The thought of seeing someone cry used to trigger anxiety, because I was afraid to feel my own sadness; I feared the enormity of what I held inside, and because revealing my true feeling meant allowing a certain vulnerability that I believed would make me weak and defenseless to anyone trying to hurt me; I had been bullied enough times, in enough places, to understand the importance of my defenses. I also felt like there was something wrong with me for not being able to be with sadness, and not knowing how to support others in their sadness; as a teenager, I felt inadequate as a friend and in conflict with myself because I wanted to be okay with feeling sad but my fear inhibited me.
To be able to overcome this fear I needed to learn that my sadness was acceptable and that I was strong enough to be with the tidal waves I felt certain I had suppressed. The difficulty is, you don’t get a 'taster session' on sadness, you just decide you are ready to feel, and when you decide, the challenge is allowing yourself to be with whatever arises, however big or overwhelming it is; it is a true act of surrender, and of letting go of control of yourself. The ability to overcome this fear is within your power, because self-acceptance is a choice we make for ourselves, and bravery is a choice we make when we want something enough.
It took me a long time to embrace my full emotional world, and when I did, I realised that yes it is as intense and overwhelming as I thought it might be, and, it is beautiful and rewarding because when we suppress the emotions that we do not want to experience, we also dampen and shut ourselves off from so much joy and happiness. However, I also learned that my fear element had been greatly misinformed because although my sadness was intense, and grieving aspects of my life where I needed to feel anger, loss and further sadness was painful, in reality, there was nothing about it to fear because emotion is just emotion, it flows like waves rising, falling and flowing into the shore to be absorbed by the body of the Earth. We are touched by our emotions, but we are not destroyed or broken by them, we just feel them and when we do, they move through us, and then we find ourselves on the other side of that motion, and there is a new calmness.
How to be with sadness: