The value of sadness

Anger and fear give energy to fight or flee. Sadness softens you. That softening felt like a threat to me, and my inner scourge berated me in fear and anger. I suppressed my sadness below consciousness.

On Monday 16th, I eldered the Woodbrooke zoom worship. It involves holding space, which is a particular kind of loving attention and care: you don’t need to speak to show it. I could see someone’s microphone icon was off, and her lips were moving, but I could not hear her, so I messaged her. She wanted to find “The poem by Rumi”.

I was worried that I was spending too much time facilitating rather than holding, but guessed she meant The Guest House, and copied it to her. She asked me to read it to the meeting. It enjoins us to value every awareness, even sorrow.

I broke down crying at “Welcome and entertain them all,” for my inner scourge rejects my sadness and so rejects myself. I had to start crying to realise how much this means to me. Consciously softening let me finish reading.

My resistance to my own feeling is a major source of the inner conflicts which bind me and drain me of energy. I could suppress feeling out of consciousness, but the effort to do so increased until I came to my current inactivity. I cannot be harder than I am, however desperately I wish, so I look for the value of sadness, so I might accept it.

Sadness is information. Something hurts. Grief at loss expresses the human need for love and connection. We are made to live in couples and communities.

If sadness softens us, it can bring people together. We are vulnerable, feeling beings. We see our need to support each other, and reach out for help.

Softening also helps us see each other more clearly. Once I am past the overwhelm of my own sadness, I can see it in others too, and feel with them. Feeling the feels, we come together authentically.

There are times when you have to keep working, and softening inhibits you. Trying to ignore or suppress any feeling does not work. Better to bracket it: acknowledge it, but pay it no attention for now. If you bracket feeling, you have to deal with it later.

Softening from sadness can feel like a threat to the community, which needs each individual to pull their weight. So we mock children- “Big boys don’t cry”. “Put on your big girl pants”. When adults console each other, “Don’t cry” can be a wheedling demand to stop raising things which the other cannot cope with. It can mean, “Pull yourself together,” but unless we soften we break our community apart.

I found I could make people feel better simply by listening to them without judgment. I did not take their sorrows upon myself, I earthed them. I let them pass through me and drain away. This gave me joy, because I am soft.

I tried to harden, to make a man of myself, and it almost killed me. Transition, becoming the woman I am, is the way to save my life, and I am still working on it.

6 thoughts on “The value of sadness

  1. This speaks to me deeply today, Claire, as I have observed some irritating behavior I’ve been exhibiting, as expressions of loneliness & grief.


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