Tonight my yoga studio put on a breathing workshop. Breathwork is to assist with relieving pain, stress, anxiety, healing past trauma, creating connection, and feeling more at peace. Tonight was my second time participating.
This time was a very different experience. The first time I felt a great deal of anger and rage. Tonight I felt physical pain. After breathing for 20 minutes, I felt a cold stabbing pain in all of my worst damaged joints. My hands and wrists. My ankles and feet and in my cervical spine. I wondered ” what is my body trying to tell me? Does it not want me to breathe?’ and then I had an honest realization. I am feeling all the pain I try to hide. I am feeling the pain I mask every day. The pain I rarely acknowledge to anyone.
I rarely talk about my pain. I rarely talk about how devasting it is to be in pain all day, every day. I rarely cry to others and I rarely admit my fears that stem from being chronically ill. Maybe this breathing exercise is putting me in line with my body for me to come to terms with some of my hidden fears.
I know I speak a lot about living anyway and not letting your illness define you. AND I truly believe in this but I am also afraid. My fear is not about becoming deformed…ok.. maybe a little since I am slightly vain. It isn’t about becoming slightly or severely disabled. I can bling the shit out of a cane-like no one’s business. AND… If I end up in a wheelchair, those 5-inch heels are coming back out baby. But I do fear how my disabilities will affect others. If I am severely disabled, what kind of added pressure will that put my family in? How much of a burden will I be? It’s scary to think that I will go from this independent woman who is the one who usually takes care of others to being dependant on someone else for basic needs.
I am afraid that I will die young. My illnesses are life-threatening. I will die from them eventually. That is my reality. However, I don’t want to die early. Studies show that even though autoimmune disease sufferers are living longer lives due to successful treatments, these diseases still can take 10 years off your life expectancy. I am battling two diseases. Does that minus 20 years off my life?
I am also pissed and I rarely acknowledge that. Why the fuck do I have this shit? What did I do to deserve this? Am I such a horrible person that karma came back in disease form? I know I worked my body to stressful points but you don’t get out of poverty by sitting still. You have to hustle. I regret nothing and I would do it all over again, even knowing I would become sick. The thing is, science and doctors don’t really know why or where autoimmune diseases stem from. They are mostly triggered by stress and trauma to the body. So “we” (as in my medical team) speculate that working 20 hours a day for over 10 years stressed my body to the point of creating an overactive immune system. Fine. I did what I had to do to survive.
Regardless, I hate being sick. I feel useless and damaged. I hate asking people for help. Even though I ask, deep down I cringe. I hate being in pain. I hate being tired and needing to leave events early. I hate having to explain why I have limitations. I hate feeling lonely, isolated, and misunderstood. I hate the judgments that come with being ill. If I talked about it and educate, I am looking for attention. If I don’t talk about it, I’m in denial. I fucking hate needles, infusions, and bloodwork. I hate having to schedule my life around my treatments. I hate everything about being chronically ill. Its always there and if I listen to my body, it’s whispering “help me”. So I try to help it through yoga.
I remember the day my Rheumy and I discussed my remission and how I was stable enough to return to yoga. I was elated and overjoyed. I had been looking for an exercise to assist with my treatments for years. Every exercise caused pain. When I returned to yoga, it was tough and it was painful. I remember limping out of the studio for months after every practice. But during practice, I could move with limited pain and it felt wonderful. Hot yoga has been my saving grace. The finishing condiment to my medicine cocktail. Now in the hot room during practice, I feel like I have a normal functioning body. I am free to move with my breath.
Since the pandemic, I am back to being in constant pain. I am back to feeling nasty and cranky. I am back to isolating myself when I can’t control the pain. I am back to lots of medication and self-medicating. I am back to feeling low and alone. I am back to hating life. Especially this last week. But I am still not giving in or giving up.
So I decided to breathe. Well didn’t breathing put me in the face of my true self. RUDE! LOL…
Acknowledging pain doesn’t make you weak or needy. It makes you real. Pretending may give you physical strength to get through the day, but mentally it’s weakening you. Your pain, your worries, your fears are all real. If you are not coping with them, then you are not resolving them. You are not really coping. You are not being true to yourself. And unresolved issues cause us to stop breathing.
Breathing is essential. We need oxygen to live. Our muscles, joints, organs, and nervous system need us to breathe in order to function effectively. We need to breathe to release the negative emotions that are brought on by life. Life is not easy and there is no easier path. When we breathe, we remember who we are, what we are facing, and what we need to evolve from.
So Breathe, and then live anyway…