I'm talking about Vulnerability. That big V.
Remember the post I wrote last summer about wanting to work on vulnerability, among other things? About basically courting it? Embracing it? Asking for it?! Well, I was a jackass. Young and foolish. Brene Brown with all her, "“Vulnerability-is-the-birthplace-of innovation,-creativity-and-change”-mombojumbo?
She can have it.
Because guess what? I got what I was asking for. And I didn't like it one bit.
It was uncomfortable, and embarrassing. It made me wonder who the hell I was. It still pains me to think about it, actually.
This is a post I've been meaning to write since March. But I keep putting it off, and putting it off. I keep putting it off because it takes me back to that feeling, that place of palpable discomfort and serious dis-ease.
But to show that I can wear big girl panties as well as the next girl, I am going to let you in on it, and I'm even going to share photos. Photos that I didn't even know I had until after my return home from Bali.
Here's the scenario, I'm at my first yoga teacher training, far, far from home and my girls and my everyday life. It's lovely and challenging and new and blissful and tiring. Overall it's terrific, but I'm a total rookie and feelings of overwhelm wash over me each and every day from time to time. Most other attendees are already yoga teachers, some own their own studios, many have known and been practicing with Janet (our teacher) for many years. I'm also one of the older attendees in years, but not in experience, which can be tricky.
We're given an assignment on Friday: to create a 15-minute sequence that we'll teach to our small groups, in turn, on Sunday. This sequence must convey one of the Hindu goddesses that we've been reading about in one of our required texts. I love the book, it's fascinating, I identify with almost all of the feminine archetypes presented in one way or another. We all do. Amazing stuff.
But a 15 minute sequence, well how do I do that? How many poses is that? And which goddess, and if I pick her, which poses? And then teach this to the group? Will they understand which goddess I'm working with? Well, okay, it's not going to be easy for me, but I'm down with it.
We take a day-long field trip the next day, we snorkel and visit a gorgeous temple and enjoy the wonder that is Bali. Although an amazing day, the stupid 15-minute sequence was in the back of my mind the entire time.
So, Sunday morning arrives, it's another sunny, gorgeous day at Gajah Mina on the Balinese coast. We do our morning meditation and yoga (asana) practice and hit breakfast as usual; at the conclusion of the mid-morning lecture, as my mind is doing it's best to relax and not freak out about the fact that our sequence teaching is coming up after the lunch break, Janet lays this on us......Because we are discussing pratyahara--withdrawal of the senses--we will be teaching our sequences blindfolded. And not only blindfolded, but blindfolded without demonstrating what we are asking the group to do. So standing still blindfolded teaching a 15-minute sequence that conveys a Hindu goddess.
WTF???? I could NOT have heard that correctly! You want me to teach my group a goddess sequence, blind folded and not do the poses with them?! You get the I have never taught anyone yoga before? With sight? And that I constantly confuse my left and my right?
She concluded by saying if there is a problem with this to talk to her or one of her assistants.
Yeah, um, I might need to have a chat with someone. I roll up my mat slowly, put my water bottle in my bag, my notebook too. Puja, one of the two assistants, is solo by then, so I grab her and start to tell her about my worries about the upcoming group work. As I start to voice my concerns, I lose it. All the overwhelm, all the uncertainty, all the newness, all the emotion and release that came up Friday during a body work session meant to do just that, it all spilled out. Ran down my face. Burning hot tears.
The worst! It took me right back to childhood, when I would so easily burst into tears if I couldn't do something "right." The need to do good. My need to please. My constant desire to be worthy and accepted and liked and to not get it wrong.
Seriously, aren't I OVER this? Didn't I leave that behind in middle school, maybe high school?
Puja was helpful. She talked me through it. She told me she'd talk to Janet if I wanted her to.
What? No. No that would be even worse. I'll do it. I'll try it. I'll do my best. Who cares, right? It's just a measly 15-minute sequence taught to people who are completely supportive. Jesus what the fuck is wrong with me? My husband left me for another women when I had two small kids and only a part-time job and I'm losing it over THIS?
It took me a while to recover. I skipped lunch. I worked on calming down. I rested on my bed. I reigned it in. Slowly. My roommate left me alone. (Luckily she had a crying jag a few days before, so I felt less like a freak that I perhaps could have.) I decided to just let the group know how much I had struggled with this and to do my best. I decided to let it gooooooooooooo.
Now comes the funny part. Are you ready?
We show up at the decided on spot, poolside, and the spontaneous group consensus (myself not included) is that we should do this in the pool. In the pool? Add another layer to this assignment? Oh, and some of us were late (again, not me, 'cause you know how I aim to please!), so there was no time to change into swim suits, so let's get in what we have on, or strip down to what you're willing to get wet.
I'd worn a T-shirt over one of my least attractive jog-bra type thingymabobs. In fact, I'd picked it up in the girl's section in Target for $9. Not something I'd even wear out in public. Except for now. Except when teaching a 15-minute goddess sequence blindfolded in water.
|Yeah, as you can see, I gave up on trying to NOT demonstrate the poses.|
|Can you guess which Goddess?|
|Love this shot, Else (on the far left) decided she wanted to both do and teach all of the sequences blindfolded. The fact that she is still on her knees with her hands down gives you some idea of how precise my verbal queues were!|
|I don't always teach a goddess sequence blindfolded while in a pool, but when I do...|
I wear my least attractive bra