Well. Fuck. It happened.
You know how in my last post I was all like, “Oh yeah I am totally self-sabotaging because I just can’t deal, and I know one day my shit is going to catch up to me.”
Well. Done. Fuck.
Okay, so if you’re my friend on facebook, you’ve probably seen all of my “fuck my life” “holy shit” posts from this weekend. Hala Khouri came into town, and a friend of mine, who has done the Off the Mat training, highly recommended her, so I figured I would sign up for the workshops. They were about trauma, mostly. So I went into this training thinking, “Great. I can learn some tools to effectively help others work through trauma. It doesn’t apply to me, but it will make me a better teacher.”
Well. Fuck that assumption.
You know, that whole, “it doesn’t apply to me” assumption.
Flash back to Friday night. The workshop was called, “Yoga for Authentic Heart Opening.” And, if you follow me and read the crap I unload on social media, you know I’ve been in a very dark place for a couple of weeks. My last blog post talks fully about my avoidance of this as well.
This workshop made me face all of that.
Okay okay, so let’s go back just a tad further. I tend to theme my yoga classes around issues that are relevant to me at the moment. This past week has been all about vulnerability. I re-watched Berne Brown’s vulnerability Ted Talk, which I watched again after two people re-recommended it to me. (BTW: if you haven’t seen it, stop what you are doing right now and watch it.)
So here’s the funny part. Berne makes this joke about,” Oh so I went to therapy, and I said, here’s the thing: no childhood crap, no history crap – I don’t want to get into any of that. I just need some strategies.” Then her therapist nods, and she looks at him and says, “Oh God, it’s really bad, isn’t it?” And the therapist responds, “It’s neither good nor bad. It just is what it is.”
I laughed at the joke, because she has great delivery.
But here’s the thing: I actually, truly believed that. I have been to counseling more than five times. Each time anyone ever even wants to even discuss the past, I leave almost instantly.
The entire theory of my life has been: move forward, do not look back, do not discuss the past. (Sort of like Wayward Pines – anyone else watching this series?)
I surround myself with forward thinkers, with whom I can discuss ideas and hopes and dreams and the future.
I am annoyed by spending time around those who only reminisce.
I’ve avoided thinking about the past so much, that I have hardly any memories. People will tell me events that happened – events that were pretty big in my life – that I’ve totally forgotten about. And not just the bad stuff – the good stuff, too. I totally forgot that I won this art award while I was a senior in high school. I forgot that I was captain of my speech team. I forgot that I sang a duet with my best friend that turned into a hilarious disaster.
I remember it now after the fact, of course. But I have totally disassociated from my past.
I’m hardly even friends with anyone from my past.
Anyway, so why?
Because of TRAUMA.
I have trauma? The girl that came to the workshops not to learn about herself, but to help other people cope – I have TRAUMA?
Trauma seems like something that war veterans have, that childhood rape survivors have, that those who survived being held at gunpoint have.
Not for some girl who grew up in the suburbs with parents who are still together and who lives a totally well-adjusted life, who is now married and happy and following her dreams. How could she have trauma? That’s ridiculous.
Except it isn’t. What I learned, is that there’s two types of trauma: shock trauma – like the war example, rape, poverty – things that are not everlasting; and developmental trauma – trauma that is the result of an ongoing mis-attunement.
They are both devastating, but the shock trauma is a bit easier to handle, because it’s an event to process. The developmental trauma is harder, because it happens over your childhood and it fundamentally shapes your personality.
My trauma is, of course, developmental.
Now I’m not going to go into the specifics. I hold no ill feelings and I do not wish to criminalize anyone, and the information is just too personal. It’s more like – I probably need some serious therapy, you know, one in which I actually process my past.
But I also always de-dramatize everything in my life. It’s a coping mechanism I’ve learned. So, while some people may know a tad about my history, it’s usually just in passing and I make it into a joke, rather than something that I can speak of openly.
Actually, I was in denial about how bad it was. But we went around the room during the workshop, and people were discussing why they were here, and of course I shared no personal information. But one woman did. She pretty much described the essence of my childhood, and while I was just sort of nodding along with an understanding “Oh yeah that’s no big deal, me too” attitude, everyone else in the room gasped.
Like in a – holy shit I can’t believe that happens sort of gasp.
That’s when I started piecing things together. Like – is this really a thing? I turned out fine. Sure, what I experienced probably isn’t normal, but whose childhood is normal, really? And it’s just not that big of a deal. But, everyone else seems to think there’s fundamentally something wrong with this picture. So, is there something actually wrong? Is this a big deal like others seem to think it is? And if so, why do I think it’s not?
But then we talked about coping mechanisms. How did we learn to handle emotional distress? Denial. De-dramatization. Don’t make noise, stay small, don’t make a big deal out of anything, first assess the situation and then avoid your feelings.
So I sort of figured it out – that like hey, this shit isn’t normal, and hey, maybe I’m pretty fucked up.
We’re all fucked up, really.
Anyway. So then it gets into our yoga practice. How do we practice our yoga? What do you notice about how you handle discomfort?
I disassociate. I leave my body. Trying to feel grounded in postures was the most challenging thing I have ever done. And also – I close my eyes during almost every yoga class. I say it’s to get more internal, but really, am I not just avoiding being here, being present?
Yoga has been my way to escape, to “transcend.” Just like running was, like my eating disorder, like everything else. It was just a transfer of addictions.
And now here I had to feel my shit, and not leave. And what happened? I got uncomfortable. I trembled. And, after a while, I quit.
I disassociate, I deny, and then I quit.
Talk about every relationship I’ve ever had in my entire life.
Deny deny deny, and then four years later, my feelings have built up and I just say, “Fuck you, it’s over.”
I think that’s all I have tonight.
Sorry for getting so personal and so fucking dramatic. And vocal and stream of consciousness and with my violent language. Just – fuck. I’m too overwhelmed to condense myself and I want you to feel what I’m feeling. The end.