After being on medical leave for 6-7 weeks, instead of my first day back being my first day back, they fired me. I’ve never been fired before.
Legally they’re supposed to give me my job back after a medical leave of absence. This is the premise on which I’ve been doing my therapy; this is the basis on which I’ve been psyching myself out: my goal has been “return to work.”
I didn’t have a plan for “get fired” even in the abstract. I never thought it was even a possibility.
But here I am.
I’m no longer on medical leave. I’ve been fired.
I feel like a massive truck just came out of nowhere and smashed any possible mental wellbeing I had cultivated over the past few weeks. All the hard work I did – smashed without any regard for how hard it was did me to accomplish.
I’m back at square one – but lower. At least before, I had a job to return to. I took solace in that. It was comforting.
Now I feel at a complete loss – what do I do? What is my plan? My Ego was right all along – I had reason to listen to Fear and heed it’s warning. Am I wrong?
I don’t have the energy to think about any of that right now.
All I know to be true is that today, I was fired
And I cannot help but feel that my mental health is the reason.
Having depression is like being stuck in a maze that has no exit.
You don’t ask to be there, and you don’t necessarily realize that you’re even in it. It’s often a slow-boil scenario where you slowly begin to detect that you’re not where you used to be. You keep turning a corner to get somewhere new, to make sense of things. But there is no point. You never make the correct turn into a field of flowers where unicorns prance around beneath a rainbowed sky. You’re stuck.
Several years ago, I noticed I was in the depression maze and that I’d been wandering around it for an indeterminate amount of time.
When I first became aware that I was in this maze, I kind of looked around and it became apparent that although I’d been meandering left and right for months, I didn’t actually understand what my goal was. Like, aren’t you supposed to enter a maze intentionally, with a purpose? To reach the exit on the other side? Or to reach the middle and win a prize? With blatant disregard for my need for clarity and purpose, the depression maze did not provide me with an answer. I was just kind of there.
The depression maze has zero objective. You don’t even get to meet David Bowie.
Despite this, I decided to look at my circumstances so that I could evaluate and plan a course of action. I noticed a major shift within myself: a few months earlier, I’d written “I just love life!” on my Facebook info page. But depression had crept up behind me very slowly, wrapped its arms around me undetected, and stripped me of all energy and motivation. Over time, things for me had just kind of become devoid of meaning. I no longer had interest in doing things or being around people. I was kind of sad, bored, and uninterested in life. In the months preceding, all I accomplished was watching every episode of Lost on Netflix. Where was that girl I used to be? Well, she was lost in a fucking depression maze.
Naturally, when I first began to realize that I might be depressed, my course of action was to wallow in it like a real sonofabitch. I mean it. I really took advantage of the situation and indulged in every trite ‘depression activity’ that crossed my mind. These activities were easy and required little energy.
I began each day by curling up in a little ball revelling in my stoicism. I moped around and stopped using my smile muscles, and spent more and more time at home alone. I turned down plans that would make me happy, and stopped reading and exercising. I no longer wore makeup or got dressed on weekends, instead staying in bed until noon. Or later. I fantasized about living in a mental institution where there were no stressors, and no expectations. Just PJs, slippers, and prescription drugs.
And I cried. I cried a lot. I cried hysterically, and quietly, and dramatically in the shower. Crying was all I had to hold on to. It was the only way I felt like I was experiencing emotion. Crying = Sad. Right? Sitting in my closet crying really hit the spot. I would consciously think to myself “Look at how sad I am. This is so sad. I am hiding in my closet crying, all by myself, and it is just so sad. I could be in a movie about depression right now.”
But veritably, sadness isn’t really a good representation of what depression feels like. Feeling sad is more of a nice side effect than anything. Because for me, depression was the absence of feeling. I didn’t care about anything, and I didn’t feel compassion for myself or anyone else. I didn’t feel sad; I felt empty. And I wanted to keep it that way.
I recall my sister coming over and writing a very inspiring letter to me about self-love and self-care. But I folded it up and put it away in my nightstand. I didn’t want to experience self-love. I wanted to be left alone, crying and eating my cup-a-noodles in bed without interruption.
