Friday, January 14, 2011

Off My Game

I had a good run there, a few days straight of feeling good, feeling whole, feeling safe in my skin, feeling - dare I say it - hopeful.

It feels so far off now, like that was just a figment of my imagination.

The panic is back, the feeling like I am running away from something, constantly. The feeling in my body, fight or flight, the trauma response. The inability to find enthusiasm, motivation, energy. My body feels dark, heavy, congested, stuck.

Through the day I am lethargic, slow, it is tough to move my body - and yet, inside, there is a constant agitation. At night, the agitation becomes more obvious, and I lie in bed, awake, trembling, panicking. E was very late at work last night, and when I woke at 1:30 and realized he wasn't home, it didn't take long for me to fly into full anxiety. I called twice and was in the midst of sending a panicky text when he called back - and I screamed at him. He understands, but doesn't deserve it.

I was telling E the other night that if I were making a film about this experience, I would have two different actresses play me, one for the "before" and one for the "after." And they wouldn't look similar, not even one bit. It would be a device and it would take the viewer a long time to figure it out...That is how different I feel. Like if someone were on the outside looking in on this, the "me" now would be completely unrecognizable and completely different to the "me" then. The only reason my family and friends recognize this "me" now is because they were there for the moment it all changed - so they are somehow immune to seeing the fact that I bear absolutely no resemblance to the woman from before. (It's all very sci-fi and hard to explain clearly...)

I got a card from one of my yoga students recently. I hesitate to talk about it because I don't want to sound all braggadocio, but it was a beautiful testament to my teaching, and to the impact I've had on her life. She talked about how missed I am in classes, about how many students are waiting patiently for my return, and reminding me of course to take my time, but that she will welcome me back so wholeheartedly when I am ready to return to teaching. And I stood there staring at the card, trying to remember this woman she wrote about, the woman that used to teach yoga, not so long ago. Laughing, smiling, a twinkle in her eye as she led the group through another sequence of plank-down dog-side plank-down dog-side plank-down dog and then held them in plank for minutes...Opening up hearts, encouraging even the most inflexible to find an opening, taking students to a place where each one of them felt seen, strong, brave, open, and loved. I doubted my abilities as a teacher, I did. I doubted my strength, I doubted my practice, I doubted a lot. And yet, looking back, I would give anything to be that woman, in that body, with those insecurities, instead of this woman, in this body, here, now. The insecurities of my past seem so trivial now. I can't really fathom the fact that life felt difficult for me then. (Is this yet another case of me just romanticizing my past? Perhaps.)

My wrist has been effed-up for weeks, maybe months now. I can't even do one down dog without it sending pain throughout my body. My hip flexors are so excruciatingly tight that I can't stay in child's pose. I do not sit, I do not watch my breath. I tried yesterday in acupuncture to focus on my breath - I lasted maybe four full breaths. I can not even imagine leading a group through a yoga class - it would feel so inauthentic to me right now - my body is a source of such suffering for me - and my mind is anything but quiet. Not only that, but I run away from the practices that might bring me into better balance. My chiropractor, who saw me through my pregnancy, and now treats me after, says that my body is completely unrecognizable to her right now - the tightness in spots that were so remarkably open before, the physical shutdown, the pain. At the same time, she is a bereaved mother, two and half years since her one year old son left this planet, so she knows grief, she knows this journey all too well. She said to me yesterday, "Sarah, if your body wasn't doing this, I'd be more concerned. If you weren't falling apart, I'd be more concerned." When I asked her when I get to take a break, when I get to be "better", her response was, "When I get there, I'll let you know..."

I used to lead my yoga classes through a chant at the end of every class, and then recite a blessing. For five years, usually 4 times a week, I said that blessing.

It has taken me weeks to remember the blessing, and I am still not sure if this is it, or not.

May this practice bring us all into better balance,
with body, breath and spirit,
with each other and the world we all share.

Open your eyes and take in the light of the room,
and acknowledge the light within yourself, and within one another.

That woman, the yoga teacher - she is unrecognizable to me. And I can barely see the light within, it is so damn dark here.


