Once upon a time, there was a woman who was sad.

About a year ago, she was skipping along, busy as a bee, marching to the beat of getting things done and getting ahead. She believed the new year held possibility and promise like every other year. Why wouldn’t it? It was the start of not only a year but a whole new decade.  She was excited.

But right after her big party in her new house with all her friends, an ugly monster came. It came and gobbled up all her normal, all the rhythms that held her and rocked her and told her everything was OK.

Days went by. MUNCH.
Weeks went by. MUNCH MUNCH.
Months went by. MUNCH MUNCH MUNCH MUNCH MUNCH.

The monster kept devouring her normal.

But not just hers. The normal of everyone around her. It ate up bank accounts and dreams and businesses and celebrations and hugs and peace of mind and worst of all, it gulped down lives.

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She tried really hard to stay upbeat and hopeful and to look on the bright side, but it didn’t really work very long.

She was sad.

One day, she figured out that she had to do something about it. But what? What should she do about her sadness?

She could take Vitamin D.
She could binge-watch TV.
She could eat a cookie.
She could work in her garden.
She could pretend the monster wasn’t there.
She could make a grateful journal.

If that helped, maybe then she could tell all her friends and family to do the same.

After making her what-should-she-do-about-her-sadness list and checking it twice, she tried hard for a really long time.

Guess what happened? She was still really sad.

Oh no! What should she do?

One morning as she was swallowing her Vitamin D for the 282nd time, she thought of a great idea.

She was going to STOP doing some things. They weren’t working anyway, no matter how hard she tried.

So she STOPPED making the monster smaller than it was.

She actually said the word “monster” out loud. She told her friends and her family that it was scary and horrible and she wanted it to go away.

That was really hard for her. She liked talking about rainbows and butterflies and happy things.

But it was really good for her too. She felt like she was finally telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help her God.

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She also STOPPED trying to rush really fast to happy, even though Joy was her middle name, and she had been told her whole life it wasn’t good to be sad.

She looked right in the mirror and said, “You are allowed to be sad right now. That’s the best thing to be when you lose a bunch of stuff that’s really great.”

And then she took a shower and cried for a long time.

That helped a bunch and she figured out that now she could START doing some things too. She had time and space (like more than ever before).

She STARTED to talk, talk, talk. To her friends. To her husband. To God. To a counselor. To her journal. She got her sadness outside of the inside of her. She gave it really carefully to those who loved her and who she trusted to hold her all safe, like inside-her-heart safe.

She also STARTED to listen, listen, listen. To her friends. To her husband. To God. To her kids. And guess what she found out. They were all sad too. Just like her. She was not all by herself. How about that?

The story is not over yet (even after 324 days) and sometimes, the woman still eats cookies, binge-watches TV, and pretends the monster isn’t there.

But more often, she cries. And prays. And talks. And listens.

Once upon a time, there was a woman who was sad.

But she was not alone.

And it was the perfect place to be.

Originally published on the author’s blog

Esther Goetz

I am a wife to Allen for almost 28 years. I am a mom to four unique children aged 19-26, a mother-in-law to one and a grandmother to one cute little boy. I live in a sleepy, little town called Stirling, NJ. My true heart’s desire is to be a hope-bringer to women as we navigate this adventure of life together.