Updated: Feb 7, 2021
When I signed up for a recent She Recovers trauma-informed yoga training, I was pretty certain I knew the direction I wanted to go with it when I completed. Long-term recovery from alcohol and substance use has been a part of my life for so many years it’s become like breathing to me. I knew I wanted to help others find connection with that as well. Bringing resources to other women in recovery from addiction is why I took the training. I definitely have plans to do that...but something else came over me like a deep soaking rain. There’s something in my life that still hurts and I still struggle to find my way with. It’s like being in a never-ending maze.
It’s my youngest child‘s brain health.
Just writing this feels like a betrayal to him. And why?? Wouldn’t I freely write about it and bring awareness to light with a bright t-shirt we can all wear if he were suffering from any other chronic ailment? But it’s his brain and there’s so much stigma attached...so I don’t. In fairness, I like to keep his stories in because they are his stories to share someday if he chooses, not mine. It is why I stopped writing my blog so many years ago. I didn’t know how to keep writing without taking his stories from him.
On a day-to-day basis, we do not hide our son and his struggles. He is 10 years old and he has struggled with this his entire life. When he was only five we even seriously contemplated inpatient treatment. It was, without any hesitation, the worst few days of my life. I still recall the day that my husband and I sat in our car alone and sobbed together. It was that kind of cry that you hold nothing back...even breathing was hard.
“What do we do??”
“How do we fix this??”
I’ll forever recall my husband’s words to a doctor. “It’s like I’m telling you that my son is having a heart attack and you’re handing me stacks of papers to fill out only to get on a three to six-month waiting list.“ That’s what was truly happening. We know it wasn’t our doctor’s fault. Our child was suffering from a crisis and there was absolutely nothing that we could do other than wait. Our home was a battlefield. To say that I was on edge is an understatement. Protecting the safety of not only our youngest child, but also our other two children was a round the clock job. Our poor little guy had no sense of self regulation. His little brain was on fire and there was no one to call to put out the flames. We just had to watch it burn.
Prior to all of this, I had found my stride with my recovery. It made me even more grateful for it. I can recall on so many occasions throughout that critical time that my husband and I both would say, “Can you imagine if we weren‘t in recovery?!” The tools that our lifestyle had given us were what got us through that time with our son.
That period changed me. I will never be the same person. I started having crippling anxiety. My physical and emotional self was not well. Healing needed to happen within me, too. I immediately got a therapist and psychiatrist to help me sort through it all.
Fast forward to five years later. I’m sitting at my laptop for a trauma-informed yoga training. The rain came when we really started discussing all of the ways in which women recover. I am a caregiver of a high needs child. Whether I want to give it a name or not, it’s true. I sat with that emotional downpour and knew in that moment what kind of class I needed to offer other women.
There is a heaping pile of ways in which a mother could need a class that helps her cope with the not-so-beautiful side of motherhood. This isn’t just about brain health of our children.
This is about crying in the corner from exhaustion.
This is about feeling desperate.
This is about wanting a safe container to breathe and move for one hour and knowing you can do as little or as much as you like.
This is about finding your inner strength on days when you feel like you have nothing left.
I see you and I hear you. I have been there and yoga has helped me out of those days. I didn’t have yoga five years ago but I have found it since. Yoga has given me a way to help douse the flames, whether they are in me or around me. To be able to share that with others is an immeasurable gift. I want to help other women who have felt the same way I have, whether or not our circumstances are the same. It’s not about that. If you aren’t sure if you belong, you belong. It’s about how we feel...and how we work through that.
We don’t have to battle the flames alone.
Yours in Yoga,
*If this resonates with you, you may find my Self-care for Caregivers classes in-person at Massena Yoga Studio or via Zoom.