So I was crying during yoga again today. I wrote in one of the posts on our class’s group page that the teenage-version of Crystal is popping out this week, and she has some major issues. She is the aspiring actress in me who never got a part. The soprano with a beautiful voice, but terrible pitch who choked at every audition. The lady who could sort of dance. The girl with the pretty face, but…
She is scared to death, but still wants to show off how amazing she is to everyone. She has all of these talents that are obscured by fear, and resents everyone who can’t see past the fear. Hell, she resents everyone who can perform past (or without) their own fears. She vacillates between wounded and victimized, and deep self-hatred and personal criticism.
And she also always used her body as an excuse for why she didn’t get picked. She was too fat for the part. The directors wanted a different look – even though she wasn’t really fat back in high school. And that excuse actually deepened her body dismorphia. It made her hate her body.
I thought I had grown out of her, but she is back and she is playing the whiny victim in my head.
She showed up, because Monday night I auditioned for a play. I also got a call back. That means I am going to have to dance for the directors. So, last night I went back and I learned the dance. Sort of. Mostly. Okay, I understand the dance. I have it in my head, but I didn’t physically get all the way through it.
And I’m mad. I’m mad because the choreography is REALLY hard and REALLY fast, and because when I walked in at the beginning I thought, “I’m a pretty good dancer for an amateur.” Which is what I thought I would be judged on: my amateur status. I mean it’s community theatre, it’s not professional. No one is going to pay me. I didn’t join the union. (Hum…sounding like a snarky teenager already.)
But the dance is insane. And stupid. And they keep changing which direction you move and what foot you start on for each sequence.
“Well, we have to keep the audience guessing,” said the sweet (evil) girl who was teaching me the steps.
“Of course, Rapid City audiences are so discerning that they will totally be rolling their eyes at us for the amateurs we are if we always start on our right foot,” I said with an eye roll to myself.
Every time I stopped I was thinking, “This is stupid,” or, “These counts don’t make sense,” or, “this choreography doesn’t match the music.” I was really thinking, “I’m stupid,” or, “I can’t figure this out,” or, “my body can’t do this!”
“Okay teenage, Crystal. Stop it. You can do this, you are strong. I will take care of you.”
I thought I had silenced her. But I still didn’t get through it all, and my music is way too low for me, and man this going to be a huge time commitment even if I do make it…
This morning when I woke up, I was SORE. I used what must have been previously un-moved parts of my butt-cheeks like a million times on a sort of tip-toed, cha-cha step that’s in the beginning of the sequence. And I had a headache. (Probably from the ice cream I gave myself as a reward for dancing for two hours straight.)
It was the first time that I considered skipping yoga class. I had reasonable excuses: “I don’t want to hurt myself. I don’t want to push myself too far. I want to be able to dance tonight at auditions. I have a migraine and I need to sleep it off.”
(Stupid body – wait, where did that come from?)
But I committed to this, so I went anyway. I talked myself into it: I usually feel better after yoga. I can just sit on the mat if I need to. I can take the poses easy.
I went. I did it. I did all the poses. I didn’t even really take them easy. But I had a fight in my head the whole morning. Part of it was useful – don’t hurt yourself, Crystal. Part of it was just the negative crap that I had let myself think last night. I started feeling the “I can’t” again, because I couldn’t last night.
I still couldn’t do it; not by the end of the night. Maybe not in time for auditions tonight. Tonight, when they will judge whether I can dance well enough to be in the play.
(Stupid body – there it is again.)
Part of me honestly hopes that they do decide that. That they see where I am and decide it’s not enough. Because, then I won’t have to feel like this again at all the rehearsals – and maybe the performances.
So, teenage Crystal is sort of winning. Which means we are both losing. I thought I had let all of this go, but it’s back. I guess it’s time to let go again. (And again, and again, and again…) I am a better singer and a better dancer than I was in high school. I know I am. I don’t know if I am a better actress, but I was always a pretty terrific actress. So I got that going for me. Now I just have to calm the teen me down enough that I can do my best and then let it go.
I can accept whatever happens. I know I can. But it was a real slap in the face that I had such a hard time with the dance. I have made my body an excuse so many times before. I would hate for it to be the reason that I didn’t get something. I have let go of so much weight and I have gotten so strong. Today, after yoga, I thought, “I want my body to be a reason to go, not a reason to stop.”
