I’ve been making time for yoga lately. Not with the skill or intensity of a Lulu-clad millennial- I’m mostly in my room with my dog- but it’s felt good all the same.
I used to practice casually in my little North Carolina town, attending beginner classes with retirees and other inflexible townspeople. It was around that time my marriage was at a low point, and I was grateful for mornings alone to unwind. It was just for myself, without people-pleasing or clock-ins or competition. My body moved the way it wanted and needed, without pressure or judgment or the eyes of a husband who loathed me.
All was well – I could even touch my toes! – until my foot broke, I had to stop working, and me and my paisley mat moved to California.
Unfortunately, years of picked-last-in-gym syndrome kicked in and I avoided yoga like the plague, unhappy in my skin and ability and intimidated by the way everyone in Southern California somehow grew up doing yoga (how?). I couldn’t compare or keep up, so I let it go.
It’s October now, another season of letting go. The heat fades, the colors change, the air cools, life stills.
What am I shedding this season with the leaves? What am I letting settle to the earth with the reds and yellows and oranges? What is the sun warming again with its sweet autumnal light?
I turn into myself, stretch out tight hips, and unwind again in the evening golden glow.
I am in a new season, too. In my room, lengthening and strengthening, I’m given permission to reclaim what’d been forgotten as I greet downward dogs and fish and frogs like old friends.
I am learning to sink further into my body. I am slowly celebrating small victories, making peace with small failures and, through it all, enjoying my muscles and breath and sweat and strength.
More than anything, I find I’m enjoying this new space for aloneness. I sweep out the rooms of my mind, say goodbye to unruly, unwanted visitors, and close the door. There is quiet, there are candles, and at the center of it all, I lay a mat out to take care of myself, for myself, with myself. An outward sign that yes, I take up space in this world, and yes, I will foster that space.
At the end of it all, I’m in shavasana, the corpse pose. On the outside, I’m looking like the meeting place of life and death. On the inside, I am anchoring. Settling into myself, my skin, my life, my mind, and letting go. Making room for the season I am in and new seasons to come. Sinking deeply into a rhythm.
As much as fall brings death to life, maybe this season, this shavasana of nature, is simply about making space. New space, new room, to breathe. To sink, once again, into a rhythm.
In this new light and space, I am most happily embracing this fresh sense of stillness. A significant stride, considering the unrest of last October.
Last year I was living at home, paying for lawyers, starting a new job, learning about life in a new state. This year, much is the same, but, even still, much is changed. Yes, I’m at home, paying for lawyers, not divorced, but, today, my heart is rested. The constant weight of his presence is fading. He isn’t driving me forward, moving me urgently towards the need to heal, pushing me towards conquering, fighting, processing, growing.
I continue on my own road, this October, still conquering, processing, growing- but no longer at his expense. It is, this time around, for me, and me alone. This season, this version of me, is a little less tethered to that man, the one who held my heart and mind from a distance.
Now I move through my day, clear headed, both purposeful and purposeless, in a rhythm set by me. He doesn’t hover over my shoulder, doesn’t remind me I am alone, doesn’t tell me I am unlovable, doesn’t say anything at all. He isn’t anywhere to be found.
Of course, occasionally, when I’m least expecting it, he does come back. October is for ghosts, after all.
Most recently, he was in a song floating over the trees, a tune from the family across the street. Those words had always brought me back to him, back to dancing at bars and at weddings, leaning into each other closer and singing louder, feeling breathlessly this is our life, feeling seen and seeing and wrapped up in home.
My heart hurt, for a moment, and I wonder if these moments plan on revisiting me for forever. I wonder if I’ll go longer than hours or days- maybe years- until a song or a laugh or a smell returns my heart to his. And then again, for a moment, all the sorrow and all the ache will be back like a strike of lightening, a piercing flash, before returning to nothing. Just another rain storm, just another fall.
I wonder if someday, at the end of these earthly days, I’ll see him again in another flash of light. Another strike without the pain and the anger and sadness and brokenness.
I wonder if a part of my heart, a part of my soul, will be his for always. And I wonder if, maybe, someday, those littlest parts will be together again, in the briefest exhale, ah, I know you, and there will be a moment of love, the way we meant it to be. Now, as through a mirror, then, as face to face.
Or, perhaps, more autumns will pass by, and it’ll all be nothing but a lightening strike, an unseen scorch of earth in an overgrown forest, buried and buried again under the falling leaves.