Crying every session

Tommaso Tommasi, modified 2 Months ago.

Crying every session

Posts: 12 Join Date: 5/29/20 Recent Posts
Hi everyone,

As I've explained on a previous post, I'm dealing with mental health issues and my meditation experience (freeform noting of any and all sensations, attempting to discern rapid flickering, sometimes focusing on breath exclusively) has been largely one of expanding into broader and broader "observational" states.

I will observe my thoughts and sensations, and just as I get a very clear handle on them, I will "break through" upward into a new layer, where suddenly all my sensations surround me and blend with my reality such that I have to work hard to separate myself from their content and achieve a transparent awareness of them again.

Recently I had the insight that the awareness I am building is more of an ambient awareness, without a single source.

Anyway, I am curious if anyone else has experienced crying every single session. I have cried without fail every session for the last 5 months, every single day. It feels very cathartic and healthy, but I wonder what this says about my mental state and if anyone has experience with this or has any knowledge that will help me understand this process better.

Thanks!
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Oatmilk, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Crying every session

Posts: 81 Join Date: 7/30/20 Recent Posts
I'm not sure if this is the kind of advice you are looking for but if you really suffer from mental health issues, Vipassana may not be the best choice 
Tommaso Tommasi, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Crying every session

Posts: 12 Join Date: 5/29/20 Recent Posts
Oatmilk:
I'm not sure if this is the kind of advice you are looking for but if you really suffer from mental health issues, Vipassana may not be the best choice 


Au contraire, it seems to be expediting my recovery :-)

I'm listening to my body and mind and I take it exactly at the speed that seems necessary.
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Tommy M, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Crying every session

Posts: 108 Join Date: 12/1/20 Recent Posts
Hi Tommaso, there's a few points I'd like to make that may be helpful here:

1. As someone who has dealt with mental health issues while simultaneously practicing 'dry' vipassana for several years, I find myself in agreement with Oatmilk. Vipassana can be absolutely brutal when dealing with poor mental health and lack of stability, and the states encountered can seem to parallel things like full-blown psychotic breaks, which can then lead you down a spiral of misery. It can be very difficult to separate which is which, and can lead to ignoring an urgent psychiatric crisis by putting it down to meditative side-effects.

Please make sure that you're getting the professional help you need first and try to gain some stability in day-to-day life before going hardcore into vipassana.

2. If you do want to continue to practice, you may find that switching exclusively to samatha will provide you with some level of comfort. The Path is always there and it's not going anywhere. Your health and wellbeing need to come first. If that means taking a break from vipassana, so be it and please don't think of it as a failing or weakness of any sort. It takes more strength to ask for help than it does to just soldier on and tell yourself you're ok when you're not.

3. With regards to your current practice, what you're describing post-"break through" sounds like the mind simply falling back into old habitual patterns. It's perfectly natural, albeit frustrating, so try not to get too caught up in worry or disappointment over it. Your current mental health certainly won't be helping you, and whether the tears are due to that or the dukkha ñanas is a moot point. It sounds like you need to seek help from the proper sources rather than a hardcore dharma forum, and I say this because I'm sincerely worried about you and want you to take care of yourself.

I hope this helps in some way, but just know that there is only so much that any of us on this site can do. Again, your wellbeing needs to come first and I sincerely hope that you can get the help you need. Take care of yourself, please.
Tommaso Tommasi, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Crying every session

Posts: 12 Join Date: 5/29/20 Recent Posts
Tommy M:
Hi Tommaso, there's a few points I'd like to make that may be helpful here:


I appreciate your kind concern. I have been receiving professional mental health support and have been steadily recovering for a long time.

I began my practice with 6 months of samatha practice which culminated in a full-body glow or buzz which I put down to some kind of jhanic experience. I henceforth moved onto vipassana or samatha-vipassana techniques, and have continued to see improvement all around. I consider myself quite stable in my recovery and responsive to any warning signs my mind or body might present me with.

Perhaps I should elucidate the nature of my mental illness, which I believe to be primarily neurotic and concerning arrested development.

