on how to cry if you can't

some quick thoughts (written for y.b.) on how to cry if you can’t. this is a brief summary of things i’ve learned and experienced on my own journey back to right relationship with sadness and tears. here goes!

emotions are embodied sensations. they are the body’s response to external stimuli. heteropatriachal white supremacy conditions many of us out of our feelings. the reasons and mechanisms may differ depending on your social location, but the HWS benefits when we are disconnected from our emotions.

most us can’t cry because we can’t locate sadness in our bodies. this is the first thing to try and recover.

ironically, one way to do that is to make space for and find happiness in our bodies.

grief work is big part of how i find both happiness and sadness in my body. lately, the grieving i have done the most of is grieving the loss of relationships (fuck covid-19) and the loss of life of people (fuck covid-19 and also white supremacy). for the sake of example, i’ll explore loss of a romantic relationship.

capitalism works in alignment with HWS by causing us to be too busy to feel our feelings. so a good first step is to set aside time to feel some feelings. one of my favorite ways to do that is to find 30-60 minutes and plan to journal.

when i start journaling, my intention is to remember all of the things about the relationship for which i was grateful. these are often beautiful things but i find myself being grateful for hard things, too. as i freewrite, i try to keep my breath deep and i try to keep noticing how my body is. do parts of me tense up? relax? sweat? shake? feel warm? feel cold? whatever it is, keep noticing. if i can, i write what i’m noticing, too.

as i write about the gratitude and joyful things, the sad things usually find their way through.

at this point, i will try to turn to one of my cry playlists. these are playlists i have made in advance. i have been making them for years because i know that music helps me tap into sadness.

with sadness just under the surface (often feels heavy in my chest and tingly behind my eyes), i put my body into warm (shower or bath) with the music playing. i breathe deeply and focus on the sensations. i don’t try to increase or decrease it, i just focus on what it is. often it increases on its own.

as it increases, i practice not resisting. if the cry intensifies, i go with the flow. often i find myself tightening around my stomach. it kind of reminds me of when at the dentist they put cotton or a guard in your mouth and tell you to bite down. it feels like my whole body is doing that around the sadness in my stomach. i go with it until my stomach and body releases. i most often am letting tears flow the whole time.

as sensation starts to diminish, i keep breathing deep.

i drink lots water during and after. moving sadness is work.

hm! there is so much more here, but i’m going to stop writing for now. i hope this is a helpful place to start!


ps - this is a journey of months and years, not days. buckle in. notice small sensations. every additional noticing may feel like a surprise. celebrate each one.

words / writing / post-processing
590w / 15min / 3min