On yoga and safe spaces to share

By 24th October 2018 No Comments

I’ve started going to yoga. There’s a lady who does it in our local park for a fiver. When it’s warm enough, we go and we stretch and move and practise our yoga. I am not very good, but there is no judgement and my body feels better after. So off I go. Today there was a reading. I missed the beginning, I was in my own head.

But I caught the last bit, and it basically came down to don’t be afraid to feel what you’re feeling. Be vulnerable, explore your emotions.

I tend to bite down on my emotions. My logical, intellectual side is more mature than my emotional intelligence for sure. I usually only express those emotions in safe places, like therapy, or at home with Sam. Not in public. Definitely not in yoga.

But as our instructor urged us, I cautiously settled my mind, cleared my thoughts and gently took a peek. And then I slammed those feelings way way back into a tiny box and pushed it as far away from my brain as possible, bringing my thoughts back to the present immediately. The feel of the mat, where my body was grounded, the (more ragged than gentle) breath in and out. What I could hear. I thought frantically of what I was going to eat for lunch that day.

Fuck exploring those feelings at yoga.

There was only two of us, that day at yoga. And we chatted at the end. The reading came up, and the other girl said she really enjoyed it. It was helpful for her. She was feeling some residual conflict with an unbalanced friendship and was able to gently process her way through and let it go. I listened, fascinated. How amazing, genuinely, to have that be what needs processing. How healthy. I was jealous. Sure enough, the conversation turned to me, and what I thought of being vulnerable and open to feeling what I’m feeling.

I said it was difficult, because when I explored my feelings that morning what I got back was ‘please don’t die, please don’t die, please don’t die’ with such hope and desperation and love, it was overwhelming. My very rational fear of my son dying and it being a very real possibility is always right there just under the surface, it’s intense and overwhelming.

I had tears streaming down my face, and they were both taken back a bit. They clearly weren’t expecting this. They don’t know me very well, and they don’t really know me as the lady who has a son with a terminal metabolic disorder.

And then we did that dance. The not quite pity dance, but the ‘theres a definite need to comfort me but they don’t quite know what to say’ dance. The poor girl with the friendships felt that her problems weren’t problems (but they are, my problems don’t take away from anyone else’s problems) and they expressed how important it was that I look after myself and practise self care and how amazing and strong I am for parenting like I do.

I moved the conversation on to less emotional ground because that dance is awkward for everyone, despite the kindest of intentions (they really are the nicest of people).

Side note: if you’re at a loss for what to say, say “that sounds really hard. How are you feeling about that?” or if you don’t want to go deep and meaningful, “That sounds really hard. How is your son doing right now?” because chances are he’s fine and it gives me a chance to move the conversation to the positive.

We left shortly after, and my grief lingered all day. Long story short, yoga is not the place to explore all those emotions if you’re a special needs parent with a child who as a terminal disorder.

I’m grateful we have access to therapy and safe spaces to share. I definitely won’t be exploring all those feels in yoga again, that’s for sure.

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