One of my first yoga classes since months of medically mandated inactivity, and everything hurt immediately. Even in child’s pose my stiff legs ached, in plank my deconditioned core collapsed.
What if the aches are arthritis? I thought, and from there it was off to the races. What if I can’t get back into shape? What if my body can’t go back to working how it did before? What if I gain back the weight everyone praised me for losing when I was ill and those people judge me? What if when my symptoms come back they devastate me again? What if I can’t have kids? What if I have kids and they resent their sick mother? What if my husband dies young?
This was dread, and it was totally understandable in someone whose world was shaken like a snow globe this winter, who was waiting to see where all the pieces of glitter would land when the globe settled.
A component of Jesuit spirituality that attracts me is Finding God in All Things. This doesn’t mean there is some chirpy silver lining to every event, that “everything happens for a reason” or that “God always has a plan”. It does not deny the trauma of our tragedies but insists that God is found even there in the darkness. This spirituality acknowledges things as they are, and allows a devotion to reality and authenticity.
This is why I could text one of my dearest the other day and ask if jealousy and purposelessness were normal postoperative emotions. I closed with a quip to show I wasn’t in too dark a place. My life is still fun and funny and worthy of smiley emoji. Still, I wanted to name those negative things, to say them out loud and to put them in their proper place. Denying them gives them too much power.
To deny the troubling truth, to hide from it, means I would have to deny the beautiful truths too. It means I couldn’t trust the joy and hope that rip through my heart daily.
My goal here is not to tell you that my emotions vary wildly, and that insecurity and anxiety pop up often. It’s not to show you this either. Rather, I want to show you that I can tell you, that I can tell myself you are struggling now. That is how things are. You don’t disgrace your blessings by naming this and knowing you will live with it for a while.
Often during yoga we are told not to have ponderous thoughts. If thoughts come up we are to observe them and let them go. That’s not for me.
My thoughts and feelings bubble up. I hold them in my hand, observe and name them, turn them over until they’re burnished and worn and I let my tears wash them again. Then by making them truly mine by proximity and by honesty they will become what they are, honest and holy, transformed and beautiful.
Don Kolenda says
Margaret, all your posts are great. You write beautifully and I feel your heart and soul through it. Thank you for your openness and teaching me more about vulnerability.
“Break a leg” tonight! 🙂