As you may recall, I was upbraided for taking exception to those Puritans who condemn what they call self-pity and self-centeredness and self-god-knows-what. Still, my friends, I must add a postscript to my controversial statements, which I think illustrates exactly what I was talking about.
By the way, in case you did not know, the title of this post is a quote from Ole Blue Eyes, from his song “I’m A Fool To Want You,” which was apparently based on his tragic love affair with Ava Gardner, who broke Frank’s tough-guy heart.
Yesterday, I said goodbye to someone who has been a part of my life for nearly three decades, someone whom I have loved and depended on through various changes in a relationship both profound and complex. We had a farewell lunch and then, before driving out of town for the last time, he walked me home. En route, I started to cry. I felt overcome with sadness that this person was actually leaving my life after years and years of closeness. I was crying as I realized I was going to miss him, and how much I loved him, and what a huge loss it was that he was going.
Seeing me wipe my eyes and snuffle, he grew irritated: “Stop feeling sorry for yourself,” he barked. Stung, I said and I meant it: “I am not feeling sorry for myself. I am crying because I am sad that you are going away.”
It was then that I had an epiphany about the whole durned Self-Pity business:
There are people in this world who feel emotions strongly and need or want or are able to express them. There are people who feel emotions but don’t want or need or feel able to express them. To SOME people in the second group, the people in the first group are a bunch of selfish whiners. To SOME people in the first group, the people in the second group are incredibly cold and unsympathetic.
Thinking about the gap between me and the beloved person I was saying goodbye to makes me want to cry all over again. Without apologies.
I am glad I feel things. I feel them for others and for me, too. I feel sorry for people who don’t know how to express emotion. NO, they aren’t inferior, just different.
I am very happy that I know how to feel sad.