Nobody wants to hear a sad story.
After I got divorced, I spent a lot of time alone—and not alone like happiness in my newfound independence alone. I mean alone AND lonely, and that is a very dark and sad place to be. I think back to the coping mechanisms I leaned on during that time and feel sad for my younger self. The smoking, the drinking, the binging, the purging. I didn’t want to be around me, so why would anyone else?
Nobody wants to be the sad friend.
I wasn’t fun. I didn’t want to go out. I didn’t have any funny stories to share. I couldn’t smile, let alone laugh. No one wants to be around that person, I told myself. I spent a lot of time alone, out of fear of being the sad friend. My friends and family didn’t offer to help or support me because I never let them know how bad off I was.
On the outside, I pushed forward, never missing a beat, as if nothing had changed. But on the inside, I was (not so slowly) destroying myself.
This year, I became a mom for the first time. Being a mother comes with so much built-in joy and love like I’ve never experienced. Being a mother also comes with extreme physical and emotional exhaustion like I’ve never felt before. It comes with a hefty serving of self-doubt. A constant pull of loving the feeling of being the perfect person to care for this sweet baby and the suffocating feeling of always being needed. The feeling that if one more person or one more thing needs me, I may actually explode into one million pieces.
I haven’t really reached out much to anyone about these feelings. Part of me doesn’t really know what the threshold of normal is in this situation. Isn’t it normal to feel tired with a baby? Isn’t it normal to feel overwhelmed with a baby? Isn’t it normal to question yourself as a first-time mom?
I decided to reach out to a friend and asked her if she ever saw a therapist after she had her first baby. Her reply shocked me. She told me she hadn’t but wished she had and thought it would have helped her greatly. She sent me an incredibly long message listing all of the things she had going on during that time and advised me to go for it. Why wouldn’t she talk to me about all of those things? I asked myself. She is my best friend, I was around her so much during that time.
But then I remembered, nobody wants to be the sad friend. Nobody wants to be the one with the sad story to tell. No one wants to be a burden. That’s not fun.
I write this as a reminder to myself that we all have our time to have the sad story. The people I choose to have in my life and those who choose to be in mine want to be there—to get me through both the good and bad times as I want to do for them. Sadness requires vulnerability, which is the new coping mechanism I am learning to lean into now.