This topic has come up in a myriad of ways in the past few weeks, so I'm feeling the need to muse about it here...
Last week I was chatting with a friend of mine who was lamenting over spending the holidays with her partner's family. "They don't get me," she said, her voice full of sadness. Tattoos, piercings, eating habits -- you could say that these didn't quite mesh with partner's family. Needless to say this brings up all sorts of not-holiday-jolly feelings for her (and, by extension, her partner). I teared up because I understand my friend's pain. I've been there.
For me, it wasn't just my partner's family -- it was also my partner. He was uncomfortable with my diet, the yoga lifestyle, and a whole host of other things about me. We're no longer together but we're still friends, so this isn't coming from a place of judgment. The truth is, I can understand why he was uncomfortable. I didn't practice yoga when we dated. I didn't eat the way I did when we dated. I changed as time went on. I suppose you could say that I pulled a bait and switch. Who I was at 20 was not the same as who I was at 30.
We had different viewpoints about romance and relationships. He liked the idea of two people being on the same book, the same page, the same paragraph, the same sentence, the same word. At age 20 I thought this romantic. It took about 10 years to figure out that the book he spoke about so romantically was his book, not our book. Yes, it's easy to love someone when he/she does what you want, makes choices that you agree with, lives the lifestyle you desire. Unfortunately, I rarely did what he wanted or made choices he agreed with or lived the lifestyle he desired.
You could say that the book didn't have a happy ending.
I don't say that. In fact, I say something different. You see, I learned that my immature imaginings that love meant being in agreement on everything was just that -- immature. Now I understand the importance of respect for differences. According to this fabulous article , it's all about the pits, or as I like to say, the messiness. That, my friends, is where the intimacy lies. Love, intimacy -- it's in the messy.
And here's where it gets interesting...my ex partner is a good man. I could whine about how I didn't feel loved or accepted or give you some other kind of victim story. In fact, I would often grumble to my friends about holidays with my partner's family citing vegetarian hate and other sorts of injustices. I was looking for sweetness. I didn't like messy. I didn't want to see it in myself. I wanted what my partner wanted -- smooth sailing, calmness, absence of conflict. There's nothing messy about fitting in and being exactly like someone else, right? It's no suprise that since I didn't like messy, I attracted a partner who was the same.
So when I had to suck it up, stick it out, pretend, and/or brush it off, I did. Fitting in and giving in meant no mess and I became a champ at both. There's a price for that though. After a while I got angry. I took it out on my poor partner and his family. But I was really angry at myself. This wasn't about my partner rejecting me or him and his family not accepting me and my quirks -- it was about me disapproving of myself. After this little epiphany, well, that's when things really got interesting...
There's no more blaming others for what they're not doing or not giving you -- now it's all on you. You realize that what's happening out there is a mirror reflecting back at you what's going on inside. I was looking into some crisp, clear mirrors. My not liking what I saw didn't make it any less true. That's when I started diving into the mess. Once I started accepting my messiness, I could no longer tolerate being with people who and in situations that demanded no-mess zones. I knew that doing so would result in unhappiness, anger, and what I consider the worst thing of all -- the polar opposite of self love.
These days, my relationships are messy. I endeavor to love the messiness in myself (which is probably why others love it as well). I endeavor to listen to myself and let that messiness show, allow it to be there. Some days I do a good job...and other days not so good.
The past month has been not so good. I injured myself and reverted back to old ways -- suck it up, stick it out, just look at the sweet, brush it off. I distinctly ignored the mess. I got on my yoga mat and pushed through. My body hurt but I didn't listen. I wanted to practice and I wanted my body to be on the same book, the same page...gee, sound familiar? Clearly, my respect for differences went right out the window.
Weeks passed until I was hobbled. Yes, one day I woke up and could barely walk. Had I mentioned that I can be veeeeery good at sticking my head in the sand and ignoring the mess? Yep, I have my moments. This past week has been very different. I've stopped and listened and given my body love. My body was whining about the same thing I used to whine about to my partner all those years ago -- "Accept me as I am. Love me for me, quirks and all, even when you're not in agreement and uncomfortable."
I went into Yoga Therapist Heal Thyself mode. No more pushing. No more ignoring. No more disagreeing. Only love. Today I practiced true therapeutic yoga. Interestingly enough...or should I say, not surprisingly, my body responded right away. There's a lot less hobbling today. Am I uncomfortable with not trail walking or practicing my regular yoga routine or working out as I normally do? Hell, yes! But as I learned years ago -- you've got to approve of yourself, embrace your whole self, love yourself as you are even when it's uncomfortable and messy.
Yoga isn't a team sport. It's you and...you...on the mat. Sure, there might be a teacher pushing you to bend deeper or correct this or that or follow along. But I say, don't be afraid to make a mess. Don't just go along for the sake of staying in the sweetness. That's how injury happens. That's how you find yourself with an empty practice that involves you going through the motions. And how you do one thing is how you do everything, so it's sure to bleed into your life.
And since we're on the topic of messes...
I can't resist mentioning the whole Lululemon debacle . I've never been a Lululemon hater. Yes, I've bought the $90+ yoga pants. I purchased most of my Lululemon yoga pants before all of the issues about quality occurred. Or maybe it's just that my body fits into the type that "works" with Lululemon pants. Whoa, I bet good ole' Chip rues the day he made that comment . I must be honest -- the whole thing made me cringe. Heck, even his apology video made me cringe. I wasn't feeling the remorse. It left a bad taste in my mouth. As someone who believes in adapting the yoga to the individual, I don't like the idea of having to adapt the individual's body to the yoga pant. It just doesn't seem right to me. I'm proud to say that my thighs rub together a bit (no pilling though, so Chip can wipe the sweat from his brow).