ONE YEAR CHIP
I just finished my yoga practice in preparation for my "transitions" class that I am teaching tonight and I had a moment of zen, aka "holy crap! I can't believe how far I have come!" This year has certainly been a year of transitions.
It was a year ago today I was curled up in my little sister's bed while she was away at college. My mom brought me tea for me to sip between the sobs and running to the bathroom. I had been physically sick for almost two months and emotionally ill for a good ten months since my dad passed which spawned months ahead of further loss. The doctors were still coming to conclusions as to what went wrong in September and why I was slowly recovering from what might have been a string of bad urinary tract infections, kidney stones, and/or ovarian cysts...
After pushing myself through it I hit a wall, I couldn't taken another step forward. I woke up one morning feeling extremely unsettled, I texted my mom, "Can I come home this weekend?" I was sobbing uncontrollably looking at the clock, I had 30 minutes to pull myself together to go to teach a class. "of course!" was her reply. Then my reply, "Can I come home tomorrow?" I calculated how I could get classes covered for the following days. "yes!" she texted back within seconds. "Can I come home now?" I couldn't do it. I couldn't walk into another class and pretend I was ok. I couldn't try to teach students to let go of their own pain while I was drowning in a pool of my own. "I would love that!" replied my mom. I mustered up the strength and made the arrangements within minutes; sent out an email and social media to cancel my class, got my teachers to cover my classes for the next few days, emailed my boss that I had to go home, threw a few things in my bag and I was in the car for the next five hours to West Virginia to go to the closest thing I could call "home."
"I've been drinking these tears so long all I've got left is the taste of salt in my mouth" -Beck
My drive was spent with music blasting with intervals of me crying, singing, talking to myself about how that things would get better. Beck's "Volcano" came on and these words above rang in my ears. I had been talking to my acupuncturist about the salty taste in my mouth for the past month...a moment of clarity.
I arrived to my mom's. She simply hugged me as I crumbled in her arms. I apologized for falling apart. Her response was "It's ok. I have been waiting for this to happen." She took me to my sister's bedroom and I laid there for the next few days as I planned my next steps to go on with my life. I came up for air to eat dinners with my mom and stepdad. I had a plan that sounded completely insane and was waiting for them to tell me to suck it up and go back to work next week. But something even more insane happened, they didn't. They supported me. They told me I should leave my job and explore this new plan of travel/yoga. My nOMad baby, that was born out of wedlock, was going to have grandparents that loved it unconditionally even though the mom-to-be was a hot mess.
A few days later, I gained some strength back and decided to go head back to Beacon to give my notice. My mom begged me to stay for my dad's birthday (she didn't want me to be alone for this first one without him here). I knew I couldn't though. I had to go home and prepare for my next journey. I drove to Beacon on his birthday and went to give my notice the next day.
And here I am a year later; ready to launch this crazy dream of mine into the world, made my way back to Beacon after living in Costa Rica for eight months, traveled to Nicaragua, the midwest, and Mexico, found and realized the love I have for myself and allowed myself to accept the love of others, and most importantly, about to celebrate my one year of survival. I think I am understanding what it must feel like to be an addict who goes into recovery. One day at a time. It is so simple and so necessary. You can't help but hit the anniversaries and reflect. Those daily/yearly chips are your moments to look back and say, "holy shit! I really did this!"
When my dad passed, we held a memorial at his AA club in West Haven, Connecticut. There were so many wonderful stories about my dad and how much he helped his community. I was told that he gave out his own special chips to newbies; an angel coin. When I went through his things I found a whole bunch of them. I decided to pass a few out to his friends at the memorial. I held onto the one I believe was "his" and have been sharing the rest with the people who have helped me along my path this past year. It's my way of saying thanks and making sure I know and they know that we can't do this life thing alone. We all help each other through our hard times. We must. The moment we feel alone, we can not see much past that. It hit me the other day, the word "alone" is "all one" without "L"ove. It's the love and support we must give to each other that gets us through it.
What got me through the hard times was hearing the stories of other strong women and men who rose from their own ashes; my gramma after her and my grandfather split, my mom after leaving my dad, my dad recovering my his various drug addictions and the other stories I heard and read about of others who suffered but woke up each day and kept moving forward. That's what inspired me to live.
After I wrote my last post earlier this month, I received responses from friends, family, and students. One of my students called me to personally thank me for sharing my story (although she already knew a lot about it). She said it gave her permission to feel her own pain and live own her own story.
So I sit down and write yet another post about my suffering and rising above it, in hopes that it is received honestly. It's not for a pat on the back but to give you permission for your own journey whether it's currently in a place amongst the obstacles or in a position of removing them.
Last night I read an email before I went to sleep, a dear friend wrote me about the challenging year she has been having. I went to sleep and dreamt of my dad's angel coins; I was going through an old bag of his and found a big handful of them and I was excited to know there was more to give. It didn't hit me that I had that dream until I started writing this now.
So I leave you with this, your permission to be on your own journey with the confidence that you will be supported along the way. And remember, don't be afraid to look back. You might just be surprised to see how far you have come.