In my experience, we humans tend to think we are extremely unique in our thoughts and feelings: “no one thinks these crazy thoughts like I do” or “no one has this much hurt/shame/guilt/fear in their hearts” or “it’s hard for others to understand me because I am so much more intelligent than almost everyone else ever” etc.
While I’ll agree that everyone has something to offer this world, and every person is a child of (enter deity here), worthy of love and respect… I’m convinced that we are having a collective experience that becomes meaningful only when it’s shared among us. What that has to mean then, is that we have to be having the same experiences or no one would be able to exercise their empathy and emotional understanding. In other words, no one could relate to anyone else.
There is a phrase I have heard tossed around called “terminal uniqueness” which refers to people that are in a place where they’d rather literally die than be willing to accept help or guidance. Having once suffered from this condition myself, I can definitively say two things: 1. it is absolutely the most awful feeling when you believe you’re experiencing stuff no one else has ever felt or done – anywhere you go, anything you do, no one can help you, understand you or even forgive you for your thoughts, feelings, actions. 2. THERE IS A CURE.
Because the illness exists solely in your head, as soon as you are ready to be cured – poof! – you are miraculously able to begin the healing, grow, and most importantly help other people do the same. My experience with overcoming terminal uniqueness is the same as everyone else’s experience. (See what I did there?!) I needed loving guidance toward the new idea that I while I may be very special in my own way like my momma told me I am – I am not, in fact, experiencing my life differently than any human that has ever existed on the planet. I’m not a new breed of human and therefore my limitations are within the realm of human experience. In other words I was basically told, “Sweetie, get over yourself” and then comforted as the shock of realization hit me. They were indeed correct in what only moments ago I had thought obnoxious, presumptuous and downright rude.
The most painful part in this epiphany for me was the torrential rush of hope I felt as this new reality sank in. If I am understandable, if I am one among many, if my thoughts, feelings and actions aren’t despicably inhuman or inexplicably disgusting then some one, somewhere can help me. If I can be helped, then life might not be so isolated and painful. If life isn’t so isolated, so painful – then, just maybe, I can be free. I didn’t dare hope too hard right away. I had had hope before, only to have it be crushed by people in just as much pain and ill circumstance… so I was still afraid that this relief was fleeting. Freedom seems impossible when our captor appears invincible. Realizing that what is holding you back are your old ideas and thoughts (either fed to you or made up by you to survive your environment) and not any outside force, can give you courage to fight for that freedom, for inner peace, for a chance for true happiness.
Since discovering I am just like everyone else, I have found other people walking around with that same horrible mix of grandiosity and utter shame of terminal uniqueness. I’ve seen people die from it. It’s a terrible tragedy to see life end for no other reason than we couldn’t help them see how ordinary their problems are. Sometimes people have had their hope crushed so many times they simply can’t allow themselves any hope at all.
I hope this post encourages you to either ask for help, or offer it, depending where you are on your journey. Here are some of the phrases that helped me to become one among many, though they may seem harsh they were all delivered in pure love:
“Get over yourself sweetie”
“You can’t tell me anything I haven’t heard before, but I encourage you to try.”
“You haven’t done anything we didn’t already do… Twice. While naked.”
“Sorry, you’re just not that special.”
“Of course you punched her/pooped your pants/cried for three days/etc. I would have done the same thing in your shoes.”
“We will love you til you can love yourself. Go ahead and act a fool. We’ll still be here when you wear yourself out.”
“Don’t leave before the miracle happens.”
What they didn’t tell me is that the miracle was me feeling like I belonged somewhere – right here, on Earth, with you. My spot was reserved at birth, and no actions I took or thoughts I had could remove it. The same is true for every single person. Sorry, you’re just not that special…
Last night was Level One graduation night, I can’t believe 8 weeks goes by so fast! The transformation in such a short amount of time is astonishing, and seeing an entire group of women become confident is absolutely priceless. Their revolutions and revelations bring back memories of my own experience and the remarkable changes I’ve seen in the ladies of the YF community around me over the last 4 years. They remind me why it’s so valuable to start (and then continue!) a yoga practice. The strength and resilience gained by the mind and body support the spiritual health created by a consistent use of breath and focus.
I believe that any woman would benefit from Yoga Flirt. Last night I heard the Level One graduates sharing their stories, amazed by their own boldness and bravery in the outside world after two months of class. There were hugs and promises to stay in touch, as they will have a new instructor for level two. As the last woman left the studio, she had an enormous smile on her face that was lit up from within. I had never seen that look on her face before, but I’ve seen it on many other students faces as they break through their self-consciousness and fears! The feeling I get as their instructor is completely indescribable. For me, being an instructor means I have been given the gift of learning from my students. It is truly humbling.
Come, be my teacher! Spring session Level One starts THIS THURSDAY, May 2nd at 5:45pm-7:15pm. It’s an 8 week session, and you can sign up on the Yoga Flirt website. As a little bit of incentive, I’ll give you $30 off of Level One if you sign up for the session that starts this week. There are only 5 spots left, so please let me know ASAP if you want to take advantage of the offer to ensure you get a spot. All classes max out at 12 women, to ensure enough quality time is spent with each student. If enough ladies want to take Level One when Thursday sells out, Cathy might attempt to create another time slot. I can’t guarantee it, but it’s very possible!
