I have a sadness story.
It’s a story that lives inside of my consciousness, and it’s all about how everything ends in tears and regret.
This story is so familiar that sometimes I think it is me.
When I pull away from it so we can see each other, I can’t always tell what it is. It’s kind of a fuzzball monster, in the sense that it has the power to totally derail me. And it’s kind of a past version of me who is in pain.
And it’s also its own thing. Something else. Anyway, yesterday we talked.
Sadness Story is sad.
Sadness Story: There’s no way this situation can end well. It can only end badly, with everyone involved being miserable. And whatever you do, it will be really bad.
Me: Oh, that does sound challenging. No wonder I’ve been feeling so anxious about things.
Sadness Story: [sighs a sigh of sadness.] It’s not going to be good.
Me: I’m feeling really relieved that you approached me to tell me your version of reality, because I’d been thinking that it was mine too. Now I can see that we are having an encounter, not sharing an experience.
Sadness Story: It’s not a version of reality, it’s just what is true.
Me: You’re right. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to sound patronizing. It is your experience and what has always been true for you, and so in that sense it is pure truth.
Sadness Story: Yes.
Me: So if that’s the only truth, what are my options?
Sadness Story: There are no options. You can either choose or not choose, but it’s bad. There will be tears and more tears and more tears.
Sadness Story: No. Not until next time. You’ll get over it, and then it will happen again, in some other slightly different but equally depressing and miserable form.
Me: So no matter what I do, I’m doomed to repeat it?
Sadness Story: Pretty much.
Me: Man, that’s rough. This must be why we don’t hang out. So tell me. Usually when I talk to monsters or distorted parts of my reality or internal narratives, there is something they want from me. Or something they don’t want me to do. But you don’t seem to be asking for anything.
Sadness Story: Nope. Just telling it like it is. All sadness all the time. Sorry!
Me: I don’t believe you. Tell me the real truth.
Sadness Story: Nope!
Me: Come on. You might as well tell me. It’s going to come out anyway. I’ll play the what’s true and what’s also true game. Or the ways that now is different than then.
Sadness Story: Yeah, I guess you will.
Me: No! Even better, I’ll use the tricks from the Monster Manual & Coloring Book and this will all be dissolved forever.
Sadness Story: As soon as you acknowledge my pain, I will vanish.
Me: Acknowledging your pain is also acknowledging mine, yes? And then the real truth will be there, under the distortion. Between the narrative.
Sadness Story: Yes.
Motivation and pain.
Me: I am so sorry that you have gone through these painful experiences. So much hard.
Sadness Story: No, it’s you who has been through these sad things. I just remind you about them so you won’t be surprised when it happens.
Me: I see. Your motivation is kindness. You want to spare me pain.
Sadness Story: Yes.
Me: And you also feel sad about that pain. I mean, it seems like you don’t feel frustrated about everything being sad: just sad about it. Sad and resigned. Is that right?
Sadness Story: What’s the point of being frustrated? That’s just how it is. Sadness. Everywhere.
Me: So your superpower is really about acceptance. You know about letting things be as they are. But then your superpower gets distorted into this vision of a world where nothing can ever change.
Sadness Story: Maybe.
Who would you be without your sadness?
Me: Who would you be without your sadness?
Sadness Story: Freedom.
Me: I see you.
Sadness Story: Okay.
Me: So. Legitimacy to the sadness….the sadness is allowed to exist. And legitimacy to freedom. I’m allowed to make choices based on the things I have learned from the sadness experiences. Things can move.
Sadness Story: Things can move. And if that is true — and it feels true, then I need to leave now. Goodbye.
Me: Whoah. That was fast.
Wait, who are you?
Narrator: Not really. When the sadness is allowed to exist, there is no sadness story. The sadness doesn’t get trapped. It says what it has to say and then it’s gone.
Me: There was a narrator?! There was a narrator and no one told me?
Narrator: I only do summaries. But as you deconstruct these versions of what-is-true, you will find the things that you know, and then you will need to sum them up for yourself. To put them into the Book of You for later. I’m just demonstrating what that looks like.