The "layers" which I break through is not a cyclic loop, breaking through and then reverting to old habits (though that notion is certainly taking place in some sense, though with a caveat to follow), but there is a definite development along a certain axis occurring. I have outlined this in a prior thread (available here, if you're interested). The aforementioned "arrested development" of my psyche appears to be expediated, this culminating in a reduction of neurotic symptoms and general confusion and enmeshment between my "self" and "other".

While this axis of development is sped up by my practice, there is certainly the pattern of reverting to old habits every time a "layer" is "broken through". I thought this a fascinating observation of the psyche, one that I am aware is probably indicative of a quite unusual psychic illness / condition, and one which I am powering through. Think of it as: I am undergoing the normal psychic development that a child and teenager undergo in a matter of months as a full-grown adult. My hypothesis is that the tears are indicative of a gradual and belated "breaking free" of an anachronistic ten-sizes-too-small psychological configuration. It feels like a release, or an expansion.

It's very jarring and painful at times but exhilarating at others, and absolutely helped by developing my awareness and insight. There is very little, if any, psychotic flavour to this.

Thanks again for your concern.
agnostic, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Crying every session

Posts: 1260 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
This sounds very healthy - congratulations! emoticon
Tommaso Tommasi, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Crying every session

Posts: 12 Join Date: 5/29/20 Recent Posts
agnostic:
This sounds very healthy - congratulations! emoticon
Thank you, agnostic! I think so too.

Ni Nurta:
This is very interresting observation.
Some of the more advanced states are in many ways like state of mind of a child.
The difference is that the overall experience and what you can do and how you react is result of whole life experience. As a child you cannot use normal mind for a moment to do what you need to do at given moment to return to your ground.

I would suggest embracing this self state even if it makes meditation harder.
That topic was from half a year ago. Did you explore this state with stronger self?


Ni Nurta, if I understand your question correctly, you are asking if I continued to work with these more difficult states of mind in which my sensate experiences become more subtly blended with my reality, and the content of which I become much more easily lost.

The answer is that this has been a cycle for me, and each time I am confronted with this new challenge, I must work diligently to "wrap up" my difficult experiences within a new layer of love and acceptance, which feels like the very first time every single time I do it. It is like I forget, each time, what my mission and purpose is on this journey, and I must re-learn the same lesson over and over, albeit at deepening levels of subtlety and skill.

I am still on this very path, and depending on where I am in the cycle, I feel old symptoms of mental distress, confusion, abandonment, pain, and disconnection (during difficult phases), contrasted with unity, connection, love, openness, and so on (when I can finally understand, love and accept this new layer, until the whole cycle resets again).

As I cycle through, I see a very gradual decrease in overall mental distress and disconnection from myself and others. I see a very gradual ability to love building. Every single meditation session since the start of my Mahasi practice has been accompanied by tears, sometimes only a few drops, and sometimes buckets.

I hope this answers your question.

Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:

I can relate to symptoms coming back as soon as a new shift has happened. My ADHD and Tourette tics keep coming back with a new force as soon as a new "layer" comes out in the open. I suspect that happens with many hardwired issues, stuff that is genetical, and probably also deep early traumas. I find that it is helpful to approach it as "lowhanging fruit" on the spiritual path. There's a lot to learn from it, lots to investigate that is readily available. 
Thanks for sharing your valued experience Linda. I understand and am very grateful for such kind concern on this forum, something I am generally not used to, and which I can sometimes brush over in a desire to get to the more fun, "intense stuff". Like you say, I think I have a good intuition as to my internal world generally, and I know I am at very low risk for psychotic episodes. If I feel exhausted by my practice, I will generally tone it down for a while, never doing more than I feel I am capable of.

What you say about your ADHD and Tourette symptoms is very interesting to me! I do find that while I see an overall reduction in my mental symptoms (dissociation being a big one), very deep and hardwired tendencies seem to manifest afresh with each layer I peel back. It's like a tiger shedding its weathered and faded coat, and a new coat, vibrantly pigmented from the basal blueprint of its skin emerges. I think with time, these dermal patterns shift and move at their own very slow pace, while the seasonal coats grow, shed, and repeat. Do you find any long-term changes underlying the cycles at all in your case?