That was the most fucked up part of depression. I wanted to feel like this. If something that could potentially bring joy or change came about, I gave it a dirty look and rejected it. I didn’t even doubt the love people in my life had for me, I simply didn’t care about it. Nothing mattered anymore. Even when my cat came running up to greet me with little meows, purrs, and head-bumps, I somewhat resented him for trying to change my mood.
Truthfully, immersing yourself completely in a sea of melancholy is very satisfying – to a point. Everyone basks in that pity party once or twice in their life. But I had taken it to another level. As I became more and more detached, it all began to feel very frightening when I recognized that I didn’t want to live anymore.
To be clear, I did not want to kill myself. I just didn’t want to be alive. I wanted to just sort of disappear, stop being, hit my off button. I was exhausted, and this depression maze had proven to have not only no significance, but no escape. Wanting to be not-alive scared me. Sleep was my only avoidance strategy, and it wasn’t working. There was no end to this existence in sight.
At one point or another, depression, for many of us, morphs into a real problem. It starts out like a limp. You can function like this, limping around for weeks, still able to do all the normal stuff in life: you can still manage to get to work, buy groceries, and, uh, bathe. But eventually it can become a full-blown broken leg. And you can’t carry on like that without some kind of intervention. You need medical care, a cast and crutches, and a way to heal.
One particularly dark day, I had been in bed crying for hours. Nothing had triggered it. I was just laying there detached and pathetic, indiscriminately emptying my tear ducts into my pillow. I hadn’t showered or dressed in several days. I hadn’t been able to drag myself to work that day, and this intensified my feelings. Or not-feelings. I wasn’t sure if this meant I was getting closer to the point of wanting to end my life. Depression had morphed into a tangible problem. It was very disturbing.
This hollow mental existence was now threatening my physical existence. It went beyond an aversion to showering: it was jeopardizing my job and my life. It was one thing to take morbid pleasure in the experience in my pretty apartment, knowing that I did have a life to return to, even if only in theory. It would be another thing entirely to wallow in my parents’ basement, unemployed and futureless. It would be even worse if I became suicidal. I was a tiny step away from hitting rock bottom.
But I noticed a glimmer of hope in that.
Now, I still didn’t want to get better. I was still messed up about that. But I’d arrived at this groundbreaking cognizance that I didn’t want things to get worse. I knew that I wouldn’t take my own life at this moment, but there was no way to magically cease to exist. This was as far as I wanted it to go. I didn’t want to lose everything in life I’d worked for, and I knew that feeding my depression was leading dangerously close to just that. The things people respected me for, and the things I was proud of – they’d be gone, irrevocably. I realized that I’d found a secret trap door in the depression maze.
It was a sobering moment, and without allowing myself to move past this realization and think worse of it, I called my mom.
Removing myself from that deep level of depression didn’t happen overnight. It involved going through that trap door, which was mortifying and daunting, and wandering uphill and down through another maze. It was painful. But pain is good. Pain isn’t nothing. It kept me going.
To an extent, I am still in the maze. But in this other maze, there are doors. There are opportunities. There are people I can talk to, doctors and therapists. There is medication. There are friends and family members who listen and don’t judge.
It’s hard work, and it’s ongoing. I have ups and downs. But I try very hard not to lose sight on that glimmer of hope, even on the days when I feel hopeless and don’t want to feel good.
You know how when you buy a new car, it seems that suddenly, everywhere you look, that same car is there? It’s strange, but as soon as you slapped your insurance sticker on the licence plate, you realize that you’re not the only one who had your idea.
You probably chose this car because it’s unique. Maybe it’s flashy, or maybe it’s understated – either way, you chose it because it’s uncommon on some level. You’re exceptional and not like everyone else, so you chose that car to parallel that.
But it turns out that you’re not the only one with that car after all. There are tons of other people just like you, who didn’t choose a Mazda 3. Those fuckers.
As soon as you think you’re the only one, others like you come out of the woodwork.
Same goes for mental health issues. You think you’re the only one, but the reality is that you just weren’t paying attention. There are hundreds, thousands, millions of people out there just like you. You just have to be deep within it to notice the numbers.