Me: That’s not weird at all.
And today’s comment zen in the blanket fort.
It’s hard to talk about sadness. And it can be really hard to separate enough from our pain that we can even interact with it. No worries. It takes time.
We all have our stuff. We’re all working on our stuff. It’s a process.
If you want to talk to your sadness or talk about talking to your sadness or just sit with us and have a snack, it’s all welcome.
The only thing we don’t do is give each other unsolicited advice, because we’re trying to let people have space for their own experience. That’s it.
Love to the commenter mice, the Beloved Lurkers and everyone who reads.
Holy cow.I just love how you put words to that space between spaces. It’s almost so intangible you lose the concept as quickly as you grasp it but when you put it into words, you can go back and marinate until it seeps in. So insanely cool.
Argh thank you so much for this, somewhere in the middle something struck a nerve with me, not in relation to sadness as such but… to holding onto the bad stuff that’s been happening, even though things have just got SO MUCH better in the last few weeks it’s unbelievable, almost like a protection blanket so I won’t be surprised and hurt if it all goes downhill again. The only trouble is, by thinking like that, it almost inevitably will…
Time to lose the blanket.
but but but
what if the sadness doesn’t go away like that?
what if it keeps coming back ?
i have conversations with it all the time??
I have been wallowing in a Pit of Despair and I needed to read this today more than anything else on earth.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I was going to buy the Destuckification Station today, and now I’m realizing that I think my cat might the same thyroid thing that her brothers had, and her vet stuff has to come before that… but until I can get to buying it, this is so, so, so good and helpful to read.
And it made me sob.
I don’t think I’m good at hearing what my monsters have to say… yet. But I am willing to practice trying to listen.
I would love to sit with you and have a snack anytime.
love, love, love.
(why everything three times? I dunno. I’m noticing that I’m a little hyperbolic.)
this is just one more example of your priceless wisdom
“Legitimacy to the sadness….the sadness is allowed to exist.
And legitimacy to freedom.
I’m allowed to make choices based on the things I have learned from the sadness experiences. Things can move.”
thank you – there is something powerful in this.
You let me see the little blue funk I’ve been carrying around with me today as the Sadness Story that it is… and I could listen to it Havi-style and we’re good now.
Thanks for the p.o.v., Havi 🙂
Delurking to say thank you and (have snacks).
I was wondering why my monsters were slinking away into the shadows halfway through our conversations. I think I forgot to tell them it was okay for them to exist. I’ll have to apologize to them.
I stopped to write on my inspiration board: having an encounter vs. sharing an experience. Bullseye. I have, most of my life, felt I had to share another’s experience as a sign of connection…as proof of my willingness. This phrase feels like permission to climb down off that cross I put myself on when I was young, mistakenly believing that my experience defined me and so the only way to know another was to share their ‘pain definition’. Wow. THAT is what my sadness has been trying to say to me and now I see she used you to help me hear her. Deep thanks for a fresh freedom today!
Encountering someone/thing is not the same as a shared experience. This is important. The part about the distorted superpower matters, too, very much. I shall chew it over with my toasted cheese sandwich. Mmm, snacks.
Thank you for this. I’m not sure I’m quite ready to talk to my sadness story, but I’ll sit and have a snack.
Thanks Havi, and Sadness Story… well timed and needed to hear this. No, not ready to talk about it but a nice reminder that it’s okay to have my own story… and the reminder that it does take time.
With all that goes on in daily life, it’s so quick to forget. Oddly timed, with last night’s nightmare… but now that makes sense. Like this post-y was the “extra piece when you put stuff together but don’t know where it goes”.
I started reading this, my eyes already shrink-wrapped in tears from my daily waking to the Current Overwhelming Sad. Strangely, by the time I was done reading, the tears had dried a little and now there’s the tiniest spark of hope somewhere in here.
Part of my Current Overwhelming Sad is my 16-yr-old cat dying from cancer and I have no money for fighting a battle that cannot be won. I’m going to go snuggle him now, while I can. And try to find that tiny spark of hope while I pet him and cry.
