I Honor My Sadness
April 4, 2020
I’m sad today. And I feel guilty for it. How could that be the dominant emotion, when I have so much? When I am alive? With a roof? A healthy family? Medical coverage? The month’s bills paid? A stocked pantry? This sadness is proving particularly painful — perhaps to a heightened degree because of the progress I thought I’ve been making on recovery of late, coupled with the layers of deep shame for allowing my own distresses to surface right now, let alone become dominant. Yet here I am.
I recorded a video of myself for an upcoming project. The fact that I agreed to do so represents major progress, clearly. But in watching it back before sending — and seeing my face up close speaking directly to camera — I broke down. The sudden, forceful emotional response shocked me, blanketing my psyche and reality in undesired, uninvited, unrelenting negativity.
Viewing even a short clip was a harsh reminder that my face doesn’t look, work or function as it did prior to my accident and subsequent surgeries (which were tremendous successes!). One eyebrow doesn’t move properly, my mouth still cannot open right, my lips sag strangely, one front tooth is gray, my scars are not camouflaged, even by thick makeup. And I can’t help but notice, both the details and overall shifts. I really don’t care what anyone says, nor need to hear the misguided, though likely well-meaning frequent comment from friends and strangers alike that, “If I didn’t know you before the accident or weren’t aware of what you’ve been through, I might not even know.” Fine. This certainly isn’t a comparison between me and anyone else; it isn’t even a comparison between the me prior to September 6, 2019 and the me after that fateful date. This is my journey, my truths, my healing, my trauma.
What I experience is real FOR ME. My emotions are valid, as are my pains, stresses, challenges and struggles. Recognizing that does not in any way negate, minimize or disregard the trials and tribulations of any other soul on earth, whether related or distant, known or unknown, fleeting or omnipresent. There is no hierarchy of suffering.
I can mourn my own losses AND grieve the death and devastation across my community, country and world. I can be overwhelmed by what is happening in my life, without lessening the gravity of unbearable horrors that millions are facing. I can struggle with burdensome personal realities, while maintaining a heavy heart for the unprecedented challenges wreaking havoc near and far. I can take the necessary time and headspace to address my individual difficulties, and still possess the will and capacity to empathize with, show up for and serve others.
I honor my sadness, your sadness, their sadness, global sadness — whenever it arrives for whatever reason and however long it stays. Though I pray sadness does not endure, deepen or compound for any of us.