Friday, March 30, 2007

Yang the Yin of Sadness

Our culture seems to fear the feeling of sadness. We accept that we must experience it. But the sooner we move on from it, the better. A girl is left by her boyfriend, and we allow her a day or two of anger and dramatic grief but then it’s “Buck up, girl. Get back out there. Cheer up. Don’t sit around & wallow”.

It seems that we believe that feelings of sadness, grief, dull thudding emotional pain are to be avoided. At all costs. And should someone rather choose to sit & let these wash about one’s self, we consider this person ungrateful, childish, moody, self indulgent or, my worst of the worst, weak.

But like the black Yin against the white Yang, downtime, sadness and dull emotions (considering the intensity of anger, I’d put it in the yang) exist in equal measure to happiness, laughter, love and hate. And if this is so, then it would be unhealthy to deny it equal time.

I have only realised such an idea in the past couple of months. I have spent years denying myself the feeling of sadness, especially as I have one but-gorgeous life with more than I could wish for (in terms of family, friends, sense of self, materialism, opportunities, chutzpah etc.). Should I have “felt sorry for myself” for an extended period (more than an hour), then I was being ungrateful. Move on, Move up, Smile kiddo, and Laugh!

As of late I have made attempts to sit in the sadness when it has appeared, and let it wash through. Apparently this is healthy. People ask, “What’s wrong” and I have no answer. It is not that anything is wrong, something just made me sad, and I need time and space to process this.

For the past month I had this feeling. Hell, years of denying it means there is a whole heap of sadness desperately waiting to yin-yang its way through my tiny body. There I sat, but not happily. Ouch Ouch Ouch, I moaned. But I did not give myself a chance to avoid it. Get through and out already, silly emotion

Then my birthday hit and the most welcome of distractions was accorded to me. I was meant to go off my head insane and laugh my curly locks silly.

Following that weekend, I was again faced with the emotion I am still scared of. I am terrified that if I let it in to my conscious, it will become the squatter of sensations and never be able to be evicted. And so, I have just done what I have spent so many other years doing, I avoided it to an extreme.

Extreme = Men, booze, mood swings and other mind-numbing indulgences. I have kept ordering one more drink until no more bar is open. I have been arriving at work two hours later than I am contracted for. Drunken memory losses reoccur, as even my subconscious is out to avoid. And even when I have slept but three hours & consumed double my body weight in wine, I feel just fine the next day. So fine I could (and used to) do it again the next night. I pump on adrenalin, and so sleep is only needed when I have exhausted myself to the point of not having to dream. Food is a side irritation, something that is picked at while dramatically divulging the night before’s tales. Yesterday someone commented at the yoga class about my failing attendance. The gym has not seen me pass through their turnstile in ages. I have been bouncing off the walls, literally and figuratively.

I never said avoidance was not great fun, and makes for one lively past.

The difference this time is, I am aware of what I am doing. Unlike the other times, where I chase the “numbness” to the point of severe fatigue & toxins overriding me, I have caught myself mid-spin. And I am slamming on the brakes like they are failing on a downhill.

And I am going back to that place that I hate. Where the emotion crawls and tickles under my skin. And I wriggle about but do not move from my couch until it has passed.

Fcking sucks really.

And don’t worry. I will still enjoy a glass or two with some of you this evening. Rather… Cheers to me for becoming healthy, and yinning my yang, while yanging my yin.

[Update: After some confusing comments, and rereading I realised - I do not plan on lying staring at a ceiling for months on end waiting to be magically healed. "My couch" implies downtime, quieter activities and recognising that this feeling is in me rather than trying to find means to numb or change it.]

32 comments: said...

Realisation is indeed a good thing. I am glad that you are able to be aware of the pain. Indulge it from time to time but don't dwell on it.

Phlippy said...

Champers, you will always have the chosen few that truly love every ounce of you. And they are there for you no matter how you are behaving or feeling. Sometimes this time of reflection should not be spent dwelling on what is wrong but taking that realisation, thinking through it, UNDERSTANDING it, and moving forward with that understanding and change where necessary.

I have been through a stage similar to this, and oftentimes we need to take stock and the moments become slightly more recognisable and easier to understand.

Life will continue to teach us a lesson until such time that we have learnt it... write that down ;-)

Bisous mon petit chou

sdfa sdfasdfadsf said...

Champs dear... it's good to be all philosophical and stuff - I'm all for it, but sometimes you just need to relax and live in the 'now' rather than think it all out. If you're happy, embrace it, if you're sad, understand that it's for a reason and it will pass!

You're awesome - I bet plenty people would kill for your life... I'm not going back to the 'be grateful' part, I'm just saying that it makes no sense to dwell on the sad times. Rather focus on the happy times!