Oh, hell, I don’t know how to respond when someone is hurting yet still keep to the ‘our stuff’ principle. Learning, learning, learning.
The thing I wanted to say in response to the original post – yes yes yes, it says what it has to say and is gone: and this happens whenever the sadness has something it has to say. And there’s something important about being with. Something about not just talking back to the sad. For me. I can talk with it and have a wonderfully circular conversation that gets us both frustrated, but something different begins to (very quickly) happen when I get into the with with.
Humans are weird. I like us.
Ahoy matey…first time post-er here and new to reading your blog. Your message today landed right betwixt the eyes. Thank you! Am r-e-a-l-l-y reeling today with the fact that my 42-year-old cousin, who is also the father of 4 gorgeous girls, is in the hospital slipping away from his body due to cancer as I type. Words cannot describe my feelings yet; however, there is a undeniable, uncomfortable sensation sitting within my body especially around solar plexus. Thanks so much for the reminder to give it some proper attention, love it up a bit and walk it kindly to my exit sign. xo
I know so many people who are experiencing their sadness right now. It is uncanny how many people have told me about being deeply sad, with no specific reason for it – more like an archetypal sadness. And no one calls it grief, or sorrow, or mourning. It is always sadness.
On March 10th I woke up with a deep sadness, and through exploring it realized that it was actually a very healing and beautiful energy. I wrote about it that day, and just sent the page to my friends. I don’t have a blog yet but writing that day inspired me to start one about being your authentic self.
The writing is at http://mbadger.com/writing/wakingtosadness.html
Just wonderful, & very timely. Thank you so much! Profound. Am sitting in my blanket fort with you guys :-).
This is so deep I will need to ponder awhile. Sadness has been here so long that sometimes I feel like I no longer exist. In the meantime, I will join y’all with the grilled cheese in the blanket fort.
Thank you for a great post. I have been dealing with my sadness story. Work has been so difficult for me this year so far – I started a new position in the office and keep feeling like a fish out of water. Things were really, really traumatic for me in January and February. Things started to get a little better, but then I went on vacation for one week. As my one week vacation came to a close yesterday, I began dreading going back to work so much. My monster kept telling me that everything would be traumatic and full of tears when I went back to work just like it was in January and February.
My partner told me something that is sticking. I am not the same person I was in January and February. Going back to work might be difficult, but my monster can’t really predict exactly what it will be like. Make it will be sadness again, maybe it won’t.
Your post raised some useful ways of looking at my situation. Thank you.
I tried something similar to this a few weeks ago. Except that my sadness didn’t talk back.
And I asked it why not.. and got no response.
I think i’m going to just have a snack instead. These sadness stories are sad. And I feel sad when mine can’t/won’t/doesn’t talk back.
Maybe it’s just not the right time yet.
Thanks for sharing this 🙂
You’re not alone. Working through that stuff myself. Not fun.
=sends warmths= 🙂
And after reading more in-depth the other comments here, my own story doesn’t seem as scary. There’s others having challenges, too. In a way, though I wish no ill on others, it is reassuring.
Same boat, so to speak.
=more warmths= 🙂
That was breathtaking demonstration of mad skills. MANY thanks! I am watching and learning.
“There was a narrator?! There was a narrator and no one told me?”
HA! Please come clean the coffee off my keyboard, Monsieur/Madam Narrator.
Thank you for reminding us that we are not our stories, Miss Havi. I’ve missed you (moved to AVL!!!! WOOOO) but am now back to visit regularly.
Thank you. Thank you all, in fact. I’ve been carrying a backpack of sadness lately, and it’s heavy. This post and its responses help me feel less alone.
Havi, I don’t know how you do it, but the last two posts were exactly what I needed to hear/read/be reminded of. Coming out of the procrast/perfect dichotomy and into the land of WOE and saddness…you are a valued guide and your blogs the guideposts. I am sitting at my library GETTING THINGS DONE THAT WILL RESULT IN MONEY AND MOVING FORWARD….so thank you and hurray.