Viewing entries tagged
real talk

I'm Cayla. This is My Story. Chapter 2

21 Comments

I'm Cayla. This is My Story. Chapter 2

 

When I was little, my Mom told me I was what the doctors called "flop-jointed"- which essentially means that I moved like I had no bones. I could easily put my leg behind my head, do the splits, distort my body in whatever way I wanted and I didn’t feel a thing.

I used to move like I had no bones.

Now, Twenty-two years later all I am is bone.

Life can feel so sadistic.

 

Chapter 2

 

I am lying in a heated room in the middle of Montreal, drenched in sweat.

I’ve been here for 22 days. Not 'here' in this room- but here in this training where I am learning how to teach hot yoga.

I know we left off around the time I was sitting in the car, staring at the windshield.
The story may eventually loop back here- it may not.

But for now all you need to know is that the intense pain that was plaguing me in the car is still present . On top of that, I'm starting to become aware of more pain in my body, and how I have learned to live with it; sit inside it. Sometimes the pain is systemic- sometimes it shifts into certain parts of my body. Today it has shifted from my stomach and into my wrists.

This pain is deep and stiff and lingering so bad I can barely wrap my fingers around the yoga block that is strewn on the floor next to my mat.

When I was young and learning how to Rollerblade, I never learned how to brake properly. Instead, I’d hold my hands out in front of me and my wrists would snap back whenever they caught the wall in order for me to fully stop.

Up until now, this is the narrative I have been telling myself as to why I live with pain in my wrists.

Isn’t it funny, the stories we tell ourselves, in order to avoid facing the truth?

The air is foggy and thick and the longer I am lying here the more my mind drifts off and for one full minute I am mentally pulled out of the yoga room and flashback into my old bedroom where I am lying directly on my wrists.

It’s 530am and I can hear her in the kitchen. She is rustling around looking for a spoon- presumably to stir her coffee, which she takes with her every morning she works in the OR.
I am definitely not sleeping.
I’m not even half asleep.
My body is flexed the way one might hold themselves as they prepare to walk down a back alley in the middle of an unknown city.
My jaw is clenched. My right cheek is pushed into the pillow and my eyes are fixed on a streetlamp that is still lit in the dark light of the morning, just beyond our house, just beyond my window, just beyond the blinds.

All of a sudden the clink clink clink of the spoon in the coffee stops, the rustling stops, and I hear that swishing noise paper makes when it lifts off a surface and I know now she is reading the note I have written her, the bomb I am dropping on her, the family tree I am uprooting in this exact moment.

My eyes are fixed on the street lamp and, although the entire weight of my body is on my hands right now I can feel my fingers instinctively curl around the sheets beneath me.

She’s coming.

My friend that is a dancer told me you can always tell how someone is feeling by the weight in their footsteps, and the weight that is drawing nearer to my bedroom door is heavy, thumping, filled with rage.

What little feeling I have left in my arms drains out of my body.

The colour drains out of my skin.

I hear the door fly open.

I pretend to be asleep. Which is funny in hindsight, because the adrenaline rushing through my veins is so strong I wouldn’t be able to close my eyes even if I wanted to.

So maybe a better way of putting it is:

I am immobile and praying she won’t ask questions.

“What the f*ck is this?”.

Her voice is stern, loud, hot water about to boil over.

I can’t see her in my peripheral but I know she is fisting the paper with one hand, holding her coffee spoon in the other, a dark shadow in scrubs standing in the light of the hallway, in the small glowing slivers of streetlamp.

I don’t respond, which pushes her over the edge.

She screams my name and when I remain unresponsive she grabs the corner of my duvet and yanks it completely off my bed exposing my body- rigid, frozen, distorted.

“ANSWER ME”.

She orders me to follow her into the kitchen, she turns to exit the room, she is a dark outline in the doorway just like he was- and for one moment she is Him, and He is here and I am small and clenching the sheets and curled into a ball pretending to sleep while his 6 foot frame engulfs me.

Everyone knows he is here, but no one knows what he's doing except for me.

I am both the witness and the victim.

His arms are long, clenched, immobile, and they are stretched over the top of my head like a bear trap. I feel his breath slink across the back of my neck and into my ear. I crank my head to the right, I cross my arms into an X, I roll onto my wrists to try and keep him out. I search the room for something to land my eyes on so I don't have to look at him.

There is a stationary bike in the corner. It's white and blue. I focus on that.


There are cut-outs in the white wall, they are filled with Grandmas jewelry. It's ornate, elaborate costume jewelry and I imagine myself wearing it. I focus on that.


I climb out of my body, and all of a sudden the next few moments aren't moments, they're polaroid's.


Bike. Jewelry. Him. Window. Door. Darkness.


I focus on that.


He has evil rushing like water underneath his skin. When he touches me my skin crawls and hours later when it's still crawling I question whether his evil has become a part of me.


I easily detach from my body now.


