I let myself be sad today. Which is a breakthrough of sorts. Over the years, I have flipped some emotional switches to try and stem feelings of fear and anxiety and anger. 

I know. Danger, Will Robinson.

Well, it backfired horribly, as any outsider might likely have guessed. Instead of short-circuiting the feelings I didn’t want to have, I amplified them. I don’t know how it works, exactly, but a professional could probably explain.

Anyway, not only was I still feeling scared and anxious and mad, but that was *all* I was feeling. All the time. Then I was down on myself for failing to be sufficiently happy about happy things, and that made the bad things badder too.

I knew something was wrong—even if I couldn’t put my cursor on it—when my dad and then my dog died. The grief, which I was accustomed to leaning into with past loss, didn’t seem as hard to process. It was there but not as intense as I would have reasonably expected.

It was more surreal than it was painful. 

(Kind of like when the doctor told me I had brain cancer and instead of feeling horrified, I felt vindicated. I laughed and made a joke about my dismissive doctors from my wheelchair. Justified, but, you know, not quite what 30-year-old me would have expected from her older, wiser self getting such news.)

Back to the grief though. There’s a tendency in medicine for the main diagnosis to be The Thing Which Influences All Other Things. Once upon a time that thing was fibromyalgia. Now it’s brain cancer. And because brain tumors can cause mood changes, I thought for a while that all the pent up anxiety and mounting anger was normal for someone who’d done some chemo and had some brain cells irradiated. 

And maybe it was. For a while. But long-term it stopped up my grief passage* among other things.

I know this because my mom mentioned she sold something of my dad’s this week, and I felt physically hurt in that place between my sternum and my spine. Of course my lizard brain wondered why she’d hurt me like that.

There was a giant ball of sadness in there, and I wanted it out. Posthaste.

But I have been working on myself, and I paused and thought, “Hey, this is a good time to explore the sadness instead of punching it down.”

When I held that loaf of pain** and turned it over in my hands, I realized that it was not fresh. The hunk of sadness was stale and crusty and hard. I realized I was sad because I missed my dad, not because my mom had sold a thing.

And, the point is this: in this moment I’m okay with not being okay.

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*I don’t know. What would you call it then?

**This is a brilliant metaphor if you speak French.

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