Let the Right One(s) In

img_8193

When you reach a certain age, it seems that you’ve somewhat figured out how “life” works.  You know how to support yourself, you’ve figured out how to pay your bills, and (unlike me), to file your taxes.  You’ve created your patterns of what works for you; settled like sediment into the nooks and crannies of your idiosyncrasies.  You know whether you prefer creamy or crunchy, white or red, and have been through enough relationships to have maybe given up on the possibility that it will ever happen to you and…consequently, found solace in the fact that peanut butter and Netflix is a perfectly acceptable way to spend a Friday night.

And the really deep needs.  The ones you’ve been harboring for years, since childhood, maybe, but have tucked into the dark recesses of your psyche, memory and recall….those are the unmentionables.  Those don’t fit into the category of “vulnerable” that you are willing to entertain.

We create these justifications in our minds—these pre-packaged stories that form safe, little barriers around our soft parts that indicate what we are capable of…what we are worthy of.  We’ve figured out the bare minimum of what we require to sustain some semblance of control around our emotions and reactions, until ultimately you reach a breaking point that reminds you that that precious little shroud you’ve created is as thin as blown, Venetian glass.

That’s the funny thing about life:  just when you think you’ve figured it out, the proverbial rug gets pulled out from underneath you and you are free-falling into a shit-storm of unfamiliar territory.

My most recent life epiphany started with a cold sore.

This was no ordinary cold sore.  Unordinary because I never get cold sores. A cold sore of epic proportions.  Golf. Ball. Proportions.  Forget the fact that four days from the appearance of said cold sore, I had a date, with a guy I really, REALLY liked.  Which was of no importance at this point—because this was not a vanity cold sore. This was an I-can’t-speak-because-my-upper-lip-resembles-goat-balls-kinda-cold-sore. This was also the week when as the owner of a new yoga studio, I had two teachers to fill the schedule.

One was me.

Every moment was planned, every meeting, every class…every photo shoot.  

(Humility is a really good concept to wrap your head around from time to time…)

My sister, nine months pregnant, filled in for classes, brought me liquids I could drink through a straw, and the other teacher stepped up to the plate to fill in the gaps. And at the end of the week, this guy…he took me out to a mountain-top to watch a meteor shower (thank god for all that darkness), but still, he held my hand and held me close and when the sun rose, he looked me in the eyes and past the superficial flaws, even when I wanted to bury my face and disappear.

When a baby followed the cold sore, two weeks early, that was a life epiphany of a completely different color.

Sleepless nights in a hospital, only to go back to the studio to teach because again, you’re short-staffed, and then immediately back to the hospital, because you’re so in love with this tiny thing that you can barely stand time apart, and goddammit, why did you miss her first bath?

The fucking truth of the matter is that when you let go of your need to control; to bear the weight of it all on your single, shaky shoulders, you create all of this space to need each other. My family has rallied to support this baby and my sister. Teachers have rallied to be here for this studio, simply because they care, and the students have been so supportive even when things…(maybe?) don’t run like a well-oiled machine.

This man made me breakfast in bed, for seemingly, no apparent reason, and I almost barfed/bawled into my eggs, not necessarily because of the gesture, but the inherent sadness that NO ONE has ever done this for me before. In 37 years of life.  I crumble under his kindness, question its longevity, and barely believe that I am enough.

But the most ironic thing of all, is when you let down all of your protective barriers, and you allow people to be there for you, to love you, it magnifies ten thousand-fold in your safe-guarded little heart, until you are skipping down the street, and your cheeks hurt because you smile so hard, and all you want to do is nice things for people all of the time because it feels goddamn good.

The hardest, most vulnerable thing we can do is to let love in.

To receive.

 

Advertisements

Propped Up

help me out

I recently took a Power Flow class and I modified the entire thing.  I dropped my knees to the floor in Chaturanga, opened my heart with gentle Baby Cobras, I used blocks in Triangle, and opted for supported Bridge instead of the demanding and powerful Wheel.  Now usually, Power Flow is a class where I push my muscles until they burn.  I rock arm balances, try to float into handstands, and basically work my asana off sweating, breathing and moving through a VERY intense practice.   I sometimes take Power Flow classes when I feel angry.  Sometimes when I feel fat.  I always go in there to work HARD.

But this day, I was tired.  My body was sore from the previous days’ Power Flow, and I had just walked an hour to get to the studio.  I hid in the far back corner of the room and gave myself permission to take it easy.   To not float, fly and contort my body into crazy poses, but instead, to keep a smooth, steady breath throughout the entire 90 minutes.  And it.  Felt.  Amazing.

So the question I propose is this:  why is it so difficult for us to modify?  What is so wrong or shameful about choosing to not go balls-to-the-wall, 150% effort, all of the time?  Isn’t that certainly a recipe for injury and burnout?  How did our egos get so full of pride and so simultaneously insecure that we cannot allow ourselves to reach for a prop now and again to give us support?  I have been practicing for 6 years now, and I have NEVER allowed myself to practice like that.  Let alone, the fact that I had to HIDE in the corner in order to feel comfortable enough to do so.

What if we also decided to modify our lives?  To take out of the equation the things that make it hard to breathe easy:  The stressful job that allows you no time for your family.  The toxic relationship that makes it impossible to know yourself.  The never ending nose-to-the-grindstone-struggle to seek perfection.  And what if, instead of doing it all on our own, we paused for a moment to ask for support???

I moved out when I was barely 18.  I’ve lived across the continent from my family and been on my own since then.  Because there was a lot of divorce in my childhood I’ve masked feelings of abandonment and insecurity with a fierce independence.  If I don’t rely on anyone, then no one can disappoint or hurt me when they don’t come through.   And so I hold my head up high, and I do it all on my own.  I’ve always felt like I had to.  As a kid, I was Little Orphan Annie for Halloween three years in a row….hah!—a therapist would’ve had a heyday with that one!  Needless to say, it is very challenging for me to ask for help.  It’s almost never easy for me to grab that metaphorical block and use it to prop me up…to alleviate some effort so that I can just breathe.

Recently, I was supposed to meet up with a friend in New York.  And after repetitive phone calls with no response, I finally made other plans.  Only later, I discovered, that because he’d had such a stressful week at work, he’d taken a Xanax and passed out for the day, unable to answer his phone.  My mental response: “Maybe it’s time for a career change.”  I mean, isn’t that just too much stress?

We live in a society that shouts out daily, “Go big or go home.”   Most of us have responsibilities, jobs and daily tasks that are not conducive to modifications.  Imagine saying to your boss, “No sir, I will NOT be getting that report in on time because I am modifying today.”  Probably not going to fly.  Understandably, sometimes, that is just life.

But couldn’t we start relying on our communities; our friends, families and loved ones to prop us up from time to time, without feeling weak, or inadequate or guilty?  Could we swallow our pride and ask for help?

I’m working on that one.  Working to ask for support when I need it.  And in the meantime, you might catch me hiding in the corner of a Power Flow class, propped up, modifying and breathing easy.

 

%d bloggers like this: