I don't think you understand how much you can hate your body until a child dies inside of it. I thought I understood self-loathing and cellulite-focused anger in my twenties. Then she died, and everything I thought I had come to accept about this body was destroyed with her. Burned in a fire. I raise my four arms like Kali. One holds my daughter. One holds my body. One holds peace. One holds forgiveness, and I turn them into the flames. I didn't get the ashes from that one. I didn't want them. They were a dark energy.
It is strange for me, someone once so aware of her body. I used to love these knotty old muscles, lifting babies over my head, challenging my body further than I thought possible, throwing softballs, and tumbling across my college green after a few drinks. I felt betrayed by this mass of cells. I held nothing like who I felt inside anymore. The betrayal kept coming. She died. I developed thyroid disease. It caused depression and anxiety. I had a hard pregnancy with Thor. Addiction. Miscarriage. Biopsies. Aches. Pains. Extra weight that won't come off with liquid diets and bike riding, and I stopped thinking of myself as strong, but someone diseased and frumpy. The goddess of destruction, my cells like little blue goddesses, tongues extended. "You are old, Mama," they taunt. "You are nothing like the athlete, mother, friends, lover, citizen, yogi you once thought. You are just black energy."
My last yoga class was a prenatal class with Lucia in my belly. I felt amazing doing yoga pregnant. And it was our time--Lulu and Mama's time. I talked to her as I rode my bike there. I said prayers to her. I saw her--gypsy curls of black and barefeet. She runs like a fairy through the backyard and wears long skirts and I tuck her into my arm and kiss her. This is what I saw when I stretched and meditated and lied in shavasana. I felt grounded and earthy. I felt beautiful. Truly beautiful. I was about to lose all of that, and had no idea. I would have grasped onto the grass, dug my toes into the soil and sprouted roots. I would have kept swaying, back and forth, in the wind. My grief might have sat less in anger and more in forgiveness if I stayed with yoga. If I could have been more of something that ineffable spiritual quality that I wanted yoga to be. But I couldn't.
I had bought it all. The balance and love and surrounded by golden light. I bought the yoga environment and the teachers acting like gurus and mentors and people interested in my pregnancy and baby. I believed they had a piece of wisdom that I wanted. And then she died, and the teacher and my prenatal massage therapist said nothing. No sorries. No condolences. And then I confronted them, they said what everyone else said, "I didn't know what to say. I wanted to give you the space to grieve." It was like seeing the man behind in the curtain in Oz.
Why, these are just normal people!
It seemed so impossible. I felt so angry against this hypocritical institution of yoga. One that spoke in words that sounded like spirituality and acceptance, but couldn't face the possibility that babies died, and that mine died. And that love and wholeness I felt about yoga died with her. I resented yoga and all those lithe bodies that stretched and bowed in namaste. I read once that namaste means "I honor the sacred in you." Death was in me. I felt dishonored by that silence, as though no one was bowing to me anymore. Death is the most sacred of acts. We all do it. We don't know where or when. We don't know how, but we will die. It connects us to all the worlds. And yet I felt shunned by yoga. It was a self-shunning. I exiled myself out of the new age community, because I couldn't see myself fitting anywhere other than a cautionary tale.
There is a local yoga studio where Beezus is taking little kid yoga now. It is lovely. It is not the same place I went to practice with Lucia, so maybe it feels different because of that. I keep thinking that I will go back to yoga. Every year I think I have come to a place of acceptance and readiness to face that first class and then it seems too much. I'm too fat, I think. Too damaged.
I am fairly positive that I will cry through my first yoga class, remembering her, honoring her and our connection there. It has been a long time since I cried. And it has been three plus years now since I practiced yoga in a studio. I have been using these two unaware people as an excuse. I have forgiven them. I have forgiven myself for reacting so judgmentally towards them. Just because you practice something beautiful, or strive for that balance, doesn't mean you achieve that in every moment of every day. And we aren't even supposed to be holy every moment of every day. We strive for grace, and forgive ourselves for not coming close to it.
Forgiveness is not something I do easily. Forgiveness has been a journey for me, not a suddenly landing. These women are just people. Young people. I might have been the first grieving mother they encountered, I don't know. Clearly, they had no idea what to say when something so foreign to their world experience happened. They meant well, I know now. They just didn't know. I'm not sure anyone quite knows how much a condolence means unless you have lost someone close. Three simple words--I am sorry. It means the world. It is an acknowledgement that she lived and I lost. I forgive myself for lashing out at them, because I did end up lashing out at both of them. It was not my best self either. I blamed them for a long time for destroying my love of yoga. I blamed them. My response was much worse than their action, I think now. But I still forgive myself for that, even as a cringe at my grief. I was Kali, goddess of destruction. I destroyed everything I cared about after she died. And it didn't bring her back.
Anyway, this yoga studio is having a workshop today and next week called Grief and Yoga, and it is a way to release grief through movement. I already paid for the class so I feel obligated to go. I want to go. I am ready to move past this. I am ready to have my body back, reclaim it from the dead. I thought maybe this would be a good way to cry through a class. To come to a place of peace with yoga. Combining the thing that took me out with the thing I once loved. Facing that fear, though, maybe that is the most important thing to do right now. My old body needs the truce. And so does my soul.