“Weeping Creates a River”


Weeping creates a river around the boat that carries your soul-life.  Tears lift your boat off the rocks, off dry ground, carrying it downriver to someplace new, someplace better.

— Clarissa Pinkola Estes

I’ve always cried a lot.  It’s just something I did, like eating and sleeping.  But I didn’t always understand my tears the way I do now.

Crying was something my mother seemed to understand.  I remember sitting at the kitchen table and her putting a green  bowl with white daisies on it, in front of me to catch my tears.  Sometimes you just have to cry, she said.  And she let me.

My father, like many men, was afraid of my tears.   Because of his reaction to my tears I learned that when I cried people left me alone.   I learned to hide in my tears.  Jon was the first person I ever met who didn’t run from my crying or try to soothe me.

The first time I cried in front of  Jon I was sitting behind the barn at the Old Bedlam Farm.   We were just friends then and it was the second or third time I was there to feed the animals.  I didn’t understand why, but every time I gave the sheep and donkeys hay I would cry.  This time Jon saw me crying.  I expected him to pretend he hadn’t seen me or ask me if I was alright then go away.

But he didn’t, he sat down and waited for me to stop crying.  He said he understood, feeding the animals was such a nurturing thing to do and I had suppressed my nurturing instincts for so long.   It was the first time my tears had opened up a conversation instead of shutting it down.

I was feeding Jon’s animals on the weekends in exchange for the use of one of his barns as a studio.   I cleaned it out and painted it, but I always felt like I washed it as much with my tears as a broom and paintbrush.

It took me a few weeks, going there at night after work,  to make it mine.  I remember crying the whole time.  While I vacuumed, every time I dipped the roller in the paint,  with every brush stroke around the windows panes. I cried as I moved Jon’s furniture out and mine in.  Through it all I cried.  Sometimes silent tears other times,  great big sobs, that would stop me from working for just a little while.

I didn’t understand my tears then, but I accepted them.  I had no choice, I couldn’t stop them.  And as disturbing as it was, it also felt good.  Like I was releasing a lifetime of pent-up pain.

In saying yes to having a studio and making the space mine, I felt like I was coming back to myself.  My tears were also of relief and gratitude.  I had finally  landed after so many years of not being able to take what I really wanted and be who I really was.

I didn’t know at the time that my tears were transporting me, as Este’s writes,  but that’s exactly what was happening.   I was letting go of a life long burden, and making space for my new life to begin.  I was crying the river that would get me from one place to another. To the life I have now, filled with love and creativity and a strong sense of self.

I cry easily now and without excuse or embarrassment.  I no longer cry to scare people away, I cry because it’s part of how I express myself.  Holding back tears is actually painful but letting them flow is not only a cleansing release, but a means of movement.  The first step in a new direction.

I remember  when I was a kid  once my father tried to get me to stop crying by telling me that I would never get a boyfriend if I cried a lot.  In one of my rare outbursts I told him that I would find someone who didn’t care that I cried.  Jon often tells me he loves me a little more each time I cry.  Seems my tears led me to that someone.


12 thoughts on ““Weeping Creates a River”

  1. Beautifully written. I don’t know when it happened, but one day I just stopped apologizing for my tears. Like you, I cry a lot. Happy. Sad. Afraid. My tears baptize all my emotions.
    Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Maria, I love your posting…and I do understand finally having your own space to be creative. You finally came home to yourself. I also found Jon’s post on Christmas today exactly how I feel about it. It’s so good to come here and see words that express exactly how I feel too…
    Love the illustration and quote.
    SandyP in S.Ont.,Can.

  3. You are so loved by so many spirits and bodies. I would guess the ratio of four legged lovers to two legged lovers are running an even space.

  4. Maria,
    I too have always cried, I used to joke, “I cried at a good steak.” I love the imagery of crying a river to take you to a new place. I know now that the tears are necessary and not always something to be ashamed of. It is too bad that we are told to be afraid of tears, fix the tears, and by all means stop them. How special Jon was to sit by you and understand you.

  5. OH, MARIA!! THIS IS JUST SO BEAUTIFUL!! I never did think of crying during a time of taking care of creatures who appreciate it (human or animal) as a release of pent up desire to nurture. Now that Jon has said it to you and you have shared it with us, the concept of bottled up desires being expressed thru tears seems so obvious. I have certainly experienced it, just did not have the words for it. Thank you so much! Annie

  6. This is beautiful. I have always been ashamed that I cry at the drop of a hat. Never thought about it in this light. Beautiful sentiment and very much appreciated:-)

  7. I just happened to stumble onto your blog a few days ago (I actually followed the link from your husband’s blog, which a family member shared with me just because they thought I might like it…), and I happened upon this post.
    Your words, and the reality behind them, resonated so deeply within me that I’ve kept the tab open on my computer, and I’ve been coming back daily to re-read them. So I figured it was time to express my gratitude- thank you so much for sharing so openly. I’ve always been an excessively emotional person, and tears have always been a part of how I express myself. There have been periods when I’ve cried for what felt like weeks. And yes, I have experienced the tear-shaming that is so prevalent in our culture.

    I’m in a really good place now, a better place than I’ve been in years, and I have finally been able to take a step back and appreciate my wild and varied emotions. Finding your words about tears helped expedite my continued acceptance of them in more ways than I could express.

    Thank you again.

    1. Wow Frannie, thanks so much for letting me know. This is just the kind of connection I hope for with ever I make or write something. We’ll just keep crying ourselves to new and better places.

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