Some nights I just stand in the shower until the hot water runs cold. I stare at the droplets of water running down the white tile. I lose track of time, of feeling, of space. I learn to avoid mirrors because I see the grooves of his face in my jawline and it reminds me I will never fully be free, because blood is thicker than water.


In a small moment of email confrontation he denies everything, his girlfriend speaks up, says he was only acting in love.


"Do you have children?" I type, my blood boiling.


"Allow me to demonstrate on your children, exactly how he was being loving" I reply. There is sarcasm rushing off my tongue, vengeance running through my veins.


I press send. I dry heave into a garbage can.

 

I feel small, I am still. The air is foggy and thick. I have grown used to seeing the shadow of Him exiting the door.
My Moms voice, panicked, angry, prying, calls to me from the kitchen.
I grab my duvet off the floor. I wrap it around me, walk out the door and down the flight of stairs.


I'll probably need therapy for this, I quip

 

I am lying on my yoga mat. The air is foggy and thick.

I take my left hand and use it to bend my right wrist back and forth, back and forth. It's thin; frail. Exactly as I would expect it to be after sleeping on it for 15 years. The pain is pointed, raw, inscribed. I keep bending.

It's slow and methodical at first but then it builds into hysterical flapping because maybe if I bend it enough the stories will release from the fascia, pour out of my bones, I'll be free.

My teacher Dina- her footsteps are soft and kind and she comes over to me as I'm lying in Savasana the way a Mother moves to protect her cub. She places her hand on my knee, I deflate, I begin to cry. Tears spill out of me the way my sweat is pouring off my skin- quickly and without permission. 

This is the first time I have allowed myself to cry. In my entire life.

"Do you want to talk about it?" she mouths.

 



 

21 Comments

On Hope

1 Comment

On Hope

I have a REALLY hard time with the word HOPE- which seems strange because I've worked hard at learning to find gratitude, joy, and peace in my life- So you would think that I would be a Hope-lover. But I'm not. I'm not writing this in a negative sort of way- I'm writing it because I try and stay honest with myself- because I think that honesty is beautiful and if we want to change something we first have to acknowledge what is happening. So here it is: NOT A FAN OF HOPE.

When I was in the throes of depression it used to really bother me when people would say "All you have to do is have hope that things will get better" or "Hold on to hope". It just never made sense. It almost seemed insulting- like I wasn't hoping "enough". That if I was better at "hoping", things would all of a sudden sparkle and shine and everything would turn around. When people talked to me about Hope it seemed like it was a quick remedy. If I "Hoped", everything I was feeling would all be over and I'd be brand new. What I have realized now is that (for me) if I want something to last, there is a slow process behind that change. Good things take time. Nothing happens overnight. There is no quick fix- especially for depression and anxiety.

Another reason why I struggle with "Hope": When I was younger I used to hope for things so bad. Like I'd lie in bed at night and hope with all my heart (for a number of things I won't get into here). But I will tell you that I grew up real fast- so when I was lying in bed at night Hoping, I was dealing with large-scale trauma already. I was faced with things no child should ever have to face. So my Hopes were really, really big. And across time I was disappointed over and over again. So I think I was classically conditioned to learn that Hoping for something results in deep disappointment.

(*Again- this blog is not meant to offend anyone- I am speaking from my own experience. If you are a grand Hoper, I will support you and applaud you in that 100 percent!!)

I am at this point in my life where old thought patterns are mixing into new ones and it's hard to separate the two. I really have a hard time with Hope some days. As much as I feel conflicted by it, it also seems very natural to gravitate towards it. Moving through life just shutting off and not Hoping for anything can be really tricky. I find myself numbing out sometimes.

Anybody else with me?

It feels like when I Hope for something I'm putting that Hope in the hands of something else. I'm trusting something that I can't see. I'm a control freak and I'm working on this but in the meantime this is what I have learned to do: I Hope in myself.

I put Hope in myself. I shift the focus. For example, I recently listened to this podcast with Elizabeth Smart- she talked about how she never gave up Hope when she was kidnapped (google this story if you don't remember it, it's wild) because she believed in the Love her family had for her- she believed they would never stop looking for her.

I think that Hope and Belief at times can go hand in hand. I love this example and I think it is beautiful. However- what if you have learned to Hope in people that treated you poorly because that is how you were raised or all you knew at the time? What if that was just the way things went?

When I say I put Hope in myself it means that, while we can't control how other people treat us or how things in life are unfolding around us we can always chose to believe in, support, and love ourselves. I could Hope for things to change or get better; or I can place that Hope in my own abilities and I can tangibly use that Hope to begin to grow stronger. It's kind of like taking Hope and internalizing it instead of keeping it external.

Am I talking like I'm bananas? Does anyone feel the same way as me? How do you view Hope?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this!

1 Comment

On Grief

4 Comments

On Grief

I've been sitting staring at this computer screen for a good hour now. I have so many words floating around in my head but I'm not sure how to get them out-what to start with, or where to go from here.

