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Avoiding the Sadness Trap...

I can’t tell you how many times I have attempted to avoid pain or sadness or loss by re-starting, re-engaging, or beginning again with someone or something that previously didn’t work out, because I am currently sad about the loss of that person, place or thing.

I was not able to give sadness a rightful place at my table.  I just thought that sadness was a downer guest and I didn’t want them their ruining the dinner party of my life.  So I kept avoiding or uninviting sadness as I would a social invitation that I thought was a terrible idea.

But what usually happened in my futile attempt to avoid sadness, was it set me up for more.  How?  Let me demonstrate...

Let’s take the breakup of a relationship that had unresolved feelings.  Meaning the relationship ended not because the love or sentiment ended, but simply because there were factors in play that required that I leave for my sanity, my health or perhaps theirs.  So while the relationship viability was resolved, the feelings that started the whole debacle in the first place, remained staunchly unresolved.

I would accept the ending but I had not a fucking clue what to do with the all the feelings that still swirled in various places in my body and mind.  And having this current of love, or tide of emotion made me susceptible to forgetting why I left in the first place.  It was easy when that person came back around to fall into the trap of thinking, “this time it will be different...”  The delusional statement of every drunk I know.

And it is rarely different.  I say rarely, not based on my own experience, but I have seen others pull it off.  For me, whatever broke us up the first time is the same thing that breaks us up later...repeatedly.  And this is more of a law in my life, not a suggestion.

But it used to be that I would marshall all my will and love and longing and jump back in again, armed with the flimsy armor of “this time...”  And I got pummeled every single time.  Because I allowed myself to fool myself into believing that something had changed simply because I wanted it to.  And I am old enough to know, that people do not change because you want them to.  They change when they can’t go on living the way they are anymore, usually with the threat of death or demise.  And often they won’t or can’t even do it with that...

What I have realized though is that I always went back in because I couldn’t withstand my own sadness.  I needed a rescue from myself and my feelings and my broken heart and there is nothing that cures that quite as well as returning to the scene of the crime and redoubling your efforts to try again with a person who has proven, likely time and time again, that even though the love still flows, it is like a river flowing to a cliff’s end - it creates quite the display but is perilous and there is no ability to follow it down without ruining yourself in the process.

So I repeatedly jumped back in that river, that torrent mostly to distract myself from feeling sad.  That is a feeling that I hate more than any other.  Well, disappointment is one I loathe as well but in my experience sadness and disappointment always come as a duet.

I have had to do much of retooling of my soul as of late.  Restructuring, redoing, revising, reviewing and it has been painful.  But I guess the dubious prize is that I see how much my own refusal to allow sadness and disappointment into my life, a seat at my proverbial table, caused me to suffer longer, harder all while setting myself up to experience the exact things I was avoiding.  I was on the pain later installment plan which always cost me more and hurt way more in the long run.  

In short, I have always been willing to cut the short term deal of feeling better now, instead of doing the hard work to ensure that I will not be paying for today’s action way more later.

I am not sure I am making is such a novel concept to me.  But I know that it is happening.  I am no longer willing to grasp at the seeming comfort now knowing full and well that I will pay more later.  And while I know this is progress...I also know that it is tenuous, long fought and hard won for me.

For someone who wants to be happy all the time, allowing myself to be sad, to allow sadness to move into my house and life seems completely counterintuitive to me.  But I can now see, since I have let those fuckers post up here, that I am learning things about myself and others that I never could have if I would have continued to treat sadness and disappointment like Jevovah’s Witnesses at my door - either refusing to answer or a not so nice shutting of the door in their face.

For me, I have had to allow sadness and disappointment all the way in.  Allow them to come in and lounge on every surface.  They are there when I wake, and they are there when I drift off.  They are persistent buggers that is for sure.  But me not reaching out for some way to usher them out of my life and push them away from me, has given me a new way of thinking about them.  

Sure they are here and I would rather they not be.  But they do not threaten me like they used to.  I am not so afraid of them anymore.  I do not fear and loathe them like I once did.  Actually, they are somewhat interesting creatures that have some rather good things to communicate...but I had to learn to be willing to listen, to be patience because they stutter and meander in their conversation which makes it awfully hard for me to be patient enough to listen.

And because I have allowed them safe harbor, they have shown me that I was always falling into my own trap and then spending years of my life trying to figure out what the fuck was going on.  In my attempt to avoid them, I only created situations where there was more of them around.  I see that now.  Really, I do.

And once more, there is no solution to sadness, or disappointment.  They are just things that must resolve in their own time.  Kind of like Cool-Aid, you can mix them into the water and the food color bonds with the water immediately,  but it takes a little while longer for the sugar to meld with the water to provide a beverage worth drinking.  Unless you use really hot water which defies the whole thirst quenching relief you seek.

I have had to learn to give them time.  And space.  And a place to rest.  I guess I get it now, no one ever wants them around and so they are bum rushed out of everyone’s life, which leaves them forever wandering from place to place looking for a home.  And all of us attempting to stave them off, thinking that if we can just avoid them, then all will be well.  But since they have nowhere to go, they can only come back around.  Repeatedly.

So I have learned over the last six months that when they appear to just allow them in, turns out they will not stay for long because they are nomadic feelings that cannot remain idle for long.  But when I welcome them in, something happens, they seem to lose their insistence to be here, to remain here and so their visit is brief and fleeting instead of what I found before, when I kept trying to avoid them altogether, welcoming them in unbaits the trap, leaving us all to walk more swiftly in the direction of healing and love and moving on.

The way to avoid sadness and disappointment is to feel them. Not avoid them.  Avoiding them only makes them more persistence and determined to come back around again, soon.

But feeling them, allowing them all the way in, turns out to be the best defense, which is none, to stop ushering sadness and disappointment to the sidelines of your life.

And I feel late to the party once more...I know this knowledge was available to me at early times in my life...I know it was and yet here I am at 54 learning it for the first time...finally.

Really nice to be able to not say today...again, still.  Feels nice to round a corner onto a road I have never travelled knowing that the vistas and views are all new.  And all mine for the taking.

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