Friday, January 01, 2016

Hiding Sadness from Yourself

I recently had a situation that made me have to explore my feelings (admittedly I don't do this often enough), and found that while I am historically a very happy person, I have been masking real sadness for several years.  I was surprised, as I had done such a good job of hiding the reality of my feeling, that even I did not see the extent of my inner blues.

I am not going to share the details of the underlying situation, but the reality of my sadness hit me like a ton of bricks.  It knocked me over. I mentioned being "sad" in a conversation with my wife, and then I could not stop thinking about how true that statement was.... not only about the current conversation, but overall.  Just answering that way was out of character, as I usually say "fine" or "good". Looking back this had been the case for so long it was embarrassing to me that I would have been this sad and never said the words out loud.  How could this be true?  

Could a person have "Hidden Sadness"?  I began to research and it turns out a lot of people have feelings like this that range from mild to severe, and even those with higher levels of depression will commonly mask their feelings from others and themselves.  I want to be clear my own situation is not dire, and I respect that some deal with serious depression and other issues.  My feelings were mild enough that I was able to blow past them and function without much pain, but they have been there for so long that it was like an "ah ha" moment when I saw that sadness had been with me for years and had taken root inside of me.

I nervously laughed as I read the signs of people with sadness and how they compensate and cover up their feelings.  Turns out this is very real and I had allowed this to go unnoticed and untreated for so long that it had become part of me.  I would identify myself as an up-beat and happy person, and this label kept me from being able to deal with the issue, so I masked it and went on with life.

My first reaction was to place blame on others for these feelings. I am clear on where others had let me down and I identified moments that made me sad.  I wanted to point fingers, but quickly realized that this is not anyone's fault (not even my own).  While hurtful things have happened from the outside, I have to accept that my internal reactions and ways of dealing are the foundation of my feelings over this much time.

I am planning to talk to a professional, as I think this type of thing should not be ignored.  However, the interesting thing is the more I read about sadness and honestly look at my feelings, the lighter the burden has already become.  I did not know the weight of what I was holding inside, but it was there. While I still feel it, there seems to be an opening for real change.

Unbelievable that I could subconsciously host a major cover up from myself.  There have been clues, but nothing that made me take notice.  Clearly it was easier for me to ignore the whole situation and I did so for a long time.

My natural tendency is to not publicly talk about negative and personal issues (apparently even with myself), but after spending hours reading about this subject I believe there must be others who carry this type of chronic sadness around and like me are covering it up.  It was the posts of others sharing openly that allowed me to recognize myself in their stories.  

People are fast to judge and fill in the blanks with their own thoughts and opinions, so I worry some I know will jump to conclusions or judge me for saying this here.  But this is what it is and I am not shying away from it anymore.  In politics they say the cover up is worse than the crime, the same seems true as I work to fire sadness and make room for happiness.  My feelings are what they are, but my inability to admit them has caused me problems, and that is over.

I don't need to have the end game figured out, but I do need to make some changes starting now in my interpretations and expectations.  I cannot expect others to do things I want them to do and waiting for them to change will never produce any results.  I have to work on me.

Since this is New Years Day it seems like a prefect time for a fresh start.  I want 2016 to be a year I look back on with joy.  I am not going to continue to hide.  I hope this resonates with someone out there!!

Have A Great Day

thom singer

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