You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
I am visiting the in-laws right now for the first time. And no matter how much I am in my body or 33 years old, or a successful working professional, or meditating regularly – I care, I deeply care about what they think of me. Thus, the time is spent, highly aware or my words, my tone, my jokes, if I’m helping out enough and who went into the bathroom directly after I took my morning crap. So when his Dad…well we were all sitting around listening to a podcast about this ignorant black guy who was burning a book he never read cause it had the word negro in the title, even though the book is an affirmative action, incredibly educational read about the civil rights movement and black empowerment. This ignorant guy is burning the book, so I back talk the podcast, “God, he didn’t even read the book, I mean, what is he thinking to be so rightous”! And then suddenly Dad yells “ BE QUIET. I’m listening! Enough out of you.”
First came silence. Then came my eyes lowering. Then came leaving the room. Then came…well I cried. I went into the kitchen and leaned on my boyfriend and I quietly bawled. I felt like scolded child. I felt like I feel a lot in my life, to loud, to brash, to pushy and in general just too much for people. I feel terrible that I am too much, me, just being me, uncensored is too much. That’s gotta hurt right? So I went to the back garden and I cried some more. I lay down my yoga mat and I cried in my first Downward Dog of the day, I went into Plank and I cried between my thumbs, I rotated my shoulder blades down and back and cried in a Baby Cobra, I pushed back and lunged out and hugged my midline and cried in Prasarita Parsvotanasana. I wrung myself out in Gomukasana and the tears kept coming. And as I moved my body and cried in the garden I saw a little ant pulling a dead ladybug for his dinner and I saw a tiny little flea-fly thing drowning in a cup of water and I used a branch to save it and as I cried I went into King Pigeon (really well I might add) and then I sat for a bit and felt the rays of sunlight on my back.
I thought, here is a man meeting his son’s woman for the first time and she is not like the other ones, “meek and milk toast” I call them. This firey, powerful destroyer of dinner conversations is going to be an in-law and that is actually a big pill to swallow cause she’s not that easy- and I want to prove them wrong. I want to win them over, make them say “what on earth was I thinking, thank God that loud-mouthed small lady is going to be the mother of my sons children” but I can’t seem to fake it. I am stuck with this big character God gave me to play.
So I was meditating on all this (obsessing with my hands in Gyan mudra) and I thought he as well probably longs to be liked too. He as well feels shitty, and embarrassed. He made a woman cry for Gods sake. As I opened my eyes I heard a bumbling down the back steps. The Dad had come out with a jug of water and a magazine. “It’s my favorite, I haven’t opened it yet” he said “and some water for after your yoga. I’m so sorry, after I said it I realized it came out mean and I do that and I’m so sorry and I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings and I’m an idiot sometimes.”
And the exchange was uncomfortable and then he puttered in the compost while I bowed my forehead to the ground.
I became closer to his father, the vulnerability we shared in both being assholes- it made this space for softness that wasn’t there before and also a deepening, that there is this tender secret we now share. And we sat around the dinner table that night, not trying to be nice to each other, not trying to be on our best behaviour, but actually being ourselves. Together. And sort of enjoying it.
I went to a new yoga teacher today. I had been hearing about how popular her classes were for a long time. Eventually I went and her class was solid, she was a really good teacher, I couldn’t help but like her and I could see why she was so popular but there was just this one little thing. She kept calling us her friends. ‘Friends, rotate your hip to the sky”, “Friends, inhale together and hold for 4, 3, 2…” “Really?” I found myself thinking “Really, am I your friend? Can I count on you when I’m down? Can I call you and be full on dark as night and you will listen to my wailing?” No, because you don’t even know who I am. In fact, if I did call to complain about how my man made this weird sound when he kissed me this morning…you may call the police.
So I am not your friend lady.
I have very high caliber friendships and you have not made the cut. I will take you in fast and furious but you must be willing to reciprocate. I will bare my soul and you must hold fast and true. I will sometimes lose it for no good reason and think my life is over and you will have to be good and ready to listen to all that bullshit.”
