Dear Writerly Woman,
I feel sad today, and I don't know what I'm sad about.
Does that ever happen to you?
Some days I wake up and sadness is flowing through me.
I hardly ever know what I'm sad about.
But here's what I do know.
I learned from Karla McLaren in The Art of Empathy that the gift of sadness is it helps you release what no longer serves you.
I also learned from Martha Beck in Steering By Starlight that there are two types of pain: clean pain and dirty pain.
Clean pain is when you experience pain from something real that happens. And the pain, though it hurts, doesn't make you go into deep existential suffering, because the pain is a true thing about you in that moment.
Dirty pain is when you experience pain from something that is not true. This is the kind of pain that is angsty, blah, yuckness. It's like the pain you feel you when you think something terrible, but totally untrue, about yourself.
Today, my sadness feels like clean pain.
It's not causing my mind to suffer.
It feels real, and even though I don't know what I'm sad about, it feels like the right thing to feel in this moment.
I used to have dirty pain about my sad days, because I thought I shouldn't be sad. The untrue thought, I shouldn't be sad, caused me to suffer a lot.
Nowadays, I sit with the sadness. I greet it. I feel it, and I don't try to figure it out.
I chalk it up to the fact that life has been hard.
I've had a multitude of experiences in my younger days I never properly grieved.
And as I heal and grow, there are days my body is ready to release the grief and sadness of old things.
I don't need to know what things. I just sit, feel the sadness, which is usually in my heart, and give it permission to flow and release whatever needs to be released.
This hurts like hell, but it's clean and right and true. So it also feels like freedom.
Today, unlike most sad days, I'm also writing about it.
This is because I wanted to write to you today, and when I write I look inside my body to see what wants to be expressed.
Today, I found this sad feeling, and I realized this is what wanted to be expressed today. Just the fact of the sadness and how I sit with it.
A couple days ago I offered you a suggestion to write one quick sentence to help you see that you could, indeed, write words.
I gave you a writing prompt in case you couldn't think of one sentence to write: What one true thing can I say about my life today?
The first line of today's letter is my answer to this question, "I feel sad today, and I don't know why."
Self-expression is so often much more simple than we think it should be.
It can be easy to think writing should be grandiose, complex, and epic. This kind of writing is great, if it's authentic to you.
But writing doesn't need to be like this.
Writing, as a form of honest self-expression, can be one simple true thing after the next.
If you have something true inside of you that wants to be expressed in written form, take a breath and start simple.
Write one sentence answering the question: What one true thing can I say about my life today?
P.S. If you have true things inside of you that want to be expressed in written form, but you're terrified, let's talk. I'm a writing coach, and my work is all about helping you free your voice so you can experience the joy of self-expression. Schedule a free consultation, where we'll chat and see if my work is right for you.
Emma Veritas is a writer and writing coach. She's a committed blogger and is currently working on edits to her first novel. She graduated with her Bachelor's degree in English from the Honor's Program at the University of Massachusetts, where she wrote her thesis on the power of story during hard times. She has completed Martha Beck's Life Coach Training and is an endorsed Soul's Calling Coach. She is a life long learner in the craft of writing, most recently completing courses on fiction writing and plot development through WritersHQ.
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