Feeling Black   2 comments

This morning I came back from washing the breakfast dishes and crumpled onto the floor, burying my face in the sofa cushions.  Kimberly simply said, “Why don’t you take a nap.”  So I did, curling up next to her, and it helped.  Moved me up the scale from minus bad to “it doesn’t hurt as long as I don’t move.”

Sadness comes in shades so different they seem like contrasting emotions.  There is a sadness, like today’s, which is desolate and drains the heart of life and knots up the words.  It feels bottomless and endless and inescapable.  It isolates, so that even fellow mourners bring no more companionship or connection than fellow prisoners in solitary confinement.

In contrast is the sadness which fills the heart and cascades down the cheeks.  It creates bonds of camaraderie and sympathy and understanding.  It makes me feel more connected and in tune with my soul, harmony in the minor scale.  It feels pregnant with meaning, pain that carries purpose and life, a deepening of my being that opens me up to others.  A healthy, hearty grieving.

In the first sadness, the music of melancholy scalds me and the sympathetic presence of others suffocates.  In the second, shared melancholy gives me the comfort of allies, of support and hope, even with strangers like Leonard Cohen.  Were I a drinker, the first would be a half-empty bottle in a darkened room, the second, a circle of folding chairs at an AA meeting.

The first blocks all means of resolution; nothing I do matters.  It stops without warning and starts up again without reason.  The second sadness has potential movement, a sense that time and effort will eventually lead to greater peace and maturity.  It makes me a better and more whole person.  But the first melancholy unmans me.  Why?

~          ~          ~          ~          ~          ~          ~          ~          ~          ~          ~          ~          ~          ~           ~

I read this to Kimberly so we could toss it around looking for answers–what makes the difference?  At least the relational element seemed to come into focus–if there is some disconnect in the empathy of others, then their presence is painful instead of comforting.  If they are unsafe or just seem to me to be unsafe, the empathetic connection shorts out.  Perhaps they don’t understand or care or don’t have time or can’t be trusted or have too much of their own baggage or too little energy to give.  Unfortunately, even a compassionate presence seems to give little relief to a sadness which is indecipherable.

I share my life this way, dark as it is, not because I have answers, but to offer some identification of feeling to those who struggle as I do.


Posted March 24, 2014 by janathangrace in Personal, thoughts

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2 responses to “Feeling Black

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  1. We have a lot in common not least in how we process, or attempt to process, depression. A therapist tells me that I’m too much in thinking mode about it and about my life in general. It’s a struggle for me to “feel”, and I am cautious with whom I share my thoughts. I’m glad you have a SO that can help you along. I’ve been thinking about your posts and the background we both have in religion and the issues that causes (we have a mutual friend). Reading it here makes me realize I’m not alone, and I hope you feel the same.

    • R, thanks for sharing. You are right that I can default to trying to sort things out intellectually, partly because that is who I am, but partly because feeling things, as you say, is unsafe. If I don’t have enough support from the one with whom I am sharing, it will backfire and I will be even more hurt. And as a society, we are not very good at accepting other people’s feelings without evaluating them as good or bad, right or wrong. Thanks for stopping by and reading and commenting. I hope you will find words of encouragement here.

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