I have come to realise during the events of the last few weeks that it’s very rare that I feel sad. Annoyed, bored, tired, angry, frustrated, anxious, all those things yes, but pure, chest-achingly hollow sadness, not so much.
Sadness is a funny emotion. Often we try to play it down, attaching it to the word ‘just’ – ‘I just feel a bit sad, it’s nothing really’ – and yet sadness is a very powerful thing. It confuses us because it makes you feel so empty, like your insides are missing and your body is trying to collapse down onto itself, leaving you unable to breathe. It takes you outside your body and shows you yourself, going about your daily life, seemingly devoid of emotion.
It’s sneaky too. You’re busy, surrounded by people, feeling pretty much OK, and then for no apparent reason, whoosh, there it is, filling you like a swirling gas and vacuum packing your chest cavity. The pressure builds and you realise your face is wet before you even knew you were going to cry – no dramatic sobs, just tears sort of spilling silently out of your eyes.
The fact that sadness is so often associated with a physical loss confounds the issue and adds to that feeling of having a void to fill. I filled mine alone one night over the weekend by watching Hannibal. I hate horror films or anything gruesome, but was hoping that scaring myself might help to fill the space, that fear might overpower sadness and take over my head.
It didn’t really work. I closed my eyes at the really horrible bits and fear never stood a chance.
Perhaps the only thing to do with the sadness is to just acknowledge it and let it be, stare it out calmly until it gives up and goes away.
I’m staring hard. It had better blink soon.