I felt very alone before I started writing here a month ago. It’s just as well that I have social anxiety, because misery hates company anyway. But as I delved deeper into this online world, I learned a lot. If I look up the hashtag “anxiety” on my blog reader, I find hundreds of blogs on the subject. In fact, it’s hard to keep up with them all! And when I started my Instagram account? I was blown away with how many similar accounts are out there. Mental health warriors like me are out there – they’re everywhere. Maybe they’re in the deep end of the anxiety pool like I am. Its omnipresence is overwhelming and interlaces itself into every aspect of their lives. Some just throw out a #panicattack after an acute flare-up. But look for it, and you find that people everywhere are struggling. They’re everywhere.
Recently I learned that my go-to esthetician wasn’t working full time anymore. We aren’t friends per se; since I’ve been seeing her for years, we do have a bit of a relationship. We have chatted about our personal lives a fair bit and I do think she thinks of me as more than just a client.
But her new schedule struck me as odd because she was previously a cyborg who was working 15-hour days and had a management role in the salon. My mental health radar was beeping.
I thought I’d drop her a text. Just in case something was up. If nothing else – was she working elsewhere? My eyebrows are very important to me.
When this girl text me back, I learned I had been right: she was working part time due to work stress and burn out. I obviously will not get into her story here, because it’s not mine to share.
I offered her my words of support and told her if she ever needed it, I can be a good listener. She thanked me politely and graciously.
When my appointment time finally rolled around, I was a little nervous to see her face to face. I was freaking out that I had overstepped a boundary. Who am I to barge into her life, assuming she’s not happy or something is wrong? Did I make her uncomfortable? Did I make it awkward? Would I need to find a new eyebrow girl?!?
My need for great eyebrows is apparently stronger than my anxiety.
Once we were alone, I timidly asked her how it was going. A nice, gentle, normal conversation opener. She also took the safe route and asked me a similar question. I realized quickly that this was 50/50. How could I expect her to feel safe if I lied and told her life was great and everything was “fine”? If that’s how I would proceed, she would surely follow my lead and the mere exchange of pleasantries would be the extent of our conversation. There’d be no depth. We’d do nothing but grimace behind our masks and add to the stigma that the tough shit in life is something to be ashamed of. That we need to convince everyone that everything is fine. That talking and being real is not okay.
That’s not real life. I wanted her to feel safe. I wanted her to feel normal, and not alone. So instead of telling her things were “fine”, I took the first scary step forward and told her things were going okay….. but that I was off work and on stress leave so things were not perfect.
At least I got to do this while laying on a table with my eyes closed. Which was awesome since eye contact is fucking impossible for me.
To my relief, she took the same scary step and opened up. She spoke about what she was going through too. I think perhaps it evoked a sense of relief for her as well. Our conversation was not long, but we both rattled off such a mirror image of thoughts that it actually made me smile. We even tentatively made plans to get together for coffee or wine and have a real girl date.
I was on a mission for the greater good and her wellbeing. But an amazing side effect was that I ended up feeling better about myself. I hope she did, too, but it made me realize I am not the only one in my life going through tough times. We all know your 20s are for learning and making mistakes, but apparently your 30s are for falling on your ass. And if you’re brave enough, talking about it. Opening up about it. And that can lead to healing and growth.
I bought some mala beads a little while ago on Amazon. Where else? I am too anxious to shop for such a product in person; God forbid someone ask me about what I’m looking for. But anyway, I shopped in my PJs, received them the other day, and I really love them.
The beads are beautiful white gemstone marbled with grey streaks called white howlite (fun fact: that trendy turquoise stone necklace you got on the cheap? It’s probably howlite that’s been dyed blue.) It has lovely silvery marker beads and a clean white tassel. I chose it out of all of the colour options because I thought they were like, really pretty.
After I bought the necklace, I decided I should look into what the metaphysical healing qualities of this stone are (even though, to be honest, I don’t buy into that stuff). Naturally, I planned to hand-pick those attributes that best align with my situation, thus justifying and crediting some value to my purchase. Kind of the way a fortune teller does it.
Oddly enough, all of the websites I looked at classified it in the same way: howlite is used to reduce anxiety and tension, and to help bring mental awareness.
