Lately, I find myself getting sad for no reason. No. This isn’t a rare occurrence. I’ve experienced this momentary lag of reason many times over the course of my life. And as the analytical type that I am, I’m always trying to figure out the ‘why’. It is fact that our bodies let us know when it needs water or specific nutrients, (also known as cravings). So if you think about it, it’s not a far stretch to think that our bodies – or our minds – are in need of something when it responds in a way such as displaced sadness.
When I was very young, maybe 8 or 9 years old, I recall very vividly, my mother sitting with her head down on the kitchen table, crying uncontrollably. Scared and confused, I approached her and asked what was wrong. She looked up and me and sobbed, “I don’t know why. I’m just sad.” That moment was forever etched deep within me. It honestly terrified me. I didn’t understand. I remember thinking, how can you be sad without a reason?? Part of me thought she was nuts. As I grew older I realized that she did suffer from depression. I’m sure that was part of it, but having the experiences I’ve had in life, I have a hard time comprehending ‘depression’ as an illness. I think it is self-driven. Let me stop you there. Yes. I have suffered ‘depression’ in my years. But, do I think a pill will fix it? A big: HELL NO. I think getting to the core of the problem is where the remedy lives. Not all things can be fixed, but they have to be accepted. Sometimes we cannot get there alone. We need our closest friends or even a counselor. Until we succumb to doing whatever it takes to get to the root of the fear, we will continue dancing around the fire, and some will continue to fall further into a pit of despair, getting more and more depressed as they convince themselves they are nuts. They aren’t. We aren’t. We’re just human.
It’s human nature to be fearful of change, and change is a major facet of life; you cannot have one without the other. Change is probably the one true constant we can depend on. For some reason we get accustom to a certain way of life and when even the slightest thing changes, we freak out. Eventually, some things will change: jobs, children, relationships, friends, bills…. We busted our asses in school to get a good job just to lose it. We raise our children with the best of intentions just to witness them growing up, making decisions on their own, sometimes as we watch in horror. Experience has taught us the outcome already. We brace for what is to come just as if we were watching an accident getting ready to unfold. But they have to learn on their own. Of course we love them and we don’t want them to hurt, but they are on a new journey and unfortunately as parents, that part doesn’t include us holding their hand. Why do we react in shock as if things are supposed to remain constant? As if life is somehow supposed to be perfect all the time? THAT is living in a fantasy world.
Long ago, I resolved that this feeling of displaced sadness is normal. It kind of threw me off this time, because I couldn’t be happier right now. The last six months has been phenomenal…so, why am I so sad? What is it that my body fears? Then it hits me: unconditional love. I don’t think I’ve honestly ever felt it from someone of the opposite sex. I know I felt unconditional love from my mother, but my Dad is another story. There was always a string attached to things he did for me, and he didn’t hesitate to tell me I’d never amount to shit if I didn’t do things his way. Sad. But true. When I was younger, I walked on egg shells always fearing that if I disappointed those I love, they would leave or say mean things to me. If I didn’t do things right, I would lose it all. It really sucks to feel that your Dad only loves you based on your performance. Don’t worry. I don’t need a therapist. I have come to grips with how I feel about my Dad. I love him, and I know he loves me in the best way he knows how. He’s 82. It’s not going to change. I will never be Daddy’s girl. I’ll never have that precious moment where he dances with me and tells me how proud he is of me. This is just the way he is. He means no harm and he definitely doesn’t want it to make me cry. So I let it hurt for a moment, then I press on. THAT is how I avoid depression: I accept. I mourn. I do what I can, then I move on. I have way too many things to be thankful for. I cannot allow something I don’t have to define me.
Through it all, I see how I’ve harbored this emptiness with my relationships with men. Always struggling to feel accepted, to quiet the fear of being left, to quench the tears of a relationship I never had with my dad. In my past, I have mistaken love for many other things and I’ve allowed this blindness to permit myself to be used, abused and misled. Likewise, my past has taught me to see signs and separate myself from someone. Make a quick exit. Cut my losses. Keep my head about me and my priorities in order. I’ve always known deep down that someday, someone would come around and he would be it. Life is all about learning. And I’ve learned a lot about what love is and what love isn’t.
So what is it? What is my body telling me? Well, I think it has to do with change and with love. My youngest child graduates next month. A lengthy chapter in my life is coming to an end. I realize the fear of their well-being and safety won’t stop here, but my job as a full-time Mother is definitely changing. She’s moving out on her own and even though I’m scared, I’m so incredibly proud of her. And here I am getting ready to move out of the house I’ve lived in for over 20 years to move in with the man of my dreams. Sometimes it seems surreal. I’ve always felt that I would find love, but it is here. Right here. Right now. How do I know that? I can’t explain it. I just do. And here in lies the realization of my fear: maybe I was wrong. Maybe all things don’t change.
Unconditional love is truly the one thing that doesn’t change. It is always there. I have become so accustom to living on guard, walking on egg shells, defending my ground…and I don’t have to anymore. For once, I can breathe. The man who has my heart, truly has my heart. He has all of me. That in and of itself is scary. My body is not use to this and maybe it just needs time to adjust (lol). I love him with all that I am. I can actually see myself in him. Sounds kinda corny but it’s true. And because of that, it isn’t hard to imagine that he loves me the same way, too…I know he has his own set of fears. Yet, I trust him. Yes. I said that. I fully and completely trust him.
So what do I need? I need to let go of the “what if’s”. I need to leave behind all my fears and the memories that have created them. I need to accept that not all love is like the love of my Dad. I need to forgive me Dad for my loving me how I want him, too and simply accept him for who he is. And I need to remind myself that I deserve to be happy, without the fear of acceptance, or floor of egg shells. I need to continue accepting, mourning, growing and moving forward. I am the author of my biography. Each chapter is better than the next. And in a world where everything changes, love remains.