Why You're So Sad
I loved slamming my bedroom door as a kid. It became my voice when I felt unheard. The loud crack of the door, especially on a breezy day if the windows were open, was just enough reverberation to release the sadness patiently waiting to be expressed.
Alone in my room, in the quiet aftermath of pleading with and then yelling at my parents, after the eruptive whack of the door, I would turn slowly, lean my back against the wood, and release sobs as I slid to the floor.
I’d stay in this place, crouched on the ground, mourning the belief that I was defective, misunderstood, and completely alone. In the fog of released pain and desperate loneliness, I’d reach for a pen and paper to scribble my heart onto. Writing became a salve for the parts of myself I didn’t know what to do with.
My sadness has always felt big and deep. It was often met with compassion by my parents and sometimes bewilderment by my boyfriends. For a long time, it didn’t mean much to me aside from the fact that it took up a lot of space in my household and made me feel like an outsider with my family.
I was conditioned to push my emotions down in public and set them free behind closed doors. There were many times when I told myself I wouldn’t let my family see me cry again, but that conviction was always out ruled by the enormous wave welling up within me. Even if I didn’t feel seen, heard, or understood, it was the safest place I had to release what I didn’t know how to suppress.
It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties, after I hadn’t cried in three years, that I realized I’d learned to silence my sadness. In my desperate attempt to make sense of life, I had buried my feelings away. I collected information that satisfied my mind and cut myself off from my body because it felt safer than feeling what I didn’t understand and what wasn’t culturally valued.
I didn’t accept my emotions partly because our patriarchal society rewards the intellect and shames sensitivity.
What I didn’t know was that when I buried my sadness, my joy also disappeared. I felt numb, alone, and lost. This is the place, six long years ago, when Breathwork entered my life, and everything changed.
I wasn’t someone who broke down in tears my first Breathwork session. I was tightly wound (this is a nicer way to say that I was a control freak), programmed not to cry in front of strangers, and I didn’t really understand what I was doing there, lying on a table and breathing in the presence of a healer.
This was a time before Instagram was popular, before people were talking about self-love, before the word “trauma” had become ubiquitous. It was only a few years after I felt comfortable enough telling my friends that I had a meditation practice, and it was a time when I was using most of my energy to project an image of myself I believed would get me love.
Some divine force was guiding me because I kept showing up for this strange practice, and without understanding anything about healing, Breathwork, or what I was experiencing, I noticed myself changing. It was as if I was slowly de-thawing, inching myself closer to the pain within me that had become too scary to touch.
It would take a breakup, a depression, and a room full of sobbing men surrounding me during a Breathwork group, to finally let the damn break.
The shell around my heart began to crack, and over the next few years my heart started to open. Looking back, I can see how much fear I was still living from and the areas I was resistant to opening and letting go. I thought I knew what self-love was and what it meant to heal, but I was sitting in the space above the true depth of my pain.
We each have our own personal recipe that cracks us open, and sometimes it takes a few tries before the ingredients mix just right. I was only willing to go so far into my pain before the Universe intervened. The man I loved, who I spent all of my days with, walked out of my life with no warning, and the shock of his choice opened a portal to the pain I’d been carrying within me for over thirty years.
From that moment on, I embarked in a Masters in grieving. I learned how we create more suffering for ourselves by resisting our pain, how we have the power to lovingly hold and set free our biggest emotions, how fear keeps us out of our wisdom, and how much wisdom emerges through feeling our pain.
My grief used to scare me. It felt too big to hold because I had no models who knew how to hold their own pain. When we learn that our sadness is a problem, is inconvenient, or too much for someone else, we take on beliefs that we’re too much and that there’s something wrong with us.
Our pain becomes a problem. We might ask ourselves, “Why am I so sad? What’s wrong with me?” We get so caught up in the why, in the figuring out what is wrong, because we are attempting to avoid our pain. We don’t realize that it’s unavoidable, and the attempt to bypass it through intellectual fixing actually creates more suffering. We get stuck in a stew of desperation and unprocessed feeling.
“I just want to feel better.”
The common response I received from caring people when I felt sadness was, “What’s wrong?” Sometimes I didn’t have a clue what was wrong. I only knew that I felt sadness, and a lot of it. I didn’t know why I felt so sad, though now—after many years of healing and facilitating healing—I do, and the idea that I should know what was wrong but didn’t, instilled the belief that there must be something wrong with me.
As I learned to surrender to the pure emotion instead of getting stuck in judgment or the need to figure it out, I began to understand my pain.