Well. I guess I chose the right stone! Although, I suspect that many other stones are claimed to have similar qualities. But let’s pretend for a moment that howlite is the only one that does, so I can pretend it facilitates my spiritual journey and the beads were worth the money.
To be perfectly honest, though, the reason I bought my mala beads was because I am struggling with meditation. I do believe in meditation, and I think it can help me if I can learn to do it.
But the truth is, it really intimidates me. It sounds lovely and relaxing and enlightening, but when it comes down to it, I’d really prefer to re-watch Party of Five and have snacks.
I tell myself again and again that I can find 5 minutes to meditate. Especially since I have so much time on my hands right now. I plan on doing it every day, but inevitably end up half-assing it as I lay in bed at night, and end up just falling asleep.
When I do meditate, I sit there thinking about the movie/book Eat Pray Love. Remember that scene when Julia Roberts is trying to meditate, but all she can think about is decorating her meditation room back home? I think about that scene, then about my own meditation room. Then I think about how ridiculous it is that I’m thinking about a movie scene and projecting myself into it. Do I even want or need a meditation room? I start to think about pretty the meditation zafus that Chapters was selling last year – they were like $75, though. I wonder what I could find online? Oh jeez here I go again, thinking I’m meditationy enough to spend money on a pillow, let alone meditation room. Well if Julia Roberts can, then I can too!
I have not been able to work up to more than a couple of minutes of meditation, all because of Julia Roberts.
Desperate to find something helpful tips, I started reading up on the subject on Pinterest, as we do, and noticed a trend: mala beads. I had no idea what they were. I thought they had something to do with yoga. I dunno, maybe they’re something hippies make while they’re on acid trips.
But reading into it, mala beads are actually a legitimate meditation tool that I thought could help me. They are not only used to help you count the times you repeat your mantra, but the also are used as a physical, tangible meditation guide.
I need a guide.
And not the type who tells me via YouTube to imagine that my body is a melting ice cube.
You can use mala beads to count as you recite your mantra (you repeat it 108 times – once per bead) by moving through the beads one by one. But more simply, and perhaps more importantly, they act as an uncomplicated reminder of what it is you are doing: Meditating.
Some of us are able to “gently return our attention back to our breath,” but I am not really one of them. I start to think too much about how my breath feels and whether it feels too cold in my sinus cavity or other irritating feelings. Trust me to find something wrong with anything.
But my mala beads? They are smooth, cool, and hard. There is a gentle weight to them. There isn’t much more to the sensory experience I have when I hold them. They are just there. And I am able to gently usher my mind back to them quite easily.
So I just hold them. I might try reciting a mantra, since that’s actually pretty easy for me (“money……money…..money….”), but I have come to appreciate them for the simple object they are. I just hold them, think about what they’re meant for (in addition to the fact that they’re said to help calm anxiety), and I can just be.
I’m trying to tell myself I’m worrying over nothing, that these are just feelings that aren’t a part of me, and that this will all pass.
But I’m freaking out, and it’s all about work. As usual.
One of the first things I ever did when I was hired a couple years ago was compile an Office Wish List, as instructed by my boss, for myself and all of my coworkers. We were beginning to outgrow our office space, and they were planning on moving. Fast-forward a couple years later, and it’s finally happening.
In fact, when I return to work (after 7 weeks away), I will be walking into a brand new office.
When I say brand new, I mean brand new. My boss purchased the building, and it’s being renovated to suit our needs precisely. The space is pretty enormous and has been under construction for months, now. It’s pretty high-tech and progressive, with lots of fancy bells and whistles. Bells and whistles that I don’t particularly need or want.
Everyone asked for similar, boring things when I sent around the Wish List – more space and storage, privacy, security. Things like that. No one said they needed anything fancy or silly. I need and want more filing cabinets, a bigger desk, and a working table because I push a lot of paper. That’s all I asked for in my Office Wish List.
When I first saw the layout plans, I was excited. They’d tentatively assigned me what I wanted and needed: an office with a lot more space in it. As it stands, my office is tiny. It’s very cramped; to the point that I suspect that fire marshal would not be pleased with it. I have three large filing cabinets taking up the majority of the office. If they’re open, I can’t get out from behind my desk. So when I saw that my office would definitely have room for a table, and perhaps some built-in cabinets and shelving that would take up less space, I was thrilled.
