This blog is not FDA approved
The last four years have been hard ones for me. I had a tough twin pregnancy followed by the haze of parenting two at a time complicated by severe, untreated post postpartum anxiety and insomnia. I was so out of balance after my kids were born that I ended up with chronic mastitis, culminating in an abscess and surgery. I carried on breastfeeding against all medical advice after that because I was too determined, even though it had threatened my life.
But even that wasn’t a signal to me or anyone around me that I was off the deep end; I carried on for well over a year not sleeping or eating, obsessing about the health and development of my two very healthy and rambunctious boys. I was so convinced that some awful tragedy was about to befall us and I could stave it off by conceiving of every possible problem and preparing for it. I googled everything. I was crippled by safety recalls, the news, other people’s stories of loss. I went through countless iterations of cribs, sheets, diapers, bottles because I became convinced one or the other was toxic. I alienated people around me with my worry, I wore out my husband, I disengaged from my support network because I couldn’t control everyone’s actions. I still look at pictures from the first year of their lives and only remember how scared I was, how much I didn’t enjoy it. I am still finding my way back from this.
By the time my boys were two I was burnt out and angry. I was explosive; I had no reserves. On the heels of that, just when I recognized what I had done to myself, we began a year of loss. Our house, some family members, our dog, our unquestionable faith that people are good and kind. We are still at the tail end of this phase, and the tension has knit itself into my bones. Long nights of sleeplessness and long days of sadness have braced my muscles and hardened my joints. Although I have suffered from anxiety and depression most of my life, this is the first time I feel the weight of it.
I tried several medications with varying success; ativan by day and a sleeping pill by night worked briefly, but it was just allowing me to carry on rather than addressing the root problem. Counseling was moderately successful in validating my concerns but I was still looking for something deeper. I needed to start prioritizing and restoring myself; and I needed to let go of so much.
I have been doing yoga off and on for over a decade; much more off than on. I have always enjoyed the physical benefits immensely but I was always too full of nervous energy to really gain the emotional benefits. I would skip out of class a lot bendier but not really achieving a sense of calm. But I have come to know where I store tension in my body and yoga always allowed me to relieve that, even temporarily. And so when I realized I had too much stored up in me I turned to it again.
I practice at a small studio near my house. It’s not the trendy studio full of hot young bodies that I sought out years ago. The clientele is a bit older, a bit more reserved. It is a quiet, reverent place. I go because the instructor there talks about mindfulness. When she adjusts my position she does it as though she sees what direction I need to push myself into, what I need to let go of.
I get frustrated that the poses don’t come as easily as they did years ago. I used to be so much more flexible, coltish. Now it is a slow burn and takes me longer to get into the rhythm of a class. Sometimes in a deep stretch I can feel tension being eased out and the hurt becomes fresh again. Painful memories come to the forefront and I breathe them out. Sometimes I weep from the release, but I am so grateful to let it go.
And then I think of what I have gained; (two little boys, two little boys) strength and courage. The poses that used to challenge me are now nothing to endure, my core is strong; the center of me solid and sure. I also know my limits and forgive myself for not exceeding them today. I am kinder to myself, not as willing to compare to those around me because I know their circumstances are different from mine. I have learned to advocate for myself and recognize my boundaries instead of allowing people to push me beyond my capability. I can gain that stillness that eluded me for so many years. I am there for myself only, to come undone.
I realize through my practice, through this year, that I have become a different person. Maybe it’s a fool’s errand to seek back some things that I have lost, but I am going to try. And I can revel in the new qualities my body affords me. I can work out all the sadness and tension and allow the impressions they leave to be filled with something else. I can become whole again, perhaps even more so. But mostly, I can just be still sometimes and that is gift enough for me.