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?