I am finding that as I get older my friendships are weakening.
As my best friend used to say “there are the kind of fish that are on the surface and hang out up near the top of things and there are the bottom dwellers, down in the murk, we are those kind of fish, the fish that swim deep.” Now I agree with this woman completely but even she is not my best friend anymore. We are all starting to really do our thing and put ourselves, our jobs, our partners, our parents and our dogs in front of spending time with each other.
And it’s easier to email and text than call. And things get misunderstood, and sides have to be chosen.
For the first time in my life I lost a friend. I have a womans group and we have been having monthly intentionally gathers for over 10 years but in the past few years- it has been drying up. Gatherings don’t happen easily anymore. Honestly if I could live in a Big Love family compound I would. We don’t have to share husbands but a bunch of us all living on some land, fighting and laughing and working together sounds like heaven to me.
So last year, for many different and long drawn out but very air tight reasons me and another member of our womens group had a falling out. It was heartbreaking for me to learn that a friendship, a sisterhood could actually be broken for good- with the person that you think this is least likely to ever happen to and then it does.
Too much hurt.
Too much anger.
Too much places rubbed raw.
And we both know that love and forgiveness is ultimately most important and so we tried, really tryed to let the hurt go and there is still too much pain. There will always be a glaze between us because when you know it can be broken it’s never really safe again is it?
Ya, so friendships are fragile. This is something I have just learned. So I guess that’s where the space comes from all of us now, because if you know that things can go wrong, you are a bit more careful aren’t you? The entanglement of two women is so strong that if separated, afterwards you feel the distance.
Which is okay. Things change. I’m not hard done by. I’m just a bit tougher.
And when you don’t call as much as you used to, or you miss my birthday, or you cancel our date again because the kids are sick again or for whatever reasonable reason- I find myself rebelling because I long for it to be the way it was- when we were in love with each other and we would go out dancing together and we would take off our tops and howl at the moon and we would dream big and spend time talking about the bigness of our dreams. When we ruled this town!
No more abandonment into pure love.
That time is done. And we are in our houses, with our spouses and if I had to choose it wouldn’t be you in first place anymore. At all. And the earths axis tilts.
So yoga teacher, I thank you for wanting to call us friends, but we are not friends. It takes a long time to make that word and a lot of effort to hold that word strong and neither of us probably have the energy for it. As my dear pal Beyonce once said “I don’t think you can handle this.”
Let’s just stick to backbends shall we.
I hate yoga. I try to do it every day. I do it so that I don’t kill myself or my friend, or my mother, or the shitty downstairs neighbor. I very rarely find exquisite inner peace (I should say I have never found it). It has made me calmer, it helps me not to feel so fat. It gives my ego a boost because although I cannot do lotus, I’m very flexible in my back bends. I like to look around the room and see that I am in the top half of the class. I got a boyfriend by going to yoga, most of my friends do it. I have taken multiple certification programs to teach it, I know a fair amount of the foundations you can learn from North American teachers but mostly I dislike practicing. I’m okay with that, cause there are brief moments of peace, of climbing off the edge, of release. Once I ate a pot cookie and went to class and honestly I was totally fucking ripped happy to be there. That was fun.
But I have to fight, like my lifestyle and personality are not conducive to the Ommm I expect, so I have to work to be cool, to be equanimous, to be level, to be placid, to be happy.
Here are all the things I do that are not really yogic:
But I keep practicing. Everyday if I can. And it keeps me sane, alive sometimes. It is my militant teacher and my deepest comfort. I need it and I know that.
So now I will revert back to the trailer I grew up in, looking out the window, over the hot water tank at the chicken coop, as I unlock my diary, fling my hair over the pillow so I look like a maiden in a romance novel and pretend that my classmates are watching me from a camera in the roof.
Dear Yoga… Are you there? It’s me Emelia.