The kids are down. Your work is done. The pet is nestled on the couch. You partner is somewhere partner-ing. Or you’re single. No kids. No works. And pets make you itch. Either way, in this moment, all that’s here is you. And you know it’s coming. You - the person you’ve placed so far on the backburner that you can no longer see the light. Everything feels okay from the outside. But inside you feel it bubbling up to the surface again. You tamp it back down.
Not here, not now.
Instead, you readjust the mask and go on acting as though all is well. But it’s not and you know it. Being sad and crying as a black woman comes with trepidation. There’s a stance of wary for yourself - is it safe? Is it going to hurt? Will it get in the way of plans? In a word, yes. Yes to all 3 and more. But better to hurt now - excavating your heart, mind and body through a good cry - than pretending to be okay. Grab your bonnet, sis. This gon be a wet ride.
Tips on how to cry as a black woman:
With intention, audacity and in freedom.
Understand that we have the freedom and audacity to scream cry if need be, regardless of the lies that attempt to tell us otherwise. This article isn’t about cute crying; the empty tears we let fall to comfort or appease. This is about intentionally letting the tears mixed with anger, throwing of things and screaming into pillow flows. Yes, we are magic. Even more so, we are real. So denying ourselves this very honest and soothing action is to deny ourselves freedom. Our ability to weaponize our tears in order to kill generational curses, move stagnant energy and disperse what no longer serves us is unmatched. So chile, use your tears to set yourself free.
Because you can
Our tears, whatever they are answers to, are for us. They bathe us and rinse away all the world would rather keep us attached to. To get the most out of your tears, you must get over the need to comfort those uncomfortable with you weighing your emotions. There is no “sorry” in your self-redemption. You take up space and so do your tears. Yup, in the year of our Lord and Savior 2019, we still face the Angry Black Woman™ trope. White people and others have played victim to the storms they’ve stirred up in us. Our tears terrify them as they bring forth both healing and destruction. They are signs of calm and chaos. With that said, make yourself this pledge: there’s no more shielding here; no more blocking of self and necessity to placate those whose stereotypes we don’t embody or create. Those memories, that inner child, that trauma, that abuse is waiting to be acknowledged, and ultimately, healed. And oftentimes, the literal key to opening up that process is swelling up behind our eyes.
Give yourself allowance
We’re allowed happy tears by us. We’re allowed ugly, angry, visceral tears by us. All can be true at once. Grant yourself permission to cry your tears outloud without centering others. Shielding people from you during your hardest bouts boxes you in while it gives others availability to approach you how they wish (trust me, I continue to do the legwork). Let your pain be known in safe-for-you doses. Your body will tell you when it’s time to ball up and heave. Stop denying yourself this remedy. Do not hide you/your story because it makes someone else uneasy. There’s always time and place for your glory rain and you make the rules on how to water yourself.
Have you ever known you need to cry so you prepare for it? You avoid people/places/conversations until you’re in a safe environment. You pregame all day with water to stay hydrated. You listen to specially curated music to ramp up the feels. If any of these or varaitions of such ring a bell, you’ve hit the expert level in this crying game. Prepping your space and self to cry can ease the initial headache-inducing ache before, during and after your weep-a-thon. If you’re a cryer like me who heaves from the belly, eating something light during the day can temper nausea. If you’re a weeper, a thick blanket and tissues provide a nest during your session. Clear the space for the theatrics of crying. Sometimes gnashing of teeth and tearing of clothes is required. Put on your crying clothes. Find your accompanying pillow/blanket/playlist/food. The same way you prepare for an indulgent day of pampering, take that routine and tweak it for tears. Crying isn’t self-care adjacent or even devoid of it - it is self care. My therapist once gave me crying homework. Her instructions:
“Bring to mind all the men - your father, all your exes, the family member who molested you - people who were supposed to protect you, bring them here. Bring them to surface. Take a few deep breaths. Do this bent over on your knees, similar to an upright fetal position to ward off dizziness. On your last deep breath, pull in deep and wail on the exhale. Gnash. Push. Scream. Pull it from deep as you are uprooting overgrown branches and limbs. Do it as many times as you need to. Speak their names. Tell them how much they hurt you, neglected to protect you and let you down. Take new deep breaths. Settle yourself when ready. Now, go to your bath. Sink down deep, covering your head. Let what is now empty be filled with light and the water. Repeat as necessary.”
Do not judge yourself for why you’re crying
I hated crying as a kid, mainly because I was always chastised for showing emotion. I told myself crying was weakness and anytime I cried, I shamed myself. I continue to grow in the knowledge of how therapeutic crying really is. It came to its peek when I let a friend hold my head as I wailed over an ex. I remember still wanting to put forward this brave face because I had become known for adopting that posture. In that moment I collapsed. Mask fell, eyes balled. And honestly, it was liberating. Facade shattered, snot bubbles with it. It may not matter to the rest of the world. It may be confusing to all involved. It may be triggering to only you. None of this matters when you need to release. It’s hard releasing the pangs of distrust and embarrassment that comes with letting yourself go. It’s even harder to do it under the expectations of being indestrutible. Self-directing your intentions while suffocating societal norms get in the way is a juggling act for the ages. But know this: no matter how you slice it, crying is a balm for any weary soul. It may be fierce, violent and ugly. It may be pretty, warm and elegant. But cry, bish. Boss up and let the tears run.
Activate go go magic tears. Allow yourself to bask in the afterglow of a good cry.
Because you deserve.
Because I deserve.
Because we deserve.