• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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Ain’t These Tears In These Eyes Telling You?

I’m not writing. I’m not doing it. I’m taking a break. A big fat fucking break. I’m going to the gym again, not that it shows. And no I don’t feel better. I’ve got some kind of freak anhedonic response to working out, so instead of a runner’s high when I finish, I wind up bawling in the showers most days. And lately, it takes very little to set my chin aquiver. I told my psychodrama that I was teary a lot lately, but that it actually felt good. “How does feeling bad feel good?” he asked. Really?

How does feeling bad feel good?

74 Responses

  1. if feeling bad is wrong I don’t wanna be right.

  2. It makes you feel human. Those perpetually happy fuckers are missing a whole side of life.

  3. It’s less risky to feel bad. It’s comfortable. I’m at home here.

  4. You are co-dependent on your sadness.

  5. There’s a great line about this in an episode of Doctor Who.

    Sally: “I love old things. They make me feel sad.”

    Kathy: “What’s so good about sad?”

    Sally: “It’s happy for deep people.”

    Sometimes feeling bad is just plan shitty. But when it does feel good, it’s lovely.

  6. hmm… I love feeling sick after eating too much sugar. Does that count?

  7. I don’t equate tears with feeling bad. They are a result, not a condition. Sometimes tears come from laughter.

  8. “How does feeling bad feel good?”

    In the best way.

  9. then here’s that whole other side of feeling-bad-feels-good…
    like when you can’t help but bite that last hangnail from your thumb, and it ends up bleeding for the rest of the morning
    or pull a ghastly nose hair with crooked tweezers and it brings a tear to at least one of your eyes
    those moments when you keep drinking your icee even after the brain-freeze has set in
    or after all the good stuff’s gone, but you keep inhaling, pulling the flames from the cheap red see-through lighter into the back of your throat
    brushing the tangles out of your hair
    some pain you have to let linger. i like to think it has something to do with knowing how little difference there is between pain and whatever else you think you want to feel

  10. “To know rapture is to have one’s whole life poisoned. If you will forgive a ridiculous analogy, a tincture of rapture is like a red bandana in the laundry that ruins and turns all the white wash pink. We should just as soon stay away from any future ecstatic experiences that spoil everyday living by comparison. Not that I have any intention of stopping. Still, if I will have nothing to do with religious mysticism, it is probably because I sense a susceptibility in that direction. Poetry is also dangerous; all quickening awakenings to Being extract a price later.” —Phillip Lopate, “Against Joie de Vivre”

  11. My daughter asks, Why don’t you write happy stories?

    Because happy isn’t interesting.

    Here’s to the punch in the gut and a full-on sob.

  12. Rain washes away the gunk.

    ‘S all I’ve got.

  13. Who says teary = bad? Perhaps it’s good, old-fashioned release. A mental detox of sorts that now has the freedom and permission to flow while the brain rests from writing?

  14. Because sadness and beauty are so close together in the universal scheme of things. Because sometimes things are so beautiful they hurt, but the hurt feels good and bad. And sometimes sadness is so profound and perfect that there is something beautiful about it.

    • “If beauty comes
      it comes startled, hiding scars,
      out of what barely can be endured.” – Stephen Dunn

      This is my mantra.

  15. Our lives are a symphony. It’s important to cry with a full heart so we can laugh with a full heart, too. It is good and important to feel all our feelings. They are not life-threatening. (Unless they’re suicidal.) And the best news is this: Difficulties always precede enlightenment.

  16. Not writing? Going to the gym? Ahhhhhh!!!! Of course you’re a crying mess…

  17. there are fun activities connected to sadness. night walks. watching TV marathons. staying in bed. wearing sweatshirts. etc. and you know lots of other people are feeling the same way, so it’s communal.

  18. Well, I guess I have to do this all over again, no rewrite time, (work calls). So here goes my rant.
    Okay sad sacks enough of this maudlin bullshit. If I didn’t know better I’d think it was a dismal Mama and Papa’s Monday – Monday.
    Perk up kids it’s a sunny Friday the thirteenth. You folks, and your wallowing in muck, suck. Perk up Pollyanna and smile, today is the rest of your miserable life.
    Look, feeling like shit isn’t healthy. It makes you eat more, drink more, sniff and smoke more; it makes you look for needle-solutions. Chocolate, Dasani, lavender, crackling fires, and knitting aside when the water is boiled out of the pot of life you’re left with the one word wisdom.
    Don’t use it and those little scaly and black patches you’ve been covering become, yes, that’s right, you got it,….something to be really sad about. You want to be sad then get cancer. You want to be miserable, then get your left breast cut off your balls. Sad is serious stuff folks.
    I’ve have a cousin, his name is Bill, (Not his real name, my aunt would be mortified if she knew I was writing about him.) He has ALS; over 30 years. He communicates by electrodes attached to his eyelids. He loves life, yes, sweethearts, he loves every minute he is alive. He’d love to stand in a shower, he’d love to feel your pain, he’s love to feel anything. So boys and girls shut-up, shut the fuck up and be happy for the faculties you have to communicate through writing, talking, singing or fucking. Love it kids because if you want sad think about Bill.

