I sent this email moments ago to the president of my daughters’ pre-school PTA:
I feel so bad… I sent the cups in but clearly too late this morning as they came with my daughter for her 9:15am arrival. I apologize for my oversight of the (8:30am) time stated on the signup form. It hit me a moment ago that it made no sense I sent them for breakfast and yet they came when teachers would have already needed to be in class. When I looked at the form, I saw my misstep.
I’m embarrassed to have missed this and am so sorry for any scramble.
What do I feel physically right now? My heart is crunched into a held rib cage. My hips and pelvic floor are heavy and tight. My eyes and jaw are scrunched. The left side of my upper back has very faint tingling and as I write, my left tricep is twitching. Those are only a handful of the physical sensations at play.
Emotionally, the most obvious sensation is embarrassment as I wrote in my note.
And mentally? Mentally, I am in judgment of myself.
“How could you forget?” And more accurately to the judgment at hand, “How could you disappoint and inconvenience someone else? You probably made them scramble to find cups for the breakfast. This was YOUR responsibility, Rachel. It was YOUR commitment.”
Shame. Lean in to that. Not the words and the judgments of shame, but the physical feelings. Can I sit with them and let them roll around like a storm on the ocean? What is here physically when I allow the thoughts to pause and sit with the physical ride of this moment? Into the eye, I go.
Electricity in my jaw. Now, as I watch it, shifting to an aching. A dull throb in my temples and specifically at the base of my skull on the right. A full and complete spontaneous exhale signaling that my nervous system is with me and it is downshifting. My pelvic floor has now released on its own. I am breathing easier and although they are still shallow breaths, there is much less effort behind them. I realize that my belly and diaphragm are releasing. Skull tension that I did not know was present is settling as the skin softens back downward and out of it’s taut pull across my head.
What do I feel now emotionally? Still embarrassment. But also deep sadness. Sadness for my loss of a loved one. Tears well up and I sit here with a whole new wave of physical sensations. They are distinctly different than those that came with the shame. They are still heavy but also softer. Less angles. More curves.
And mentally? Mentally I know that this president of the PTA is competent. She is surrounded by competent individuals. Pre-school teachers for lord’s sake. Cups abound. No doubt, they were not drinking out of their hands. And if they were, what a great story for teacher appreciation week.
The question I am left with as I ride this moment is, “What have I learned?”
I have learned that self-criticism can kick in pretty easily right now. And that my self-blame is partially trying to protect me from the intensity of grief and sadness for a loss that I cannot change. That loss is objective reality and my subjective “bad Rachel” self-blame is a convenient camouflage for my grief. I’ve learned that I am still so very sad. That I am doing what I deem “easy” things during a hard time. And that “easy” is relative to the moment. I have learned – once again – that compassion awaits if I can turn toward my pain and quiet the self-judgment and the “good / bad labels” to feel the dynamic physical sensations. I’ve also learned that during this time of grief, I want to give myself the gift of a second look at things that “should” be easy – like what time to drop of cups at the pre-school. These are the details that typically settle so firmly into my brain and right now are washed aside as noncritical. I’ve learned that I want to continuing giving myself that Space and, in doing so, I can hold myself more gently.
My breaths are deeper and more complete now. I still wish I had dropped the cups on time. And I also know it is okay.
All is well.
Welcome to Yoga, the science of transformation by awareness.
Welcome to Life.
p.s. If you made it this far, you get a bonus of my husband’s input here. I adore this man. We are ever so good for one another.