An Apology

28 Apr

It took me a little while to find you. As we drifted apart, I let the pictures of you fade away too. One by one. The ones I kept accessible were only to remind me that I was better off without you.

For a long time, I regarded you with pity and dismay, then contempt for everything you did to spite and hurt me, and at long last indifference. A numb acceptance that you existed as a part of my history.

But I never loved you. Maybe in brief, fleeting moments I remembered something funny you said, or the way that you didn’t pay much attention to what anyone thought of your sense of style.

If I let you in, even for a second, I might think you weren’t so bad. I might feel loss.

I might remember that there were good times. And that you fought courageous battles that would have brought others to their knees. I might see the dark circles under your eyes the day after you stayed on the phone with a friend through the whole night, because she told you she wanted to kill herself.

You wrote every day, religiously, fiendishly. Filling up notebooks and journals without worrying about deadlines, word counts, style manuals, opinions, or critics. You paid none of it any mind and allowed that creativity to energize you, even at the darkest moment. Even the worst day of your life (almost a decade and a half ago), you wrote in that notebook until three pens were dry and your hand was so cramped you wore a wrist brace to school for two days.

I missed that drive.

And that is all it took. I felt you seeping into my heart, wheedling your way in and begging for my attention. Every time you have come to me like this in the past, pushing into the corners of my heart, I rejected you with anger, indifference, pride…anything to show you that I didn’t need you.

This time I just heaved a sigh and asked, “What do you WANT?”

You were silent. You looked down and I knew everything you felt. You were telling yourself all the reasons that you shouldn’t have come, you’re not worth anything, you’re not good enough….

That’s my script. I wrote that.

All of the things others told you, I reiterated a thousand times, branded them into your heart and left deep, painful scars.

And I realized suddenly that of all the tormentors you had, I was the worst. All this time I rejected and cast you aside for hurting me, letting me down, making me lonely. Meanwhile I shouted at you, struck you, and shackled you. Every day, I reiterated the world’s message that you simply were

Not. Good. Enough.

Finally I looked at you through tears. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I love you. I love you as you are. You are important. You matter.”

And so today on this eleventh anniversary of my gastric bypass, I celebrate YOU.

aidswalk 012

AIDS Walk Pittsburgh 2004

Every time this anniversary comes around, I focus on how far I have come and been so proud of how I’ve pushed you into the past. And I owe you an apology. Because even though I made that decision to give this vessel a better shot at carrying me around for more years of life on earth, you never deserved the hate I threw at you. You didn’t need one more person to remind you that your round shape was unwelcome.

And so here I stand. I am not at the lowest weight I’ve ever been. In fact, I didn’t want to remember my anniversary today. Because maybe I’m scared that I’ll never really feel “victorious” over the weight problems we’ve had.

But I never stood in a Bikram class in a bra top and shorts at that lowest weight—the confidence wasn’t there, and I do it now with great pride. (I can demo a mighty fine kapalabathi breath because you can see that whole belly move.) A student told me he felt welcome in class with me because I explained things practically and used anatomy cues. Another told me that she felt relaxed because I moved “like a graceful yoga swan” but I looked like “a real person.” Granted, we are all real people, but if you look at publications like Yoga Journal, you might recognize the mold that pop culture has tried to create for the Western yoga practitioner. My personal favorite was the student who said to me, “Oh my god, no one has ever told me I could reach and move my belly flesh out of the way in a seated twist. I actually twisted!” Those were all things I learned from you. I remembered what you felt like in that first yoga class as an obese woman.

I’ve come home and cried to Joe on occasion, “What do I have to offer that someone else can’t do a thousand times better?” Even I fall into that trap of thinking that I’m not worthy to be in the seat of the teacher because I can’t float up into arm balances gracefully or fold my legs into lotus. And again I have to go back to all of those words I say in class. “This is not about how many postures you do, how deeply you go into them, or how strong you are. It is about finding a ‘steady, comfortable seat’ in any shape you take. All you need to do to figure out what that means is listen to your breath. If it’s even and calm, you’re just as deep in the posture as anyone else. What is a steady comfortable seat for you at this present moment?”

Sometimes when I feel unsure of myself as a teacher, I imagine you standing there, proud and tall. All of the weight hanging off of your bones, and you don’t care because this place is safe. This room is sacred. This yoga is for everyone. And I would say to you, dearest 18 year-old Neen…

Welcome home.

Listening to music in Faneuil Hall - April 2004

Listening to music in Faneuil Hall – April 2004

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3 Responses to “An Apology”

  1. Alberta April 28, 2015 at 10:21 am #

    Love love love.

    • Mary April 28, 2015 at 11:09 am #

      you are such an inspiration and a blessing. THANK YOU

  2. Regina Patella April 28, 2015 at 5:42 pm #

    Very well said, you are very special!

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