Photo by Michael S. Wright
It has been a week since my last post. At first I told myself I needed some sleep. Then the story was that taking a break is part of the process. On the third day I thought I had nothing to say. On the fourth, or maybe the fifth day, I wondered what I was hiding from. It wasn't just writing either. I didn't exercise for three days. I had superficial conversations with people. I retreated in the shell, and it took some cracks to notice. It is hard for me to know when rest becomes avoidance. I am great at denial, and rationalizing decisions. When things spin out of control, or emotions get overwhelming, I like to escape. It doesn't matter whether it is sleep, a book, movies, work, or even spiritual contemplation. As long as I stay in my head, and don't try to authentically relate to another human being, I can get quite cozy in there.
However, Wednesday was lunchtime yoga at work. I nearly didn't go, but something in me was wiser than that. Of course it was the day we worked on chest opening and lifting. I started to notice that maybe something was going on with me, and realized that I had avoided even Facebook for the past three days. Yesterday was Zumba, two whole hours of it, and today Bodyflow. By the end of Savasana, I had tears running down my cheeks. No major insight had been achieved in that moment, just the accumulation of flashes of realization, combined with the time to be still with myself, and be present to what had been going on.
Now, I am not saying the shell is bad, or that it doesn't have its uses. It has allowed me to live through unbearable moments, and given me some space to develop tools to manage trauma responses better, and to rest when healing was needed. However, I would like to choose when I retreat in the shell, rather than habitually crawl into it, tiny invisible step by tiny invisible step. I want to know what is going on with me, why my body is literally slowing down to a halt. I want to choose how to act, rather than react by snapping shut. I notice how much having developed a regular physical practice is helping disrupt this habit. Moving, and also being accountable through this project, and its tangible manifestation of this blog, cracked the shell quickly this time. That, and people around me. People who talked with me, and engaged, or just dropped a text to say hi. I wonder if I often realize how much impact we all have on each other, even through the most simple of gestures, whether we know the person we are interacting with, or not. I think if I really knew this in my bones, I would be much more mindful in my every interaction, not because I want to be perfect, but because I want to live with intention.
And my intention for this year is to open to vulnerability, get to know it, write about it, about me, on a public blog. Right? Yet I notice how much easier it is to draw a sketch, than to commit to a full painting. In this post I said nothing about why I was in the shell in the first place. I didn't talk about feeling scared at the prospect of telling my mom about my decision to take testosterone, even though I am 40 years old. I didn't share the daily anxiety about loosing my husband's desire for my body, as I start to notice small changes. I didn't write how tender my heart has been feeling, when dealing with intermittent emotional intimacy from someone I shared two months of daily contact, and growing feelings with. I didn't explain how it hurt, when I tried to reach out to someone I like, only to be politely deflected. I didn't show the melancholy brought on by memories of disappointment, and hopes I had shared with people my heart still beats fast for. But I guess I have said a little now. I am lucky. It only takes a small crack for the light to shine in.