A Hard Feeling Doesn’t Mean It’s Wrong: Advice from So Sad Today
Dear So Sad Today,
After a long-awaited reunion with a past lover after 7 months travelling, I find myself with an aching heart. The time apart was spent with long rambling emails of how good it will be to see each other once again, but now after seeing each other we have both decided a relationship will not work due to unstable mental health issues. Even though I knew a relationship would never work, seeing it dissipate into nothing with no contact I find myself scrolling through his Instagram and wanting him back. Do I hurt over him, or hurt because it doesn’t seem he’s hurting over me? Is this logic or emotion scrambling my heart?
unsure broken heart signing off
Dear unsure broken heart signing off,
Sometimes, the act of letting go of the fantasy of a thing is harder than letting go of the thing itself. That fantasy sustained you. It provided a warm place in your mind where you could go to avoid any unpleasant aspects of reality. It was your constant companion, an oasis whenever you needed comfort, stimulation or sweetness. Expect to mourn.
As for logic vs emotion, I don’t know that it matters. Many times I have looked back on a romantic experience and asked myself, “Was it love or lust? If it was just lust then why does it hurt like lost love? But if the person wasn’t good for me, was it really love?” But really, who cares? The truth is that we are capable of loving someone who isn’t good for us—and in spite of logic. We can miss someone desperately who wasn’t right for us.
So, as a dear friend once said to me: utilize, don’t analyze. You are grieving—if not the loss of the person himself then definitely the death of a fantasy. You should take steps to make this process easier for yourself. Get off his Instagram and stay off. Count the number of days you can spend off of it. See if you can get to 30.
When your mind drifts to thoughts of him, mark the moment you become aware that you’re doing it again. Say a word to yourself, like “pineapple” or “rutabaga”— then redirect the mind to something creative. You’ve been hiding out in that fantasy for months, so it’s going to take a little while until you’re aware how often you go there. Give your mind another place to go.
Lastly, don’t let your sadness make you feel like you made a wrong decision or that you should try to get him back. The act of mourning is a very natural part of an ending—and sadness can be present even when an ending is totally right for us. A hard feeling doesn’t mean it’s wrong.
Dear So Sad Today,
Last night I was talking to a friend of mine about an asshole guy we both know and I referred to him as crazy and a psycho (because he is!). She said this is ableist language and I shouldn’t call anything crazy, psycho or insane because it is derogatory to people with mental illness. The thing is—I have mental illness (bipolar II) and so I feel like I should be allowed to say these words casually. What do you think?
Dear censorship bullshit,
I’m not the language police, and thus, I cannot legislate your verbal choices. For me, the question of whether to use certain words is less about being “allowed” to say something and more about not wanting to hurt another person.
Recently, I’ve noticed a trend of people using the word “wild” as a replacement for casual uses of “crazy” and “insane.” As a poet, there is nothing that annoys me more than everyone using the same word when there are so many words at our disposal. I sometimes like to call it “word as costume” because it feels disingenuous to me.
Thus, I leave you with some alternate possibilities to “wild.” Maybe you will find some you like even better than “crazy,” “insane,” and “psycho”…
gobby, vexatious, bonkers, extraordinary, funky, unthinkable, bananas, shambolic, thorny, malignant, bugles, unorthodox, ludicrous, fucked, fishy, far-out, serpentine, feral, dotty, bizarre, wonky, ostrobogulous, alarming, shambles, volatile, pretzels, ass-over-elbow, cockamamie, mercurial, viperous, rabid, peculiar, preposterous, tater tots, barmy, treacherous, stunning, vicious, surreal, zany, erratic, zealous, pajamas, mystifying, uncanny, crackers, meshugenah
So Sad Today
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