The more comfortable I became with my pain, the deeper I was able to go and the larger the emotions I was able to hold. I found a quiet strength that connected me to human suffering and resiliency.
My nervous system became so tuned into my grief that I could feel what each layer of sadness was connected to. It was as if sheets of pain, labeled with their corresponding life experience, released layer by layer.
It began, where it often does for many of us, with the painful moments of my childhood. As I sobbed, I felt the pain from being ostracized as a 12-year-old. Another layer of grief showed me a moment when I needed my Dad to hold me when I cried instead of turning up the volume of the TV because I was so loud. As another wave of emotion hit, I knew it was linked to a time I betrayed myself to get love from someone—the recognition of the hundreds of small and big moments I abandoned myself.
As each of these painful experiences left my body I was blessed with their truths.
After years of sadness from this lifetime was set free, the disconnect between the depth of my pain and my privileged personal life experience became clear. Doing Breathwork in my house in the desert one evening, I intuitively felt called to move my hands to my womb. As I did, I felt the grief from a lost child rise up from within my belly. In another session I smelled disinfectant and saw myself in a room, in another time, as I birthed another lifeless body.
These were not memories from this lifetime and, having had a number of experiences like this, I know that our cells store unprocessed energy from our life journeys. Our bodies communicate to us what is being held, and the pain I have felt from my earliest memories always felt much larger than this life experience.
As we grieve, we release the pain our ancestors couldn’t process, the pain our souls brought into these bodies, and the painful experiences from this life.
I grieved a lost love three and a half years ago, but through my willingness to go deeper I discovered that loss was a minute fraction of that grief. I have felt the release of pain my Mother hadn’t processed, the repressed rage from my father, and the heavy depression and anxiety that plagues my family line.
I have grieved deeply, repeatedly, over the years. I have grieved when outsiders might think there was nothing to grieve about. Once I moved beyond the fear of my grief, I could allow it to move through me. What I was then able to hold was a truth larger than I could have ever imagined was within me.
Our minds have been conditioned to believe that feeling emotions like sadness, anger, despair, loneliness or anything that could be categorized as “unhappiness” is negative. There are no negative emotions, there is only energy moving through the body expressed as emotion. These emotions are communicating to us information that teaches us about ourselves and our soul’s journey.
When you are courageous enough to go into the depth of your grief and feel it fully without fear, not only do you begin to set yourself free, but you free all of those who have come before you who were unable to process their pain. You cry the tears your parents were unable to. You transcend the fear your grandparents were imprisoned by.
Sometimes we are in resistance to our pain, not just because we don’t want to feel it, but because it doesn’t seem true to our conditioned minds. If you grew up in a seemingly healthy household with a lot of privilege, you might not feel you have a right to feel sad about anything.
It doesn’t make your pain any less real, and it also doesn’t serve anyone. As I’m sure you’re aware, hurt people hurt people. There’s enough pain in the world, and it’s time for each of us to take responsibility for the pain we carry within us.
All of our bodies carry some form of trauma: a combination of intergenerational pain, personal life experiences, white supremacy and the toxic patriarchy influence, and soul wounds.
If you’re sad, and you don’t know why, maybe allow yourself to let go of the need to figure it out and simply honor your feelings. Often times, the why isn’t as important as the truth of the experience. I’m so sad because my Mom didn’t love me the way I needed her to can put us in a story that’s littered with blame, victimhood, and at times it can keep us out of our emotions. I’m so sad is the deep, simple truth of our experience, and honoring that truth without the story is the key to setting ourselves free.
If you want to heal, to learn about yourself, and to set yourself free, start a Breathwork practice and trust that it’s safe for you to feel the depth of your sadness. As you do, with patience, you will begin to understand the reasons you feel.
Sometimes you will simply feel deep sadness move from within you. It may not feel connected to anyone or anything. It will erupt through you, and you can trust that it has cleansed something within you that needed purifying. Other times you will be left with the residue of wisdom that will change your life, open your heart, and leave you with a knowing that is beyond the intellect.
Touch your sadness. Get intimate with your grief. It will bring you closer to your joy. It will connect you to to the beauty of this life, your journey through it, and your own heart.
Relentless Healers: Grounded Soul
4-month program to commit to your healing
If you’re ready to face your pain, master your emotions, learn how to love and value yourself, create healthy boundaries, and more, I invite you to join Relentless Healers: Grounded Soul. The program begins in September.
GETTING STARTED WITH BREATHWORK
The kit I created to help you begin your Breathwork practice. It includes 3 guided Breathwork meditations, an ebook about how Breathwork heals, an FAQ, and a series of printables for a 30-day Breathwork challenge.