Pain Is Beauty

Yesterday, I was harassed by a female I can only describe as plebeian and insulting to the senses.

I met her about a year and a half or two years ago through a mutual friend, and from, literally, the first few minutes of hearing her speak, I couldn’t stand her. Having said that, I still was kind to her; she just rubbed me the wrong way. She is immature, half-witted, emotionally unstable, and manipulative, and I have never had any desire to be in her presence.

After a very exhausting argument between her and several of my friends (involving her wanting a friend who was intoxicated to drive her home), she had decided she didn’t like me. Fair enough. It also might have had something to do with the fact that not only do I outwit her in intelligence and rationality, she is fiercely jealous of the attention I receive from a guy who later became her boyfriend for a period of time.

To her, she sees a pretty girl who is confident, smart, and has the respect of a man she so desperately wants for herself. She sees me as a threat, when I am not. I am not interested in my friend, but we do have a strong bond and connection, which she cannot have with him, because she has never earned his respect.

I have witnessed the benefits of being kind to others, not inciting anger, staying away from drama, and going the extra mile to reach out, even when it’s the last thing I want to do. Notwithstanding, I have learned that no matter how pure our intentions, people will always feel what they want to feel.

Yesterday, that resulted in harassment. It came out of nowhere, but I am not surprised. What is so frustrating to me is that it is about nothing. I have not done a single act to upset her, but her perceived image of me as a threatening female is enough for her to flash her insecure talons and rip into me.

More than anything, it is really annoying. I don’t have time for useless drama about nothing from a person I feel nothing for and have no issue with so long as she doesn’t talk to me.

This has been happening to me since high school. Being nice doesn’t always get you nice things. Nor does having compassion. Do not read that the wrong way; I am not suggesting that kindness and compassion are futile—I am affirming that, sometimes, having those skills makes us so powerful we intimidate others and they are unkind to us.

Confident and mature humans feel exalted by the compassion and love of others, because they can clearly see its intent. However, humans who are weak and easily triggered only see the world as a battlefield, seeking out those who pose a threat.

The more beautiful and revered we are, well, the more dangerous we appear.

It is something that I am used to, but I will never be used to the unnecessary pain it causes. I don’t mean the ersatz, feigned pain of the antagonizer, I mean being bullied and harassed by other females who do not have the strength to recognize the beauty in others and, therefore, always see other females as enemies instead of compatriots.

This person was never my friend, but I have lost friendships over this very thing. We are all connected and can be support for one another if only people were vulnerable enough to listen. Instead, we use our fear to attempt to break into the psyches of others and grind them down until they are on our own level—a level of obscurity and misery.

Being beautiful (in any combination of ways) is always going to be a burden until we, as a human race, learn to appreciate and respect each other, instead of defaulting to fear. Fearfulness is not an admirable fight. It is pain-inducing cowardice.

We hurt others with our fears, but we also stifle ourselves from reaching a place of peace and truth. Her words yesterday held no truth, yet, sadly, they were her created truth, which speared up through her being and out into the world, due to her insecurity. So much unnecessary hurtfulness sewn into the world because we don’t seek actual truth.

I know I am not done being stabbed by others who aren’t strong enough to confront their own personal demons; it is the hand I have been seemingly dealt, at times.

I hope this chick climbs out of her useless wreckage of self-damage, but chances are, she won’t. I can eventually brush off her slanderous words, but she will never be able to cleanse herself of the hatred she feels as long as she sees beauty as a threat.

Antidote

A few days ago, I was scrolling through Facebook when I saw a post about my ex’s brother and his girlfriend “in a relationship”. They have been dating since the summer but finally made it “Facebook official”.

My ex’s mother responded to the post: “The best thing to ever happen to this family!” Although I agree that his girlfriend is simply amazing and a genuine sweetheart, it stung. Why?

Well, because for years, I was the best thing that ever happened to that family.

I was the glowing spectacle in the eyes of his mother, brought in from the world into her undeserving son’s arms, hopefully to remain indefinitely. Obviously, he and I broke up. More than once, in fact, because at the time, he simply didn’t know what he wanted, couldn’t own up to his emotions, or wasn’t ready.

While I can accept that and know it was he who cast me out, why did it sting so much to read that comment?

It’s the phrasing; in particular, the word “family”. Why would she be the best thing for the family? Wouldn’t she merely be the best thing for my ex’s brother? Similarly, why was I the best thing that ever happened to the family and not just to my ex?

The thing is, I may have been the best thing that happened to my ex in years, but I also received so much warmth and approval from his family that it really felt like I was the new bulb replaced on the string of lights that made things once again bright.

I never had his affections and emotions in an open sort of way. He hid himself from me and rarely made me feel very loved or special, so having his family’s acceptance was part of what kept me going. I needed it to have the patience required to wait for him to shape up.

That’s why the comment scraped the inside of my heart: I was just as much in a relationship with the family as I was with my ex, and in some ways, more connected to them than I was to him, at times. Breaking up with him was breaking up with three other people all at once.

