April 24. Dear Diary:
Today I went to the studio to teach my regular Sunday morning yoga class.
It was one of those rare occasions when I really didn’t feel like teaching. It’s not that I don’t love teaching yoga or being in the presence of the sweet Sunday morning yogis; It’s just that laying on the sofa (re)watching On-Demand episodes of the Real Housewives or House Hunters Renovation required far less effort.
Of course, class was amazing; it always is. How could a big giant Twist Sanga hug not hit the reset button? It is undeniable that we are not alone on our paths. Much better now.
*** Rewind six days ****
April 18. Dear Diary:
Today it was 88 degrees and I spent the day with my kiddo and her friend on a Seattle stay-cation: Lunch at Sunlight Cafe, stand up paddleboarding at Greenlake, sun, fun, and more fun! J
The sunny day matches my sunny outlook – personally and professionally. The vibe at the studio, and its tribe of teachers and front desk folks, is the most cohesive it’s ever been. Gone is any heaviness or pretension; in its place is lightness and positivity. I never would have imagined the more-ness of life. Life is so, SO good. 🙂
April 19. Dear Diary:
Another 80 degree spring day! Morning saw me springing out of bed for a morning yoga sesh, followed by a smoothie and off to the studio for work.
My zippity-do-dah mood prompted an impromptu lunchtime walk to the beach, where I imagined sand in my toes, sun on my face, and a cold iced tea…. I practically skipped down Dayton Street in anticipation.
On the corner of Dayton & Edmonds Way, I heard it: The strange combination of screeching of train brakes and screaming. A minute later: Sirens.
Another block and I saw him, tangled in an unnatural shape under the boxcar. I knew immediately he was dead. Witnesses were stunned; someone was saying he just jumped in front of the train. On purpose. Suicide.
I don’t even recall the passage of time – was it 5? 10 minutes? 30 seconds? I turned away, trying to un-see his broken body; now firmly imprinted in my consciousness. Rattled and numb, I made my way back to the studio. The sobs came halfway up the hill.
The rest of the day I lay on the sofa and cried. My heart ached for the man’s pain, for the driver of the train and the witnesses. I cried for the messy body I saw. For the fragility of life. And for my own fears that, if tragedy can happen to strangers, what’s to keep it from happening to me or someone I love?
I still cry. And, with the exception of a few hours here and there where I worked or rallied with friends at Greenlake (thank you; you know who you are), I took to the couch for 4 days.
I cried, screamed, raged, felt the darkness… I also numbed out binge-watching not one, but TWO, entire seasons of Below Deck on Bravo. It was easy to do; I had made arrangements to stay home with my daughter for spring break – who ended up heading to a friend’s cabin, last minute.
Let’s face it, I don’t exactly have a history of excelling at processing grief. My mother died 28 years ago and I’ve just now been able to pick up the book Motherless Daughters without flinging it across the room.
Like many people, my preference is to avoid uncomfortable emotions. In general, my M.O. is to tell anger, fear or sadness to go fuck themselves step off and deny their existence. I soldier on: I’m fine.
You’d think, as a yoga-teacher type, I would have figured this out by now. But I’ve never met a yoga teacher –including myself- who isn’t as neurotic (or more) as the rest of humanity.
Aside from straight-up denial, sometimes my aversion strategies admittedly include turning toward a cupcake –or a bottle of wine- which works for a hot second.
But I know that issues live in our tissues, and buried feelings don’t ever really die.
Sitting with sadness on this 4-day sofa sabbatical was a coping strategy I’d never tried. I know this is a luxury not available to many – for that I’m incredibly grateful. These four days were a gift, I know.
As a result, I still feel sadness, but there’s an acceptance there; a “this is what is” quality. Plus I can speak of the accident without melting into a puddle like I usually do. And I’ve realized I’m not ruminating like I have in past traumas.
Thank you, this life of mine.
The gifts of the past four days:
- Mind/body connection. The clear knowledge that anger and anxiety show up as pain in the body. Like clockwork, on day #2, I developed a searing muscle pain just inside my right shoulder blade. Read this book to know more. Thank you, Beth, for the gift of this book.
- Impermanence. This is so clear to me right now: Everything ends. Great days can change on a dime. And grasping to a current situation is the direct route to suffering.
- Gratitude. Immense gratitude for the current good health of my loved ones.
- Gratitude for friends who let me rage at them. You know who you are.
- Support. Wednesday morning hugs at Twist. You know who you are.
- Yoga. Three really nourishing yoga practices at Twist. Thank you.
- Healing. Melanie’s essential oil grief elixir.
- Community. The Sunday morning tribe at Twist Yoga. Your stories of grief. The undeniable knowledge that we are not alone on our paths.