Updated: Jun 2, 2020
I grew up in a scheme in Glasgow… I didn’t know how poor we were really because it was just life as I knew it. I lived in a place that had the noise of stolen cars and sirens every Friday and Saturday night without fail. The police were useless at catching the culprits so they usually torched the cars at the back of the local community centre. I smile at the idea of ‘yoga’ being taught in a community centre where I grew up!
I knew what streets the drug dealers were on and who had firearms in their houses. I also encountered some pretty seriously damaged people and also people who had been capable of damaging others… and who damaged me. As a youngster, I found myself in very difficult, violent circumstances that I couldn’t escape. My parents were not capable of really keeping me safe… father being a drunk and mother caught in a cycle of trapped passive aggressiveness which usually resulted in the chaos inside the house, matching the chaos of the sirens and burning outside the house. I learned to shut off, I learned to be silent and mastered the art of invisibility within my life. It was probably about 13 years old I disconnected to my body, my physical self, so that I could endure what was happening. The bruising and violence on the outside was nothing to the harm my young adulthood did to me internally – my relationship to me was broken, severely broken. I internalised the hurt and became my own worst enemy, my attacker, my judge, my inner critic, my punitive parent. No-one else could take anything away from me… there was nothing left to take.
As an adult, I chose a ‘safe’ marriage, not a fulfilling one. My tick list was a simple one… ‘let me stay lost’. And he did, he did it really well. My blessing my two bumps in the road… my son and my daughter. My pregnancy… my physical body letting me know it had not abandoned me… she gave me life for my children, a nourishing safe place for them to grow and become their own stories. I focussed on them, still lost to myself and became the mum I needed when I was young.
As they grew, my ‘lostness’ got heavy to carry, friendships were always difficult, strained and complicated… not because of others, but because I never learned how to dance with others in a way that wasn’t terrifying.
In my late 20s early 30s I realised I was drowning in a ‘safe’ and empty marriage and started to feel very trapped… the marriage broke, of course and I carried a massive amount of guilt for that… for years. In my early 30s I started training to become a CBT therapist, not really for others at this stage but to try to discover the teenager who got locked away inside. The therapy training guided and at times forced me to examine a lot of really deep scars… I found a bit of love, compassion and care for her. After the training, I entered into Mindfulness training… being present, in the moment was absolutely excruciating… for a long time! I didn’t want to be with my body, inhabit my body, live in my body. I persevered and developed a connection to myself that I don’t remember ever having… but I felt still lost to some extent. Hard to explain but it was like entering a corridor with a series of locked rooms which were aspects of me. Mindfulness reached over and put a set of keys in my hand… but it was not until I had found yoga… that the keys started to open the locked doors.
Not easily, not even willingly at some points but with yoga, mindfulness and CBT therapy the ‘lostness’ has lifted a lot. At times I still feel that I don’t want to be ‘in’ my body. I am sure many of my physical difficulties and issues are linked to the trauma and past difficulties and my body has held the memories when my psychology could not. Yoga has given me a road back to myself that other approaches could not.
I am 47 now, married to someone who has a good heart who laughs with me every day as I wake up and as we go to bed. I am also now a trained yoga teacher, in the hope that I can reach others who feel unreachable, who feel lost or disconnected and who have a deep knowledge that there body wants to stop carrying the weight of the past.
I know that some of my students have shared with me that I have helped them too… but I hope to be able to do much more to be the kind of support, guide and compassionate teacher that I needed. I’m honoured that when I show up for myself and others, they also are able to show up too. I am still rubbish at the dance of friendships and maybe I always will be… but I am grateful for the connections I have made despite my scars… I send love out to those who have reached out to me, when at times I felt unreachable.