This is How I Sit with Sadness.

Via Bryonie Wise
on Mar 8, 2014
get elephant's newsletter

Screen Shot 2014-03-08 at 6.20.08 PM

Hello? Is anyone here? a small voice calls out, echoing into the dark.

The small voice (my voice) calls out again, hoping to hear the warmth of a response, a sign that I am not alone in this place.

The darkness is heavy and my feet feel like 100 pound weights and as I reach out to feel for the container of this space, my fingers are barely able to discern where I end and the despair begins.

I arrived here about two weeks ago and slowly, with one weighted foot in front of the other, I’ve been moving forward—at least, that’s what I think I’m doing but in the dark, it’s hard to tell. Maybe I’m shuffling sideways, or spinning in slow moving circles, or maybe it’s my mind that’s moving and my body is still.

The air is dank I can feel my bones shiver; I am scared, to be here in this place. It’s not new to me but it’s not old either and each time I visit a little longer and each time I fear a little more.

In the next moment—for time moves swiftly and in slow motion at the same time—I realize that I am standing still and the thought of moving my body to move the sadness through my blood is too much to bear and here I stay, waiting for this all to pass.

My brain says, This is too much and my heart says, I think you are killing me and I continue to breathe through the waves of panic that have taken up a permanent home in my throat. I think to reach for my mat, but that idea alone is too tiring and my arms hang heavy at my sides; every part of me is leaden.

The dark can be full of magic but for me, right now, it is not; if I sit or stand or fall, I am instantly swarmed with creatures I cannot see but can only feel, grasping, clutching, trying to steal the center of my soul; my breath of life, the beating heart from my chest.

A breeze falls down the back of my neck and my spine shudders and I want to lay down and let the hungry demons consume every part of me; the stronger me—my raw, open, vulnerable, beating heart—will not declare a victory to the darkness and she demands that I listen to her lead.

Keep fighting, she says. Keep praying, keep breathing, keep writing, keep feeling, she repeats, over and over again. I know somewhere inside that she is right, but I am tired and my visions blurs and I start to doubt her, too.

I am still not sure if I will make it out of here alive. In the darkness, my thoughts are harder to leash and I have convinced myself that I am undeserving of happiness; that I am undeserving of love and affection and that I will stay alone, here, forever, with only the memory of the light to keep my alive.

I have tricked myself into believing my long-formed pattern of protecting myself—that I do not need to be loved, that I do not need to hear words of love and that I do not need to be touched in the ways of love.

When I cannot stand it anymore, I reach for something to numb my thoughts and the closest thing wins and then I sit with the shame of what I’ve done to my body and the weight gets heavier and I sink deeper and my body becomes part of the battle, too.

When I cannot stand it anymore, I climb into a hot bath cry and cry and let my tears meet the water and I bathe in my sorrow.

When I cannot stand it anymore, I tumble to my knees and press my forehead into the damp ground and ask for the God of my own understanding to save me for I do not know how to save myself.

When I cannot stand it anymore, with my forward to ground, I call for my army of warriors—other beating, strong hearts—to join me because I can longer be here alone and it is only with their love that I can ever come back to life.

Silently, ever so silently, I ask for help.

I can feel their warrior-love fill the darkness and tears of gratitude slide down my cheeks.

This is what it means to be loved, my heart says—this is what it means to be loved.



Love elephant and want to go steady?

Sign up for our (curated) daily and weekly newsletters!


Photo: here


About Bryonie Wise

Bryonie’s life is rooted in the belief that when we come from a place of love, anything is possible. When not teaching yoga or writing her heart to the bone, she can be found frolicking in the sunshine with her camera & her dog, Winston, living her yoga. Stay in the loop of all her magical happenings, connect with her on Facebook, TwitterInstagram—& maybe even add her first book, HEART ROAR: A Book of Tiny Prayers to your collection.


28 Responses to “This is How I Sit with Sadness.”

  1. Marika says:

    i can't tell you how much i needed to read this piece right at this very moment. thank you thank you. my heart is full of gratitude for the knowing that we are not alone

  2. elephantjournal says:

    xoxoxoxoxo ~ b.

  3. DanaGornall says:

    <3 One day I am going to give you a proper hug.