"Low-hanging fruit" is a great way of putting it! To stay positive, and to see it as showing us the way forward, is what I find helps. It can be confusing when I emerge again into an amnesiac state, to suddenly feel the weight of my symptoms bearing down upon me, and to have to muster the mental fortitude to remember my own private dream from which I must re-awaken every time. It's an odd sensation, but I also feel a broad sense of general awareness in the face of my own capricious psychology emerging, a patience with myself, a communication with some internal daemon of my organism as distinct from the consciously controlling entity with which I type this to you now.

Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö:

A healthy sense of self and healthy boundaries make the practice less risky and more fruitful in the long run [...] Deconstructing something that is already shaky can be unneccesarily challenging and perhaps also missing some marks. For me, I had this happening with regard to mental images and a sense of being in the body. I read about how other people were  having their mental images and bodies fall away, and I had to develop them in the first place. Having them as a resource is very helpful now, but it felt like going backwards on occasion [...] You may find that even if you need to construct some aspects in a way that feels like undoing the work, actually it can be a great advantage later on because you already know that the self and the boundaries that you constructed aren't as solid and given as many people think they are. There's a flexibility built in there, because you were aware of doing the work and you remember them not being there. What you built, you can also rebuild if needed. You know from experience that they are a construct.


I feel like my meditation practice is actually stalled until I undergo this construction. It does not feel conscious to me, but like I am stepping out of the way to allow unconscious process to take their normal course, to un-dam a river and allow gravity to do its thing. Every time I achieve some beautiful new perspicacity in my practice, it's like I hit a glass ceiling, and the tears flow, and my mind shifts, and the cycle starts over. I believe you hit the nail on the head with what I am doing, I'm "shoring up my resources" so I can dive more deeply. Both seem to be happening in tandem.

Thanks again for your thoughts, Linda, and for your kind wishes. I wish you success on your own journey.

Tim Farrington:
I have experience tears in meditation for sure, and had periods when they were frequent. I often think of the meditative path in the light of grief, and Kubler-Ross's five stages, culminating (after depression, lol, good old dark night on the path) in acceptance (i often read "equanimity," a fire-tested acceptance, poised for loving action in the world). 

In the eastern orthodox tradition of christian contemplation they speak often of "the gift of tears," and tears of repentance and relief and often gratitude are viewed as a grace, for what that's worth.

Also, there are many weeping statues in various religious traditions, shedding holy tears of compassion. So maybe, aside from your personal healing, you are also channeling a weeping Bodhisattva, with these tears. They could continue for eons, and possibly until we no longer need to weep over the suffering of any sentient being. You might want to stock up on tissues, lol.

love, tim


Hi Tim, thank you for your thoughts. It does feel like I am going through mini-cycles of grief and acceptance. I am not confident enough at all to pin myself on a map, but I find myself going through depressive, and then equanimous cycles with some rapidity. I find myself able to observe thoughts as thoughts, so I imagine I am at least around the Body & Mind stage, but it seems very non-linear and quite erratic, jumping all over the place.

The tears do indeed feel like a reconnection, a gratitude, a gift. It's interesting what you say about the weeping Bodhisattva. I find myself incredibly weepy in general these days, but I have a hope that it will cease at some point, at which stage I will learn more about this axis of development along which I seem to be an unyielding traveler. 

Thank you for your kind words!


Tommy M:
Thanks for the additional information, that certainly helps to put my mind at ease and I'm really glad that you're recovering.

