Learning to Sit With Sadness

Sometimes our lives take a sudden turn that you were never expecting.

The 2020 Covid-19 pandemic is one of those things for a lot of people, a world changing event, which will hopefully help turn things around for the better. While it has certainly changed things for me, there is has been a larger change that has overtaken my life.

For me, that sudden turn came last week, when my wife and I came to the realization that our love had significantly changed since we got married a few months shy of five years ago. That, while there is still so much love there, it is no longer the love that exists between significant others. It is a love forged in years together, a love of friends ready to take up battle for each other, but to no longer remain tied together as wives.

This decision comes after almost 13 years since we first met and started to date. We have weathered storms. We have cried and we have laughed. We have fought hard and loved hard. We have seen each other’s darkest parts and loved each other still. We created a life together and lived hard within it.

That is actually not why I decided to write this post though.

While it was a mutual decision to part ways in regards to our romantic lives, it has been a heartbreaking thing to experience.

After 13 years together, there is few days that go by where I do not have a memory of our time together appear on my Facebook feed. Everywhere I look in our still shared apartment, there is evidence of the love and the life that we shared: our wedding photo on the bookshelf, the dishes that we bought together, the bed we used to share, the book of letters I wrote as a wedding gift for her.

I mentioned this to my counselor at our virtual meeting that I scheduled immediately after we made the decision to separate. She gave me a piece of advice that has stuck with me.

Learn to sit with your sadness.

~ My amazing counselor

That is what this post is about. That is what I wanted to share with you today. How I am learning to sit with my sadness. What I have taken away from her words.

There will be times when the emotions hit like a tidal wave. There will be others when numbness reigns supreme. And happiness will come in sporadic bursts, especially when you least expect it. It won’t always feel real. Sometimes, you will wake up and try to remember why she isn’t in bed next to you. Other times, you will find yourself laying on the side of the bed that has belonged to her for years.

Each of these moments has merit. All those feelings are real. They are valid and there is nothing wrong with experiencing them.

It was one of these moments that finally inspired me to write this post. I was checking my Facebook memories and saw a Pride post that I made using one of our wedding photos. I immediately started to scroll past it. I did not want to think about the sadness that was threatening to overcome me in the moment. I wanted to pretend that everything was fine, that nothing had changed, that she was just in the other room, waiting to join me.

Then I remembered “Learn to sit in your sadness.” So I scrolled back up to the photo. I let the sadness wash over me. I allowed it to weigh heavily on my heart, to burrow in.

Once it settled, I really looked at the photo.

I saw the smiles and the love that was evident in our faces. The adoration that existed on both our faces as we looked at each other. I gave myself space to remember how amazing that moment, that entire day felt. I granted permission for the tears to make way for a smile.

I was able to come back to a place that refuses to erase the history that we have, that allows our love to continue to exist in a different way than it did then.

We made a decision that fits with our lives and our love for each other. It is sad, heartbreaking, devastating, but nothing compared to the heartbreak, the devastation that would exist had we tried to force it, had we allowed resentment to fester and break it into shards. Rather than a shattered piece of glass, we are working to unwind, to love and care for each other through this new journey.

Taking a few minutes to allow the space for that sadness in my life gave me back the happiness that existed in the moment. It granted me the grace to come out stronger, to move forward, even if only an inch.

I do not want to erase 13 years of my life because I refuse to deal with the sadness that comes with this change, so I am learning to sit with it. To give myself the time and space to deal with it when it arises. In the long run, I think that sitting with the unexpected sadness will help me return to true happiness.


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