To me, the size and location of my office suggested that they valued and respected my work. As a severely anxious individual, affirmations like this are a big deal to me. I am working on detaching from these things, because they can come and go in and out of my life without notice. It’s hard to deal with the disappointment that accompanies not getting it, or losing it.
Which is what happened.
A few weeks later, the plans were revised and my office size was cut in half. Not only was it smaller than the office I currently have, but it was smaller than all of the other offices in the entire building!
Feelings of dejection and embarrassment swept over me like a tidal wave. I immediately felt stupid for ever thinking they’d assign me a nice office that would actually fit the work I do. I felt like they assigned offices based on how much they valued people. Honestly. I don’t even TV in mine, like many others do. Clearly, they do not like me too much.
But somehow, I began to make peace with it. I reminded myself that the plan wasn’t final (although, it was), that there were many other ‘collaboration’ spaces I could use if I needed them. Plus, I was one of the few people who was getting a window.
And you know what? I didn’t want to be that guy. The one who bitches about first world problems and can’t see the good in anything. I knew I needed to be thankful for what I was being given: a brand new office. I still get to work in my own office, not a cubicle. And it’s not outside where it’s either crazy hot or crazy cold.
After a while, though, I was given a bunch of shitty news within a couple of weeks. One was that we were not getting bonuses this year. Another was that some of us (myself included) would now be responsible for paying for parking. Finally, they denied my request to be paid out a bunch of overtime I was entitled to.
I felt slapped. They’d hired some fancy design firm and builders for our office space. It’s got silly things like plants growing out of the walls, a java cafe, and TVs inserted into the walls that cost 6x the amount of a normal mounted TV.
They cut down a thousand-year-old tree to make our boardroom table.
When my boss told me we weren’t getting bonuses, I actually told him directly that it was very disappointing to hear this, especially when I knew how much money was being spent on a new office with a lot of pricey non-essentials. The conversation did not go well.
Now that I’m on the eve of returning (less than two weeks away), all I can think about is how small my office is and how it’s a reflection of their feelings toward me. How cramped it will be. How my stuff won’t fit. How I will still have piles of paper and files on my floor since I’ll still be out of desk space. I still won’t have room for someone to actually sit in my one guest chair for a meeting.
Now all I can think about is how shitty this new office is. I just want my old office back. It was shitty and small too, but at least so was everyone else’s. At least parking is free.
And I’m worried. What if they set up my desk with my back to the door? That would make the most sense space-wise, but it causes me a lot of anxiety. I can’t handle that kind of vulnerability. And what if my door is glass and transparent? One thing we talked about in one of my reviews what that I needed privacy since people tend to just barge into my office all of the time.
Now I’m picturing myself spending the first few days moving shit around and buying a crappy curtain rod so I can hang up a curtain in my doorway (I am 90% sure it’s a glass door).
I’m already picturing myself hiding in my office, not wanting to talk to anyone, just wanting to get my work done and go home. Work. Home. Work. Home.
I don’t want to see the stupid java station, or see the gorgeous dead tree in our conference room. I don’t want to look at my boss’s 4 in-wall TVs. I don’t want to walk several blocks to get to work after paying for parking, only to see my boss pull up into his free parking spot, even though he makes 4x my salary (if not more – who fucking knows).
It’s just shitty.
Today is a shitty morning. I’ve dedicated 3 hours to thinking about all this crap. I don’t feel like working on myself today.
I just don’t want to go back to that silly office.
But I’m not dead. I just changed the look of my blog. The old one was ugly (I’d thrown it together within half an hour and without much thought), and I knew I’d be tired of it within a couple of weeks. I even wrote a post about it trying to convince myself that it was good. It’s not. Now, I think (I hope) that it is a little better. I hope all 35 of you aren’t completely confused. You are in the right place.