My apologies, I probably didn't phrase my reply on this part clearly enough. I didn't mean it in that sort of cyclical way or "reverting to old habits" in the relative sense, it was more about the deeper layers of habitual (karmic) patterning common to us all as human beings. Knowing more about your situation, it might be easier to consider it as similar to finding a path to freedom in the middle of the desert. You know the route is there and your practice keeps on clearing the road ahead, but the nature of causes and conditions continue to throw sand over the path itself. Fortunately, you appear to have the mental chutzpah to kick that shit out of the way and press on!
Tommy, I very much appreciate your concern, so thank you for that. What I find interesting about your subsequent comment about karmic patterning is that I wonder how far in a single lifetime this kind of patterning can be altered. I know that we all have biological limitations to the amount of healing we can achieve along some axes, and that morality is a training which goes on indefinitely, and can never really be mastered. What I have pondered as I have moved through my own cycles of karmic patterning is when the point will be reached when this particularly fertile period of rapid psychological change will slow to a snail's pace, and I will have to work on accepting things on a much longer time scale, with some things perhaps never changing (a cap on my ability to freely feel and express love, for example, or accepting and dealing with certain psychological weaknesses or permanent scars). I wonder if I have the answer to this question from what I can already observe in my practice.

Thank you again for your thoughts.
agnostic, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Crying every session

Posts: 1260 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Tommaso Tommasi:

Tommy, I very much appreciate your concern, so thank you for that. What I find interesting about your subsequent comment about karmic patterning is that I wonder how far in a single lifetime this kind of patterning can be altered. I know that we all have biological limitations to the amount of healing we can achieve along some axes, and that morality is a training which goes on indefinitely, and can never really be mastered. What I have pondered as I have moved through my own cycles of karmic patterning is when the point will be reached when this particularly fertile period of rapid psychological change will slow to a snail's pace, and I will have to work on accepting things on a much longer time scale, with some things perhaps never changing (a cap on my ability to freely feel and express love, for example, or accepting and dealing with certain psychological weaknesses or permanent scars). I wonder if I have the answer to this question from what I can already observe in my practice.

Jumping in here, when I'm going through some disorientating psychological healing process I also notice myself thinking "how long is this going to last?" I've come to see that this questioning is actually a form of resistance and tends to slow the process. The fastest way forward for me is accepting that it's going to take as long as it takes and it's beyond my control. Actually I think that acceptance is the key variable here. In some sense it's all predetermined anyway since it's karmically conditioned. The thing is, we don't actually know how much acceptance we are karmically capable of. Personally I find that kind of exciting ... emoticon 
Tommaso Tommasi, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Crying every session

Posts: 12 Join Date: 5/29/20 Recent Posts
agnostic:

Jumping in here, when I'm going through some disorientating psychological healing process I also notice myself thinking "how long is this going to last?" I've come to see that this questioning is actually a form of resistance and tends to slow the process. The fastest way forward for me is accepting that it's going to take as long as it takes and it's beyond my control. Actually I think that acceptance is the key variable here. In some sense it's all predetermined anyway since it's karmically conditioned. The thing is, we don't actually know how much acceptance we are karmically capable of. Personally I find that kind of exciting ... emoticon 
Agnostic, I think you are absolutely right. This flashed across my mind shortly after my post: the doubt, the uncertainty, the questioning, the self-imposed limitation is exactly the limitation I am seeking to transcend. This strikes me as probably one of the last hurdles, or one that I certainly haven't come across yet: fully embracing dissatisfactoriness. The cure is in the symptom itself. The +1 of acceptance and the -1 of the accepted rounds off to a perfect zero. Etcetera.
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Ni Nurta, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Crying every session

Posts: 564 Join Date: 2/22/20 Recent Posts
Tommaso Tommasi:
Here's the interesting part. I started doing diligent Mahasi noting around 6-8 weeks ago, with around 6 months of diligent shamatha practice before that. I began getting good at "containing" all of my sensate experience within my field of awareness after a month or so of noting, and thought I was making good progress. However, one day I woke up and noticed that my self-other boundaries were suddenly more defined, and I could relate to others and had a more coherent sense of self. I am also doing therapy in conjunction with this so it is like I "internalized" the therapist more efficiently, the "observer" I've been training suddenly became more "who I was" and the confusing, enmeshed world of experiences more "contained". However at that point, my Mahasi meditation became much more difficult, as though my sensate experiences were more "blended" into my reality, less easy to spot and define and hold in awareness.
This is very interresting observation.
Some of the more advanced states are in many ways like state of mind of a child.
The difference is that the overall experience and what you can do and how you react is result of whole life experience. As a child you cannot use normal mind for a moment to do what you need to do at given moment to return to your ground.

