I can’t speak for lack of breathing in my seat
I didn’t know what yoga was until I went to rehab, and it sounded to me in 2011 like some hippie-age b*llshit made up by white women to feel connected to themselves and burn off their skinny vanilla lattes.
My college-aged self in 2011, a drop-out with nothing to live for, had nothing to say about bending a body over backwards when I wouldn’t have ever tried that for myself.
Rebekah was a white woman who did yoga. But I didn’t meet her until 2012.
We sat in chairs that dozens of other burnouts and addicts had already sat in. I’m not putting anyone down, at least here; I had been told I needed upper level therapy because my previous talk therapist had told me: I’m not trained in your level of distress.
Damn, okay. Rebekah was sometimes silent in her seat for burnouts, but it was her grace that saved her from my prejudiced boxes that I put everyone in, and her willingness to be there for me in a tangible way is what has made her a lasting role model in my life.
One day, Rebekah pushed back our chairs. We’re doing yoga, she said. It had been one of those days where I had been so emotionally volatile I could only stew in silence, unable to speak because if I had, I would have screamed. Rebekah, out of ideas perhaps for a volley of useless talk therapy, had made us sit on stained carpet, folding ourselves over until I didn’t feel the need to smash my head against a hard object.
One time, a girl with severe anorexia in rehab had said, I don’t want to walk into a room and decide which object I want to kill myself with. She shook in warrior pose, unable to hold herself up.
Rebekah took my shaking hands sometimes, saying breath. A mantra in every yoga practice. But I couldn’t. I wouldn’t.
If I was also looking for objects to hurt myself with, I would have picked her resoluteness to save me from myself.
The chairs we sat in were not made for breathing. They were hard, cement blocks that held up everyone’s vulnerability.
I’ve sat in uncomfortable chairs since. I’ve had to sit with myself. I remember a woman so fierce she broke down my walls, made me whole and everyone around her better for having known her.
One day recently during a therapy intake, I asked a potential therapist if she only did talk therapy. She hesitated, and I could tell she had a slit of a smile through the phone. She said, that’s what therapy is.
But it’s more than that. It’s what Rebekah did. Saving one burnout at a time, creating building blocks for those who can’t speak or sit up by themselves.