When the sadness is too overwhelming…
I don’t know how to begin writing this blog post. The words I am searching for are gone, so I relent to what flows out of me, willing to mess this whole post up.
Today my sadness sits inside of me. Today the emotion of losing my dad makes my throat swell up and feel like I cannot take a full breath. That is funny though, why? Because I am a Baptiste Yoga Teacher and have dedicated much of my life to teaching my students how to calm down, breath better and put their attention and bodies in asana aka poses. My heart feels like if I am in complete allowance of feeling all my emotions, it could break.
My dad died on August 2, 2019 right by my side. Walking this path of death with my dad has been the most heartbreaking loss of my life. My dad was a stand for me in all ways. He loved me, he cared about my family and my wellbeing and he showed me what was possible in life. My dad took me Africa, Hawaii, Asia, and sent me to the Middle East, Europe and Taiwan. He encouraged my living abroad and from the time I was very small, knew I was his little adventurer. He had a love for traveling and called me “mini” a shortened name from the Polynesian term Menehune.
My dad was endearing with me. He spoke a language I yearned to understand in my youth so I spent as much time with him as I could to learn it. That language brought me much success, the language of “Marv” was intelligent, well spoken, articulate, sough for win-win situations and above all, the drive. The drive to build and construct (not only the many homes, apartments, business complexes, RV and storage, and warehouses) and though also living the life you desire.
It is good to build a life; we are all doing it anyway. It is good to be engaged in life, we are engaging all the time anyway. It is good to be involved in the activities that bring you joy; you are either going in that direction or opposite aren’t you? I am failing at this blog anyway so I will just let you know that speaking “Marv” has been a beautiful blessing and a horrific curse of my life. Probably the biggest of all, on both accounts.
He is the voice in my head, as they say, for better or for worse. He is the drive that for many years pushed me way past my edge and left me numb on the bathroom floor because that drive was through force, not power. I did not know that then. It has taken me many Baptiste Programs to see the truth of the matter. My truth is that my dad and I had a special connection from the time I was small. My truth tells me now that it was not that my dad was so loving and kind, which he did have many moments of that, and though it was more about my willingness to love him, despite his ways.
My dad had a high bar. A bar of excellence that was a challenge to live up too many times. He wanted the best for his 4 girls and expected us to graduate from college, marry well in the constructs he taught us, and be happy for our lives. While we all graduated from college, I cannot say the rest panned out as he had hoped. In fact, I can recount many familial relationships that caused him much pain and sorrow, specifically in his last month of this existence.
I cannot sugar coat how I use to. I cannot say it is “all good” because it is not. I cannot use optimism as a coping mechanism because I am present to my truth, my pain and my sadness. As soon as my dad’s 17-month battle with metastatic stage 4 renal carcinoma ended I was lost in my own grief. A few days later I realized “shit everyone has a dad, you mean everyone feels as I do?” Shortly thereafter I realized I was wrong. I believe very few people love how I do.
Furthermore, life has shown me again and again that I love unlike most, I love hard. I love to the core. I loved my dad, in spite of and because of, his conservative ways and marv-isms. My realization is that I was willing to be by my mom and dad’s side, literally the past 2 years they have lived a few steps from my front door, with a few trips to their home in Palm Desert CA. I had a different relationship with my dad than my 3 older sisters, I realized that in the deepest part of my soul on the night before my dad passed away.
See, we choose to love, or we choose to withhold love. We choose to open all of our hearts to people, or we offer some as a peace offering and hold the rest to keep it safe and protected. I do not protect myself well. Once I choose to love you, that’s a bond for life. This is why my high school friends and I can get together and we still laugh and play like we are 13. This is why I could love my dad how I did, in spite of some of his characteristics I did not agree with. This is how I could mediate between my mom and my dad’s emotional rollercoaster of a relationship the past year.
Baptiste gave me tools that worked me over. Over $25k in less that 3 years and what did I walk away with? The ability to stay in my power and also give the love and support I wanted to give to the humans that created me. My mom and my dad. My 72-year-old baby boomers who are hard as fuck to get emotionally and who test me in ways I can only imagine I tested them is in leaving the Mormon church, and in living a life-style they “didn’t” agree with. Yes, I am sure I tested my dad, and God did he test me.