I would suggest embracing this self state even if it makes meditation harder.
That topic was from half a year ago. Did you explore this state with stronger self?
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Crying every session

Posts: 5293 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Ni Nurta:
Tommaso Tommasi:
Here's the interesting part. I started doing diligent Mahasi noting around 6-8 weeks ago, with around 6 months of diligent shamatha practice before that. I began getting good at "containing" all of my sensate experience within my field of awareness after a month or so of noting, and thought I was making good progress. However, one day I woke up and noticed that my self-other boundaries were suddenly more defined, and I could relate to others and had a more coherent sense of self. I am also doing therapy in conjunction with this so it is like I "internalized" the therapist more efficiently, the "observer" I've been training suddenly became more "who I was" and the confusing, enmeshed world of experiences more "contained". However at that point, my Mahasi meditation became much more difficult, as though my sensate experiences were more "blended" into my reality, less easy to spot and define and hold in awareness.
This is very interresting observation.
Some of the more advanced states are in many ways like state of mind of a child.
The difference is that the overall experience and what you can do and how you react is result of whole life experience. As a child you cannot use normal mind for a moment to do what you need to do at given moment to return to your ground.

I would suggest embracing this self state even if it makes meditation harder.
That topic was from half a year ago. Did you explore this state with stronger self?

Ah, yeah, this is interesting. I think Ni Nurta may be right here. A healthy sense of self and healthy boundaries make the practice less risky and more fruitful in the long run. Deconstructing something that is already shaky can be unneccesarily challenging and perhaps also missing some marks. For me, I had this happening with regard to mental images and a sense of being in the body. I read about how other people were  having their mental images and bodies fall away, and I had to develop them in the first place. Having them as a resource is very helpful now, but it felt like going backwards on occasion. I personally find it important to realize that people have different wirings and may need to go through different developmental processes in the dharma as well as in the mundane everyday life. The path involves not only deconstruction, but also construction, and we all need to find what balance is most skillful for us in any given context. I think diversity is a great resource, because sharing our different experiences makes us all more aware of what we are taking for granted. There's so much wisdom to be found there. You may find that even if you need to construct some aspects in a way that feels like undoing the work, actually it can be a great advantage later on because you already know that the self and the boundaries that you constructed aren't as solid and given as many people think they are. There's a flexibility built in there, because you were aware of doing the work and you remember them not being there. What you built, you can also rebuild if needed. You know from experience that they are a construct. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Crying every session

Posts: 5293 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Crying per se is not dangerous in any way. For some people that's just how so called purification* manifests, it seems to me. I have seen it happen to lots of people on cuddle parties (which are quite the opposite of dry vipassana - people hugging and giving each other back massages) because they feel safe enough there to be vulnerable, which is a very healthy thing. In all those cases, they felt that it was healing, too. I don't know you at all, but the way you express yourself with regard to this, I get the vibe that you have the intuition needed to make your own judgements about it. The process knows the way if you listen to it, and it sounds to me like you do listen.

Of course, the warnings about (dry) vipassana being possibly destabilizing are true. Since it is well known here that people do get into psychotic spells from intense vipassana now and then, mentioning mental health issues and vipassana in the same post tends to make people worry because they care. There are so many different kinds of mental health issues, though, and also many different ways of doing vipassana. Being responsive to any warning signs is great, and it's good that you have already had professional treatment so you have contacts there if needed. 

I can relate to symptoms coming back as soon as a new shift has happened. My ADHD and Tourette tics keep coming back with a new force as soon as a new "layer" comes out in the open. I suspect that happens with many hardwired issues, stuff that is genetical, and probably also deep early traumas. I find that it is helpful to approach it as "lowhanging fruit" on the spiritual path. There's a lot to learn from it, lots to investigate that is readily available. 

Best wishes for your practice and wellbeing.


