The Genealogy of Melancholia

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13.07.17

The Genealogy of Melancholia

On Romanticizing Emotion

by Muhammad Hilmi

 

Emotions are like old friends. Triggered by many things, and belonging to no particular event. Existing out of countless occurrences, which in my case are mainly personal, such as relationships. What makes one a self-proclaimed introverted over thinker, most might wonder. What makes one so overwhelmed by thoughts and emotions that they themselves are responsible for? Perhaps, associating myself as one, I would say the inability to separate what once was and what has the chance to be, and the in-betweens that become heavily affected by these emotions.

Inspirations run wild just about anywhere; the only challenge would be to actually capture one and making it one’s own. To most, perhaps it becomes an easier tool for relief to express suppressed emotions and personal tantrums into words, or paintings, or melodies, labeling these emotions, which turns out to be idea-fuelled, as merely inspirations. “I’m not lashing out,” some would say, “I’m simply letting my feelings inspire me”. A thin line, in my own words, between actually turning an experience into a non-personal piece of something with complete disregard to any personal occurrences that may have had even the slightest to do with it, and as simply anonymously making something all about a certain person or time but just not admitting that it is. And frankly, I plead guilty to the latter.

Of course, not that it’s a crime to be converting your feelings into your work. But it does become somewhat unhealthy when the only inspiration you succeed in recognizing is that of your past abusive feelings and emotions. And overthought, over-‘hovered upon’ said words, people you once knew and how you felt about them, or just about anything that left a significant mark on you from your past. As if it becomes a habit to binge on these poisons, claiming that you’re simply not over it. You’re not over that one time someone cut you out of their life with no apparent reason. You’re not over that guy or girl who just didn’t want to settle with you. You’re not over the fact that at some vague point in your early adulthood, you realize just how much you despise yourself. But perhaps, what fails to become clear to most who suffer these constant blasts from the past is that you are, as a matter of fact, over it. You’re over all those things. Your only problem is that you’re succumbing on the remnants of those left over pain and emotions for some other reason. Perhaps, it’s because they’re the closest you’ve ever been to intensely feeling something. And you loved that sensation. And you would rather dwell yourself further in the melancholia because you believe that it’s the only way to appropriately address your sadness. When really, your sadness left you a long time ago. I, again, plead guilty to this.

I began to realize that the time in my life in which I wrote the most was when I was too busy swimming in this toxic nostalgic pool of past’s waste. Writings that left me feeling…satisfied. Not for being able to let out my feelings, but for simply productively writing stuff, the results of which I was proud of. I was romanticizing the emotions I was feeling.

Perhaps the absurdity of it would trigger one to wonder, why the fuck would someone prolong their sadness over something? Why would someone voluntarily dwell themselves in something that caused them an unhappy emotion, or even pain? Why would someone choose to be stuck in something they subconsciously know how to let go of? Well, perhaps of the familiarity. Perhaps they, for some goddamned out-of-this-world reason has begun to feel safe in that bubble of nostalgic melancholia they had created for themselves. In my case, it was what I felt comfortable with, and it became something I began recognizing as an actual part of myself. What would I be if not some melancholic, sensitive soul? I’d thought.
See, this is when you know you have got to get out of that toxic nostalgic pool of past’s waste. When you, in spite of your denials, know that the only reason you chose to linger in that sensation is because you’re simply too afraid to guess what awaits you ahead. Because you’re too compelled with the odd comfort it offers, and the thought of healing from it only to someday encounter that depth of sadness once again just seemed too much. Therefore, as odd, cheesy, crazy, silly, stupid, or whatever it is this may sound, you chose to dwell in the sadness that you have gained control over. That you had somehow, somewhere during those sleepless nights and constant over thinking, had become okay with.

In the words of Margaret Atwood, “I’m not sure which is worse: intense feeling, or the absence of it.” Maybe we wouldn’t let ourselves realize it, but what if we hold those intense feelings after a loss, even if they hurt us deeply, just because we’re unconsciously terrified of not feeling anything at all? Because we would rather take in and nurture the pain into something familiar we can live with, because the vulnerability that comes with the healing may only lead us to something way worse? In the wake of this realization, I also started to recall the things that have happened to me since I began to let go. People and new experiences, which in turn have colored my days with more and even intense feelings…things that if somebody told me I was capable of feeling just three years ago, I would not believe. And as typical as this may sound, I’ve found that it’s true that all it takes for whatever it is you’re devastated over losing to finally leave you at peace is time. Not to forget, but to accept.whiteboardjournal, logo