Last Thursday (was it actually a week ago?), I left my family and my watch at home, turned off my cell phone, and brought my journals and a bunch of comfy yoga and running clothes to the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Wellness.
Kripalu is an amazing, magical place. I’ve never felt so safe; every detail of the experience there is to allow you to go deeply inside yourself and explore, to find the edge of comfort zone and see if you can push it just a touch further.
So for the second year in a row, I made connections and did yoga and hiked and wrote and meditated and chanted… and felt my heart open and grow wider over the course of the 4 days I was cocooned there.
On Sunday, I made it my intention to stay open, to leave my usual emotional armor in the woods.
And then, I landed back into the Real World with a thud – before I had even left the grounds.
I got a text and then called Jeff. His uncle was sick, badly – things had gone downhill over the weekend. Things wasn’t looking good and he had to go to Maine to see him. I really would have liked to go, too, but I was 3 hours away from home and probably 5 from Maine. We decided it was better if I went home and took care of stuff here, and he went to Maine instead. So I got home, got Owen from my brother-in-law, cleaned the house, unpacked, prepped for the week, laundry, etc.
Monday morning, after meditation, I wrote his uncle a letter and said all the things I would have told him if I had been able to be there. He passed away on Monday afternoon.
We found out on Wednesday that the funeral will be in the morning on Saturday May 21, which is the same morning I was supposed to be racing in my first triathlon this season. (Which, for obvious reasons, I’m not doing. Family first, always.)
But the emotions that have come up with all of this, after the work I did at Kripalu last weekend… this week has been hard. I have run the gamut of feelings, from worry for my husband and his aunt and my in-laws, trying to figure out how best to support them right now, to grief of my own for a man who embodied warmth and connection, to trying to help Owen process through death and answer his questions about God and heaven and what happens after you die, to struggling with my feelings about wakes and funerals and feeling selfishly upset that I don’t get to do my triathlon. I’m all over the place emotionally, and it’s been so hard.
I am a logical person, preferring intellect over feelings. Logic is sound, and rational, and neat and tidy.
Feelings are so messy.
But as I get older, I’m seeing how my avoidance of feelings are becoming more and more of a liability. To avoid feeling, I control and manipulate and tidy – and get angry at the people around me who “mess up” the things I’m trying to control. Even worse: I am missing out on joy and happiness in my need to stop feeling things.
You need to be open and vulnerable to feel joy, I’m convinced of it.
Damn, it’s hard. I’m so used to my ingrained patterns that to try and remain open takes a lot of focus. And I don’t actually really KNOW how to do that, either. I feel like my heart is like someone in a dark cluttered room, fumbling about for a light, stubbing toes and banging shins on sharp corners of the furniture, and muttering all the way, fuck! That hurts!
Messy, dark, bruised and little battered this week; which, if I’m being really honest, is not at ALL what I expected of this week on Sunday when I walked up to my car and turned back on my phone. I had hoped for a hell of a lot more zen than I’m feeling currently.
But life is what it is… and I’m doing the best I can.
(And yes, I keep reminding myself of this.)