    • I meant to say …then get your left breast cut off OR your balls. I mean really if your breasts are growing on your balls that’s really something to be sad about.

    • I’m not a big fan of competitive sadness. Just because some are worse off, doesn’t mean that another person has no right to their own sadness. Someone will always be worse off. Some people can find happiness wherever they go, some can only find misery, but it doesn’t mean someone’s mental distress is invalid. Ever. That’s why we write, no? Things are not as they appear.

      Wry, I love your joy and your energy. Maybe it isn’t just a matter of sucking it up though.

      • Lyra you are absolutely correct.
        Feelings and emotions always need to be validated and seldom is ‘just suck it up’ the right thing to do. We all feel sad from time to time, actually we’re probably miserable most of the time, (that’s why some of us write), but I say wallow in it and move on. I am not dismissing the misery some folks live with BUT negative at a party is like throwing thumb tacks instead of confetti. After a while everybody gets punctured.

    • Thank you, Wry-Wry. Nothing like a bracing glass of iced water tossed in the face to bring one to one’s senses. Invigorating!

    • While my husband was being treated for testicular cancer (the proverbial left nut was removed, followed by ten weeks of chemo), and I was in the throes of peri-menopause with severe anemia (the potential for heart attack was high), I wasn’t sad in the least, I was terrified. It was one of the best times of my life; I was alive, simply alive, to everything, including death. Survival was my job and I put in plenty of overtime.

  19. Anhedonia: I had to look it up. That’s not surprising since I wrote a whole novel using nothing but articles. Betsy, I hope you’re not showering at the gym; that shit could be contagious. Yes, a little misery is okay.

  20. Ask a Russian. I think Russians have a special verb that translates as “a good cry”, which is what happens half-way through the first bottle of vodka.

    • That’s the right part of Europe, at least. Feeling bad feels good because all the happy Jews who were outside in the sunlight picking wildflowers got trampled by the Cossacks. This is what you get after thirty generations of selecting for heliophobic introverts whose idea of a really festive celebration ranges from ‘times they tried to kill us all and failed’ to ‘other times they tried to kill us all and failed’. Anhedonia = life.

      (My thirty-six-year-old cousin was just diagnosed with cancer, four months after having her first baby, and I said, “That sucks,” and my mother said, “That’s life.”)

      But what’s this about not writing? Take a break from the gym. What’s the upside, there? You’re going to live longer and healthier, like that’s a prize? Keep writing. Embrace the misery.

      • “That sucks.” > “That’s life.” > “Life sucks.”

        And yet we cling to life, sucky though it may be. Somehow, it’s worth it. Sorry to hear about your cousin, I hope the prognosis is good. It used to be that influenza was a death sentence, now it’s an inconvenience. Cancer is getting to be the new flu. I hope that’s the case for her.

        When Betsy says she’s not writing, I don’t believe it. I’ll believe it when I see it.

  21. A commenter at another agent’s blog wrote the following (which I’m stealing from Averil’s place). It should really cheer you up:

    I’ll man up. I read the hell out of [50 Shades of Grey]. All three installments in two and a half days. 800,000 words. BOOM. Just like that. I think I gave it four stars on Goodreads or something.

    And here’s why: 

I couldn’t put it down.

    True, it’s technically a mess. It’s randomly punctuated. The dialogue is all over the place. The characters are bipolar. The sex is vanilla. Typos abound (at one point Christian stared at Ana like “a bacon in the night” which made a weird sort of sense, actually). Ana has this really weird habit of doing figure skating jumps off gymnastics apparatuses. And it started out as fanfic, which I get the impression I’m supposed to be all up in arms about. But holy cow. Do you know the last time I read that many words in such a short period of time? Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

    …. We all felt like we got our money’s worth. Not because it was good, remember, but because it spoke that little spot in our hearts that loves those kinds of stories. The fact that it was kind of poorly written just made it that much better.

    • “This gray, first murky, then frankly opaque, is luminous none the less.” Beckett The Unnameable

    • That last sentence kills me but also explains the appeal. It’s literary kitsch: better when it’s bad.

