I always say Yoga found me because it was not something I was looking for at the time. There I was standing in Mountain Pose, looking over at Jenny and we both giggled…I felt silly, I felt a laugh (after months of nothing but tears)…and that felt good. In fact it felt amazing spending a couple of hours in a Yoga Workshop…feeling stillness and comfort. Which I almost missed if it weren’t for Jenny forcing me in that car and out of my house that day.
You see, for months after Eric passed away I found retreat on the floor in my closet. Partly because this is where I was closest to him (with his presence gone), his suitcase (he still had not unpacked, just returned from business trip the night of his passing)…all his clothes, cards over the years from him, my wedding dress, his high top boots, his hats, caps, trinkets, pictures, and so much more was in that closet that had some connection to Eric on an intimate level I can’t even explain. It was a sacred place.
Even our dog Rosie wanted to stay in the closet with his things (he adored her so much and trained her well!). I also felt this was a place in our house as far away from the kids as I could be, trying to hide them (from seeing me such a mess). I felt so trapped with no place to go. There were days in that first 6 months – year – I’m not even sure what kept me from staying on this earth. The buckets and showers of tears that came from my eyes….were endless. And some days I could hardly catch my breath. There was no hiding from Eric…he was everywhere – yet he was gone from everywhere (physically). The pain was so unbearable. I walk in the kitchen and he is missing from the coffee pot. He is missing in the bathroom, missing in the backyard, missing from our sofa, missing from our bed, his clanking spoon against his ice cream bowl (that irritated back then….oh how I missed it)…missing from our table, his chair empty…only 4 of us now…his desk and squeaky desk chair, missing from tinkering in the garage…working on our car – everywhere. He was nowhere to be felt. It was so painful to be in my house. Yet, I found it even more painful to come out of my house. Because coming out of my house meant witnessing people. I didn’t want sympathy, I didn’t want questions, I didn’t want anything other than Eric. And so I just stayed in my house and hid in my closet with Eric’s things. I couldn’t sit in our room, where I recall those last moments with his body on the floor, repeating chest compressions, never knowing if he were alive or breathing….Lexie and I screaming for him to wake up…waiting for EMS. So when I went in my closet post loss, I quickly skirted through my room, past the bed, across the floor and closed the closet door. It felt a bit like a retreat to Heaven looking back. Because I felt him in that closet, pouring my heart and tears all over everything. It sounds crazy, but it was where my comfort was in the early days. I recall begging for him to come back, send me a message, just come back to me some how and some way. It never happened no matter how many times I fled to that closet. But, I felt safe there, and safe to cry my eyes until I could cry no more.
Clearly I couldn’t stay in the closet, I had to some how keep moving for my kids. A lot of my movements felt robotic. I remember very early on most of those days I would receive messages, texts, my phone would sometimes ring…I mostly couldn’t reply or answer on most days. There was nothing I could say, nothing I could ask for. All I wanted was Eric. And even more so I still had no idea for weeks what the cause of his death was. So, I was constantly guessing and wishing for answers…anything. And everyday I would get a distraction with these texts for a few minutes here and there. But, back to the closet I would go if the kids weren’t around.
So, yea…Yoga!? It was this one day, my very best friend said she was not going to take “no” for an answer any longer, she insisted and made a plan for us to go to a Yoga Workshop. And as i recall she said even she needed to find some peace. She instructed me to throw on some kind of workout clothes and meet me at the driveway. She said we were going to both find some inner peace and meditate and she said to me…”Kim, this is just the beginning…you just wait and see.” I think this was the first time I felt a little less alone. Like she was going to grab my hand and help me out of this dark abyss I fell into.
I remember when I got out of the car, sitting in that workshop I felt like someone had stripped me naked. I can not explain the feeling any other way. I felt like the world was moving and I was standing still. In fact I felt like it was moving a million miles an hour and I was stuck in a time warp. It was such a scary anxiety rollercoaster feeling. Another blog on anxiety and dealing with PTSD/death post loss later.
