In February of this year I had significant cervical spine surgery that was debilitating for a time. They removed a section of c4,5,6&7 and affixed a rod on each side screwed in from c3 to t1. I was in a hard collar and feared being isolated at home. But at the encouragement of my therapist, I reached out to my yoga community and they came through. They set up a schedule to visit me and take me out so that I would not be alone at home all the time. It was a unique opportunity to connect with people – there was nothing else to do anyway as I was not really allowed to do much. I think the time was good for me and for them.
Two weeks post surgery, my daughter’s birth mother with whom she had been reconnected with during the past summer, dropped her like a bomb. I had to break the news to her that this woman wanted nothing to do with her even though she had claimed love and affection and a desire to know her for months. The pain was indescribable for me and for my daughter. And I felt helpless to help her much of the time as I was still in a hard collar recovering from surgery. And still my yoga friends came as scheduled even though the minute they asked me how I was I would start crying like a baby. They still came.
In the meantime, I was missing a huge section of my 300 yoga teacher training and worrying about how to get that done, get functional, start driving again, get my daughter and myself through this most painful time. I went back to teacher training and proceeded to make up all the contact hours I needed doing private yoga clinics and other work while finishing the rest of the program. Thankfully those with whom I did my training were deeply compassionate and allowed me to do this independent work so that I could finish.
But I was attached to some things. I wanted desperately to finish training and I pushed too hard on my body to do it when it was not yet healed. And the day I finished training and got my certificate I was hospitalized with acute respiratory failure with hypoxia. And upset about it tremendously even though I did not feel or breathe well. You see, I was also attached to going to see my guru Amma and I knew if I did not get out of the hospital I could not go. I missed the first night of seeing her but I talked the doctors into discharging and drove straight out to MA to see her. But I was still pretty sick and had to take oxygen with me to nebulize breathing treatments. I took three brand new tanks with me to ensure I had enough to be there safely. I got there and had such a moment of relief. Finally, it was all coming together. But not so. I checked into my room and went to do a breathing treatment before going down to the main hall to see Amma and there was no air in the oxygen tank. I switched tanks. No air still. There was no air in any of the brand new tanks that I brought with me. I knew this meant that I had to leave, to go home. I knew this meant that I was pushing too hard for things that were not for me at that moment. Knowing this did not even begin to stem the tide of upset, anger, frustration, sadness, and disappointment – all of which were followed by tidal waves of self hatred. As I was leaving the hotel I handed my key back to the hotel clerk and let him know to release the room if someone needed it and why I could not stay. I did not ask him for a refund, it did not occur to me. But he looked at me with such compassion and said he was sorry I was having such a hard time and that he hoped it got better. And he waived the fee for my room. It was a bright light of compassion when I felt like I was in a place that was really hard and dark.
After this time, I sent out an email to my yoga/enlightenment intensive friends spilling everything that was going on for me, my mind stories about everything that was going on, and my feelings about it. I asked for help. I asked for support. And I got it. Emails, texts, phone calls, visits. It was beautiful and it helped ease things for me.
Then one friend from Maine suggested putting together a weekend in Maine where we could all gather. I was looking at it as support for everyone but it turns out it was mostly for me. These dear people gathered together – a six hour drive – to spend time together. We had sacred space. We did dyads. We did art therapy projects. We hiked. I spent some time doing personal work with a couple people who are strong enough to be with my darkness and compassionate enough to be willing to witness my darkness, my struggle. We meditated. Saturday night they literally held me in a circle of love, everyone putting hands on me, as we listened to beautiful music and they listened to me discharge my struggle.
It was the greatest act of love I have ever experienced.
I don’t know how to fully process what happened. Their incredible kindness, compassion, and love. All of them in different ways. I felt humble and not worthy. Worthy and grateful. Sad. Overwhelmed. Overjoyed. I felt so very much.
And all I had to do was ask.
My mind is still blown away and my heart still full. I carry that weekend with me all the time now. When a song comes on. When a hawk flies by. When I see beautiful mountains. When I think of my friends. How incredible is this gift of community? I don’t have words. The gifts of my yoga and EI community. The gifts of the friendships I have made.
The lesson. Ask and you shall receive if you are open. I stand ready to be there when they ask. I also stand ready to ask again if needed. Its an invitation to them, to the universe. An invitation to be loved the way everyone needs and deserves to be loved.
Humility lives in asking for help. In saying I can’t do this by myself. A friend told me that humility would be a big part of my process. And it is. All the time. I just look at humility as a gift rather than a weakness these days. I don’t get humble enough often enough. Maybe that was the point in the debilitating surgery, my daughter’s heartbreak, the sickness. I had no control and had to be willing to ask for help. Humility. Love. Kindness. Compassion. Community.
Thank you my dear dear friends.