"ignore the story. see the soul. remember to love. you will never regret it" --- Seane Corn
it's a jungle out there
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
What's your story?
Yogini Shannon told a tale about a Frail British Woman who attended one of her yoga classes. This lady was so sure she was gonna break she wouldn't get into a down dog. She feared for her neck. She feared for her wrists. She feared for her back. Yogini Shannon asked if the Frail British Woman had any injuries to explain her fear. Nope. No injuries. She was just really scared she would... break.
Me? I would have been aggravated by the Frail British Woman. I would have smiled calmly to stop the fucking judgemental bitch in me from screaming get a grip Frail British Lady suck it up.Be strong
Yogini Shannon said she realized this woman had a story. She had an idea about herself... Maybe its based on something she was told about herself when she was young. Maybe an experience... who knows. But the story she tells herself is that she's fragile. She'll break. We all have a story. We all have ideas about ourselves. We all define ourselves in certain ways. But we can change our stories. That's what Shannon said.
It was like a gong going off in my brain. We all have a story. And once we have a story it becomes who we are.
A few weeks back, on a Monday evening at work, I walked into an exam room to see a mom and her 11 year old twin boys. One boy has a learning disability. The other is oppositional and has anger issues and is medicated. Both boys have bad eczema and one has bad asthma. They were all dirty and smelled like an ashtray. The mom is probably in her early thirties. She sat there with her wheezing kid moaning about getting stuck down in Maryland at her sister's during Snowmageddon and not having the kid's asthma medication. And the car breaking down on the way home. whine. And she's just so tired. moan. And you know Dr Michelle I have rheumatoid arthritis. whine. And now I'm having seizures. And the medicine for the seizures makes me feel terrible. moan. And my doctors don't know what to do. wallow.
And I stood there boiling on the inside and wanting to yell shut the fuck up! stop whining! Get a grip. Deal. Do not be a victim! You. Are. Not. a Victim.
I put a lid on it. I kept a patient voice I think. I hid my irritation I hope and my disdain. And I sat with the discomfort I felt based on my reaction to this lady. Compassionless. Lacking compassion. Feeling impatient with this woman's inability to see herself as anything other than broken. Feeling aggravated at her inability to see herself as anything other than a victim. Feeling irritated at her inability to be anything other than overwhelmed and negative. Feeling frustrated that she could allow her shit to compromise the physical and emotional health of her children. Annoyed that she could have so little faith in her body, so little faith in herself, that all she could do was sit there and moan and whine and wallow in it.
Yup. That's how I felt. And I wanted to get the fuck out of that room because I didn't like what I was feeling. I don't like to know that I'm being judgemental. I don't like to know that I'm lacking compassion. That's not my story
So as I'm about to escape the wallowing whining, the woman sees my ganesh necklace and stops short mid moan
What is that? Do you meditate with that?
Well, I don't really meditate liar with it. It's a Hindu god get me out of this room
Hindu... Like yoga? Do you do yoga? Have you ever meditated? Cause I just keep thinking that if I could meditate and calm my mind down my body would feel better and maybe everything wouldn't hurt so much and my seizures would stop. I just have this feeling that my body would follow my mind and I'd be so much better. Do you know where I could learn about meditation? Or yoga?
Are you fucking kidding me?
My aggravation irritation frustration came to a screeching halt. I was witnessing this lady have a glimpse of a different ending to her story. The potential for a plot twist. A way to rewrite her character.
Somehow, somewhere, she knew she had options. She knew that maybe life could be better for her. Somewhere deep in that moaning and whining there was a spark of deservedness. The desire for peace of body and peace of mind. The feeling of wanting her life to be better. The hope that it could be better. The belief that there was a way out.
We all have a story. I have a story. My story today is very different from my story 2 years ago or 20 years ago or 40 years ago. But today's story is not any more or any less real than the story of 40 years ago. It's all about what we believe about ourselves. So when I sit in my overalls without makeup and all the lame-o therapist sees is a young black girl and she says you work at the front desk right? Even though I've told her what I do, where I went to school, what my father did. All she can see is a young black girl who works at the largest pediatric office in the state and I must be clerical cause what else could I be? And for a moment I am 9 or 12 and I'm a young black girl who, by definition, must be less than. And boy did that knock me for a loop. How quickly that feeling that I remember well but thought was long gone could come back. How quickly my story could change from being a smart compassionate badass mama to a less-than-never-good-enough little girl.
It's just a story.
We all have a story. And our stories can change. We can change our story. Our story is only what we believe about ourselves. But often the stories are dictated by others and become our narrative until we are able to see the possibility of plot change, character development. The possibility of a different ending. Or a new beginning.
"it occurred to me that the only real sin you can commit as a mother is to deny your children's right to be who they are and what they want to be and that the only real sin you can commit against yourself is to deny who you truly are and prevent yourself from being who that is"