And I made it a reason to stop so many times. The reason not to go swimming. The reason not to buy certain clothes. The reason not to go up that hill. The reason not to flirt with that guy.
But, I want my body to be the reason that I do go swimming, shopping, hiking, dancing…
What are your goals?
Karen asked us the first day. She wanted us to write them down. I also filled out something that asked about three things we wanted, because it was kind of my first time at SOL. At first I wrote: strength, flexibility, release of weight. But then I realized that was all one thing really, and that it wasn’t really THE thing.
Why are you here?
I talked to Arik briefly after class today and told him a little bit about why I chose yoga. I do want the physical benefits of the practice, but really I need to more deeply integrate the mental, spiritual and emotional parts of myself with the physical parts. My physical parts have been sick for a lot of my life. Mostly, I have been very overweight. Right on the edge of that big scary clinical term: obese. That’s the biggest symptom I have dealt with. The biggest sickness I have had. It caused other problems. High blood pressure. Problems sleeping. Severe ADHD. Bad allergies.
I know the sicknesses are just symptoms of problems with my mental, spiritual and emotional self that I haven’t been able to see, or deal with or even tap into. And I really ignored my physical self for a long time. For so long that it was SCREAMING at me before I paid attention.
I knew this was the case for a long time. Way before I was able to do anything about it. I even knew what a lot of the problems were. But it was like each cause was like a ball of yarn, and each ball had been rolling around together for a really long time in a big container. They had rolled into and over one another so many times that they had turned into one huge ball. It was all knotted together and every time I tried to loosen one of the colors it tightened all of the strings around it. Even if I found the end of the yarn, I could only unravel it so far before all the other stuff was in the way.
I wanted to take care of myself and I knew what it was related to, but I couldn’t quite get started. Someone I trusted suggested yoga because it wasn’t just a spiritual thing and it was’t just a physical thing. (It turned out that it was definitely and emotional thing for me too. If you want to you can read the blog I wrote right after my first yoga class: Unexpected Tears…and Pot Roast.)
What brings you to the mat?
So I have done yoga on and off since that first crying time. (By on and off I mean mostly off. Like the odd class here and there.) I’m here this time to let go. I have let a lot go through other practices. I have even managed to release over 40 pounds. But this is the first time that I have done yoga as a real practice. Like every day. Or even multiple times a week. It has been profound. Yes, I came to let go of weight. I was starting to pick it all up again. But I want more.
I want to be a part of the flow. (I have some profound ideas about the Flow as well, by the way.) I want my body and the rest of me to be touching, talking, working together all the time. And I want to be connected to the things outside of myself as well.
It’s starting to work. One of my symptoms has abated. As of this morning, I am under 160 pounds. My weight is not going back up any more; it’s coming down. I’m letting go. I’m paying attention.
What do you do with it once you get there?
I love being in this with all the people in class. I really do want to know what is going on with all of you. Please share. Here or on Facebook. What’s your story? Is like mine? Totally different? We’re all in this together whether we want to admit it or not. My story is your story. Your story belongs to everyone.
So,What are your goals? Why are you here? Why Yoga? What brings you to the mat? What do you do once you get there?
My lovely friend, I could tell that you were still upset after our talk today. I know you are going through a really hard time; dealing with something large. Something so pressing that it feels like it is pressing through the back of your skull.
I know you have made some choices that you currently consider mistakes, and some of the consequences of those “mistakes” include some of the pain that you are going through now. This issue that has become so large and emotional that it has taken on a physical element, and it seems to move through your body when you think of it: crashing waves through the inside of your stomach.
So, you try not to think about it. But it persists. It persists because it needs your attention.
You are clearly trying to answer some questions about yourself and about life that seem unanswerable. It’s confusing. You want to do it right. You want to find the answers, and you want as few people as possible to get out of all of this frustrated, messy, confusion without being hurt. The pressure created by this confusion has created a physical pressure within your chest that seems to threaten to shatter though your breastplate each time you let yourself think about it all.
But it is safe. And you need to keep thinking about it. You can do this. You’re even lucky that you get to.
Of course, my first response is empathy. I am definitely sad for you. I can feel your pain in an exquisite way. I remember the times when I have felt the same things. The times when I was afraid I had gone too far down a certain road to justify heading back or starting over. The times when I felt afraid that I wasn’t the person I wanted to be — the person I was supposed to be — because I had done too many terrible things to myself and everyone else around me.
