Yoga teacher training this weekend was such an emotional experience. 

Yesterday we practiced Thai Massage with each other. I spoke to one of my closer friends in YTT to see if she would be willing to partner with me. She agreed, knowing my struggles with touch and trauma. 

If you remember my previous post about the Thai Massage that I received a couple weeks ago, you may recall that I really struggled with having my self-injury scars touched. During that session, I cried; I cried so much as my instructor gently massaged my left arm. Her and I later discussed this and why it was so difficult for me. 

In yesterday’s Thai Massage during YTT, that same instructor was teaching us. She rotated around the room demonstrating Thai on each of us as our partners watched and imitated the movements. My anxiety escalated when I realized that my partner would be touching my scars. When it got time for our partners to move to our arms, my instructor came over, stepped in, and demonstrated on me so that I would not have to be anxious about my partner touching my scars. There is a chance that this was coincidental; however, given our previous conversations and experiences, I do believe that this was likely very much intentional. In that moment, I felt so much gratitude for her compassion and care towards me. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever had anyone outside of her and my favorite yoga teacher (who also helps lead my training) treat me with so much compassion. Their acknowledgment of where I am and what I am going through, and willingness to do whatever they can to support me in it is truly phenomenal. 

Today we spent our morning discussing self-care. There were a few themes that came up for me in our journaling activity:

  1. Trauma work is draining 
  2. Separating myself from my husband’s financial problems relieves some of my stress
  3. I love doing fun things with my daughter

We talked about a few things in detail. The yoga instructor asked us to share what we would want to celebrate. The room was silent. I blurted out: 568 days of not cutting myself! I then explained that I cut myself for 14 years and, prior to that, I self-injured in other ways since I was 6 or 7 years old. She agreed that it was a huge deal and asked me how I would like to celebrate. I told her that I typically celebrate with cupcakes every 50 days, so I had just celebrated 18 days ago. Someone chimed in that we should go to the local ice cream shop after training. I said that wouldn’t really work for me because I was assisting with the yoga class following training tonight. Then someone suggested we go during our lunch, but I commented that they don’t open until 1, which is the time we have to be back. The yoga instructor, the same one from Thai Massage, said that we could go out to the ice cream place at 1 and be at the yoga studio by 1:15. Again, so much gratitude for her compassion and care.

There was a lot more to our self-care conversation. We talked about the “hard” stuff. We talked about suicide, not feeling good enough or perfect enough; we talked about self-injury and celebrating life. I also chose to talk about using my gifts of my experiences and writing to help others. We ended our morning in a group hug, and then continued to stay in a circle. Our yoga instructor had us place our hand on each other’s backs while she talked about how each of us are essential in this world. I couldn’t make the tears stop. 

There are so many moments where I feel so much less than essential. So many moments where I would rather die than live one more day with complex PTSD and anxiety. So many days where I don’t feel like my story matters. In those moments, suicide ideation is real. 

Tonight, the words “you are essential” are heavy within me. I am essential. No one has ever told me that before. Ever. And today, I didn’t just hear it, I believed it. My experiences have shaped who I am. Living with them is a challenge, and there are so many days where it would be easier to give in and give up. Today is not one of them. Today, I am embracing who I am and where I have been. Today, I am essential.