If sadness is contagious–and I think maybe it is–I’m afraid I gave it to my son.
Often people who aren’t sad think the people who are sad are only that way because of things that happened to them. That because of horrible things, they are sad. And sometimes, maybe that’s true.
But also, there is another kind of person, a person who feels deeply from the start. Before bad things happen, they were sad because the pain they feel is of the world around them.
Even, I’ve noticed, our senses are electrified. When we say “sensitive” we usually refer to emotions but also, our five senses are sharper. Yelling rattles in my brain. I told Brandon this and he told me someone scratching a lenticular puzzle rattles in his brain. He told Natalie at school, but she kept doing it, not believing or not empathetic.
Not only do we see and hear and smell and touch and taste with more intensity, but those damn emotions. They can feel suffocating, how strong they are. Like a tight grip around your throat. And I know that Brandon has it too, how hard he misses his dad the day he leaves, how upset he is from kids at school doing seemingly normal kid things.
Sometimes he cries and today when he did, I cried with him, told him it’s OK for us to cry, there is nothing wrong with us because we’re sad. I don’t think we can help it.
Nothing bad has happened to him yet, but I worry about him when he gets older because sad people seek out ways to feel less sad. And then, sad things happen when they’re high or drunk. On drugs or alcohol or sex or adrenaline. And sometimes sad things happen despite those ways to cope. Either way, then the sadness gets heavier, the grief accumulates.
My mentor says depression is a calling card from the light of joy, asking you to solve a riddle. That is to say we are not broken because we are sad. We are not in need of fixing with drugs, although often that’s where we turn because people tell us something is wrong, that we need to be fixed.
I do not know how to raise a boy who is sad, just like I don’t know how to manage my own emotions sometimes, but I think maybe it’s with hugs and cries and whispering to him that he’s OK, he’s OK, he’s OK and believing it about myself, once and for all. That if there is a riddle to solve, we will do it, both him and me, because although we are sad, we are very determined not to be.