Brooke said...

I wish I had something positive and uplifting to say. I hope that the darkness lifts or that you can at least remember that you're not alone in it.

æ said...

Hi Sarah.

The way you are grieving and mourning seems like you--in grief and mourning. I say that because from here the way you are facing it does, in fact, seem remarkable, and in that I recognize you.


kate said...

you have a gift with words sarah - your voice has an honesty and authenticity that reaches out to me (and this has always been true). i am sorry that you suffer so acutely. i wish i could ease your pain - but i know i can't touch it.

sending love & light & blessings.

kate xx

Maddie said...

Sending hugs and love. I remember in the early days that any good days seemed to be followed by worse days that almost made wish the good days had never happened if that makes sense.

And I remember having a conversation with my Mum saying that people who'd met me since Matilda died would see me as this quiet, withdrawn person when before I was extroverted and loved talking to new people. Some of that is coming back but I still feel like a different person and expect I always will.

Hoping the light within starts to grow stronger in days, weeks, and months to come. In the meantime, we'll be here.

Maddie x

Anonymous said...

You have described this feeling so beautifully and so hauntingly perfectly Sarah.
I completely get it- the woman before and the foreign woman after. I could not have described it better myself.
I take heart in what your chiro said- especially in the face of all that she has lost. I don't know if I will ever get to that place where I truly feel 'better' and I am coming to terms with that realization day by day.
Sending you love and light mamma...

hayley said...

it feels here sometimes like you are writing a poem, or a long meditation. I see glimpses of that old you, in your helping and loving of those who are also bereaved, but I hear you too; you are changed irrevocably, you don't get to be that woman anymore.

love you.


katman110 said...


I didn't know the "before" you (and obviously I don't know the "after" you either -- I am just getting glimpses through your writing) but what I see now is a stunningly beautiful person.

it's just too soon for balance, sweet mama, -- you're still in the middle of this change. You cannot expect balance while your world is still shifting.

But your heart is opening up even more, Sarah. At least that is what I see. Your yoga blessing applies: You are becoming more in touch, more aware of yourself and the world around you. That, I think, is Otis' magnificent gift to you: In the end, it's a legacy of light, not a legacy of pain that he leaves you with (though those two might just be the two sides of the same coin. The yin and the yang that need to co-exist in order to exist at all...)

Much love to you mama...

sarah said...

Thanks everyone, I appreciate it, so much.

katman110, thank you so much. your comment came through at the perfect time, just what I needed to read this evening. I appreciate you reading and commenting here so much. (as far as I can tell, you don't have a blog or a way for me to connect to you - if you do, please email me at otisamongus at gmail to let me know!)

My New Normal said...

I am so sorry you are feeling down. I think of our grief as a rollercoaster, full of ups and downs. Hopefully your sadness will lift in the coming days.

Oh, and I wanted you to know that I've given you an award for your blog. Please stop by my blog to pick it up.

Tess said...

Such lovely comments and the card from your yoga student; wow Sarah - yourself, E and Otis are in the hearts of many, mine too.
So many points you raise echo where I am, or have been just now - I only hope that your days are increasing in feeling good, whole and safe again.
I completely know what you mean with the 'before' and 'after' you, although I see it as a change in my perception and how others may see me with different glasses and contact lenses - but that is for another post, I just wanted to say that you're not alone.

I'm hoping things with your Granny are improving.

I have somehow only just seen your '4 months' post - what a handsome, gorgeous little man Otis is! That picture conveys a million words to me, a treasure; heartbreakingly so...

So much love and strength to you

Missy said...

I totally get the before and after woman. And the trivial. Nothing seems to make sense. I am not an exerciser at all, but I used to take long walks. The kind of walk where you get lost in your thoughts and don't remember where you have been. I don't do that anymore. I don't even bother to take a deep breathe or recognize my surroundings. Everything feels so off. I hope you find some part of yourself again. Much love to you Sarah!

æ said...

I've been thinking of you a lot.

hayley said...

hi sarah

I noticed you've been a bit quiet here for a few days and hope you and young woo are okay.

love, as ever, h.x