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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Berry

The Sadness

It comes on all at once sometimes, the sadness.

Something totally minute will trigger it - impossible to prepare for. Something starts feeling off in my brain and I wormhole into that feeling, trying to dissect and fix the issue that arose, all the while, raising my anxiety levels and sense of panic. I can look at it very logically once it’s over and see the unhealthy thought process and patterns that contributed to what happened, but in the moment, I feel overcome, possessed by the negative feeling of something being wrong and the intense urge to “correct it” so I can stop feeling this way. I think this is how Hank feels when things break - he will say things like “I don’t want it to be broken - put it back together!” and “I don’t like it when it breaks” - and sometimes he insists on whatever repair job we can come up with.

My brain gets on a loop and I have to solve the puzzle. It’s like when I can’t find something in the house. I go nuts until I find it. I’m currently resisting a brain loop writing this because I am dying to uncover WHY my brain functions like this - how/what/who demonstrated what to me as a child for me to think that something breaking or getting ducked up is an emergency and that it merits emotional torture long after whatever salvage efforts can be made are taken care of.

The first time I remember feeling overcome with a feeling of obsessive guilt and fixation on the reparation, I was young. First, maybe second grade. I have a memory of my mom taking down the acrylic box filled with little animals down from the closet in Jayson’s room and I remember loving them so much. The little tiny animals were so fucking cute and I remember loving digging through them. I also remember the way the box felt when the flimsy hinges broke in my chubby 7 year old hands. I can’t remember my mom making a big deal out of it being broken but I can remember feeling SO MUCH about it and not telling her. I wanted to cry and tell her I was sorry and I wanted to go back in time and stop her from getting them out for us to play with and I wanted to hear her say that I was still loved and that it was just “stuff” and all that. But I also didn’t want her to be mad at me for breaking it. So I must have downplayed my feelings and how bad it shook me. I thought about it all day at school - it must have been in the morning - and tried to think of a way to fix the box. Glue wouldn’t work because they were hinges. Could we break off the remaining hinge parts so they didn’t look so obviously broken? What about a new box? How could I replace that? I asked my mom where the box had come from, and she said, “the zoo.”

To this day, when we pass the gift shop leaving the zoo with my children, I think about that acrylic box of animals. I never did replace or fix the box and I don’t know what happened to it. My anxiety around causing irreparable damage to things and the obsessive guilt of trying to fix the

m? Just now starting to unpack that one.

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