Much to my heart’s sweet content, the boys joined me for yoga rocks the park yesterday. This is a first for them despite the many years that YRTP has been a thing here in Omaha in the summertime. It’s not that I’ve not wanted them to join me every year. Nor is it that I haven’t asked them to go with me each year. It’s that I’d never requested them to go as I did yesterday. I was needing to get outside, to move my body, to feel community and to spend time with my men, and instead of asking, “does anyone want to join me for yoga this afternoon?” I stated, “we’re going to yoga this afternoon”.
OM my god. It worked like a charm.
It helped that their super cool 20-year-old male cousin was going to be there. It also helped that I promised meatballs out to anyone who didn’t complain and ice cream out to anyone who tried his hardest in the poses. I am not above bribing, but I think I’m finally (after thirteen years being a mama) climbing my way to the point above begging.
I’ve been a beggar for a long time. Let’s do this! Please? Please? Please?
I’ve also been a surveyor. What would you all like to do?
Concerning my desires, a suppressor. It doesn’t matter, as long as we’re together.
I have also become a flexible shape-shifting pleaser. How can I make it so that everyone is happy?
Sometimes I bend so hard (or stuff so much) that I break. Or scream. Or kick a giant dent in the dryer.
For a long time, I truly believed I was cursed with volatile outbursts and explosive anger. Like if I were a better person, it wouldn’t happen because I’d be able to control myself. I’d ask myself again and again, “What is wrong with me? Why do I do this?” I’d self-flagellate, ask for forgiveness and pray to be a good mother, and then I’d jump right back into trying so damn hard to please, and I’d continue on until I broke or erupted again.
But this cycle is finally being broken. Shit. is. shifting.
With years of serious self-study (and more time than ever to devote to it this past year), I’m at last beginning to see a crack in my perspective, and the light that is shining in is blindingly transformational. I understand for the first time in my life -way down deep in my bones- that I don’t in fact have a defective personality or behold some innate “badness”. I understand that in the times when I become overwhelmed and behave in ways I don’t want to, it’s because I simply haven’t yet mastered the skills necessary to manage my emotions. (But I know can, with practice.) Or, it’s because I haven’t set up proper boundaries, or held myself to my values, or treated myself kindly with sufficient sleep, rest, play, connection and quiet time, lack of which lead to finding myself in precariously overwhelming situations. (The good news is I’m realizing the agency I have over these self-care conditions, and I’m also realizing just how crucial self-care is, and I’m accepting the huge effort that it requires and valuing myself enough to practice it.) Fortunately for all, those sticky situations are becoming further and further apart and becoming less scary and charged when they occur. And when they do, I’m finding my way back to center much more quickly. Seeing a poor response as a behavior as opposed to a character flaw allows so much more room for compassion.
When I look back to just 12 months ago when I was so fearful of leaving my academic career, I see with the clarity that distance provides that despite my awareness of it, there was so much pushing, pleasing and perfecting in my life, and so little true rest, play or creativity to balance it. There was lots of striving and little trusting, lots of comparing and most sadly, little connecting.
This is changing as I change my pace, change my practices, change my intentions and change my surroundings. This is changing as I change my conversations, both internal and external as well as my conversation partners and groups. This is changing as I set boundaries as to what’s mine and what is not, and what I will accept and what I won’t. This is changing as I ask for what I need, knowing deep down that I deserve it.
This is also changing as I practice gratitude, not as an attitude but as an honest to goodness exercise. Here goes:
I am most grateful today for all the amazing friends (old and new), family, teachers and students who have helped me to experience this bright shift in perspective and whom I trust to remind me when I forget and find myself enclosed in darkness, that all this change is a PRACTICE and that this new understanding about behavior and agency and self-care isn’t something I can check off a to-do list, but something I need to cultivate and invite to grow each and every day.