August 16, 2023

I Welcome Sadness—Why do you Fear it? {Poem}


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My wife is the rock-solid, no-nonsense earner in our family.

The responsibility and challenges of her job lead her to need comforting downtime after work—to unwind with the simplest of distractions, an iPad or watching the giant TV that dominates our living room.

I’m the opposite. Give me a chance to talk about my day and the delight I’ve found spending most of my day connecting with people flows out in a torrent of sharing.

I knew she needed quiet. The speaker on the iPad was muted.

I wanted to be near her. I plonked down on my ancient black leather chair beside her. It sighed as the broken-down cushions moulded perfectly to my form. Tonight, I felt no desire to read or engage with a screen.

I wanted to sit with an emotion I was feeling. The intention was not to escape but to embrace—to sit in the company of a poignant feeling. My soul whispered its approval, and wave after wave of sadness gently caressed my awareness. It was comforting to surrender to such depth of emotion.

My loving wife looked up; she’d felt my sadness, saw my misty eyes, and asked what was happening. I shared that I was sad, and she tried to care for me and said, “You shouldn’t feel sad.”

At first, my response to her caring was less than elegant. I was riled to the point where I had to do battle, or I might die again, not speaking my truth. This is what happened as we struggled to hear each other.


I had to fight my Love
not our common pattern,
if I had laid down
self-judgement would kill me
I face a weakness today

you hear my sadness
and think you’re caring
by quixotically telling me
“You shouldn’t feel sad”
why impose your should on me?

anger flares,
beating me,
Stay down, give in again
but I’d lose the clarity
found within grief

I wail, don’t should me
our hackles rise
each feeling attacked
neither feels heard
we argue together for good

cloying frustration arrives
enveloping me wholly
stifling my feeling
you seek to control me
Rise up, my soul cries

shaking off the chains of doubt
I chose to listen to you
Where did you collect
your desire to avoid feeling?
I want to understand your fear

Anger turns to compassion
you weren’t trying to hurt me
questions cutaway angst
dialogue and listen
we wake to each other

releasing awareness
old patterns change
we stayed together
listening through the pain
growing closer

I do not want to live
a shallow false life
I feel every emotion
in denying them, I’d risk
letting my spirit fade away

holding true sadness
I will not hide my emotions
by fighting, we thrived
my meekness died today
It was a glorious death.


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Ian Johnson  |  Contribution: 17,090

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