In the last few weeks, a handful of people from disparate parts of my life (an old friend, a new friend, a blog subscriber, students) have asked me, in one way or another, how I got myself all together, how I got so “wise”, how I can practice so much seemingly perfect wellness in my life. I shake my head and smile, humbly denying their compliments. But here’s my honest response:
The only way I have come to understand wellness (note that I do not necessarily say “practice” wellness) is because I have so intimately known un-wellness. I was an unusually depressed young child and a very rebellious adolescent. As a young adult, all of my early dysfunction manifested as a personality disorder that, fortunately for me, is among the most subtle and functional of all the personality disorders.
Yes, I practice Yoga, I married a really loving man, I have a meaningful and successful career, I try to eat well, I meditate once in a while and, most important and best of all, I am a loving mother and teacher. But the un-wellness still rears its head – oftentimes unexpectedly.
The dark side of wellness appeared a few weeks ago when I quietly, privately miscarried for the second time. As I lay on my bed accompanied only by strong cramps and forced surrendering, I decided that I never, ever want to go through that – the loss of hope, the lonely letting-go, the strange grief over something that was never really anything, the feelings of failure – again. And never risking going through another miscarriage again means never trying to get pregnant again. And, oh my god, I will never be pregnant again. That time in my life is over. Commence the grief. And self doubt. And an ungraceful transition into yet a new stage of life.
After I digested the reality that life doesn’t unfold as easily for my body as it once did, I momentarily disliked this version of me that is growing older. She is a bit grey in the temples, gets sore more easily than she’d like, has gained weight since hitting 35, is a bit unlike the woman she had always been – youthful, desirable, potentially fertile. For someone who has always depended in part on her looks and youthfulness, the acceptance of being near 40 is a bittersweet experience, indeed.
So, this is why I am so “well”: Because I know un-wellness, I make friends with it, and then I embrace it. I experience hideous self doubt, frustration, feelings of failure. But I look that un-wellness in the eyes. I see it, write about it, talk to Nik about it. I accept it for what it is.
And then I take a deep breath and move on, a wee bit wiser and one step closer to wholly loving the present me.