I get why people write people off. I get how most of us who have a family (wait that’s all of us) are dysfunctional. I now understand how easy it can be to cut those we love off emotionally. I get it because I saw it in my dad’s eyes the last few months as we talked and shared and opened up….or rather it was me being there, posing questions about true health and what that even means. I opened up to him about how I viewed heal-th and life. I told him things I never told him before. I showed him my true heart and got to tell this man who has been such a stand for me, how grateful I was for him and for everything he had done for me.
Today I am overly emotional, do you ever have those days? Those days you just want to be a hermit, so you are. The days you numb out and shut everyone out just to feel how shitty you feel? I cannot imagine anyone is still reading this that gets offended by language. I don’t want friends that get offended anymore, I lived that way too long, pleasing others…wondering how they would feel if I said this or that. God, so overrated to live life that way. I cannot do it anymore, it makes my soul cry black tears feeling all the hiding that is going on today in the world. And now I am present to the hiding I am in, especially that of my past. And this is why I must allow my pain to be written and felt, in my own inauthentic authenticity.
The Baptiste tools and methodology have worked for me, and I took them into my soul because I have found no other way to live and breathe that feels more at home to my heart. This work works for me because I work it. See I do not care about pleasing anyone anymore because I am a 40-year-old girl that only actually cared about pleasing one person, and now that person is dead and I just do not know where to find him.
And so I relent once again. I may find him, or tap into him, and I may not. He may exist and he may not. I am not religious so the rantings of religiousness are cheap and sour to me and bleed cried of coping. I grant you and yours honor and respect with how you choose to “come to terms” with death, for me though, I must be true to my truth, and that truth is simply, “Dad, where are you?”
I won’t find him by trying. He is probably nowhere, or maybe he is in the sunflowers in our yard. I just do not know. And so today the unknown for me brings a sadness like I am failing at articulating, and though I am doing it anyway. I am getting out of my head and trying to play as my year intention card reads: “Life is not in your head, come out and play.”
Today that is easy because I want to be alone with my thoughts and feelings and I love to write, so doing this brings me peace and allows me to be in my experience of sadness and sharing. It is difficult because, well, most things feel difficult to me these days.
I have not stopped teaching yoga throughout my dad’s terminal illness. Teaching and my own practice are my church, my sanctuary. I have limited capacity for my online program, Miracle Yoga Body. I cannot remember why it was so important for me before. I cannot remember what was important before my dad died. All I know is that my healing is generated by and through my own yoga practice, and teaching.
I do not know how long it takes to mourn the loss of a loved one. What I am present to is that there is no timeframe, nothing to do, just breathe.
And so I will continue as I have. I will love hard. I will practice and I will teach. I will love my husband and my children and see my dad in the sunflowers and laugh when I see a dragonfly that those who believe in reincarnation could believe is my dad giving me a gift of love. That makes me smile. People healing brings me happiness. People coming apart brings me happiness. Open hearts and walls crumbling moves me.
Dad, I miss you. I love you to the ends of the earth. I would jump off the end of it if it meant I could find you. I miss seeing you walk the grounds from your tool house to our yard. I miss your complaints about cactus juice (our old Chevy van we had), cleaning up places in the yard, and that funny way you had of communicating. All those innuendos and passive aggressive “old ‘school” ways, dad you were so silly. I am grateful I got to love you how I needed the past 30 days before your death. Thank you for listening to me, for letting me rant to you my beliefs about love and connection and healing, I know it took something for you to allow my gypsy soul in. I miss you. There are days I think I see you over in the garden. There are days I imagine your dead body 6 feet under the earth all dressed in white with that Hershey’s bar your brother Jon left in your casket. God dad, it’s going to get your white clothes all dirty. I will never forget the day I practiced yoga right on top of your grave and listened to “Wishing you were somehow here again” from Phantom of the Opera and cried my grief out onto the grass. Hoping that at the very least some of my tears could travel down through the earth to find you.
Where are you? Where are you? Where are you?
Link to my dad’s video that my daughter Lucy put together