Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Sitting With Sadness

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

On this chilly and gray late afternoon I made the commitment to sit with myself and reflect on the element of sadness in my life.  As the anger I carried for too long continues to fade I am finding myself more able to access the layers of other 'material' underneath it.  And I recognize that underneath my anger is a ponderous amount of sadness.  I still sometimes find myself becoming confused as to what the real distinction between sadness and grief is.  According to some brief surfing around sadness may be seen as a synonym for unhappiness as well as grief.

In my opinion sadness is not identical to grief.  I have long understood sadness to be something more transient in nature.  Grief seems to be something that can persist for a much longer period of time.  Lately I feel more and more aware of both my sadness and my grief.  Sadness may be something you feel when a close friend moves far away or when you lose a job you deeply loved doing.  I associate grief with changes that might be irreversible.  Whereas you might feel sad when a good friend moves away you might instead feel grief if that person actually dies.  It seems sadness and grief are related but are not identical.

I have been contemplating sadness a lot lately.  It seems to be what I predominantly feel right now.  I feel sad due to the many elements of my life that once were a part of my life but no longer are.  My sadness feels persistent.  To experience persistent sadness can be construed as indicative of having 'Complex PTSD'.  I first wrote about Complex PTSD last summer after learning about the concept from a mental health practitioner (whom I sought out to obtain a second opinion regarding my mental health).
It was a rather sobering experience when I first read about Complex PTSD.  I could see within myself elements of all six of the criteria described on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website found here.  I won't elaborate upon all six of these criteria here.  I have done so in other postings.  I want to focus on my sadness alone.

I suppose it would be a correct assertion to state I have felt some amount of sadness throughout much of my life.  I know I felt sad throughout the summer immediately after my father was nearly murdered.  Such a response would, according to the opinion I now have as an increasingly healthy adult, be a healthy and predictable response to a trauma as horrible as nearly losing a parent to murder.  But then something still worse began to happen.  My sadness went 'underground'.  I buried my sadness because I felt compelled to as a way of coping with the family I was growing up in.  I didn't feel comfortable fully  expressing how I felt.  I felt being so fully expressive could make me a target for more unjust, unkind treatment.  So my sadness festered in my psyche.  And this went on for a long time.

Very early in the evolution of this blog I wrote an entry entitled Parents of Murdered Children.  As I think back on this entry I wrote nearly eighteen months ago I see a lot of meaning loaded into these four  words.  When my father was nearly murdered a piece of my own child self did actually seem to die.  I became a 'child of a nearly murdered parent'.

I don't know if completely eliminating the sadness I feel is a realistic goal or not.  Perhaps I will find that time, therapy and living well eventually leads to the healing of so much of my pain that the sadness no longer feels so ponderous.  But I find myself often asking how long that will take.  And I cannot provide myself a clear or accurate answer.  And the professionals I work with cannot provide a clear answer either.  Why?  Because they can't possibly know either.

Sometimes we can feel pained by the simple fact that life is filled with countless unknowns and unknowable things.  And yet somehow, if we want to live, we must continue to breathe through the difficulties of life.  Such is life.

I wish I felt better than I do now.  But I am grateful to feel so much better than I once did.

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