There is the bent over, mourning, gasping for breath, I’m going to be sick if I don’t cry and sick when I do cry, cry.
Sometimes, this bent over cry can seem to come out of nowhere. When that happens, one might crumble under the unexpected nature of the cry. Some people experience this when they feel their limitations so strongly, that they literally cannot breathe. Crying becomes a way to breathe and not breathe all at the same time. Waves of tears, waves of shallow breaths, and fervent prayers to release and to go deeper seem to happen all at the same time. Slowly, things subside, the surf calms, and the body and the mind can rest again, knowing that one needed that deep burst of authentic feeling to address their fragmented pain of who they wish they could be but aren’t, and feel the wholeness of one’s being once again.
This cry can also be part of a sense of innate ritual. I remember this kind of cry when mourning my grandmother. I knew I would cry deeply and, some part of me was prepping for it to happen, like the mourners before me had done, that wale of a cry. When it happened, I was both ready for it and not ready for it. Once I let myself fully engage in the cry, my body felt like it was breaking open, and I began to have more sense of all the little parts that made up my whole body and, somehow, when that happened, I had enough energy to be present and crying, all at once.
This was the cry I had silently when I realized that the peace officer who killed Philando Castile was not going to be punished. This was the cry when I wept in disbelief that another black man was dead because of fear. It crept up on me throughout all the social media posts of the “not guilty” decision of the jury. The fury about our broken system nauseated me. I still haven’t cried out loud for the tremendous, unfathomable loss that is being perpetuated repeatedly by a system designed to protect one group of people against another. I don’t know when the tears will physically be here. I know that when they come, I will be reminded of standing at Yad Vashem and hearing the names of all the children who were murdered, wiped away by fear of one group over their “other”. These children who died in the Shoah will never grow up, never tell stories of what it was like when they were young, never have grandchildren to listen eagerly to them while making their own experiences in the world. Philando Castile was murdered by those we put there to protect us, to protect him; I cry.
As a white person, to heal these atrocities, I need to do more than cry. In a few breaths time, I will be ready to reach out and learn how I can best be of help to change this broken system.
May we all have the time to cry and the time to act, for justice, peace, and hope.
Abigail “Abi” Weissman, Psy.D.
Psychologist CA PSY 27497
As always, this blog provides general information only and should not be seen as evidence of a therapeutic relationship. Please consult with an individual licensed psychologist, counselor, or clinician for individual help.