The day I gave myself permission to be sad

After more than 9 years of our relationship he left me and broke my heart and my hopes into pieces… 

I was angry, ashamed, lost, but mainly sad. Nevertheless I still had to get up every day to go to work. I was miles away from my family and didn’t want to worry them. I was ashamed to chat with my friends who all had warned me not to get married to this man. So I did what made sense to me: I pretended to be ok at work, I avoided my closest people by not calling them or hanging out with people and I spent most of my time numbing myself in front of the TV.

Pretending to be joyful at work, pretending to be busy in my life in order not to talk and see anyone, and watching Mad Men had become my life. I was on autopilot, survival mode: no thinking, no feeling, I had found a strategy not to feel the pain anymore.

After a while, I stumbled on a guided meditation class and I still don’t know why but I signed up for it. I had never been to a meditation class before, so why now? Well… it was the best decision EVER!

The class started with the instruction to write something on paper. Then it was followed by the guided meditation and it finished with writing again something on paper. I remember wondering what the hell I would write about; no instructions were given. But as soon as my pencil touched the paper I couldn’t stop. My mind and my heart started to unload all the questions that were weighing on my chest: what went wrong? Why did he break his vows to love me forever? What was wrong with me? And many more whys-Tears started to come down my cheeks and I couldn’t stop them. For the first time in a while I was finally confronting my pain. It was hurtful but at the same time I felt lighter almost instantly. The teacher’s voice brought me back to the room. By unloading all my questions on the paper I was lighter and more open to let it go during the meditation. I decided not to be in control anymore and just let myself be driven by the teacher’s voice. After the meditation, back to myself facing the paper, believe me or not… I started to write answers to my questions, without even thinking about it. All along the answers were in me. But how could I had found them before if they were never asked?

This experience pushed me to start seeking help. I went to see a Life Coach. She offered a safe space for me to talk, to face my fears, my anger, my questions and my sadness. A safe space to face reality and to reflect but above all to feel and open up again. As a matter of fact, the psychiatrist told me the most powerful thing I have ever heard: “It is ok to cry, it is ok to be sad”. Something magical happened since then: I stopped pretending to be ok. She allowed me to give myself permission to feel sadness. It doesn’t mean I would be sad all the time! It means that when I was sad, I would not try to lock this emotion and all other emotions along with this one. It is ok to express this sadness by crying, talking about it and/or by writing about it. Whatever works and feels safe. I then started to heal and be social again. Because when you numb your emotions, you don’t feel pain but you also don’t feel joy. By being my true self by acknowledging my feelings, I started to share my pain with my friends and family and all I received was not shame but on the contrary, support. Sharing also allowed people to be vulnerable with me and share their own stories.

The day I started to cry again and acknowledged my sadness, it opened my world again to joy, support and love, but also helped me realize that I was not the only one to feel sadness and I was happy to support people going through this too.