Monday, June 29, 2015

A Day to Myself

I have the whole day to myself which sounds pretty good, but I'm at a loss, I don't know how to be alone right now. It would be great to have a good book to get lost in, I don't have one. It would be great if I could write a book, but I don't have a story inside me.

I've been cutting back on my teaching schedule, so I will have even more free time until I find jobs that don't exhaust and wear me down. I  constantly question myself while I'm teaching and that in itself can be pretty tiring. I've been so tired that many times I've had to crawl up the stairs at home. I have to think about myself and my needs before I say yes to things. I have been teaching at a beautiful studio that is an hour away from my house. I love the studio and the students, but the drive is wearing me down. I used to be the girl that said no to everything and now I say yes. But my yes's need to be tempered with common sense.

If only I could find that story within myself, I would love nothing more than to share it with you and to get lost in its beauty. I would write to you about the make believe boyfriend that I had for three years. At eighteen I finally gave him up, I got a real boyfriend, and I started to realize that it was a little out there to have an imaginary life at my age.

I'm pretty empty and writing always has a way of filling my emptiness. I wish I could bring you with me into my inner world. We would drink tea and eat fattening pastries before going to the movies, where we would spend hours.

Tomorrow I go back to work and all will be normal again, but for now I'll enter fantasy and hang out there for the day, hoping that you will meet me there.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Grateful

I am exhausted yet grateful for my work. I'm teaching at two beautiful studios and my students are dear to me. It seems odd to write "my students." I don't know if I will ever feel like I am a teacher; I'm a student that is fortunate enough to get to act as a teacher also. I am gripped with anxiety before every class that I teach, and sometimes it seems completely absurd that the students are actually following me and doing what I say. At times I find it downright hilarious. They think I'm an adult and I am an adult, yet when it comes time to sit and lead a class I feel like a scared kid. I ask myself, "who am I to teach them?" With all the worry and angst I experience, the students don't have a clue how insecure I'm feeling, because fortunately I am able to pull off being an experienced and competent yoga teacher.

One of the good things about my heightened insecurity is that I am brought closer to my Source. I pray before every class that some force greater than I am will take over and speak and act through me. The more I've surrendered "control" the more powerful the experience of leading the class. We begin each class with a meditation, which used to make me uncomfortable because I'm undisciplined at meditating, so I felt like a fraud. Now when I start class with meditation I feel that I want to stay in that powerfully rooted and grounded space forever. Words start flowing out of my mouth, inspired words, words that come from a place deep inside that I rarely get to touch. And then I realize that my fear is a good thing, because praying and asking to be lead is a gift.

Replacing the pain, hurt, and sense of betrayal of losing jobs that were dear to me last summer, has come an immense gratitude that now I am exactly where I want to be. I couldn't ask for more and I am forever grateful for the Love that is guiding me through my life on this painful and beautiful journey.

This is for all of my students and teachers, particularly for Irina for her unwavering kindness and support.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Lonely and Busy

I'm lonely and tired. It seems that whenever I have a day free from teaching I end up at odds with myself and life, I don't know what to do and miss being around people. Sometimes I feel that I have burned so many bridges that soon I will have no one left in my life. And oftentimes I'm not even sure that I really burned a bridge, I just make an assumption that I am disliked and will end up left behind. If I don't do what is wanted or expected of me then I assume you will leave. I'm engaging in mind reading: assuming that I know what people are thinking about me when I really don't. When I remember how empathic I am, I convince myself that because I am so sensitive to people and my environment, then my assumptions must be right: I'm simply not liked and I've been dropped.

Right now I'm trying my best to take care of my physical, mental and emotional needs, which sometimes means I have to let go of certain commitments. All I know to do is ask for understanding and to beg you please not to leave me just because I have to take care of myself right now. It feels good to open up and write these words, to write my insecurities, and it's incredibly embarrassing because maybe no one knows what I'm talking about and I'm really not scorned or loathed by people I love. I'm exhausted and pushing myself hard, so please don't be offended if I haven't returned a call or email. Please be patient, I'm still here. Incredibly busy and achingly lonely.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Here I am

This past January I wrote an article called Creativity and Comfort Food, I concluded the piece by sharing that in an enlightening moment of self-acceptance I had been cured of writer’s block that I had struggled with for a couple of years. Not long after the article was published, I started writing a blog focused on my recent diagnosis of bipolar disorder. I made a promise, on the blog, to maintain the blog by writing a new post every day.
At some point, without my realizing when it happened, writer’s block returned, or more aptly, my daily writing had fallen away. My promises broken. It didn’t bother me so much that I had broken a promise to myself, but there was the embarrassment I had done it in a public forum.
I hadn’t given the blog or, for that matter, writing any real thought in months, until a few days ago when I realized that something was missing from my life and I wanted it back. It wasn’t too difficult for me to identify that I missed writing and why I had stopped, and writer’s block was not the problem. What happened was just as insidious as writer’s block, although I wasn’t blocked. I had made myself vulnerable, laying myself bare to anyone willing to read about my struggle with a late life diagnosis of bipolar disorder. I had opened up about my mental and emotional health for friends and strangers to enter, and I did so without using any discernment as to who I let in. Wide open, exposed.
When I was writing the blog I jumped off a cliff and for awhile I soared, and then I disappeared carried away into oblivion.
At some point I had stopped feeling bipolar, and with that I lost all interest in the disorder. With my subconscious denial of my illness, I lost the thread of identity that I had started to gain.
During my eight night hospital stay this past August, I had my first real experience of knowing who I was, and it didn’t have anything to do with my illness. Without my usual outside daily influences to mold me I had a crystal clear sense of identity, and the experience of identity began with experiencing an energy in my body which was so grand in scale that it was both awe inspiring and somewhat scary. That energy was linked to the mania that I was in the throes of, but I also believe that it was firmly rooted in the true essence of me; I was someone and I like her quite a lot.
Surrounded by the depressed and the delusional, I found myself. I knew my likes and dislikes, my favorite things. I knew that I loved and valued my everyday life, and that I never wanted to leave it again. To other people I may have always been a real person, but not to me. With my freedoms taken away from me in the hospital, I took shape behind the locked doors of the third floor of Lakeview Psychiatric Hospital.
When I ignore myself, shutting myself off from writing about my experiences, I stop writing. And when there’s nobody home there’s nothing to say.
Fear and shame quieted my voice. I lost the self-assured manic woman I was in the hospital and the old me returned, reticent and frightened. Fearful about the new people in my life finding out about my illness, at odds with my writings from a few months ago in which I exposed it all to whoever was willing to read.
I’m working again teaching yoga. My students don’t know my secrets and I’ve liked it that way, but now even stronger is my longing to have a relationship with myself which comes directly through my writing. I come to life on paper and I miss being comforted by the thread of my own thoughts and words.
Writing is risky if it’s done the way I like it, transparently. It’s up to me to grant myself the permission to write again from a compassionate and accepting place within myself.

 Read my words as the words of a woman who loves the beautiful way they roll out of her mind and through her fingers onto the page. Don’t just read me as a woman afflicted by a mental illness, because I am so much more.