For the last couple of days, a sadness has washed over me. More than washed over me- swallowed me whole and left me feeling like someone had opened me up, removed my insides, and stitched me back up again. To the point where when someone asks me how things are going, I plaster an empty smile across my face and do what I’ve done for years, I pretend. I often get sad during December, but it typically hits me mid-month so I was surprised by this.
Yesterday at work someone asked me “How are you always so put together?”
When I finished laughing thirty minutes later, I admitted to her that my “together” is a facade. I appreciate what she was telling me- I’m glad that my total hot mess of an existence isn’t utterly obvious to everyone- but I had to share with her that this is NOT “put together”. Here’s why I didn’t just simply say “thank you” and move on with my day: so many of us are walking around telling everyone that everything is fine and plastering a big fake smile on our faces and presenting a filtered Instagrammed version of our lives. The result of this is that so many people are sad or struggling or suffering or all three, and are also assuming that everyone around them is perfect and happy and put together. She and I connected over the fact that we really struggle to put ourselves together and get kids out the door each day, let alone accomplish anything above and beyond that.
Later yesterday afternoon, someone else in my office asked how I was doing. “Stressed, actually. Really stressed.”
While that change in approach didn’t take away my sadness, it did something more: validated it.
Sometimes, we are sad. Sometimes we might be struggling. And it’s really vital to acknowledge that, and to go forward from there.
Last night, my husband turned the tables on me, saying to me what I so often recently have said to him. “I’m worried about you” he said, as he rubbed my back. I was in bed at 7:30pm and crying. “Will you please call your doctor on Monday to talk with her about this?”
With that conversation, and having finally opened up to him about being sad and not knowing why, I felt the 1,000-pound weight lifted off of me. Suddenly the loneliness was replaced by the sense that I have someone with me to get to the other side of this. It didn’t remove my sadness, but at least I knew that I had an ally.
As we plow headlong into the holidays, it’s important to acknowledge and validate when you are sad. So many people feel that they are all alone, particularly at Christmas. If you are feeling alone, if you are in crisis and need emotional support, please consider reaching out to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or use the Crisis Text line by texting HOME to 741741.
By the way, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline website (linked above) has something called the “Safe Space”, a series of YouTube videos meant for helping you find calm and get back to center if you are feeling particularly anxious.
And remember, it’s okay to admit that you are sad.