being a human being is hard.
which is not to say that being any other kind of thing, living or not, isn't hard.
in fact, they probably have it harder.
but, the other day, i sighed and heard a voice in my head say, being a human being is hard. and, well, i am going to trust that this voice has a point.
i am not a huge fan of the holidays. i could go into why, but it is all so long ago that it is hardly worth going into it. or rather it is for me to go into to, uncover, think about...not the masses. but, all you need to know is that i am not a huge fan of the holidays.
i overcompensate with holiday cards and small christmas trees and christmas shopping. i seem like i am totally into it. and i am. sorta. i want to be.
but i also sorta hate the holidays.
being a human being is hard.
in 2012 and 2013, the holidays were spent mostly on a retail floor. the holidays were about sales goals and finding the perfect size so someone could give the perfect gift. they were about getting up early to open the store, staying up late to close the store, spending what felt like forever in the store, getting to know the holiday hires, explaining to my family why i'd only be up for the day...
they were about volunteering to work christmas eve even though i was already scheduled to work the day after christmas and you don't have to work both.
in the moment, i seemed like an angel, coming to the rescue of a sick coworker.
but really i was hiding.
working in retail during the holidays allowed me to hide behind busy work schedules and team bonding. i had shit to do which was loosely related to the holidays, but allowed me to not focus on the holidays themselves. i usually had less than 24 hours to truly celebrate thanksgiving, christmas, and new years. the closest i got to dealing with the holidays myself was that i had to hear the christmas song as i walked through the mall, but i didn't have the time to let the song hit me (it is my favorite christmas song, but it also makes me want to slowly crawl into a ball and cry for hours on end. it is a love-hate thing.).
this year i was retail free. i was excited for this. it meant i could see my family, see my boyfriend's family, and have time to enjoy.
but i had forgotten my usual response to twinkling lights and santa claus.
i first discovered something was afoot on my yoga mat a week before christmas. of course, it happened there because that is what happens when you breathe and twist and focus. shit comes up and, sometimes, it is too much to let go of afterward.
six days of yoga in a row. i felt like i needed it every day. i needed to work out something every day. i was exhausted. but it was still there.
and then it was christmas time. i left my mat at home, packed some running shoes and headed south. my boyfriend's family is lovely and they have lovely holiday traditions and this year i went with my boyfriend to share them.
one day i ran in cold rain. i felt as though something had been burned off in the run. i felt lighter. this, i thought, is progress. but then later, i felt heavy again. whatever it was, was back.
the next evening, after heading to bed, i realized the heaviness was still there...and growing. and i wasn't sure why. honestly, i wasn't even sure how i felt. was i upset? was i grumpy? was i angry? was i sad? i was feeling shaken and i wasn't sure why. as far as i could tell, there was no overt reason why. nothing had happened. nothing. but i felt crappy and i felt like i was being crappy and i felt like i was full of crap.
crap. crap. crap.
my eyes scanned the room and then i saw the christmas presents.
and it hit me.
this was the first time in two years that i didn't have a distraction. i didn't have something to occupy my brain. i didn't have something that allowed me to hide. i was exposed and the holiday elements were in full force.
those old feelings had never left. they were just dormant. until they weren't anymore.
i sighed. being a human being is hard, i thought. then i turned to my boyfriend and explained what i thought may be going on.
sometimes i get moody and don't know why. sometimes i push a disagreement past a healthy point. sometimes i am sensitive and get hurt easily and respond by getting silent...or cruel. sometimes i am happy and festive and sometimes i just want for the season to change. sometimes i smile and sometimes i cry and sometimes i sit somewhere in-between the two. sometimes i am happy and then, suddenly, am not anymore. sometimes i don't find jokes funny or get irrationally upset about them. sometimes i am a pleasant person. sometimes i am not.
most of the time, i am ashamed of myself for feeling and acting this way. i am ashamed for not having figured it out yet...for not letting things go...for still falling into that dark hole. i am ashamed for feeling low when others are struggling with much bigger things. i am ashamed for not being as light, as calm, as happy, as content, as grounded....as i want/think i should be. i know i shouldn't be ashamed, but i am. i am even though i, at one point in my life, was studying to be a therapist...one who would say to someone like me, "you have nothing to be ashamed of".
yesterday, i went back to yoga class. after two runs and a week of no yoga, my body was a little ticked off with me as i stepped back into down dog. the class wouldn't be as easy as i had hoped. i breathed. i focused. i stepped in and out of poses. when it got to be time for inversions, i tried to lift up into headstand in the middle of the room. but didn't succeed. which makes sense since i have yet to succeed (except once, after 27 tries, on a beach). honestly, every time it is time for this pose, i feel a little ashamed that i can't do it...even though i know it is fine that i can't.
i heard the teacher come closer and without saying a word we both knew he was there to help me. i lifted up and he held me there...for a while. i breathed. i relaxed. i softened and engaged...until i brought myself down.
once in child's pose, i felt the heaviness there...the one that was stirred up on the mat two weeks ago and settled in over christmas...the one that is filled with shame, fear, frustration. i felt it there.
being a human being is hard.
headstands are also hard.
being patient and understanding with yourself, being aware of what's at work, and being okay with changing your form or your approach in order to achieve balance and calm...that is the work.
being able to admit the struggle, being able to admit imperfection, being able to admit that sometimes you need someone's support and sometimes you just need time and sometimes you don't know what you need...that is the work.
being able to say sometimes you are ashamed of not finding the lightness, but that doesn't mean you won't try to find it again tomorrow...that is the work too.