If you’ve never been to a yoga teacher training, know that at some point during it, someone always loses their shit. The experience opens, closes and massages tender places of not just the body, but also the soul, resulting in a lot of emotional upheaval from the teachers. If you’re the shit loser, it can be embarrassing but when viewed from the standpoint of the collective, the losing of shit is beautiful. There is nothing more spiritually uplifting than when a person feels safe enough to be vulnerable in a room full of strangers.
This past weekend, my shit done got lost at Kari Kwinn’s three-day Yin Yoga training in Breckenridge. Friday, everything was cool. Myself and a group of about thirty mindful, compassionate souls learned about the history of yin yoga, how it complements the crazy yang lives most of us lead and how it works to relieve stress caught in our ligaments, connective tissues and fascia. It was a great day followed by a great evening that I spent with one of my oldest friends watching the Avs sadly get their asses kicked, flirting with strangers and critiquing each other’s dating profiles.
“Ha, ha, you can’t say that,” he said about a Bumble account I threw up a while ago, but quickly lost interest in.
“What’s wrong with it?”
“It says, ‘I am not looking to bring anyone into my kids’ lives,’ which says to a guy ‘you’re not important, go fuck yourself.’”
“Hmm. That’s an interesting perspective.”
“Maybe you don’t really want to date.”
I definitely don’t want to date online as is evidenced by the end of my 140 character description and the serial killer selfie that was my profile picture. It’s weird (blog coming soon) and I still need to heal from the absolute nut ball I was involved with for almost two years. I sure as shit don’t want to share my kids, or fall into the first person who comes along because I need help raising them. After the critique and dinner, I yinned this friend who is not a yogi at the hotel (he loved it by the way), we snuggled and passed the fuck out. Great night. Saturday, the training moved from level one to level two. We got deeper into the poses, talked props and alternatives, assisted and dipped into the meridians. According to traditional Chinese medicine, meridians are energy lines that run throughout the body. Meridians affect how our bodies function and can be manipulated by trained professionals to help improve our health. As we walked through the meridians, we also learned about a few key pressure points along each. The stomach meridian pressure point that we fiddled with is right above the temples near the hairline. When I applied pressure to mine, I had a holy shit moment. It was intense and, although I’ve been told otherwise, I think dancing with the meridians led to my loss of shit.
That evening when I got back to the hotel, I projectile vomited into the sink. The impulse was so violent I couldn’t even make it to the toilet. Then I laid on the bed feeling miserable, like chemo/cancer miserable. I rallied so I could meet this friend at Aurum for dinner, but at dinner, I felt the exact same way I felt when my former partner and I tried to go to dinner during chemo treatments—completely out of my body, in pain, unable to focus, nauseous and longing for relief. I cried myself to sleep at 8:15 p.m.—I miss my kids so much when they’re with their dad and worry so much about his influence, that I can hardly breathe at times—and got up at 9:30 a.m. feeling like I was on the tail end of a serious coke-shroom-alcohol-weed bender rather than at a yoga teacher training. I took a shower, snuggled back up with my buddy and then sprinted to the bathroom where I dry heaved for twenty minutes.
The first part of Sunday’s training was incredibly rough for me, but as we moved into poses and chatter about the upper body meridians, I felt a little better. In fact, I didn’t think about what had happened as losing my shit until it spilled into the training, until people who don’t know me well witnessed my extremely fragile emotional state. This happened during a break and all it took for me to completely fall apart was for one caring person to say, “Are you feeling any better?”
Physically yeah, I was, but I couldn’t tell her that because emotionally, I was totally done.
“I can’t stand being away from my kids,” I sobbed. “And sometimes I can’t handle the stress of all of this grief.”
What did she do? She hugged me. And when my story spilled about the narcissist, abusive ex who recently told me I got cancer because I’m mean and will get it again for the same reason, she shared her own similar struggle. Honestly, I couldn’t have felt more comfortable or protected in my mother’s or my sister’s arms. Truly.
I am extremely vulnerable right now because I’m working through what mental health professionals call complex trauma. Complex trauma is fairly self-explanatory. One trauma occurs, then another, then another and wham, complex trauma. Complex, eh? My traumas, as many of you know, go:
C-section with twins
Living in the hospital while the boys were in the NICU (partner did not join)
Life with an alcoholic pathological lying narcissist
Breakup (best thing I ever did)
This all within three years. With each of these experiences comes an overwhelming grief cycle that knocks me on my ass whenever it feels like it. Obviously, this has affected every aspect of my life. The best description I’ve ever heard about how trauma affects the body comes from Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma by Peter A. Levine. In Waking the Tiger, Levine describes the energy created from unreleased trauma as similar to the energy capture that would occur if your mom walked in on you right as you were about to orgasm. My inner self is like a fucking light show at a rave. Not good.
But guess what felt better? Crying and being held by people who may not have known me, but offered unconditional love anyway. After I lost my shit, other people lost theirs. Their loss had nothing to do with me. It had to do with being in a safe place where flaws are talked about, accepted without judgement and left to rest without the expectation that anyone can or will fix anything.
Late last year, one of my therapists who specializes in EMDR, asked me to visualize and then draw a picture of my safe place. I drew my yoga mat.
When Jamie killed himself, I cried on my yoga mat.
During chemo, I cried on my yoga mat.
When I miss my kids, I cry on my yoga mat.
For me, there’s something about that rectangular sliver of space and the people who occupy the space around it, that is safe.
If you look around, the healthiest people have the most robust support networks, a nice combo of people they’ve known for years and new friends who drop in and show up because that’s what’s in their nature. My hope for you is that you tangle with your own network of safe spaces.
This is why I love yoga. This is why I love people.