If you’re in the area and want to get started, please go to Facebook, like my page and private message me, or find me on Twitter and send me a private tweet. If you’re an out of town gal, do not fret… I will collaborate with Cathy to help spread the love if we can!
With this blog, I am endeavoring to follow the guidance of the (capital U) Universe, and now appears to be the time where I back things up a bit. Before I start I want to say that I have been through years of therapy and spiritual recovery, and the way I feel about my circumstances in life is decidedly not how I have always felt. In fact, if you told me ten or fifteen years ago that I would feel the way I do… I would have been highly skeptical of your sanity. I wouldn’t have believed that the peace of true forgiveness would ever, ever, ever be available to me. So I know how I sound to you, if perhaps you had a similiar (read: not so great) start to life.
The details are not particularly important, I know there’s all types of suffering that children go through on a daily basis. What I will say is that bits of my story are hard for me to believe sometimes when I relate them to others, even now. Or especially now, I’m not sure which. A not-so-surprising fact is that much of my childhood memories are gone. I remember enough to relate my story to women (and an occasional man, when I speak at a public level) that have suffered from the same loneliness and isolation that seems to go hand in hand with abuse of any kind, at any age, any stage of life.
I also must be sure to say my youth was not a crapfest 100% of the time. I particularly treasure the time I spent with my cousins. (Kristina, Danah, Kim and Pete – thank you for your wildly different personalities and all the love and fun of those summers we spent by various pools, sans parents. Ironically, I think we all were safest when we were together in our world, isolated from our ill- equipped guardians for long, sunny, heavily chlorinated periods of time.) Just like me, they were forced out of true childhood – extremely quickly! – and true to our diverse characters, we all managed in our own ways…
Reading this post back, I realize now is the time where I give you a disclaimer: Because my faith tells me that I’m meant to tell my story in order to help others be free of theirs, I am about to lay some heavy stuff on you. Feel free to stop here if you’re not in the mood to follow me down the rabbit hole.
I’ve been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from my early years. You may (but hopefully not) be able to relate to the feeling that danger could appear at any moment, from any direction, and that letting your guard down was just a guarantee that it was only going to be that much worse when you remembered why you had it up in the first place.
Regardless of what was happening to my physical body or my young spirit, I was dealing with a third antagonist in the form of my own mind. I felt shame and disgust toward myself. I had no trouble making friends with kids my own age, but I lived in fear that they would find out the “truth about me” which would obviously repel them. And then they would tell everyone else and the whole world would know how awful I was, and I would be abandoned and no one would ever love me. As melodramatic as it is, I know a lot of people that have dealt with this fear.
So that is how I used to live, nay, survive. I was pretty sure everybody knew stuff I didn’t about life and how to live it. Confused and unable to ask for help, I fumbled along the best I could. I had always learned to take what life gave, grin and bear it… yet deep inside I held a seed of hope. A secular upbringing didn’t prevent me from believing that there was “something out there.” It never occurred to me that I could make a conscious contact with that higher power, or that I could put my faith in it. Still, I never gave up that seed of hope for a true life, one where I felt okay.
Whenever I think back to my younger self, I take a moment to send her love and a message of hope, reassurance that she is going to find a solution to the problem that is her life. I promise her that if she just holds on, great things are coming her way in the form of unconditional acceptance, peace and safety. Who knows? Maybe that’s why I was willing to continue to struggle through. I like to think so, and the fact that I’m able to honestly assure my past self of her happy and secure future makes my heart swell with gratitude.
I’m so proud of that scared and strange girl that I used to be. She was tougher than she thought, she worked harder than she believed she could and she got better, in spite of her fears and doubts to the contrary.
Today, I truly believe that my experience was given to me by divine intention, so that I could bear witness to what can happen through faith and perseverance. Admitting that I needed help (and gathering the courage to ask for it!) was the beginning of a lifetime process of attempting to become the best human I possibly can. If just one person that reads this post starts to trust in their own ability to truly be free, then it was all worth it.
Today started like every Wednesday seems to have started for the past couple of months, and that’s not a good thing! Not only are we down an employee already, but one of the openers at work called and said he’d be a few hours late. So I start my day making urgent early morning phone calls to my employees to cover the store. Every week the same thing. There’s even more that happened today that was less than cool, but it’s whiny and boring. So, moving on.
Despite my very best efforts, Wednesday inevitably ends up being my favorite day of any given week because I teach the level one Yoga Flirt class on Wednesday nights. The start of Yoga Flirt in level one is such a beautiful thing to experience! I thought I’d get a good workout, and I was right. But I was also given permission on the first day of class to stop beating myself up, which I’d never, ever thought of trying! It felt AMAZING.
So, getting to discover joy with my students over and over again is the best. So by the time class is over and I’m on my way home, I feel euphoric. Tonight is graduation for my level one class… I hope I don’t cry too many tears of pride at the whole class’ amazing transformation.
This morning I woke up with a Jay-Z song in my head (random?) and also this thought: You have to give it away to keep it. I hear that a lot in my circle of friends but I have never thought about how it correlates to my attraction to teaching level one over and over again. It turns out it’s very fitting, because every time I take a new group of women through the epic journey that is level one in Yoga Flirt, I experience the transformation with them. And I love and thank them for teaching me so much.