This picture is actually of me. And that’s a real shot of my actual safe haven – my bed. I hope the pic is not a recognizable one – if it is, and you’re like “Hey! I know you!” then I would ask you to please, please, never confront me about it. Just pretend like you never saw it or know I have this space. Because I won’t even let Boyfriend read it. And if anyone in my personal life ever saw this, I would panic and delete this whole thing. Seriously.
The other day, I was proof-reading a few old pages (proofing before I hit Publish isn’t my thing), and saw I’d typed my actual first name in a post.
My heart STOPPED. It was about 1:00 in the morning, and an literally jolted out of bed, and fumbled though my phone’s editing options trying desperately to delete that name. It still makes me sick to think that I did that by mistake.
The main reason I do not want to be discovered like that is simply because of work. I’m a professional (technically), and I can’t be talking about work and my personal life in such an open way if people know who I am. I’ve taken great care not to even explain what my job title is, the type of business I am in, or who my employer is. I need to remain anonymous.
So yeah, if you know me? Please don’t out me in the comments or give me a sly, knowing smirk. I will die just like the old Taylor Swift.
I also got a Twitter account. I have one post. It is very hilarious, in a not very hilarious kind of way. I’ll think of something better eventually, hopefully. Feel free to follow me: TWITTERRRRR
Anyway, it’s Saturday, and there’s snow outside. Shout out to my pal (it’s probably one-sided blog-friend-ship because she is very popular and I am not) Damn Girl who wrote a post about winterizing the day it snowed in my city. It’s just adding to my tendency to not go outside ever, and giving me more excuses to curl up in my bed and pretend it’s the right thing to do.
But in reality, I’ve had a pretty ok time this week, anxiety wise. Since the snow is white, fresh, and really pretty right now, it’s not depressing. It brightens the night, and hides the dead grass in my back yard. My cats are pretty into it in visually, but thankfully are no longer brave enough to try and escape out the front door when we open it. It’s like the lava game, only with snow. It’s pretty funny to watch those two dumb-dumbs become hypnotized by it. They truly believe they will melt if they come into contact with it.
Anyway, I don’t have a whole lot to talk about today. I don’t feel like it, since last night I spent a few hours redecorating my blog and panicking about outing myself. After two Ativans and some light reading, I finally fell asleep and got up around noon today.
I am really good at clicking and adding to cart when it comes to stuff like gym passes, manicure appointments, massages, and other personal appointments like that. In contrast, I am not good at calling the place afterward, making appointments if I can’t do it online or by email, or – God fucking forbid – showing up for the first time alone.
It’s too much. My mind is flooded with so many what ifs. What if the place doesn’t exist when I call? What if they refuse to honour my purchase? What if they’re completely booked? What if they never answer? What if I know the person who answers and it’s a humiliating appointment? What if they laugh at me? What if it’s ridiculous that I think I can get an appointment any time soon?
I can’t even tell you why I feel all of these feelings. Like honestly, “what if they don’t answer?” doesn’t even really evoke any truly horrible result. I know this. If they don’t answer, then….. well, nothing. It’s completely and utterly ridiculous and I know it. I guess that’s the reason why anxiety is such a fucked up syndrome. Anxiety is irrational.
Last week, I asked Boyfriend if he thought it was okay for me to spend money on a yoga pass. He said yes. (Note: I do not normally ask permission to spend my own money, but since he’s footing all of the bills while I am on leave, I figured it’s fair that we discuss me spending money on non-essentials).
I chose this particular location because it is a 5 minute walk from my house, or a 30-second drive. Let’s be honest. I ain’t walking down the street holding a yoga mat; people will judge me and I will combust.
The next day, I prepared for my first class. It was an easy class, evening time, had the word “candlelight” in it. I looked forward to getting my shavasana on. I’ve been dealing with a back injury for months, so a power class would be out of the question anyway, but since I haven’t done yoga in several months, I felt that this would be the perfect re-entry.
I chose my outfit carefully: all black and grey. I do not like to stand out in a class, especially since my ass isn’t what it used to be. I felt that I looked sufficiently blend-in-able. I gathered my mat, a bottle of water, and my keys. I was physically ready to go. Class was starting in 15 minutes.
That’s when my Ego kicked in and began to remind me of every little thing that could possibly go wrong. My Self and my Ego had a really nice conversation. Just the two of us.
