Written by Beth Price.
Art by Lanei Kasir.
Well, you’ve really made yourself at home, haven’t you? I hoped you’d have got the hint when I moved halfway across the world that I didn’t really enjoy your company, but you snuck along anyway. I get it, you’re part of life: a balance of happy and sad, yin and yang, flowers don’t grow without the rain, yada yada, but do you really have to be so relentlessly loud? Seriously, you’ve not shut up since New Year’s Day.
First, it was Grandad’s car accident, and then his whole double pneumonia thing. Next it was news of Mum’s cancer getting more serious. Then you really played a blinder with the whole apocalyptic pandemic – good work there. Then came the slew of racism, police brutality, protests, and the murders, the corruption, the climate disasters… God, 2020 is where things really came to a head, isn’t it? Is it going to get better? I hope so, I kind of miss feeling happy. I miss there being things to be happy about.
“We just want you to be happy!” Was that part of the long game? The drip-drip-drip of well meaning gaslighting? Loving parents just want me to be happy. Supportive partner just wants me to be happy. Close friends just want me to be happy. So, that means I can’t risk letting them see that you’ve set up permanent residence in the corner.
If I open the door and let you in, will you take over?
Good job on that too, by the way. You really convinced me that if I don’t hide you behind a pile of upbeat social media posts and fun coffee dates that I’d end up being absorbed by you; a great big lump of writhing, messy sadness that does nothing but gross people out and push people away. You know, you almost won. As my therapist keeps telling me, 90% of my anxiety comes down to you, that if I lose control over you then that’s it. I’m not worth anything. That the only thing that keeps me socially acceptable and lovable at all is the control I have over you; my Resident Sadness.
I’m scared. I’m scared that if I really look at the circumstances I’m in, and the whole damn world is in, and let myself respond to them with raw emotion, I will never come back from it. Then what will I be? An undesirable liability. An out-of-control headcase that’s good fun for a night but not for any longer? Everyone wants to fuck the “crazy” chick, but never bring them home.
If I open the door and let you in, will you take over? Is that it for me? Or is there another option? You put up a good front, but I see through you. Sometimes. On good days.
Your continued presence is the most natural response to the flaming pile of shit that has been the first nine months of 2020. Although the lack of control that lingers alongside letting you in is destabilising and scary, I’m starting to think that letting you sign a permanent lease is the best option I have. If I accept the fact that you’re staying, maybe you’ll learn some respect and be a responsible housemate, and stop leaving your trash everywhere for me to pick up.
It’s not a pleasant thought if I’m honest. Reconciling myself with the fact that you might be more than a temporary guest is one of the hardest things I’ve mentally had to do, but it would be nice to have some clarity. When I try to pretend you’re not there, life gets messy. I’ve had so many sleepless nights, sitting on the couch in the small hours, that my laughter and my crying almost sound the same to my ears at this point.
Sitting with you is messy, animalistic, and ugly. But it’s also brave. It’s raw. It’s utterly, definitively human.
“The only way out is through.” That’s a cliche I’ve heard a lot. Being the petty, contrary bitch that I am, I tried to disagree. Why follow the same path as everyone else when I could take the road less travelled and go down the route of distraction, procrastination, and self-hate instead?
Turns out, I should have followed the path that works for other people because it does, in fact, work. Sitting with you is messy, animalistic, and ugly. But it’s also brave. It’s raw. It’s utterly, definitively human. Sitting with you and letting you shout and scream and rage for a while is, it turns out, an annoyingly good option.
After the tears have dried up and the pain in my chest has loosened a little, I feel like I’m back in my body again. There’s something else hovering behind you. Sitting quietly, biding its time, is Love and Kindness. It doesn’t matter how big and overwhelming you grow, Sadness, because Love and Kindness is still going to outlast you.
I’ll clear some space in a drawer for you. I’ll find you a pillow and let you get comfortable.
I suppose you can stay. Ideally I’d like as little to do with you as possible, but I get the impression you’re going to be throwing your weight around for a while longer yet. I don’t have to like you, but I can make it work. And who knows, you might get bored eventually. You might pack up your bags and disappear for a couple of days here and there. Or longer, that would be ok too.
For now, I’ll clear some space in a drawer for you. I’ll find you a pillow and let you get comfortable. We can work out the details later. At the end of the day, I’m lucky enough to have people in my life who see you lurking and don’t give a shit. They love me. I am loved. I am capable of loving them too. I am worthy of love, whether or not you’re shoving your way in.
So, Sadness, stick around for as long as you like. I’m not going to pretend I enjoy the time we spend together, but I can deal with it. By the way, rent is due on Monday.
About the Author
75% mental anxiety, 20% caffeine jitters and 5% sleep deprivation, Beth (she/her) is a writer, hiker, and enthusiastic baker when she’s not researching gender identity or studying Mandarin. Currently researching gender in propaganda, you can help her pay rent and buy coffee – https://www.buymeacoffee.com/bethcp1