Thought Catalog

What Is “Hadness”?

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Hadness: happiness that we know is temporal and therefore registers more like sadness, the heart-pinching intuition that what you currently “have” will soon be something you “had.”

Hadness is not the same as pleasure, which is necessarily and by nature brief– a modicum of burning matter. Hadness is the hand you hold for one night, and the memory of the slightly scarred knuckle that far outlasts any trace of its owner in your life.

I tried to talk to one of my friends about hadness and she denied any knowledge of the emotion. Instead, she turned the question on me, at which point I admitted that I feel this way quite a lot. Her apparent blissful ignorance of the emotion initially put me off, but I know that I didn’t make it up because I’ve glimpsed elements of hadness in popular culture.

In the movie Elizabethtown, failed shoe-designer Drew Baylor explains, “I have recently become a secret connoisseur of last looks. You know the way people look at you when they believe it’s for the last time…? There’s one right now.” Drew’s collection of “last looks” hints that human beings can, or at least think they can, anticipate emotional pain. And doesn’t it also follow that this acute sense taints our happiness at certain times?

Or take a passage from the book Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld, (which in the spirit of personal tradition I have read at least once a year since I was 14.) The main character, Lee, is discussing the demise of her relationship with another senior at her prep school.

Sittenfeld writes, “I thought of how many times I’d wondered if things were awry between us, if I was displeasing him or if he’d lost interest. All those times, I’d suppressed my impulse to ask…because—and I understood this now—you really don’t need to ask. When it was over, you knew.”

I guess you could sum up this point as such: the way a thing will end is written in its beginning.  That the kiss you suddenly know will be your last returns to one telling point—rendering the ray a circle.

That initial point, that evasion of infinity, is the gesture of one person reaching out to another beyond their orbit. And aren’t we always coming or going, playing the departed or the left?

I’d like to think if I’m careful enough I will not read the story of my impending loneliness in the veins of a lover’s closed eyelids—but I know that’s not true. Hadness can lurk even in the warmest of shadows.

I guess in those moments I’ll return to pop culture to assure myself that I’m wrong. I’ll remember that Drew’s newfound lover Claire mimics taking a picture of him with her hands the first time he walks away– and maybe that small gesture of memory’s futile hope was the mettle that brought them together again. TC mark

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    • Anonymous

      I can’t believe you used Elizabethtown well in an essay. I liked this, despite not liking that movie so…well done.

      • Daisy Alioto

        After like the third time seeing it, it grows on you!

    • http://twitter.com/JustGeeee Geleen Faye Gallego

      Hadness… hadness.. hadness..  I was just contemplating hours ago about that feeling! And then you just scrawled it over me now. :) 

    • Janelle

      Doesn’t matter what your friend said. Hadness is real for me all the time. Right now, when I know I have to end this relationship, just not yet, happiness is always followed, or felt simultaneously with, lurking sadness. I’ve never been able to articulate that particular emotion, so thank you very much for putting it into words. This is brilliant.

    • Sophia

      This is so real. Saddeningly real.

    • http://www.nosexcity.com NoSexCity

      I was unaware there was a word for this sensation. Suddenly more depressed for knowing this…?

    • Guest

      love love love prep.

    • Guest

      love love love prep.

    • Guest

      love love love prep.

    • 12XU

      I just recently experienced this feeling in a short-lived relationship with someone whom was a total fantasy for me. From the beginning I knew it wasn’t going to last, as much as I wanted it too. So the whole time I felt a certain anxiety, a pre-sadness, like sand slipping through my fingers.

      • tha dish

        wow, that’s exactly how i’m feeling too.. couldn’t have put it better myself.

      • Rebecca

        Same. I transitioned from “hadness” to straight-up sadness yesterday upon the relationship’s demise… but there’s almost a safety in the sadness, since I knew it had to happen sooner rather than later. Like there’s no more wondering.

        • Daisy Alioto

          Do you find yourself ending things early just to hurry it along?

        • Rebecca

          I dunno. Usually I’m the dumpee rather than the dumper, but I probably sabotage things on some sub-conscious level.

        • Rebecca

          Really liked the article,  btw.

        • Darlene

          I also do that!

      • Guest

        you can’t go into a relationship thinking that it’s going to end. bottom line. if you want something, fight for it.

    • Asdf

      Perfect. There are so many times I look back to finality of situations/relationships and remember that I always had a certain feeling that “this was it.” The last one I experienced was a cold, cold March day earlier this year — the coldest day we’d had and would have that winter. I was walking to my car from her apartment to go to work, and I remember thinking, “This bitter cold is foreboding. The fact that I parked blocks away. The cold. The look in her eye. …this is the last time I’ll see her.”

      And it was.

      Thank you for this piece. It was amazingly astute.

    • http://twitter.com/siflake Dan Feng

      never been in a relationship before. this is why

    • http://twitter.com/RantingOwl The Owl

      Sigh.

    • http://www.druggedwithribena.blogspot.com al

      In this article, you managed to express so poignantly the emotions I have been struggling with for the longest time. Thank you for your beautiful words. I don’t feel alone in this anymore.

    • http://www.druggedwithribena.blogspot.com al

      In this article, you managed to express so poignantly the emotions I have been struggling with for the longest time. Thank you for your beautiful words. I don’t feel alone in this anymore.

    • No

      LSD helps with this feeling

      • Nick

        …or it can just make it 1000 times worse.

    • No

      LSD helps with this feeling

    • xra

      fuck, this is some for real shit right here

    • Guest

      all happiness eventually ends. but so does sadness.
      they both come again, over and over. 

      • Guest

        yup

    • Guest

      all happiness eventually ends. but so does sadness.
      they both come again, over and over. 

    • http://twitter.com/MelanieAvalon Melanie Avalon

      I’ve tried to describe this feeling to people so many times, and they never quite understand me. It started with places. Before college, whenever my family would go to Disney World, I’d walk around EPCOT full of an incandescent happiness tinged with sorrow because I knew I’d be back in the “real world” soon enough. In fact, sometimes it would upset me so much (while being there), that I would almost want to be back home so that it could already be a memory, which can last forever, unlike the temporary moment, which never can. (I know this is different from straight up happiness because now that I live close to Disneyland, I know longer feel the sadness when going).

      In college this feeling has transferred to people, and it has created some of the most beautiful, breathtaking, heart wrenching experiences. Thank you so much for this!!

    • guest

      Perfect. Explains why I can’t entirely live in the moment when I really want to; I hate knowing it will soon be over.

    • guest

      Perfect. Explains why I can’t entirely live in the moment when I really want to; I hate knowing it will soon be over.

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    • Lisa

      This is amazing, I’m currently on exchange in an amazing city and I get feel sad whenever I walk around it because I know I’ll have to leave eventually.

      • Sussmuch

        ‘get feel’, lolz

    • amywinehouse

      I always feel this way after I get home from a family party or something like that.  I’d tell my friends but then I just start to look like a depressed person.

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