Why I Finally Waived the White Flag and Went to Therapy 18 Apr
Welp. I waived the white flag and finally dragged my butt into a therapy room. After a very heart-to-heart talk with my friend and Ob/Gyn, we formed an action plan. One of those things included talking about some of the things I have stuffed down deep.
The cumulative effect of years of “sucking it up” have wreaked havoc on my emotional and physical self. For some reason, on this particular day when I sat in her office for a follow-up appointment, the truth came out. I shared with her how I had been lying to myself and those around me. I was not OK. Sure, I had let on about bits and pieces that had made my heart feel cracked open, but I had yet to stare someone in the eyes and tell my truth and allowed a person to offer a lifeline. I did that on that day. What’s more, she helped me formulate a plan.
I met with my therapist and loved her from the get-go. She had worked with other military wives in the past and also understood my grief from losing a parent at a young age, the residual effects of having cancer, and also the toll it takes raising special needs kids, often by myself.
Again, rather than wallowing and feeling self-pity, she left me with action steps, a plan that speaks to me on so many levels. Being passive isn’t really my style. I want to actively work towards something. And she gave me the tools to do that.
One of the things the therapist encouraged me to do was return to the practice of yoga. Long-story-short, yoga has been something I have done since I was pregnant with my first baby. As fate would have it, I lost that baby at twelve weeks and I credit the practice of yoga as truly saving me through a very dark time.
I continued to hit my mat for years that followed. Through two more pregnancies, and the like. Then. Life. Roadblocks.
Something pulled me off that mat. Even though I knew in my core what a lifesaver it had been, I stopped showing up.
That brings me to a week ago, showing up for a “gentle” class. You see, that is not the kind of class I would ever (I mean ever) choose to attend. But my therapist encouraged me to select a class that was more meditative and less strenuous. In the past, I would consider anything described as restorative or “gentle” as not really counting when it came to exercise. I mean, in my defense, I have been an endurance sports coach, triathlete, marathoner, and hardcore exerciser since I was barely out of elementary school. No pain no gain is in my blood. But, I trusted her. What did I have to lose, after all?!
The loveliest of instructors welcomed me to class. We began the practice by setting our intentions. Now, this is nothing new in a lot of lessons I had been in before, but this was the first time (that I can remember) that I actually set mine. She encouraged us to have a phrase in our head; we could repeat to ourselves if we found our minds wandering. I set mine.
As we began our breathing practice and started to flow, my mind wanted to quickly transition to judging myself. Self-loathing the extra flesh I felt in poses that used to be elementary, my legs didn’t fold the way they had only a few short years ago. I stopped myself.
I said, “I AM HERE!”
Over and over. Letting my breath bring life into my body. From the crown of my head into the roots of my feet. I repeated. “I AM HERE!”
The practice finished in corpse pose and tears ran down my face.
“I AM HERE!”
I realized that I have been speaking to myself in a manner that I would never talk to anyone: put-downs, negative talk, toxic language. I imagined one of the women I used to coach, or one of the students in one of the exercise classes I taught, or my sister, friend, or daughter. I would tell them to give themselves grace. I mean REALLY give it. To appreciate where they were TODAY, not yesterday, not tomorrow. TO BE ON THEIR MAT at this precious moment.
To know: “I AM HERE!”
My therapist was on to something…
What I needed was more than just “gentle” yoga. It was gentle self-care, to embrace myself by showing my body and mind kindness and honoring this place. At this moment. On this mat.
For the first time in a long time, I actually believed I deserved the compassion I so willingly and quickly give to others. Today I gave it to myself.
“I AM HERE!” I am so grateful to be here.
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