*) I use the word purification with the connotations of spiritual and energetic healing, manifesting as some kind of release. 
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Tommy M, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Crying every session

Posts: 108 Join Date: 12/1/20 Recent Posts
Thanks for the additional information, that certainly helps to put my mind at ease and I'm really glad that you're recovering.

The "layers" which I break through is not a cyclic loop, breaking through and then reverting to old habits (though that notion is certainly taking place in some sense, though with a caveat to follow), but there is a definite development along a certain axis occurring.

My apologies, I probably didn't phrase my reply on this part clearly enough. I didn't mean it in that sort of cyclical way or "reverting to old habits" in the relative sense, it was more about the deeper layers of habitual (karmic) patterning common to us all as human beings. Knowing more about your situation, it might be easier to consider it as similar to finding a path to freedom in the middle of the desert. You know the route is there and your practice keeps on clearing the road ahead, but the nature of causes and conditions continue to throw sand over the path itself. Fortunately, you appear to have the mental chutzpah to kick that shit out of the way and press on!

Think of it as: I am undergoing the normal psychic development that a child and teenager undergo in a matter of months as a full-grown adult. My hypothesis is that the tears are indicative of a gradual and belated "breaking free" of an anachronistic ten-sizes-too-small psychological configuration. It feels like a release, or an expansion

That's some solid insight, brother. Best of luck with your journey and continued recovery.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Crying every session

Posts: 1579 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
"It feels very cathartic and healthy,"

As long you feel it as being healthy it should be fine and in my opinion healing. I have cried but usually after the session. At times I would burst into laugh on cushion. Such stuff happens. 

I remember back in 2010 I suddenly got aware of many people suffering greatly at that very time of me meditating. They suffer from hunger while I'm in a position to meditate with a full belly. I cried my heart out and went ahead to sponsor two kids in 3rd world countries. Small help but still will make two kids and their parents happy. 

I suffered from PTSD for decades and know meditation/insight practice/Shamatha can be very healing (if taken calmly but steadily). 

Btw, it is of benefit to help others who are in need. I'm sure you will feel better if you find a way to be of help to others in some way. That kind of happiness goes both ways and is beautiful emoticon 
Tim Farrington, modified 2 Months ago.

RE: Crying every session

Posts: 2409 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Tommaso Tommasi:
I am curious if anyone else has experienced crying every single session. I have cried without fail every session for the last 5 months, every single day. It feels very cathartic and healthy, but I wonder what this says about my mental state and if anyone has experience with this or has any knowledge that will help me understand this process better.

Thanks!

Hi Tommaso, e benvenuto in DhO!

I have experience tears in meditation for sure, and had periods when they were frequent. I often think of the meditative path in the light of grief, and Kubler-Ross's five stages, culminating (after depression, lol, good old dark night on the path) in acceptance (i often read "equanimity," a fire-tested acceptance, poised for loving action in the world). "Very cathartic and healthy"-feeling tears seem like a sign of deep acceptance and healing to me, as you describe them here. Five months of tears will get your attention though, for sure. But even there, i suspect a deep bodily-psychic wisdom, a pacing. You said, "My hypothesis is that the tears are indicative of a gradual and belated 'breaking free,' of an anachronistic ten-sizes-too-small psychological configuration. It feels like a release, or an expansion." All things considered, I'd trust the de facto established psychic calibration here: whatever the deep source, you've been crying for five months and improving markedly on other fronts during that time, while stabilized in your practice. Whatever's going on here, it don't seem broke, and if it ain't broke, I wouldn't try to fix it. It's fixing itself, as far as I can tell.

In the eastern orthodox tradition of christian contemplation they speak often of "the gift of tears," and tears of repentance and relief and often gratitude are viewed as a grace, for what that's worth.

Also, there are many weeping statues in various religious traditions, shedding holy tears of compassion. So maybe, aside from your personal healing, you are also channeling a weeping Bodhisattva, with these tears. They could continue for eons, and possibly until we no longer need to weep over the suffering of any sentient being. You might want to stock up on tissues, lol.

love, tim