- Tamara Catharina
I cry. Sometimes every day. Sometimes several times a day. Sometimes I swallow it. And then let it free when I feel safe. I am exploring the limitations of my crying. I now cry in restaurants, in trains, on my bike and in co-working spaces. I cry with my friends, my family, my partner, my child and my colleagues. I smile at people passing by and looking at me while I cry. I want to ask them if they cry enough. Do you cry enough? Do you give space to your tears when they arrive at the borders of your eyes? I would like for all the tears in the world to flow boundlessly, as to me it is simply life healing itself.
When I look at my son when he is releasing emotions, I see no blockages, no shame, no self-judgements, no holding back or pushing away, just the natural river of life moving through him in the moment. I believe this is our natural state. It is our body processing and releasing. Cleaning up. So I wondered, when did I lose that? And when did it start to come back?
I don’t remember much of it, but what I recall from my inner experience in the first years of my life is that it was juicy and wild. Anger, excitement, pleasure, sadness, all moving through without being stopped. No such thing as pleasant or unpleasant feelings. Rather a delicious wave of life in its purest form. Without having any concerns about whether it was too much or not enough. Fully embracing whatever came up.
When this started to change is hard to say, but there was a moment when I started to have judgements about my own crying. From my surroundings I received comments such as “get over it”, “it’s not that bad” and “you gotta get a little tougher”. From those comments, I understood I was weak and I should be stronger. Another flavour of comments was “I can’t help it Tamara” or “I don’t know what to do to help you”. From those comments, I understood that I had a problem, that I was broken and that I needed to be fixed.
The seeds were planted. Moment by moment I grew more self-judgements about my crying. I started to cry about me crying. I started to cry about my cry not being welcome. I cried because I was feeling torn inside, a battle between life wanting to tear and my mind wanting it to stop. Now judged by others and by myself, crying became a burden. It turned into a story that something was wrong with me. I wasn’t supposed to cry. And that needed to be fixed.
When I was about fifteen years old I was crying all day every day and my mother took me to our family doctor. He diagnosed me with depression and there was a solution for it. Medicine. Anti-depressants. Anti-crying-pills. And they worked. I stopped crying almost completely. I actually stopped feeling anything at all. No wild excitements, no rage, sadness or pleasure. At least it was quiet. I was cured. I was able to live a “normal” life now. To function. What I understood from it was that indeed I had a problem and that was solved now with this medicine. It planted new seeds in me. Of a story that something was wrong with me. That I wasn’t able to live a normal life without support.
About ten years later, when my dose was already a bit lower than what I started with, I noticed feeling things again. This time it made me curious. What would life look like now, when I would stop taking those pills. There was a sense of joy in being able to cry again and get angry and feel all of it. And I started to understand what intuition is. I started to slowly see that my feelings are like a compass. My search to learn how to navigate life in its fullness had started. Despite my doctor's advice that I first had to create myself “a stable life” I stopped my medicine. The beginning of the rest of my life.
I found myself embodiment practices, to move with my feelings, and to get to know the language of my body. I found myself the first therapist in my life that walked by my side and supported me in working through trauma that didn’t get attention before. I found Nonviolent Communication. I changed carriers. I started to travel and get to know the world. And through all of this, I found myself.
I surrounded myself with people where my crying was welcome. And I welcomed their crying. The judgements I had about my crying were not gone. I cried, and at the same time, I was in pain about the crying. It took time for me to trust that the people around me didn’t judge me for my tears. That they actually loved my tears, my openness, and to witness the life inside of me. When I met my partner I believe I cried on the first day we spent together. He welcomed it all. I wasn’t afraid to be judged. I wanted to be able to be myself fully, including tears.
Two years ago I became a mother. Instead of “raising” him, I understood that all I wanted to do is to follow him, to listen and to let life move through him. Since his first cry, all I did was be present. When I knew he needed me, I would give him that. When I didn’t know, I just kept him close. He’s 2 years old now and starts to speak. When he cries and he needs something, he asks me. When he cries and he doesn’t say anything, I just acknowledge his tears. Often his cries don’t take more than 30 seconds. I am witnessing the wave, I can see it moving.
Last week I think I experienced my first pure cry since I was a little. I was alone at home. I told myself, I don’t need to know why or to justify my cry. I just have to cry. To be with myself just as I do with my child. I cried for about five minutes. I could feel the release happening inside of me. Without anything being solved or fixed, I came out on the other side as if all cells of my body had been cleansed.
Witnessing my son and his tears have brought me to a deeper layer of understanding. When we have tears coming up, all we are meant to do is to let them do the work. Welcome ourselves, welcome our tears, welcome life to heal itself.
I would love this to be a space for engagement, exploration and connection. Please practice nonviolence in your comments. If you have a request (for example, because you would like support or collaboration), you can send me an email: email@example.com