So yeah, I feel for you. But I am also so excited for you. Jealous even. You are in the right place. The perfect place. This not an ending. It’s a beginning. Even if it all crumbles down spectacularly around you, and you don’t know what you want or where you want to go the entire time it is falling, you are in still in the right place.
I have complete and utter faith that you will not only get through this well, but perfectly. The places that you are now in pain will soon be the places that are lively, green and growing. I know that you are in the right place because I heard you asking the right questions. And as a great friend of mine once said, “If your brain can manage the question, your soul already has part of the answer.” You just have to get your heart into it all so that your brain and soul can have a conversation.
And the truth is, where you end up and who you become may never make perfect sense to the logical bits of you that have been groomed by our families, friends and societal constructs. Heck, the things that have led you here may never make complete sense either. But I see it in you. The light. The desire. The thing that will ultimately mean that you will end up in the right spot. In the right way. With the right people intimately woven into your heart and life.
Yes, you may have to break everything open and tear it all apart in order to re-build the thing your guts are telling you you want. But your guts are right. Everything you are wanting is everything you deserve. It is everything that the Universe is dying to give you.
You are magnificent.
You are wild.
You are lovely.
You are wise.
Kind, beautiful, compassionate, smart, daring, passionate, funny, wonderful, magical, creative, powerful … and … and more. So much more. (My vocabulary really couldn’t ever do you justice.) You are so much more than I have ever seen, and so much more than you have ever seen. You are more than most people can even imagine.
But you can imagine it. You have imagined it. That life. That life that is totally you. The adventure. The passion. The joy. The friendship. You can have it. You can create it. I might go so far as to say that it is your duty to yourself and the rest of us to strive toward creating it.
And I am jealous of you. The striving. The journey. The things you will learn about yourself, about others, about the Universe if you keep imagining. If you keep asking those right questions. They are huge. The journey will be fantastic, wild and even fun. Enjoy getting “there.”
But, of course, where you are right now feels like the hard part. The dark night of the soul and all of that. And you, naturally, have some fears.
I heard you say that you are afraid to hurt anyone. That makes sense. But I really believe that if you aren’t doing what’s best for you, you aren’t doing what’s best for the people in your life. So, you have my permission to hurt other people if it is about getting yourself to the right place. If it’s about the truth. If it’s about clearing a path and cleaning up any of your “mistakes.” Go for it.
Heck, hurt me if you need to to get where you need to go — please!
I’m about due for another lesson in forgiveness, acceptance, growth. Bring it on!
I also heard you say that you are afraid to be alone. I don’t really think anyone is every totally alone. But I understand. And beyond that, I think that sometimes we have to make a place for the thing we deeply desire. A spot on the mantelpiece for the trophy you’re pursuing, perhaps? An empty space in the bed next to you in order to make room for love? Quitting a bad job, a bad friendship, a bad relationship in order to make room for the right one.
Sometimes we have allowed the wrong things to grow and they have choked out the sunlight from the place where our roses want to bloom. When that happens, it’s time to do some weed-wacking!
I know, this is a doosey of a message. And I guess the most important part is that you’ve got this. You can’t do it wrong, as long as you are doing your best. You’re amazing. I love you. I am so excited for you, and I can’t wait to see what starts to grow once you pull out all the weeds. You are magnificent. You are blooming. These pains are growing pains. I am certain of it.
You are magnificent.
Today I have spent a significant amount of time watching Super Soul Sunday with Oprah. In one of the episodes Rainn Wilson asked her: “What one question would you ask God if you could?”
She asked “Why?” Like why all of this? “Why why why,” she said. Personally, when I hear people ask that question about existence or themselves I feel like I hear God whisper in my ear, “Why not?” And then give me a little nudge and have a giggle.
I had a little moment — like a look a person gives to a friend with whom one has an inside joke — with God. Sort of a take to the camera that says: We know why — because why not? And because you get to decide why. And I’ll back you up. It’s whyever you want, and I will help you make it mean that when you decide. Every time you decide. Even if you change your mind every time you decide.
I, me, it, we are conspiring for you, not against you. You’ve got this.