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, NOW i get it.
And I concur most emphatically, since I too, in my way, work, socialise an overcommit myself in orrder to avoid those feelings of sadness.

But sit with it. It's worth it. It is the fullness of human experience.
And there is nothing wrong with an answer of "I don't know." Nothing at all.
Feelings aren't designed to be changed. They just are...

PS. It doesnt mean one needs to experience them in isolation all the time. Not that you are, just sayin'

Anonymous said...

Double cheers to you girl! Be open... always... For the good,bad,and yes, the ugly... Cause it's in the saddest,most difficult moments that one learns, and grows. Face it,take the lesson and then move on...

Cheers to a more OPEN you!!!

Have a super duper Friday!!! See u soon... Cheek smooch

fuzzy logic said...

Roll with it girl. Sometimes you can even take pleasure in the wallowing. It also makes the highs even better, and you appreciate them even more. xxx

Champagne Heathen said...

Rob - I think right now I am learning how to 'indulge' in it. And yes, it is out of fear of "dwelling on it" that means I have never really allowed it before...Just Buck Up Kid & Smile & Move On...and all of that.

Phlips - it is my darling good friends who have always been pushing for me to stop, realise, and sit in it. I have been the one finding all means to avoid it.

But is "dwelling" not exactly as you describe - realising, thinking thro, understanding, moving fwd. Wallowing in it to the point of it becoming all you know & feel is what not to allow.


Kevin - but this is what I am arguing against now. That we pull in (embrace & focus on) happy times, and push away (impatiently wait for it to pass/ don't dwell on) the sad ones. That this is not ultimately healthy. We need to accord sadness as much attention as happiness, and not run from it. Otherwise it will build up silently & bite us for attention later.

HPF - Aaah, I knew you would get it. You are a few steps ahead of me in this game!

Exactly, it develops the fullness of experience. And feelings just 'are', no matter how much we like or hate that.

I'll take note of your P.S.

Nickita - Thanks for a gorgeous comment. Smoooooches.

Champagne Heathen said...

Fuzzles - Exactly. As HPF says, it makes the whole human experience more full. said...

Did my 2004 episode teach me anything? Only that life is too short and one must live life to the nth degree so that there will be no regrets.

But as time moves on, the regrets do pile up as do the undone things such as exotic places not yet visited, unsavoured cuisines, relinquished loves, books unread, movies unseen, kittens and puppies not taken in, flwers not cultivated to bring colour and aroma to our lives and most importantly - things all those words unsaid and emotional pains not being given a chance to heal.

No matter what we decide and declare, tomorrow will continue to find a way to force a bit of 20:20 hindsight because we live in a real world that we must cope with and attend to and be distracted by.

Out timeline on this planet sucks. It's the interactions with you - people that really matters and enriches our alloted time.

So, I now blog and hope to make the most of getting to know strangers like you and the love of a few friends and family because it is all I can keep with me until I lay me down to sleep forever.

Revolving Credit said...

Feel sad, work your way through it, hopefully make some life choices along the way.
But don't let the malaise set in 'cause at some point this sadness may turn to depression and I don't think you want that.

Tequila, Mexico's favourite anti-depressant!!

Anonymous said...

Hey Champers...long time...and good move...sometimes, taking a good hard look (even when it hurts like hell) helps the shit to heal faster.

Champagne Heathen said...

Robs - thanks for that. Such a gorgeous comment. And you know me, I want to experience this life in everyway (Well, maybe not extreme sports) and get to know it as well as possible. That's why I am learning to not run from this, but rather come to learn & love it to.

Rev - Thank you. I think it is the fear of depression that has had me avoiding. But avoiding won't keep you away from experiencing what you are ultimately meant to. And it is depression that might force one to finally face reality.


Dolce!!! Are you around for good? Or just passing through? That's it, that the shit heals faster if you deal with it when you first meet it, rather than pushing it away or dealing with it only in small superficial chunks.

I think I avoided taking a good hard look at the various instance of pain I have felt over the many years, and now I have more to heal in one stint, so making the stint that much longer, that much more exhausting. Bugger it, but ah well, bluddy life!

Stick around us for awhile, ok!

Peas on Toast said...

Thanks for this post Champs - it cheered me up, knowing that someone feels the same way about sadness as I do.

Anonymous said...

Nononononono! More wine! More boys! No brakes!


Champagne Heathen said...

Peas - only a pleasure. And helps to know writing this up helps other people.

Onion Dude - Schnookums, you are the 1 who has to deal with a huge amount of the resulting grief, so I would've thought you would be begging me to just SIT STILL.

ACTUALLY, SAYS YOU!! You would not let me have even one single sweet drop of wine the other day. Just dumb tea. Grrr.

I'll KAPOW you.

Anonymous said...

I do? Says who!?

