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]