These days, I’m doing a lot of things that feel scary. For example, this afternoon I’m teaching my first-ever yoga class. Exciting, right? And nerve-wracking.
I’m also writing white papers about teacher professional learning for the state legislature. That’s not AS scary, since I’ve spoken and written for the state legislature a few times before, but it always feels like such a weighty responsibility. It has to be short. It has to be powerful. And it has to convey the right message.
Meanwhile, I am taking baby steps toward building deeper friendships and emotional support in my life. That deserves another post in and of itself.
And of course, the scariest thing I am doing is starting sex therapy.
Today was Day 2 with Marie. I see her every other Thursday at the ungodly hour of 8am. That’s so that my husband can come with me before he goes to work, once he starts getting included in the therapy. Marie and I both wanted her to get a chance to start to understand where I’m at before working with the relationship.
The first day was a little business stuff, here please sign the release so she can talk to E, how I feeling? Nervous. Okay, where do you feel nervous in the body? Straightaway we went to body awareness. Tightness in the belly or constriction in the throat or whatever it is, just notice it. Marie tells me that my mindfulness and yoga practices mean I have a huge headstart on this therapy.
I can’t even remember the rest of the session very well. I know it was something about why I was there and what I hoped to accomplish. (Briefly: I’d like to be mentally and emotionally present for sex with my husband, but I don’t know how to do that.) I honestly can’t remember exactly what we said, but I do remember my eyes filling with tears. That’s me, yes, the woman who never cries. And I left feeling a lightness in my chest, something I think I would call hope.
Within an hour or so, however, I felt confused and then very alert and concerned. It was as though some part of me was scanning for danger. Some part was saying, wait, what are you getting into? But my sister and her family had just arrived to visit for a few days, and I didn’t have time to explore my confusion.
By the next morning (the middle of the night, really), I had fixated on that release I signed for Marie and E to talk. Marie hadn’t even asked if I was okay with it; she just presented it with the assumption I would sign. And what would they say to each other? What would E tell Marie? What would they say about me? By 6:30 in the morning, I had already fired off a text to E:
I signed a release so you and Marie can talk, and I got the sense that communication mattered to her. But now I keep thinking, what are you going to tell her? As I think ahead about sharing parts of stories with her, what will she already have heard from you? So who controls what gets shared?
Then I think, why do you need to talk at all? Why can’t I be the bridge between the two of you?
I felt agitated, suspicious, grumpy. Deep breath. Maybe it’s time for a little home yoga practice. I pulled out my mat and tried to focus on the feeling on my feet on the mat, the warmth in my muscles. After that, I was able to send a second text from a calmer emotional space:
Okay, 45 minutes later, after a short yoga practice, let me rephrase that:
Although I signed a release, please wait to talk to M until you and I have met on Monday. Obviously, if you already spoke yesterday, this doesn’t apply.
Either way, I note that the idea of you two talking is making me uncomfortable, so I think it would be helpful to talk about it on Monday. Meanwhile, I am doing okay and loving my time with my sister and her family.
Thank you for respecting my anxieties and ambivalence, and know that it doesn’t reflect on you and the trust you absolutely have earned in our relationship.
Phew. I felt better already, even a little proud of myself. Look: I had recognized my emotions and concerns, not dismissed or discounted them, and taken action that respected myself and also E.
A bit later, E responded:
Marie sent an email yesterday inviting a conversation. I responded by saying I’m thrilled to collaborate and would wait to talk until after you and I meet Monday. I will not share anything with her, now or in the future, without explicit and specific consent from you. I’m glad you are taking good care of your anxiety.
Enjoy your family and the love around you.
(See why I love her?)
I did have a lovely visit with my sister, her husband, and her two super smart and charming kids. A few days after they left, however, I slid into a dark depression that left me flattened, unfocused, and barely able to get out of bed. Where did that come from? I still do that sometimes. It seems to come out of the blue, very fast, and it doesn’t last as long as it used to, but it’s as deep and painful as ever. Related to starting work with Marie? I’m still not sure. But part of me did feel I had started to take a brave step forward in my life, only to slide back, or be pulled back, into the old familiar darkness.
[Stay tuned for Part II, which I’ll get to write only after I have taught my yoga class. Namaste.]