"Love your sadness. It gives you a chance to be still with the most tender place of your being. Love gives your sadness the energy it needs to move through you, so you can move on. By loving your sadness, you are respecting your truth. And freedom always follows truth." ~ Danielle Laporte
Last Saturday was the anniversary of the gang rape* and assault suffered by myself and my then lover, Daphne. Over the years I have gotten through this day in various ways ranging from total and utter despair, to triggering in a fetal position for days, to listening to Billie Holiday albums all day and feeling sorry for myself, to finally learning where Daph was buried and being able to visit her.
This year my secretary's daughter (42 years old with 9 children) was at the end game of her year long battle with cancer. (can I tell you how sick I am of cancer?) Unfortunately she has been at a hospital in Philadelphia, about 4 1/2 hours away. So this year, instead of taking the train to visit Daphne’s grave site, I first drove my secretary to Philadelphia and then I doubled back to New York City.
It was a gorgeous day and I sat at the gravestone marking those traumatic hours with her. Sad. A few tears. A little anxiety if I let my memories go too far. Then I remembered how much anxiety and triggering I used to experience and remembered to be thankful for Lauren, my therapist who got me through this journey. She died unexpectedly a couple of years ago, and so I added her to my sadness. Then, because I really wanted to feel all of my sadness, I thought of my mom, and friends Toni (killed by a drunk driver) and Yodi who just died of cancer.
I sat, for hours, reliving that day of violence and horror, thinking about the impact its had on my life, remembering sweet memories of Daphne and all the loved people in my life who have passed, how much I miss them all, and just allowing sadness to wash over me.
As I silently sat my secretary texted me that her daughter had finally passed and she thanked me for getting to see her daughter before she died. And then I broke. For all the sadness I was feeling, I just couldn't even imagine watching one of my daughters go through all that illness. How do you watch a child die? I have no idea. I began to sob. For her. For me. For all our losses.
I somehow managed to drive myself back home, listening to sad songs and allowing myself to wallow in this feeling. I am still in this place today, which is okay. I have no other place I need to be right now. No one I need to be strong for.
Over these years I have come to grips with the trauma, the violence, the guilt. But not the sadness. So I continue to sit with it now and again. It is not depression. I do not wish to “move on.” I do not want to distract myself from it. I just want to give it the attention it obviously wants and needs and let it teach me.
I also know that the depth of my sadness corresponds to the height of happiness I have experienced in my life. And with that, here is what I am immensely grateful for this week:
1. That my children are healthy. There is nothing that tops this.
2. That I feel such a great loss because these people in my life were so very incredible. I was so blessed to know them and learn from them and be loved by them.
3. That there were no camera phones back in the day. I know that sounds odd but I honestly can’t imagine what Daphne and I went through being recorded and put out on the internet, something so many women have to endure. Every time I read of such an incident I am so viscerally sick. It does not surprise me at all that so many of these women commit suicide.
4. That Martha allows me my sadness without question and does not try to cheer me up or talk me out if it. But I know she’s there and she is my rock.
*5. For those who have known me for a while or read this blog through my therapy years know what an accomplishment it is for me to even be able to say those words. It has been long and difficult the journey for me and I am very grateful to be able to look back and say “I did not let them win.”