Then I started to think what would I ask God? What don’t I already know that would matter even a spec, if I were truly in the presence of a part of the Almighty that could answer back definitively? I thought it would be impossible to pick something to ask. And then suddenly a question flitted through my brain: “Am I doing this right?”
I just started bawling. I guess that’s my question if I were going to ask today.
I just cried. I let it all out before I tried to think about it, or look at the idea, or ask myself where it was coming from.
Why would I wonder that? I must be afraid that I’m doing something wrong. Or not “right” ― not perfect. And I know that I am doing well. Great in fact. But not perfect. Aw, shit! I guess my old bad habit of perfectionism persists, despite how much work I have done. Which usually means I just need to forgive myself. For today, for yesterday, for the things I didn’t plan about tomorrow.
If I could do better I would. And in the past I have done my best. If I could have done better I would have. Great life truths I didn’t realize I learned from Maya Angelou (because I actually heard Oprah say it):
“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better I do better.” ― Maya Angelou (GoodReads.com and Oprah on Super Soul Sunday)
Which actually leads back to something else I already know, something that one of my spiritual leaders once told me: If you can ask the question, you already have at least part of the answer growing within you.
So, Am I doing this right?
So what part of this answer do I already know?
Maybe it’s like a cartwheel. You’re doing it right even when you’re doing it wrong, because doing bad cartwheels is how you learn to do perfect ones. And hey, I’ve been wanting to do cartwheels lately. Who wants to roll with me?
I typed the text message. I stared at it. I thought it. I felt it. I cried.
I didn’t hit send. But I didn’t erase it either.
I stopped. I thought, “I don’t want to reach out to him. It isn’t safe.”
He doesn’t want to be my other and I can’t be just friends.
“I just want him to know I miss him.”
Why do I want him to know? So that he will miss me? Probably.
I wonder if he does. And if he does, I wonder what it is that he misses.
My smile, my voice, my eyes, my head on his chest. I miss wrapping my arms around his waist, leaning my head back and looking up into his eyes. He would look at me and smile and stroke the sides of my face so gently that he was barely touching me. But he was really touching me so deeply that he was reaching all of me at once.
Ugh, that makes my stomach hurt because it is a cliche. Ugh, I’m a cliche.
But, how could what we had be something he could walk away from? We had it, right. We. Not just me.
Perhaps I never touched all of him like I thought I had. The way he was always touching me.
Touch not lest ye be touched.
It had been two months.
I was looking around. I was trying to be open to love. One of my immediate goals after Rick broke up with me was to be complete, clean and ready for a new relationship as soon as possible, because I want to be in love. I want the adventure. I want the creative challenge. I want to grow and plant and harvest all that it is, and all that it can be.
My friend “Sarah: broke up with her man and promptly made a POF profile. After like a week. Almost immediately, she had like eight guys interested in her and about half of them were fellas that she was actually interested in.
So I started a page.
And I started trying to imagine what I wanted in a new relationship.
And I started missing Rick again. Or more. Yeah…more than I had before.
But I soldiered on. I went on some dates. A lot of dates in fact. I talked to a LOT of guys. A lot of annoying guys. I felt like the guys I was interested in weren’t interested in me…and the creepy, icky dudes that were interested in me. Well, I am not interested in them.
It is just that I’m still in love with him?
But he wasn’t an option. He didn’t want me and he already found someone else. So he’s really gone. It’s really over. Oh my stomach hurts.
So I kept trying. Trying to be open and ready and to believe that if something I want is not an option that it means that there is something better coming. God’s a fair guy after all. And there, as they say, plenty of fish in that sea.
And how do I get one of those fish on my line? (Honestly, I do have a lot of guys on the line recently…but now I don’t know what to do about that. It’s a new experience for me.)
So, the top contenders and most hilarious bozos will have a few highlights on the blog soon. Look for a little info on the Viking and Touchy Ty.
As I was waiting for meditation to start this morning, I was looking out the window and looking at the flowers, thinking about a song…I had a thought.
Maybe he thought he was too damaged for me. But maybe he thinks of her as damaged too, and so he feels like they match. So he picked her.
She had screwed up her life as much, and in the same way he had, so they were in the same boat and he didn’t have to feel bad about possibly making her life worse.
That made me feel better for a moment. Because it kind of made sense, and nothing else he had said to explain why he left had made sense to me.
But what a sad idea. What a sad concept — that a person needs to be the same kind of broken as his or her significant other.