I tell people that I started the Move to Heal Project because I wanted to write about real things. The stuff that no one wants to talk about, but that everyone is feeling. This is true. But there is a reason as to why no one talks about certain things- because its really hard. Today in fact, it is extra hard. Part of me doesn't want to share; another part of me feels compelled to. I feel compelled because if we don't start talking about the hard things, who will? It's important for me to say that if you are reading this, you never walk alone. 

So on that note, I want to tell you about my friend Katharine. I want to talk to you about Grief.

Katharine died 12 years ago today. Twelve years. It seems surreal to actually write that out. The way she died and the story around it is tragic, and contains details I still have difficulty wrapping my mind around. The aftermath of her death; the same. I swung into a deep atheism after she passed away, not understanding how something so tragic could happen to someone so young, and so beautiful. And by beautiful I mean pure. Amidst all the struggles that one naturally moves through when they are 19 and 20 years old, she was actually still a radiating beam of light. I don't think she had a mean bone in her body.

After she died, the only way I knew how to process it all was through writing. I was too shut off emotionally in my life in general to actually feel anything outwardly. In the piece I wrote one month after she died, I talked about how I didn't have any desire to wash my clothes, to brush my hair, or to buy new things. But I did write about how I began to feel an intense compulsion to strengthen my relationships; to find meaning in my every day activities.

Every year now I use April 3rd as a time to reflect on my life- and when I actually sit still to think about it so far I want to say that I still feel that way. When someone you love dies, everything you think matters, doesn't matter anymore. It all begins to shift. At least- that's the way it felt for me.

I think that in some cases, death can completely harden people or break them open. I would say with 100% certainty that part of the reason I am not hardened over is because of Katharine's Mom. Over the past 12 years I have seen that light that Katharine possessed shine so brightly through the actions of her Mother, which doesn't even really make sense. She lost her daughter. Yet she has taken her grief and her sadness and continually pours kindness and compassion into the lives of everyone around her. It's actually remarkable. I also think that this takes a tremendous amount of strength- in order to cultivate joy from pain I think you have to stare your pain deep in the eyes; you have to learn to sit with it. 

I think, with many things in life- but especially in the aftermath of grief- you are always left with a choice: Is this going to harden me or open me? Not to be confused with feeling your feelings. Like- death SUCKS. It's excruciating. I spent a good few years just being angry AF, throwing stuff, binge drinking, sabotaging friendships, acting out in relationships (for fear if I got too close I would lose them), you name it. Feel your feelings. Get it out. But this is why I say aftermath.

One of the most important things I have learned over the past two years is that, while we can't control what happens to us, we always have a choice as to how we are going to react to it.

 So every year on April 3rd, I think about this. I loved Katharine's kindness, her spirit, her heart. And what a gift she has given me because I now choose to fill my life with people who are light-hearted, and caring, and compassionate. 

I am inspired by the strength of her Mother- who, over the past 12 years has, many times completely out of the blue sent me something in the mail, or dropped a present off on my doorstep, or sent me the sweetest message. She has reminded me that this is how I want to live my life. I want my life to be meaningful. I want to cultivate meaningful relationships. I want to sit with the hollowness of my pain and use that space to cultivate joy- and I want to pour that joy into the lives of everyone around me. I want to create community. I want to be a voice for change.

A few years ago, Katharine's Mom sent me a blown glass ornament. In order to make a blown glass ornament you have to take a bunch of glass and smash it all into tiny pieces. Then you take all the pieces and hold them in the fire. She told me that this is how our lives can feel sometimes- something excruciating happens- and we are left in a million pieces. And then you think the worse is over, but it's not- because things heat up and you're thrown in the fire. But the thing is- when the glass is in the fire- this is where the magic happens. This is where all the random pieces that didn't make sense before begin to meld together- this is where the shift happens. A beautiful blown glass ornament is proof that all those tiny shards of glass- all those painful situations and experiences in our lives- can actually bind together to make something extraordinary.

By no means am I one of those people that say things happen for a reason. I actually don't believe that. But I do think that it is natural for humanity to search for meaning in the things that break us open. And I think that if you can find that meaning, and hold on to it, and learn to find beauty in it, it can catapult you into a new way of seeing your world; a new way of living your life.

So today, while I am sitting with my own pain, I want to turn the table around and ask you all the things I am asking myself. 

What are you allowing to harden you? What are you allowing to open you?

Who are you surrounding yourself with? How do they add value to your life?

What about your pain? Are you learning how to sit with it? The pain will hollow you, but it will not end you. The deeper your pain, the greater your capacity to love bigger, harder, stronger. This sound so cliché but it's not- I'm telling you with every fibre of my being THIS IS TRUE.

Where is your focus? Do you want to live meaningfully? If so- How?

 

I want to thank you so much for reading what has been on my heart, for allowing me to share my story freely. If you too are moving through grief, or remembering the anniversary of something that is painful I want you to know that you are supported and loved and strong.

 

xo C.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Comments