crying can be a miracle when the world is too much. it’s interesting then, how many people are taught to be afraid of their own and other’s tears. Most people recognize tears as a problem, rather than the recognition of a need for a cleansing, for a healing, for a balancing.
We have the power to baptize ourselves. Today I was supposed to go to child support court, to fight once again for a few dollars that is supposed to help me give my children the things that they need. I couldn’t do it. As soon as I sat up in the bed, I started to cry again as I had been doing for the past 4 days. Bae told me, “just don’t go,” and laid his hand around my waist, and I laid back down.
Over the past 4 days, I cried because of the wound of unworthiness that I have carried with me for the bulk of my life. For the deep loneliness I feel, for the pain of my mother– I cry like my mother used to when she had flashbacks, and I struggled with hating that until the tears over took my resistance. I am like my mother in some ways, and that is ok.
My tears can be scary because I know how to wail like the wind at a graveyard, and I had to recognize the powerful medicine in those tears. It’s the type of power that you ignore at your own risk of shutting down, and the type of power that sweeps out all of the lies you’ve been holding onto desperately trying to make shit work and trying to make shit fit while knowing all the while you’re on a futile mission of ego.
Over the past 4 days, I was held gently in the arms of my Mothers, who did not force me to see the bright side of things, to see myself and my circumstances in a different light, did not force me to get up and fight. They didn’t even hold me to my promise of making sweet potato pie for them on Saturday. Rather, they acknowledged and witnessed the deep trauma that needed the storm as big as an ocean to let go of some of its stubborn strongholds around my mind, body and spirit. The Mothers held me as both the boat (vessel) and the storm (spirit) as I made this sacred journey to a new understanding of myself and to a new peace that does not have to fight to be loved, to be cared for, to be valuable, to be respected.
So, today, I was supposed to go to child support court and I cried instead. I cried for the last few years of trying to make this man, force this man, to do more than he was willing, show up more than he desired, to bring more than he wanted to. I cried because this, ultimately, is never what I wanted for my children. I cried because I was tired of fighting to make something else happen, to hold someone else responsible, to force things to change. I cried, and I let go. I let go. I let go.
Crying is our first language, and it is a vulnerable one. To be Black in a world that seems to want us dead is a very scary thing. To be Black and woman crying, well, this is where we get into the ancestry and history of grieving.
Science has caught up- kind of- to what we already have known for a long time. We carry the trauma of our ancestors within us. Any unshed tear of your mother’s is also yours. Tears, especially emotional tears, have specific physical health benefits. Culturally we have adapted a way of being that eschews crying as a weakness we cannot afford. It is a survival mechanism meant to keep us safe from the harsh realities of the world. Another black child gunned down in the street? Why yes, it’s sad, but we still have to go to work or hustle and pay bills. A Black woman killed for saying no or for being trans? Why, it’s despicable but we still gotta keep going. About to get evicted and don’t know where your kids’ next meal is coming from? Why, that’s scary as shit, but if you succumb to the sadness of it all then you won’t be able to figure out your next moves. You gotta be strong, breakdowns are for white women with too much time on their hands. (I don’t believe anybody in this society actually really truly cries enough).
We can’t forget the other side of this equation though, that the sort of numbing that happens to us as Black people is the result of a program of dehumanization that cosigns our oppression. “They can’t feel pain, they were bred to endure, they’re closer to animals.” It’s encoded into the fabric of white supremacy to the point that black people are much less likely to receive adequate pain relief when going to the hospital. Of course, white supremacy looks for any reason to declare us less than and that is not our shit to unpack.
However, the mechanisms of internalized oppression enshrine these ideas of toughness and numbness in a way that is detrimental to ourselves on a molecular, cellular and spiritual level. We believe the lie that- and it is a very believable one, look at the evidence that supports it- if we- black women & femmes- were to break down and cry that our worlds would fall apart, because we are the ones holding it together and we are doing it by ourselves. There is no safety net, we believe. Our minds are too fragile to deal with the repercussions of letting ourselves grieve trauma, we would lose it completely. And if we were to cry in front of others, we would be in a vulnerable position in a world that doesn’t love us. And last but certainly not least, NOBODY GIVES A DAMN.
What to do about these lies? I believe that it is time to come together, in secret and in the dark, and wail. I believe that it is time to be held physically by one another and spiritually by our ancestors. I know that our ancestors rejoice when we release a lineage of trauma through the baptism of tears, and that they are here to guide us through a death of what we have been taught we are and back into right relationship with the radiant beingness that is our birthright.
I believe that we will find together, in the sacred womb of darkness, the medicine of our tears. I believe that we will come to understand that our woundedness is not a monster trying to kill us but the tenderest parts of ourselves deserving love. I believe that we will find that it is not our tears that hold us back, it is our denial of our own pain that keeps us stuck.
The leaves are starting to change, and our ancestors are calling us. In the words of Radiant Ancestor Lucille Clifton,
“the leaves believe
such letting go is love
such love is faith
such faith is grace
such grace is god
i agree with the leaves”
Are you ready to let go? I encourage you to form a grieving circle with those you trust to hold you, and those you can hold, and let go. I encourage you to connect with your ancestors and let go. I encourage you to follow the rhythm of the fall equinox and let go. I encourage you to make a sacred space in your house and let go.
If you are searching for a sacred space to hold you, please know that we have prepared a space for you, beloved, to hold you in the most tenderest of ways, to unlock the grief you’ve been holding in your cells, and to reconnect with the divine and radiant ancestors in your blood. details here.