      • That people enjoy the hell out of crap is news? Like they were so discriminating and refined in their tastes to begin with? Please. Does the middle class have to shamelessly celebrate everything it does? Can’t we just leave it a secret, guilty pleasure?

  22. Okay so I hung around a few extra minutes. Not criticizing, just making an observation.
    Dishes piled in sink, makeovers on GMA, laundry on floor, junk mail piled on kitchen table, dog lying in cloud of dog hair-tumbleweed and what the hell is August talking about and who has time to read a gazillion words in a two and a half days?
    I have come to the conclusion that I am much too pedestrian for you guys. Now I’m late.

  23. I don’t think it feels good at all. I think sometimes it feels good to watch others feeling bad because it makes us feel better about our own miserable lives but when we feel it, ourselves, I think it sucks moosecock. There’s a difference between bad and sad, of course. Sad is a basic human emotion. Gotta feel it to get over it. Bad is a choice. It’s feeling like a victim and when my kids go there I’ve been known to pull out the pictures by Don McCullin to give ’em a little perspective. Life is good. It’s only bad when you’re making the wrong decisions or hanging out with the wrong crowd.

  24. It only feels good for the minute you use it to justify your worst image of yourself. Otherwise, I run away from it as fast as I can. Been there. Don’t want to be there anymore. Meditate. Exercise. Read.

  25. Give me heaven or hell, it’s purgatory I most dread…

    “I’d rather be ashes than dust.”

  26. Me: Sometimes when I’m stoned and I feel sad, the feeling is intensified and I feel really sad.
    Her: Maybe you should stop smoking dope.
    Me: Sometimes when I’m high and I feel good, I feel really good.
    Her: Maybe you should smoke more dope.
    Me: Sometimes I’m happy and then I’m sad, but if I smoke ….
    Her: Shut up and go to sleep. It’s late and I don’t feel like going in circles like this.
    Me: Now I feel really sad.
    Her: Would you like some cheese to go with that whine?
    Me: Goodnight, sweetie.
    Her: ‘Night.

    • Mike,
      Every writer needs a person like your wife in their life. Love.

      • Thanks, Lyra. She keeps me grounded, which is no easy task. I make her laugh and somehow manage to be patient when things spiral out of control, so it’s a pretty good trade off.

  27. The sad thing beats feeling nothing.

  28. Tears wash the wounds surrounding the gaping holes left by those we love. They might not heal those wounds, but they keep them free from infection.

  29. Do you remember when Raging Bull lost the Oscar to Ordinary People? Everyone was pissed. Personally, I will wait in long lines fo see movies about dysfunctional families.There is a scene where Timothy Hutton yells at his psychiatrist Judd HIrsch, “I feel bad about this, I really feel bad about this. And just let me feel bad about this!” Sometimes, feeling good about feeling bad can signify a breakthrough, it’s self-nurture. Particularly if bouts of crying don’t override your concern about fat cells.

    • Wouldn’t it be great if all psychiatrists were as compassionate as the character Judd Hirsch played?

  30. Ask an Italian about tears. They never hold it all in. They laugh, shout, cry, scream. We all have weaknesses. Standing under the shower long enough shouting out ‘I’m bad, I’m bad, I’m bad’ would have me in giggles and feel better about myself. Who wants to be good all the time?

  31. When I’m in the midst of a breakup or some other emotional upheavel, I become a gym rat. Pilates, elliptical, even fucking Zumba. And I don’t even need the after-shower to cry. I cry right there, in front of the big mirror whilst cha-cha-chaing.

    The shower-and-or-bath afterward is where I transform. Figure out how to turn my shit around. I’m Helen Reddy in there under the lo-volume spray.

  32. I’m observing Friday the 13th through my own teary perspective: after 5 days of struggles and difficulties, that gnawing ache of sadness feels comfortable now. Or maybe its just all the adrenaline degrading into fat (that’s how it happens, I think). Today, our local paper published an article on the healthful benefits from not always having a happy outlook. At this rate, I may live forever.

  33. This is the part of the show where we dance. Everybody on your feet now.

  34. Happiness is grossly overrated.

  35. Ugh, me too. I think it is the moon.

  36. we live in a place/ that is not our own and, much more, not ourselves/
    and hard it is in spire of blazoned days–wallace stevens

  37. It lets you know you are alive. I know that is cliche and stereotypical and hackneyed, but I’ve lived years without showing emotion and it feels GOOD to just open up.

    This is loosely based on my life, a life with suppressed emotion.

    I want to publish it. Cathartic isn’t a strong enough word.

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