blog is an actual person or a client]

 

15 Responses to “Sadness: The Doorway To Our Soul”

  • Hi Vanessa. I’m feel blessed to have connected with you via facebook. I’ve been reading your posts and appreciating the confirmation of my own awareness and journey. I can relate absolutely to the above story. I’ve experienced in the last 3 years the most significant life changing events and shifts that have been a catalyst for deep and ancient sadness to surface. My tears have felt as though they have come from deep within me and the grief and loss that I have felt has been, at times, overwhelming. I feel a sense of relief and freedom now. There is still what I call some “residue sadness” that finds its way to my tear ducts, but its not the intense grief that I’ve been experiencing. Thank you for this post. As my journey continues, I’m quite certain that I will find some relative awareness through reading your page.
    Cheers, Nicole xo

    • Hi Nicole, thank you for sharing your journey with us. It sounds like you have been shifting some deep grief for several years now. As we recognize what we have lost and its significance to us, we heal. It also helps to see what we have gained from the loss or transition, and to make life enhancing meaning and purpose from our experiences.

      It sounds like you are going in the right direction!
      Lots of love
      Vanessa

  • Vanessa,
    Great post. I never cried as a child as It was intention to stay invulnerable. Have spent the last 25 years making it up for it. Obviously, that is something I needed to do because I had a lot to cry about.
    You are quite right about supressed sadness blocking joy. That was the story of my life. Thanks for this.
    Madonna

    • Hi Madonna, thank you for sharing. From reading your wonderfully written blogs, it does not surprise me that you tried to stay invulnerable through your childhood and part of your adulthood… it was your survival mechanism. But I’m glad you found the safety and security to allow your self to cry and to feel the joy behind the blockage. Well done… that takes courage!

      Lots of love
      Vanessa

  • Thanks for sharing that story, Vanessa, & putting it into perspective. I don’t remember grieving when my grandmother (whom I was very close with) died. I was just over 5 when she died. Then, I inherited a baby brother–was was diagonosed with cystic fibrosis 6 months later. It was a lot for a 6 year old to handle & I’ve tried to keep the ‘happy face ‘ charade up my whole life. I’m just now coming to terms…

    Very grateful!

    • Wow… I’m so glad I could help Jenny! I completely understand shutting down grief for a range of different reasons at that time. I hope you are finding a safe place to heal those wounds now and allow yourself to grieve. You are right… it was a lot for a 6 year old to handle!

      Lots of love
      Vanessa

  • It seems that there are more folks taught to hold in their emotions that taught how to work thru their emotions. Our bodies have much more wisdom than our minds, since we are very good at ‘removing’ what we don’t want to look at. Even more, we don’t realize how much we hold in our bodies thru things that we were taught that were not healthy emotionally.

    Thanks for the story, it was a great story for folks to understand that we hold onto things until we released them.

    • Hi Nancy, thank you! I think you are right, we are conditioned to suppress our emotions (or use them inappropriately) and we are not taught how to work through them. And I agree that our bodies have amazing wisdom that our minds can lack!!!

      Thank you for your comment
      Lots of love
      Vanessa

  • jacqueline:

    Hi Vanessa, thank you for your article. As a sensitive child, I often found myself overwhelmed and in tears, only to be poked fun at for it! While the jokes would be funny and I would end up laughing, underneath, the reason for tears was never held or heard. Something in me knew that my parents could not handle my sadness or tears, so I learned to deal privately with my pain, and to nurse the wounds of others instead. I did this all throughout my life, and it made it even easier to be “strong”….because now I “had” to be, for others. I think I internalized a lot of sadness and pain from these others too, as I was so sensitive. Through my own experiences of loss, I learned to grieve, and found that this grieving was very tied to my ability to feel joy…..the two capacities have developed so much for me, and yet a whole well still remained inside me……just recently, coming home for the holidays, this sadness has come to the surface. Not life circumstances so much, but rather the memory and feeling of what it was like for me to be a child have returned. I am feeling everything I never felt safe enough to feel then, or supported enough to even know how….and I am so thankful for this sadness, although I believed I had already had my fair share, for multiple lifetimes….but alas, here it is, so I am going to feel it! And let it lead me back to the river of joy and connectedness! thank you :)

    • Hi Jacqueline, thank you for sharing your experience! It sounds like you are confronting some inner demons that will eventually help you to release that deep inner sadness… that’s very brave!

      In saying you were a ‘sensitive child’ is interesting. I have found as a therapist that a lot of people who think they were emotionally sensitive discover that they were a normal child with normal adaptive emotions. But when their emotions were dismissed or for some reason they believed they were not able to safely feel them or express them, then their emotions intensified. Through those experiences they came to identify with being too sensitive however they are simply feeling suppressed emotions.

      Don’t forget to give your self compassion and understanding as you heal!
      Lots of love
      Vanessa

      • jacqueline:

        ahh very interesting indeed, what you have mentioned about the perception of sensitivity really only being the expression of prior suppression! does this make one more easily feel the emotions of others as well, as their feelers are more sensitized? or could the feeling of others only be a response to one’s own past experience with intense feeling?

        • Hi Jacqueline, that is a fantastic question and one I have asked myself in the past!!! It could very well be both. Children who are abused or have been neglected tend to be sensitive to both their own and other people’s emotional states… they had to, to survive the childhood. This often becomes problematic as adults and they need to relearn adaptive emotions.

          I think what you are describing is like a “mockery”. It sounds like you learnt to hide how you really feel on the outside, but became sensitive on the inside, to emotionally survive the experience. Again, I’m not blaming anyone because this would be a family pattern that would likely go back generations! In terms of your healing, it is about acknowledging what is really going on in there and learning that it is safe to express how you really feel.

          Thank you so much for your input… much appreciated
          Lots of love
          Vanessa

          • jacqueline:

            Hi Vanessa,
            yes i hid my feelings so well, it is even hard for ME to know how i really feel oftentimes……it always seems so multi-layered with a mix of feelings at once, and a lot of potential reasons for it which come to mind. it gets very confusing for me to know what it is i really feel sometimes, or to trust how i feel as being real and true….for i have learned to judge myself and often feel guilty or even selfish for what it is i feel. i find it a lot easier to know how i feel in certain circumstances, but when it comes to people and relationships of all kinds, i get a flood of feeling and it is very difficult for me to discern the true feeling underneath it all…..then it seems like too much to even explain to another person or to let them be part of it because the feelings run so deep and i’m a little embarrassed by my strong response…..and this is just talking about friendship most of the time!

  • Love your blog posts Vanessa. They are a real blessing to me right now.
    I had a pretty awful childhood with my Dad having BiPolar from age 39 and still living in severe depression at age 76. We werent allowed to talk about it and still arent. It was/is all about what Mum and Dad are going thru and never about us 5 kids.
    I bottled it up I guess and wondered why I was sad for 30 years!!!
    I’ve only recently found my joy again. I’m done with the sadness. No more. Its important to acknowledge it and deal with it but not live in sadness constantly.
    Thanks for this awesome blog post.
    Sue xx

    • Wow… Thank you Sue for sharing your personal experience in your family. It would have been extremely hard to grow up under those circumstances and yes, the children’s needs would have been neglected (not because anyone was bad but just because Bi-Polar is very consuming). I can understand bottling your sadness but I’m glad you are working through that and beginning to feel joy.

      I wish you the very best in your healing journey!
      Lots of love
      Vanessa

Leave a Reply