The Sadness of Joy
So, the other day, Maus took me out to lunch. It was a nice lunch, but at the end I said really without thinking, “I’m sad.”
I say this generally when it just seems like sadness is stuck inside me, or that I’m depressed. Little had I realized until Maus’ reaction that I had ruined the whole purpose. I’m “incapable of enjoying anything”. I was somewhat vexed. I enjoy lots of things all the time, including this lunch.
I proposed something I’ve known all my life, “You can be happy and sad at the same time.”
Maus refused. He pulled out the dictionary and looked up sadness, which specifically is ‘unhappiness’.
I laughed. I told him that I enjoyed this lunch very much and that I was happy about that. So, then “what am I sad about?”
Life. I’m sad about all the things that life tugs at, my past, my present, my future. Sometimes I get more depressed than usual, seeing as how I’m usually slightly depressed unfortunately (maybe there is something to his words), and it hurts. I literally feel emotional pain. It’s hard, but you have to grit through it.
I’m not always depressed, there have been moments in my life where there has been absolutely no sadness present at all. Those are really good moments, and usually, something good is happening in them. But, then I also get sad when I think about the end result. For instance, one moment was a night out at a Denver sushi bar with a friend of ours. The next memory was splitting up with that friend. So, there’s joy, and yet, there’s sadness. I have tried to explain to Maus that I believe my emotional center is a little off to the left towards melancholy… and that that’s okay. I’ve accepted this.
“But, then, what’s the point of anything?”
You can feel happiness. There are lots of things that I find happy. Coffee, programming, meeting cool people, getting buzzed with a group of friends, Christmas decorations, Maus’ singing, Seth Macfarlane, true crime shows, animated movies like Big Hero 6, or even really awesome ones like Guardians of the Galaxy. But at the same time, you can have an undercurrent of sadness, such as, worrying about my father: seeing him become something else, whether through my eyes with a new perspective, or through his own actions. Or I worry about my mother. Or I think of how I let people down, or how I wasted a lot of time, or that maybe I’ll never be good enough (whatever that really means), or I’ll never achieve anything, or frustrations about my character, or that sometimes wonderful things are bittersweet. There is a certain beauty in crying.
Maybe that’s what I should call it, feeling bittersweet.
I’m an extremely emotional person. I am able to feel the slightest nuances of emotion in what I read, the spirit of things projected, and my reaction to the world around me. I don’t wear this fact with pride.
It reminds me of two situations where emotions were discussed. Elizabeth told me once that she believed there were people who could control their emotions, and that there were people who couldn’t. She said that we’d all like to think and act as if our emotions are under our complete control, and that mental health therapy approaches it that way generally, but in her experience, there are those two people. When she described it to me in more detail, I said, “I’m that type. I can’t control my emotions. I just feel.” Then there was once a talk between me, Maus, and our friend Rachel. She’s also an opera singer. She was entering a new relationship with a wonderful man, but was surprised to find her love growing subtly. She found smaller emotions were ending up being stronger moments. That she was feeling a new range of emotions that were under the radar of pure passion. She said that it was really quite interesting… I said, “Welcome to my world.” Maus has posited to me that opera singers are like Peter Pan fairies. They can only hold one emotion at a time. Sometimes I envy how Maus, then, can be fully and absolutely happy more often than I.
Part of it is perspective too. Not part of it, all of it. But perspective to me comes from thinking ABOUT my emotions, and what I’m going to do about them. My emotions change over time, I don’t always feel the same way about the same stuff. I was stuck in one emotion for a really long time, and I felt I’d never feel any differently… but then I did. It wasn’t necessarily because I had achieved ultimate coping, although I did work very hard, and it wasn’t necessarily that I changed my emotions myself through sheer will. It was a gradual philosophical shift that I had to realize, I had to grok, and from that, and over time, I stopped feeling what was all-consuming. Sure, if I think about some things too much, it comes back… but I don’t have to think about those things. I can choose what I think about, and if I can’t, I can survive because I know it’ll eventually go away. I didn’t know that before. I thought it’d never go away.
In other notes, I asked Mom if you could be happy and sad at the same time… she said, “Yes.” I asked my brother if you could be happy and sad at the same time, he said, “Yes.” I replied, “I know you can, that’s how I survive.”