One of my first spiritual teachers, Collenn Brenzy, whom I took a year-long intuitive development class from in 1993 (now my on-line course: BE THE CAUSE OF YOUR LIFE ), also taught that sadness is a doorway to wisdom and self-realization.
A doorway of compassion for self and others. Our emotional body holds many such thresholds for our transformation, and for our writing to take place.
Writers who listen to their sadness and let their heartbreak open them rather than shut them off are more likely to write authentically. Some of the best writing comes from the brokenness and suffering we writers have encountered in our life. To write well we must travel and write in and through our bodies. And where there is heartbreak, writing can help us break open even more to our truest self and what we want at this time in our lives. Opening to the stories and words means to admit and embody our sadness. Like how the air fills with a certain caution and sweetness before a storm, we open our senses up, as we prepare for the rain.
Sadness and heartbreak are so current with our collective suffering with the pandemic, political warfare, climate crisis, and continued social and racial injustice. Then when heartbreak comes closer in, when someone betrays or disappoints us, our sadness and heart can open up to anger, courage and , ideally, action.
We must tend to our own sadness and the heartbreak so we can do our work in the world. As writers, our work is to share our stories.
“There’s beauty in sadness, and it reveals what we value.” Write about that. Where’s your sadness? What is the sadness revealing about what you value? Write about that.
“And it’s like, how do I take in breaths that give me rest, knowing that there are still several more pushes before this new world, this next phase, this next era that we are responsible for bringing into existence, actually comes into existence?” Closing the Loop: adrienne maree brown on Harm and Accountability
Our heartbreaks and sorrows often take our breath away. This breathlessness is a craving for a true and deeper breath. For a fuller inhale and a complete exhale. Just so! Sometimes our sadness and our heartbreaks create a way out for what no longer serves us and a way in for what might.
Without apology or hesitancy we can write: This broke me.
Because you don’t remember it that way
And you have a wife and daughters
Who you would never harm, or
A dear mother who recently passed
Away. Because lately I have noticed that
I work harder and you get paid
More. Because you are given special attention
for being a father, while mothers are watched
Carefully. Girls are told to be careful
Because you are like so many
Men. You see the affections won or lost
You don’t see the desperate, trapped women
Escaping the right questions
You proclaim, it is not personal
Because you don’t know me
But you feel your wounds, your needs
Are personal. Because
You are the subject and I am the object
Because you have a narrative
And I am left narrating this story. –By Jackie Redmer, MD, Poet, Narrative Medicine scholar, Mother
Such a radical gift this brokenness can be. Noticing those places we cannot breathe. And where there is a lack of air, of breath to take in, recognizing this as a place to leave and a place to write about.
Where are places you can’t take a good breath? Write about that.
Where are places you knew you had to leave (but stayed)? Write about that.
What stories are you left alone to narrate? Write about that
When we are broken as writers we are given the possibility of a deeper knowing than we had before something broke us. In our writing, and living an embodied life, we can discover the newest, shinning arrival of our next story (on and off the page). We can confront the perpetrators and break the silence. The chards of the self that have fallen at our feet become soil for future stories. And lives. Pick them up. Take a look at them. Write about the broken chards.
And something now can come in where there was no room before, be it a line, a love, an emotion, a breath or another part of self.
“Change is a given and always results in a shift of consciousness. Processing it well is what results in transformation. Although you will never hear me say I am grateful for having cancer, multiple myeloma has been and continues to be an important teacher in my life. The healing potential within crisis, illness, death, and grief is in the possibility of these life altering moments to enhance how keenly a person feels the sacredness of life. Through my broken heart, something amazing happened. My grief and vulnerability shaped me and gave me new life and purpose by increasing how powerfully I felt and still feel love. This shift opened my heart and allows me to see beauty and interconnection that I did not before. This gives purpose and meaning to my life which in turn helps me to better serve myself, others and the Earth. –Corinna Stevenson, Acahk Miskinahk Iswew – (Spirit Turtle Woman)
Meet Corinna: a good friend and spiritual comrade to me. She is a Canadian writer and indigenous woman. As well, she is the recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence. She has published articles on rites of passage and mental health for the BC Schools Counsellor Association and BC Métis Resilient Roots magazines. She holds a master of arts degree in transpersonal psychology with a concentration in ecopsychology from Naropa University. For more than twenty-five years Corinna has guided people through personal transformation in the wilderness of Vancouver Island, BC. As a therapeutic wilderness guide for youth at risk she has hiked and kayaked some of British Columbia’s most remote destinations. In 2010 Corinna was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a terminal plasma cell cancer. One outcome of this diagnosis was that she was no longer able to withstand the rigors of the wilderness expeditions she had so frequently undertaken. Today she navigates the wild terrains of the soul instead. To contact Corinna: HERE
Room for you in my Spring WRITE BY THE LIGHT, month long, live, on-line class. Set aside a month to really dive in and bring forth your stories, your writing. If you have taken the 5-day version of Write by the Lake through the UW, Madison Writing Program (now closed), taking this month long version will once again enrich your writing and writing life in new and larger ways. More information HERE.
Sign up for Embodied Writing Wednesdays starting in November. Bringing together the path of transformation and creativity in embodied writing practices.