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dear diary : sitting with disorientation

self isolation, day 32

Dear Diary, I’m sorry I haven’t written. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to, haven’t had monologues in my mind about what I’d write, if only I had the time, or the energy. It’s just that….life is a little different than I’d thought it would be. It’s the feeling of skiing during a white out – my orientation is off and I get confused. I’m moving, but I can’t see anything in front of me and I’m not sure where I have come from. Where am I? Where do I stand with myself? With the outer world? Like space, without walls around it is undefined and without context; and without the tether of relationships, the inner winds of my own mind can feel, at times, vast and unstructured.

Some days pass and my gratitude knows no bounds. I have a roof over my head, my health is steady, and my surroundings are natural, quiet.  I think of the enormous suffering, the people without a home, food, or healthcare…and I feel so helpless. The only thing I seem to be able to do is offer support to those who accept it, and yoga classes. There is a feeling of disconnect, and that feeling can overwhelm me, like trudging through a desert with a heavy load and no map. Weighted, tiresome…thirsty.

I had every intention of being direct when I started this blog. Of sharing everything, because, let’s face it, no one reads my blog anyway, and honestly, I have nothing to lose. And, believe it or not, despite the ‘white out’ feeling of disorientation that passes over me with regularity, some aspects of my life, especially relating to life on the outside, I see more clearly now than I ever have.

This clarity is not without an eye on my present and future life. My sense is that it may be years before I’m safe outside of the confines of the lockdown; years before I’ll able to go back to work as I knew it, if ever. And then, where will I work? Will anyone be interested in what I have to offer, and what will I have to offer to the world at that future time? As an auto-immune suppressed person, the easing of the current restrictions do not apply. No vaccination, no end to lockdown. And so, if you are a yoga studio owner who considers the teachers and therapists your ‘product’, then I am as good as a lame horse.

And how am I doing, as a lame horse? Well, besides coming to terms with the deflating feeling of irrelevance to the studios and spaces where I did my best to teach what I know, and the uncertainty of whether or not I will teach yoga or Rolf again in a shared physical space, it’s hard to put into words the experience of raising an autistic child, and even harder to convey what this period in time feels like for us, together.

There is increased anxiety, violence, and neediness. I wear many hats throughout the day, but the primary role seems to be as punching bag for all the anger and frustration that a ten year old high-functioning autistic child with social communication disorder cannot put into words. So there are the daily, hourly, half-hourly episodes that could be anything from running out of the foods he is used to, to highly dangerous visitors to the property (those would be delivery men), to me ordering the wrong seeds for the garden. Each carries a weighted punishment that is usually a combination of physical and verbal aggression, sometimes lasting hours. Add that to the lame horse story, and it is a wonder that I have any self-esteem left.

Despite this, there are light moments in the day. Drawing together, discovering new blossoms, watching our seedlings grow; offering hair clippings to the birds and discovering-then-mapping every trail within walking distance of the house. These are rich moments of joy that I cherish. There is my daily practice which recalibrates me and reminds me of all the blessings in my life that I feel so deeply running through my veins. And then, there is teaching yoga. I’m so very grateful to have cultivated good relationships with students who are also my teachers and friends, who see the good in me and offer a smile from their bubble of heaven, or hell that they are living through, because let’s face it, we all have challenges, and that sameness gives us common ground.

So many people, so many times I have heard say ‘we are all in this together’. Yes, we are all in this, but we will never know what this is without some level of honesty and truth, and looking both inward, and outward. As in yoga, it is both, the integration of being with oneself, and with the whole world. The situation, as explained above, changes like the wind, with a few constants that tether me back to this moment in time.

Tomorrow, the next day, and those thereafter, who knows. They are sure to be similar, and different again, and diary, I promise to write to you more often with directness and honestly. What a better time to strip away, to reorient back to what’s real, to know where I am now, and to accept it, life as it is.

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