because life doesn’t fit in a file folder

Permission to Feel Sadness Leads to Joy

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Last night, I shared with a new friend how someone hurt my heart this weekend.

I explained how I’d been dancing on the beach, basking in the sunrise, grateful for the opportunity to plant my feet firmly in the sand and be so close to the ocean. “I selected the spot carefully,” I said. “Off to the left of the only sunbather on the beach.”

I told him how I’d popped in my headphones, so I could tune out the world and tune into my body.

Fifty months ago, in the throes of acute benzodiazepine withdrawal, my body was in continuous pain. Unable to walk or talk, or take care of any of my most basic needs, I was confined indoors (mostly) for over a year.

I never thought I’d heal.

So there I am, quietly expressing gratitude to the Universe when this woman ~ this stranger ~ tells me to move myself down the beach. She tells me I’m distracting her.

“Your ass is in my face,” she says.

Obviously, she didn’t know about what I’d been through ~ but it felt terrible to be shamed for feeling being myself, for expressing my joy.

“Aw babe,” my friend said. “Don’t cry. All that’s over now.”

The rabbis teach that to truly know another person, we must not know only their pleasures and their successes but also the sorrows they bear.

Burying my face in my friend’s shoulder, he stroked my back. “If you need to cry, it’s okay,” he said. “Cry long and hard.”

The moment he gave me permission to share my sadness, my burden was cut in half, and I didn’t feel like crying any more.

I don’t know if he realizes the gift he gave me, but I do know these tiny interactions are what life is all about.

And I believe it is our charge to remember to do that for someone else every day.

Be on the lookout for someone to help today.

Who/what helps you feel better when you’re feeling low? 

7 thoughts on “Permission to Feel Sadness Leads to Joy

  1. Wow- I’m sure she was the owner of the beach?!?
    With that said… I openly talk about losing my mother with students at school if death comes up. I also refer to her, usually when they talk about what a good cook their mom is compared to the cafeteria food. I say “you are lucky because my mom was a terrible cook,” then i laugh and maybe tell a story or give an example. Today one of my boys in group said “I never have to hide my food in a plant like you did when you were a kid.” Made me laugh with the group and embrace her.

    1. Your students are sooooo lucky to have you. You always make everyone feel so loved and included. You are truly a one-woman support-system. I know firsthand about how much love to have to spare.

      PS: And yes, i think she thought she owned the public beach. Talk about a controlling personality. WTF, right? Almost punched her in the throat. 😉

  2. You can not explain what people can do to make you feel bad. But when it happens make the tear meaningful and ask what’s on her plate today? Walk away and say……Amen.

    1. I told her to look in the mirror and figure out what it was about me that was making her so upset. I had NOTHING to do with her reaction…which was bullshit. It was a public beach, and I’m not going to be shamed in that way ever again. Jesus, mom.

  3. I’ve had so little real sorrow in my life that I can’t really identify with the problem on a personal basis. I’m glad you were able to find help with yours, Renee. I love being that help to others, but I don’t feel I do much for you since we live so far apart.

    1. Just as you cannot identify with my pain, I can hardly understand anyone who says he has not had a lot of sorrow in his life. It’s unfathomable to me. You are certainly a fortunate man, David. Luckily, I’m coming out of that dark place and I’m living again. Thank goodness! As far as the kindness you bring to me…why, don’t you know? You have remained steadfast when others have disappeared. I look forward to reading your words! Can you understand that? It’s true! You have helped me in more ways than you can imagine!

  4. Renee, I love the title of this post! I’ve learned that it’s important to allow myself to feel all the emotions and then let them go. Joy and happiness are so much more accessible to me now. Thanks for sharing this story. One of my best friends taught me to imagine myself in a beautiful bubble (whatever color). Nothing can get through that bubble and disturb my peace. It has helped me so much. {{{HUGS}}}

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