So back to Yoga…I couldn’t imagine why I was there in the first place. I think the top I was wearing was like 5 years old. Frumpy and outdated. What was funny is I remember Jenny complimenting it. I just thought – I looked hideous, outdated, a mess, lost dog…worse a “Widow”….not even a gray hair. But, here I was in a room full of other people who looked like they were all probably just finding some peace….not me. I wasn’t even sure what I was seeking. I was just following along. But, during this workshop I remember the instructor going through the limbs of Yoga….and that is when I began thinking…what – what is she talking about? I was all of a sudden curious and distracted from my time warp…seriously what was she talking about? I thought we were just gonna do some workout type thing. Oh no…it was much more…but yes we got to the yoga poses, basics. Child’s pose!!! And all of a sudden when we stood up to find a mountain pose I looked around and suddenly felt a little bit of blood flowing through my body. My legs lengthened and I felt my muscles find a little strength. Then, she instructed us to the floor and I felt a sense of calm come over me as we went to the floor in child’s pose. It was on this day…I could actually feel my heart beating, feel my air coming in and out of my lungs. All days previous I was focused on my great loss, my love…gone. And so this was a slight fork in the road if you will…from all those tears. It was then, I realized right there I was alive! Yes, I was still alive. All the days in my closet I begged the Lord to come back with Eric and just burn our house to the ground, all of us instead. Don’t just take him! So, my mind was so distracted from these sad thoughts. And I remember at several points I looked over at Jenny and we both would giggle. I think we both felt totally silly. Though at the same time I recall with each breath I was a bit emotional feeling guilty for still living, a part of me still wished those lungs would just collapse. But of course they didn’t…no they kept on inhale and exhale….
Looking back and reflecting on this first Yoga experience for me and getting out of my closet..I think that is just what I needed, I needed a laugh, to feel silly…to feel my breath – to be reminded “hey you are still breathing!” And I needed a friend that was ready to walk my speed. She listened to me, sat with me and welcomed my tears (if present). Even though I felt so far from normal…she made me feel needed and accepted and loved. Just taking her time to be with me. How she knew and was so generous with her time and spirit, I am forever grateful. I didn’t know it then, but a little seed was planted. Yoga.
So, every other week or so Jen would meet me at the Yoga studio and we would do an hour of Yoga and then have lunch. Sometimes I would show up crying because at any moment the tears seemed to spring on. A song on the way over in the car….dealing with the kids and their grief moments prior to leaving the house. I felt guilty getting out for this time with Yoga and Jenny. But, I forced myself to go. And I’m so glad I did though at the time it was a real struggle, a battle to go or not to go. To stay in my closet or get out of the closet?
Here’s me and Jen on one of our Yoga outings….We even took part in a local Yoga Festival, 5K run, Yoga and dance party. What a fun day that was! Cold and rainy but we trudged on.
So, one day after Yoga class my BFF says to me “Kim you know you can go anytime – the Yoga pass is unlimited and since i work you should not wait on me for the weekend…I think you would enjoy doing this during the week too…” Deep in my stomach I felt a little queasiness thinking of going alone. My gut instinct was thinking “I need to ask first…” But, reality was quick to kick in and I said “Okay, yea maybe I’ll try – I don’t know…I suppose I can go without any permission…and that part made me a little sad.” Eric wasn’t here to cheer me on with something new that interested me, or excited for me…it was just me. Doing the Yoga for me. So I pondered this thought for a little bit…to go alone or not to go alone? I know to most of you this sounds so ridiculous. But, I cheated myself for 25 years, living in this comfortable bubble with my 3 kids and Eric. Very frugal, quiet lives with our kids. My world revolved around that. I recall just a few months prior to his death I was wandering around Barnes and Noble…I get a text from Eric “Where is my bride?” And I laughed right there in the book store. He continued “Are we watching a movie tonight…when you coming home to your groom?” I giggled and let him know “on my way soon…” I miss his texts, hanging for a movie night…all that. Now I’m pondering going to a Yoga class alone. Wow. This was where I was. I felt so silly and lonely. No one to text…”headed to yoga…”
And so the following week somewhere came courage….and I decided what could I lose? So, I downloaded the Yoga schedule to my phone (Just like Jen said to do) I planned out a class to attend – alone! Huge steps….and I went in alone! Yes, seems trivial to some of you reading this. But, it was a really big deal for me at the time. And I remember when I was in those classes the comfort I would feel every time. I remember feeling myself search my soul for self-love. It was difficult, but being at Yoga it forced me to be in tune with the present. Which was something I was struggling with. It forced me to acknowledge all of it, where I was and to find gratefulness in being – just here, here and now. I would always leave thinking…I’m going to ask the staff if they have a bed in the back. I think I could stay here longer. Pre loss I hardly ever gave myself an opportunity….like going to a Yoga class. It was all about us, the kids…the website…Eric. That’s what life was before.
