Confession time: I've been having a hard time having a good cry. It's been a problem for a while, since my recovery from trauma. I have shed tears, don't get me wrong, but where I grew up being the kind of person who felt a lot and wholeheartedly and cried out of empathy, for the sake of beauty and love, and in a free-flowing and tender way, over the last few years, I somehow learned to cry only in breakdown mode, during panic attacks, through low-vibe feelings like self-doubt and fear: these were erratic and fitful cries, restless and anxious cries, fragmented and unconscious tears, tears following a toxic pattern of victimhood and helplessness. There’s been no flow, no whole feeling, not even sense often times. Every now and then, usually during therapy, when retelling the stories of my past, when revealing shadows I’d hid away, when releasing dark weight and receiving validation, the flow would return, but I’m not sure it ever felt complete; the tears would be quickly held back, the river dammed by the dread of getting carried away with its current. A kind of numbness keeps me, to this day, from fully experiencing my emotions at my core.
I slowly and only fairly recently earned back the ability to flow from the heart when tuning into stories: for example, when watching a movie or the occasional news story. This is often in response to those beautiful moments: the parts you cry at because it’s lovely and full of meaning. Painful aspects of the world put me into a sort of firm, solid shock, my insides seeming almost completely frozen in space and time, and thus unable to flow as need be. As an empath, it's been a struggle, because my inability to shed more than one solemn tear at a time has left me feeling, well, unfeeling. I find myself having a self-doubtful inner monologue: do I not care? Of course I care! Maybe I'm selfish now? Jaded? Hardened? I crave my softness like a locked door craves its key.
And when doing shadow work, when feeling that wild and heartbroken need to cry it out, that moment when the soul must howl through the body, that invitation to sincerely grieve and release what still weighs on my chest, even alone with no pressure, even with sentimental music to spur me on, even under the most accommodating of circumstances, I get stuck. One sob is all my body allows; a few tears, and it shuts down. It's been a very strange and frustrating experience that I’ve mostly kept to myself, hoping the problem would dissolve on its own, returning me to my natural state.
Now, it’s been occurring to me lately, through my understanding of the natural elements, that as a creative person, as a writer who has been more blocked in her writing over the last few years than ever before in her life, that perhaps, this is all connected through the element of water. If my emotions won’t flow, the words won’t come; if I cannot cry, I will not write. There is a story I want to write, a series of stories, and though I feel divinely called to this project, though I feel an almost certainty that I will, in time, complete these stories, put them on the page, bind them in a book, and begin the career I’ve been drawn to since childhood; though this is all I want and there are no real barriers standing in my way, the resistance is unreal.
I brought this up to my mother, this idea of the connection between my stopped emotions and stagnant creative energies. I told her, maybe I won’t write until I’m able to cry. Her response: maybe you won’t cry until you write.
Louis L’Amour wrote, “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” So I will. I will. This rainy season is beckoning me to the page, and I will listen. I cannot genuinely will myself to cry, but I can will myself to write, will myself to get the words out … and I have faith that the rest will follow downstream.
A final note: during this stagnant period, I created a simple card spread that helped me reflect on what the block at the root of my resistance is and what action I can take to overcome it. The spread is in the shape of an upside-down triangle: the symbol for water.
The positions are:
I: Block ~ What’s in your flow’s way? What is the root issue that blocks you from feeling?
II: Action ~ What action can you take to overcome this block? What release work can you try now?
III: Affirmation ~What advice does the Universe have for you? What can you keep in mind while feeling and releasing?
I’ve done the spread a few times over the course of the last couple months and got some beautiful responses. One time, I used only the Cups suit, which I definitely recommend, and I poignantly received the Eight of Cups in the Action position, harking back to the reflections I recorded in a blog post last August about the Eight of Cups.
In another reading, using the potent oracle deck, The Messenger Cards, I received The Keeper of Magic in the Block position. This card was really interesting, because it didn’t give a clear answer; it actually gave off a vibe of specifically withholding the answer from me. This card whispered to me about the secrets of divine timing, about surrendering to patience, about blockages serving as lessons that must unravel in their own time. Leave it up to the Universe, the card told me. Don’t force it.
In this reading, I also received The Creative Force in the Action position, which seemed like a pretty reliable affirmation of my newfound belief that putting the work in creatively will get the rest of my watery energies flowing freely. This reading was especially powerful in a way where I felt it showed me what the possibilities are if I just trust and put the work in; if I can just turn that faucet on, it’s safe to have faith that the tears will come with the words: one day, amidst writing a poignant scene that I cannot even imagine now, the words will touch a lever of some sort on their way out, and something will shift, and the moment will fill with meaning, fill to the brim with feeling, and overflow.