Phone Call – “Stop crying! Moscow doesn’t believe in tears!!”

Phone Call - “Stop crying! Moscow doesn’t believe in tears!!”Mom is having a major surgery in two days…

I hang up the phone and sit quietly…

Mom’s best friend is coming to be with her that day, Dad has already taken time off work, and my sister will be looking after Mom after she has been released from the hospital. I am on the other end of the globe and cannot go to Russia right now, but Mom will be fine…

I notice a painful feeling starting to emerge in me and I listen to it: “I want to be there! I NEED to be there! Family is the most important thing in life! I want to help! I want to be there for her! I SHOULD be there for her! What if I never see her again? I want to be there!..”

I am surprised at this panic attack. “She will be fine!” I tell myself. “There are people to take care of her. She will be just fine and I will go spend time with all of them next summer.”

I am even more surprised to feel that my eyes are starting to well up… “What is this?? Tears??? Why??? SHE WILL BE JUST FINE!!! I’VE TOLD YOU!!!…”

My inner child doesn’t seem to be listening and memories begin flooding my mind…

I am 3 years old, at a hospital, scared and crying. Mom tells me in a very strict and annoyed voice that if I do not stop crying the policeman sitting across us will take me away. I am even more scared, but I shove my tears back in…

Now I am 7 years old, at school. Some child is upset. The elementary teacher gets mad and yells at him: “Stop crying RIGHT NOW! Moscow doesn’t believe in tears!!” I have no idea what that means, but I take notice that the teacher gets very angry when she sees tears, so I try to remember to never cry at school…

Now I am 10 years old, in middle school. The history teacher just came in; we are all standing in rows in our uniforms to greet her. She is in a bad mood today and begins screaming at us, getting drunk on her own anger and making an impressive crescendo with her voice. Every word she is spitting at us is climbing higher and higher in pitch until she is at the top of the keyboard and there is no place left to climb. At this point she is completely hysterical. My ears start hurting and every cell in my body shrinks. I want to disappear. I try to blend with the furniture and hope for the floor to open and swallow me…

Now I am 16 years old, at my Russian university. My grammar professor is mocking me in front of the class for making a spelling mistake in the word “language.” I feel embarrassed. I want to cry, to hide, to run away, but I don’t. I know it would be “childish” and “bad manners.” I know that being a “wuss” is much worse than making a spelling mistake and I tell myself to just swallow it and not to react in any way…

Then I see myself in the US, in my 10-year marriage to a man who knew only one emotion – anger…

Then, right after my divorce, in a yoga class. The instructor keeps reminding me to stop holding my breath and breathe. I never knew I was doing that…

Then, also in a yoga class – the instructor takes us into a meditation and tells us to direct our attention to our bodies and notice where the tension is. I am astonished to discover that I have a body and I can actually feel it. I’ve never noticed it before! That button had been switched off so long ago that I can’t even remember when. Now I find out I have a body and I can actually feel it and the tension it is carrying! I am stunned! I am 35 years old…

Next I’m at a yoga retreat later that year. We are being instructed to line up facing each other, have one person walk in the middle with eyes closed, while the others give them love – a touch, a hug, a handshake, a pat on the back… I have no trouble giving love to others. I actually enjoy seeing people nurtured. Yet when it’s my turn, I am suddenly nervous, uncomfortable and distressed. I want to skip my turn, to run away…

I take a minute to breathe and calm down, then I close my eyes and make the first step into the aisle… I begin feeling people giving me hugs, I begin feeling their love, but I do not know what to do with it… I am struggling to take it in… It gets stuck in my throat in a huge lump… More people give me hugs; someone takes my hand into theirs and I can feel the warmth of their hands and their heart. Someone pats me on my head and I finally collapse… I never cry in public and those rare times when I cry at home, I go to the furthest, darkest room and cry silently… This time something breaks open in me and I cannot put the lid back on it – I am sobbing uncontrollably…

I am overwhelmed with strangers being kind to me, with the realization that I actually do have feelings and emotions and that no one is yelling at me for having them, that it is OK to have them and that I am OK. There is nothing wrong with me and I do not need to hide any parts of me. There are no “wrong” parts in me…

I am still sitting in a chair, with the phone still in my lap, feeling tears crawling quietly from my eyes down the cheeks onto my dress…

I stop yelling at my inner child that Mom will be just fine. She will, of course, but that is not the point…

I allow myself to sit until the tears stop, get a glass of water and remind myself that it is OK to feel pain, it is OK to cry, and it is OK to be human because we are…

Diana Kay,

Daily Zen.

Author Bio – Diana Kay was born in the USSR, grew up in Russia, and moved to the USA in 2003. It fascinates her to capture what it’s like to be a spiritual being having a human experience. For more articles, please visit her blog at dianakay.me.

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