You see what was happening at Yoga was so much more. I didn’t know it then, but the steps I took, the bravery to get out alone. To try something totally new and different. To be with people I didn’t even know. To go without telling Eric “Hey are you okay if I get out for an hour?” To leave my kids, feeling guilty for giving myself time…when I felt they needed more of me…their Dad was missing. These were tons of tiny firsts alone…adding up. I was gaining confidence, learning something new. Something new that felt good to me in a million ways. I was feeling accepted by total strangers. Even though they didn’t know my story. I began to wonder what their story was. What brought them to Yoga? I began to feel empathy not just for myself, but for everyone else in that class I was attending. I was making human connection. It was tiny steps…but all these little things were happening. And even greater I was discovering a new thing for me….Yoga. It became a bit of a love affair. How ironic? I lost the love of my life and filled it with Yoga. The one and only activity/practice that can leave you feeling “loved”. Truly, yes Yoga fills your soul with love!
I recall on Friday nights, which were the worst days of the week…next to Saturday and Sunday….I would retreat to yoga. An addiction was forming I felt going on. I would go any chance I could. I began to reach out to it when the anxiety and sadness would creep in. I began to try new things. I began to think about doing some of these beautiful poses that looked very intimidating! Most I could not even do….but I would try…I found myself falling a lot, laughing at myself…and better yet feeling totally okay with it. Where outside of Yoga class all the rest of my life felt uncertain, Yoga felt right. It felt
like it was calling me back after each class. So, I kept it up. I even shared one Friday evening with my middle child. She didn’t really want to go, but I begged her and she tried it. We had a great time and I recall giggling with her through a lot of that class.
This went on for months, and in one class I recall hearing the instructor invite “anyone interested in learning more about Yoga (Yoga Teacher Training) to come out for an open house on……February 14.” I sat there thinking to myself he’s talking to me….this is my calling. After all I had experienced, the connections I had made and my background and love for teaching…it was all directed to me. And then when I got home after a few days I started thinking…that’s not smart to spend money on myself like that. Maybe I was just getting on the wrong track. And all this negative talk went on in my head…until I picked up the flyer from my nightstand and stared at the date….February 14. I immediately decided no this was a sign. It’s Valentines day without Eric, a first in 25 years….self-love, Yoga is self-love. Eric is not here to give me love, hugs, kisses, flowers – so I’ll go to this open house on of all days Valentines! And then figure out if I should sign up. I had no idea what to expect, but figured what could I lose?
So, Valentines came and I woke up with little tears. I missed Eric’s Valentines hug. But, I had this little bit of feeling that I was going somewhere special that day….and that felt Amazing! I woke up knowing I was going to this Yoga open house to learn more about Yoga, about being a Yoga instructor….I was going to the one place I felt comfort and love and acceptance. And so I went, I went knowing in my heart it was a sign from Eric, he was sending me love through Yoga. Saying, “Go….get up, go learn something new…go love yourself…you deserve it, it’s Valentines day after all and you need love.” So I went! And I went feeling some love from Eric, guiding the way on Valentine’s day.
Reflections Part 1 Yoga journey:
- I tried something new I had never even hardly ventured to think of doing for myself even prior loss of Eric. Funny how loss forces you off your butt – get moving. Sitting idle only makes you (me) more sad, more time to sit in the muck of sadness and loss.
- I found strength and courage in the new discovery of self acceptance. The new me.
- I found a community of people who were accepting of all walks of life. I found comfort when I needed it most.
- I discovered I was making connections with others and my loss propelled me further into reaching out to people.
- Yoga made me laugh, made me cry and it helped me feel my own breath.
- Yoga taught me I was still living….for reasons I yet knew…
- I found joy in trying something new.
- Yoga gave me a place to go when all world was spinning too fast. It was still and peaceful and just what I needed, and still do…
- I learned I was not alone, my friend was there for me. All I had to do was reach out to her. I found gratitude for her ability to pave the way for me to find something to fill a void that needed love again. And her ability to just sit by my side in my new normal. She made me feel like it was okay, and encouraged me to keep going to Yoga…even alone. She believed in me. When I felt I had nothing left.
And this is only 1/2 of my Yoga Journey. My stories are too long I know! Please….check back soon for Yoga part 2. It has had lots of ups and downs, but through it all I have discovered strength, self-love, and acceptance for life and things out of my control. It is a practice of life…and this is where part 2 steps in….stay tuned….
As always, thank you for reading my stories. Please share yours and I believe through sharing we can lift one another up as we journey though this human world, battling through our losses (whatever they may be) to find joy and triumph through our sadness and fears. It takes great courage and hope. xoxo.