AND the reason I didn't let you drink wine is cos the loony people put you on medication. It mixes well. Too well.


Champagne Heathen said...

Argh. You mean the whole reason we could not get pssed was cause I was on antibiotics?!! Oh please, I have been drinking on antibiotics since I was in the womb.

Anonymous said...

Candy-coated unicorns are quite gard to find

Anonymous said...

Candy-coated unicorns are quite hard to find

Anonymous said...

DOH! Dang typo ruined the effect

Champagne Heathen said...

HAHAHAHAHAHAHHAH!! That's Karma smacking you over the spirtual head.

Are you talking about taking drugs? Or sucking on the candy of some real unicorn? ....maybe I should delete what I just typed.

Anonymous said...

Ah Ms Heathen. We love you. And we hate that you are sad.
More wine! More boys! No brakes!


Anonymous said...

sucking drugged up candy coated unicorns.

Champagne Heathen said...

Smoooches with the occasional flash to you Mr Onion!

Thegodowner - how did I know that would spark your attention!

High in Dubai said...


A bit slow on the uptake given the different weekends here.

I agree whole heartedly with your post. I come from a family where we used to believe that it was so good that whatever happened we'd quickly get up and move on and power through...

Having grown up a bit outside of the family mindset, it is so obvious that if you do not properly deal with the sadness or what causes it; it manifests in the different ways! Often that is harder to change than truly acknowledging what you are going through in the present!

Take your time...

Champagne Heathen said...

Thanks High! And yes, right now I think I am dealing with the other forms it can manifest itself in. But now it is time to face it. Fcking scary but oh so necessary.

Mr Memetic said...

I don't know the whole "you got two days to get over your grief" thing. I know I feel sad as often as I feel happy, but it's normally stable.

That gets thrown out the window if it involves a relationship gone apocalyptic,though. I remember thinking, in my last relationship, when it ended, "Great, here we go again..." It took me 6 months to get over her. It's really not easy and I sometimes doubt it's worth it.

Isn't easier on your own? I mean, friends are one thing, but relationships are like...Spiritual Siamise Twins...and the surgery required to separate you is one real mean bitch.

I don't know. I just feel balance is essential ina relationship, but balance is almost impossible to actually get. It's always a power struggle, and it sucks.

I hate to admit it, but I agree with the lyrics to the Green Day song...

"I walk a lonely road, the only one that I have ever known..."

Champagne Heathen said...

Anton - welcome! Thanks for all the comments! Do I know you?

I like your term "Spiritual Siamise Twins". As well as what you say about relationships - what do you FEEL about it, do you feel they are worth it? Most people would answer yes. "Better to have loved and lost"...and all of that.

This post was not inspired by a bout of sadness caused by the end of a relationship. But that is for another post sometime in the far future. But it is fascinating to see how much public grieving people are allowed following the end of a relationship, and the reality of how much silent grieving they end up enduring.

Mr Memetic said...

No, Champagne Heathen, you do not know me. However, I do personally know two people who know you and have their own blogs... Dazz and Pink, the latter who I work with in some new media related place.

As for my thoughts on your question...

Well, I do think it's important to get involved with someone else in a romantic and sexual relationship.

In fact, generally speaking, while hardly a religious person (at all), I feel sex only really gets put into context in a monogamous relationship. The other stuff, the, er, base 1, base 2, etc, is fun and different, but I think sex is another story...

Anyway. I don't buy into the "it's better to love and lost, than to have never loved at all" thang.

I suspect it was some originally poetic term that changed linguistically through time into Marty McFly (no, not really, just kidding). Changed into a simple and useless cliche that loved ones, family and friends, fall on when someone they care about has just had their heart crushed. Even though they may have gone through it, they aren't anymore and their sympathy is just that...sympaphy. Not empathy. Not anymore. It's like a cliche that I think still has some worth: Misery loves company. The company of others who are trying to thread their broken hearts back together.

Don't get me wrong: I haven't been in a relationship in a long time, and the last I'm now good friends with. I just remember vividly the emotions I experienced. Except now they are a part of my experience, and not a part of my suffering.

Which leads me back to your question. The reason I think it's important to fall in love with someone falling in love with you is, quite simply, so experience pain. And suffering. And the human condition. It may not make you a better person, but it might.

And that's why it's worth it.

- A

Champagne Heathen said...

Anton - it has taken me forever to reply to this, but I do love your comment here. No ability to properly think today, so no decent response to it.

Mr Memetic said...

Eh, that's okay, Champagny.

Comments are always interesting, but I'll take the kudos, too.

Or is that kudos'? Kudoes?


It doesn't matter. The point is: your blog entry gave me a change to order my thoughts on what is an interesting (and sometimes painful) subject, and that is much appreciated - in itself.


Mr Memetic said...

Typo Police:

change - chance