Bonjour Tristesse

My therapist wants me to write about sadness. Perhaps she thinks I’ve given enough time to the following emotions: rage, frustration, vindictiveness and jealousy. These are big noisy sensations. Bullies that suck all the air out of the room and all other thoughts from my mind. They drown out poor, pathetic sadness, cowering in the corner.

I find it’s not possible to summon sadness. Anger, yes. “My old friend anger,” I called him (I think of him as a him) shows up at the slightest provocation. As an example, a velvet-upholstered sofa once came up in conversation and I was a house on fire, burning with anger about the memory it brought: a girl who stayed in my apartment for a night; a friend of a friend who had some complicated story about a missed flight, who had no place to stay; who expressed gratitude for my taking her, a stranger, in; who borrowed money from me for the taxi from the airport; who had sex with my then-boyfriend while I slept in the other room; who betrayed me.

Vindictive plots, I could fill a library with them. (Come to think of it, I’m going to write a story about the couch and that girl. I’m going to publish it in in the Modern Love column in the New York Times. I’m going to take that bitch down.)

See how activating these emotions are?

And jealousy, oi.

But sadness is tremulous. Sadness feels as if she (she is a she) is unwanted because I ignore her when she shows her pinched and greying face.

So I have to wait until I feel the press of a jumbled crowd of emotions, find sadness in the crowd and sit with her. Just sadness and me, getting to know each other.

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