Discover more from WRITE, TO HEAL by Mimi Zhu
Making Space for Sadness
hello my friends, i apologise that i dropped the ball on last month’s newsletter. to be quite frank, i have had much to say with no words to say it. the season of summer reared her bright, luminous and sometimes blinding head, and i had to face many lessons that i thought i had already learned a couple of lifetimes ago. they have come in new packages and shapeshifted in unexpected forms, and i think that i am at a place where i am ready to write about them and share them with you.
summer isn’t easy, especially this particular “post-pandemic” season. while it is a time that is abundant with celebration, i can see so many of us pushing ourselves to the limits and making up for “lost time”. i started to do the same and re-indulged in many of my favourite past times. i had deeply missed the euphoria of dancing and sweating in togetherness, for there is nothing quite like it. i went back to some parties, and sometimes i felt ecstatic, while other times, i felt a melancholy that would linger wiht me through the night. while i was doing things that usually made me “happy”, so much pain began to re-emerge too.
one of my greatest lessons during the pandemic was about my co-dependence on partying and being seen. going out in NYC was a way for me to meet people, some of whom i now consider my closest kin. i am grateful for those spaces and the magic of nightlife, but like all indulgences, pleasure and attachments, we need to implement boundaries. partying for me was one of my biggest distractions. whenever i would go through bouts of insecurity or instability, i would itch to go out. i would venture deep into nightlife, even if i was physically exhausted, in order to look good, be seen, and have my ego stroked. when i would party from a place of insecurity, my ego would take the driver’s seat and block out my desires for introspection, rest, and grieving. when my priority was to be seen, i was no longer be able to see myself.
in a way, partying can be a form of release. dancing is an opportunity to be in movement and presence with your body. dancing allows us to shake out any energy that weighs heavy on your height, and doing it in a crowded room of people feels like synergetic catharsis. i missed it. however, during the pandemic, i had to learn that it’s not the only way of release, and that i had to find many other ways to let go. ironiclly, i found that sometimes sitting still with my suffering was the best way to let it go. accepting my suffering and befriending my shadows was also vital to my survival. during the pandemic, i had nowhere to run, and so as i sat still, i also allowed space for my melancholy.
now that the US is “re-emerging” i find myself feeling guilty about my sadness, as if i am not spending the summer as i’m supposed to. what happens when we pressure ourselves to feel joy, even when so much of our grief still trickles through our body and reminds us of summers past? with much anxiety and confusion, i revisited therapy because i realised how difficult writing this book has been. this book is my opus, it is the story that i have been holding on to for years, it is a body of work that details many sad summers, and it talks about how i only survived them because i (finally) allowed myself to sit with the fullness of my feelings. i couldn’t do it without guidance and support, and i couldn’t do it without forgiving myself for my experiences in suffering. finding the words has been difficult, and being present in my body has been ever harder. i am being presented old lessons in new forms, but i believe that this Summer, the Universe is guiding me in truly learning them, only if i allow myself to.
my friend jas lin and i spoke one day during sunset about the beauty of holding multiple truths. we talked for hours about all the complicated feelings that we are expierencing at once. my therapist often teaches me about the magic of both/and, and how simultaneous realities are in constant co-existence. while in the summertime i am excited and active, i am also anxious and need time to be still. while in the summer i am laughing and joyful, i am also sad and triggered by summers of the past. while in the summer i am restless, i also require deep rest.
so this summer i have been sitting with my melancholy. while i’ve been returning to my social life and partying again, i’ve also been making space for my sadness. my sadness did not disappear once the seasons changed, and demonising them to the shadows does not resolve those feelings either. as i honour my joy, i honour the impermanence of all my emotions by sitting with the ones that don’t also feel too good. in this sense, i am honouring the full spectrum of my feeling instead of pushing any of them aside. i will allow myself to be both joyful and sad in the sun, and i am grateful for the fact that she is guiding me through it. she is guiding all of us.
PROMPTS FOR REFLECTION
WHAT FEELS DIFFERENT IN YOUR BODY THIS SUMMER?
HOW HAVE YOUR INDULGENCES AND PLEASURES SHAPESHIFTED OVER THE LAST YEAR?
WHAT MULTIPLE TRUTHS DO YOU HOLD IN THE HEAT?
PLAYLIST TO WRITE TO