Ego: This is a bad idea. Stay home.
Self: What? Why?! You have literally no basis for this.
E: Are you kidding me?! So many things could go wrong, and you are going to be humiliated. It’s probably canceled! You’ll be the only one there and they’ll look at you like you’re an idiot and tell you to go home.
S: Nope nope nope. I signed up 5 minutes ago! If it was canceled, it wouldn’t have been available on the app.
E: Can’t you see?! This is the first time you’ve ever gone to a class like this alone – you always have a friend with you. You can’t do this alone. You need someone to hold your hand. It’s not safe.
S: I trust myself. Having a friend with me doesn’t change the class.
E: Well, you’ve probably gotten the time wrong so you’re either going to get there and no one will be there, or the class will be half finished, loser! They will all snicker at you and exchange glances and you’ll have wasted $55 because you can never return.
S: *Rolls Eyes* I’ve checked the time three times, and the date too – because I know where you’re going with this.
E: It’s going to be one of those classes where everyone is folded into a pretzel and you’ll be the only one wincing during downward dog. They don’t know you have back problems – it’s not like you can tell them you’re injured! They are all going to think you’re so lame.
S: Ummm yoga is not about how good you are. It’s about honouring and respecting your body, and above all, compassion. Shut the fuck up already.
E: You’re going to get lost on the way and it’ll be too late to go.
S: It’s literally behind my house. I can see the building from here.
E: Well something will go wrong. You’re taking a pretty big gamble by going. This is a terrible idea.
S: No. It’s just a yoga class. I’ve been to 100s of yoga classes. This is a normal thing that normal people do.
E: Well, you’re not normal.
My Ego didn’t stop talking, but I stopped responding. Instead, I walked out the door and I got in my car. My mind was still going 100 miles an hour, but the only way I was going to make it out that door was if I put one foot in front of the other and went. So that’s what I did. I went through the motions, and let my Self simply observe the crazy. And before I knew it, I was in the parking lot right in front of the entryway.
That’s when an actual problem presented itself. My stomach tied itself in to a knot and a cold sensation ran through my body. I felt like my insides dropped out from under me.
The door was dark, the lights inside were off, and there was a “closed” sign displayed.
It was less than ten minutes to go-time; there was no way the studio would be closed at this point. Where had I gone wrong?! I grasped for my phone and checked the time and the date for the 5th time. It all checked out. I had the right address. The name of the studio was on the building. I felt panic beginning to rise.
Ego: Hahhahahahhahahah. I told you, idiot. I told you this would happen. Don’t you dare get out and try the door – it’s locked. And there are probably people watching you in the dark. They locked it because they don’t want you here. You’re not welcome. You’ll look like even more of a fool than you already are if you traipse over there with your mat, expecting to get in there. Turn around, and go home. We’re going to stuff our faces with candy and hide in bed. It’s safe and warm there, and nothing can hurt you. C’mon. You know I’m right. You never should have done this. Next time, listen to me. I know how to take care of you.
I put my car into reverse, and began to release the brake and clutch. I almost felt relieved – I wouldn’t have to face my fears. Luckily, the fear had materialized before I even got out of the car. I mean, thank fucking God right?
But I noticed something. A little sign where the studio hours were posted. It read “entrance in the back.”
I was in the front. This wasn’t the entrance. I smiled. My Ego was wrong. There was another door, and I was going to check it out.
I went to my yoga class, and just like my Self said, it was normal. Just like any other class I went to. Nothing funny happened. No one made fun of me, no one pointed at me, no one locked me out.
I’ve been back there 4-5 times since that first night. Every time, there is a slight boil-up of anxiety when I arrive there, and the parking lot is quiet, and I have to walk up to that door all alone. My Ego still whispers, what if it’s locked? But it never has been.
And even more importantly, I’ve been getting way more out of my yoga (despite my back) than I ever have before. I’ve been on a spiritual journey, and it’s really allowed me to tap into the spiritual side of yoga. Noticing without judgment. Being present. Observing my breath. Being compassionate with myself.
Every time I return to my house afterward, I feel so full of joy and hope. It far outweighs the uncomfortable feelings I encounter to get there.