  4. elephantjournal says:

    And me, you. xo

  5. I wish you all the love in the world and then some, Bry. And I give you as much of mine as I can fathom. I hope it can hold you, even in the darkest of days and the loneliest of moments. xoxo

  6. @amydcushing says:

    Wow, Bry! Amazing. My open heart always pours love to you, my friend. <3

  7. @deannaogle says:

    I can't get enough of your writing, Bryonie. I think that's one of the things that stops me from writing more is knowing that I have to go down into the darkness. And it takes time, sadness, and some psyching up of myself to be willing to go in there. But I know I have to if anything is going to be any good. It reminds me of this quote from Robert Olen Butler:

    “if I say art doesn’t come from the mind, it comes from the place you dream, you may say, ‘well, I wake up screaming in the night. I don’t want to go into my dreams, thank you very much. I don’t want to go into that white-hot center; I’ve spent my life staying out of there. that’s why I’m sitting in this classroom, why I was able to draw a comb through my hair this morning. because I haven’t gone there, I don’t go there. I’ve got lots of ways of staying out of there.’ and you know what? you still need those ways twenty-one or twenty-two hours a day. but this is the tough part: for those two hours a day when you write, you cannot flinch. you have to go down into that deepest, darkest, most roiling, white-hot place — it can’t be white-hot and dark at the same time, but I don’t care — that paradox, live with it — whatever scared the hell out of you down there — and there’s plenty — you have to go in there; down into the deepest part of it, and you can’t flinch, can’t walk away. that’s the only way to create a work of art.”

  8. Sophia says:

    Wow. That is one hell of a piece of writing. Thank you, and big love.

  9. Jamie Khoo says:

    Dear Bryonie,
    This is immense and beautiful and raw, and i have so much respect for how you open up your heart and let it spill onto the page. Your writing is incredible, it has spoken right to the same dark sad places i have known and i hope that in the act of writing, you feel better, just as you make hundreds and thousands of us out here feel better and stronger and not alone. Knowing you, your writing and having the privilege of working with you these few months has saved my heart life. Thank you. Sending you so much love. I wish we lived nearer so I could buy you a big mug of tea and give you a hug that will last forever x

  10. I love that when it's all too much, you still feel it and then find a way to pour it out so beautifully. I love you and it's going to be okay.

  11. saracrolick says:

    'Keep fighting, she says. Keep praying, keep breathing, keep writing, keep feeling, she repeats, over and over again.'

    That beautiful heart of yours already knows, but I'll say the same, My Sweet: Keep fighting. Keep praying, keep breathing, keep writing, keep feeling.

    You are magnificent and I am honored to be your friend.

  12. Cami Krueger says:

    Bryonie, your writing consistently leaves me in awe. Thank you for opening your beating heart and sharing its rhythm with us. There is a space for all of these sensations and feelings and thoughts… and the way you put it all together is a beautiful display of creation. The darkness is consuming, and you've put to words what my heart, my experience, my life has felt like recently and in reading this piece, I feel less alone – I feel like there are warriors that stand with me, love with me, yearn, move, and write with me. Thank you for braving the darkness so eloquently.

  13. jenniferswhite says:

    God, I love your writing. Bryonie, you are quite sincerely one of the best writers that's ever graced this planet. Thank you for sharing this gift.

  14. elephantjournal says:

    You better not come to Boulder 'cause if you do we'll never let you leave. Sadness is a sweet and hard part of our human condition, but it lets us feel joy, too–and here there's 300 days of sunshine a year, and Redford and Win can play.

  15. laurakutney says:

    Bryonie, So beautiful- you and your writing. You are amazing. Love, Laura xo

  16. elephantjournal says:

    Thank you xoxox

  17. elephantjournal says:

    Thanks Amy. xo

  18. elephantjournal says:

    Thank you, thank you. xo

  19. elephantjournal says:

    Thank you Sophia!

  20. elephantjournal says:

    Thank you Jamie xoxoxo (me too)

  21. elephantjournal says:


  22. elephantjournal says:


  23. elephantjournal says:

    Thank you Cami, so much. xo #warriorsunite

  24. elephantjournal says:


  25. elephantjournal says:


  26. elephantjournal says:

    Thank you xo

  27. Adriana says:

    thank you so much for this.