Now I have the devotion of a man who isn’t afraid to tell me how he feels. He tells me I’m beautiful, sweet, cute, and amazing every day. He even says I’m the “most beautiful” he’s ever seen. Although I like his parents, I don’t need them in the way that I relied so heavily upon the relationship I had with my ex’s family, because with Bryan, I am given more than enough adulation and support. I don’t feel like I’m wading in a pool of my own emotions for someone else, while they are on the shore holding the life raft, like I did with my ex. I was always waiting for him to jump into the depths with me or at least scoop me out to the beach to be with him.

In that way, I very much required the acceptance of his family, because without that, I was swimming alone in my love for him. Buffered by their love, I could be strong enough to hold on a bit longer.

That’s why it stung.

It’s completely personal and nothing to do with my ex’s brother’s girlfriend. She is beyond a blessing to be around. It’s nothing more than coming to terms with my own insecurity I felt in my past relationship.

Realizing that I am now submersed in the warm cocoon of a submarine barrack with a man who openly and unabashedly loves me gives me security. His acceptance is the one I need, and it has finally been found.

Coming Home

I removed my shoes and placed them slowly in the cubby below the fabric-covered bench outside, as I reached the top of the stairs. Apprehensively, I pushed open the door to find a common room with two Latina ladies. A small-framed, curly-haired woman walked in from another room and greeted me through a smile.

I told her it was my first time.

I just attended my first yoga class in approximately two years. And if you really want to count, I haven’t had a steady practice of any kind in over four.

I have been making excuses for a long time for why I wasn’t ready to go back to yoga, and part of it, honestly, was because I really wasn’t ready. My body didn’t crave it; my heart wasn’t in it; anxiety and depression had won the war for years over what to do with my body, and it mostly consisted of alcohol, stress, partying, and avoiding exercise.

I filled out the introductory waiver at the front desk and it asked me what my level of experience with yoga was? I wasn’t a beginner. I have years of experience, including teacher training and advance level classes and workshops under my belt, so “some experience” didn’t seem to fit, either. I checked off “advanced” but then felt it necessary to scribble in “but I haven’t been to a class in years!”

It’s like the shame of my absence of a practice or my billowing breasts that don’t fit sports bras or the stereotype of a well-toned yogi were making me question my validity to be there.

Once in the practice space, I unfurled my mat—my beautiful, deep brown mat—which had been sitting in the back of my trunk amongst clothes donations and bags of bottle returns for years. I think it breathed as much a sigh of relaxation as I felt walking bare-footed to grab my favorite props: a bolster and a blanket.

At the start of a typical class, the teacher usually prompts you to set an intention. Mine was simple:

Enjoy the class.

We began with some qi gong practices with which I was familiar to warm up the body. I remember the teacher’s voice saying, “Don’t even think about the motions; let it be part of who you are,” as my bare arms fluidly moved through the air in a wide arc in unison above my head and then back down. It felt like gossamer threads of energy were trickling across my skin.

It felt like the movement was part of me.

Through each pose, I instinctually remembered how to adjust my body for perfect alignment and total engagement of the muscles. It was like I have practiced every day for the last four years without a single break. The movements are ingrained in my muscle memory. Yes, I am weaker, and my endurance is certainly lacking, but I had a small smile that continually crept onto my lips throughout the entire class because I felt like I was home again.

The teacher encouragingly told me my poses were beautiful and so open, and I could only think about how it was because I am an out-of-shape, albeit, advanced student in a “Gentle Yoga” class full of mostly beginners who have never been the flexible types nor have they studied alignment the way I had. But if I were in a more advanced class, I would be the one taking breaks, slowing down, breathing heavily, and feeling my limbs shake. I’m not about to get cocky about this now.

Towards the end of class, while I rested my forehead on the floor in front of me during pigeon pose, I thought about how I was so thoroughly enjoying class, I couldn’t wait to come back in two days.

During savasana, where you lie on your back for total relaxation at the end of practice, I was trying to keep my mind steady. It wasn’t. But, it was happy. Elated, even.

The teacher read a short poem titled something like, “Let It Go”, and the words of it really spoke to me in that moment. Let go of your preconceived notions of how you thought things were going to be. Let it go. This is what it is.

A few tears of joy actually well-up in my eyes before we sat up to say Namasté.

I was anxious going to a class in a new building where I didn’t have my posse of yoga friends I used to see each week. I was worried about how I looked in yoga pants, or if I was going to be too ill-equipped to do the class. I was feeling like a beginner.

Those were my preconceived notions walking into class. Just like each day I wake up and think about how things were so different a year ago with the man I adore, or how my body looked when I was twenty-six. Humans tend to fixate.

Being in that spring-toned room, as soon as my two feet were planted hip-width apart and pointing forward, I felt like I was suddenly in an old life again. I had rekindled my bond with my body and the familiarity of one of the greatest loves of my life: yoga.

I was not a beginner at all. I was reincarnated but left with the old sensations of what I used to feel like before I let my life fall apart.

I walked out of my first successful yoga class in two years knowing that my intention had been fulfilled. Not only did I enjoy my practice, I smiled the entire drive home.