Someone recently asked me what my biggest fear was, in response to divuldging their biggest fear to me.
"Ummm. Hmmmm.... you know, I'm not sure," was my response. And honestly, at that moment I wasn't really sure. I mean, I knew I had to have one, right? Surely I had one. I didn't want to come off as a smug, fearless asshole. It was one of those tit-for-tat situations - like when someone tells you how much they weign or something. YOu can't leave them hanging. But, I really and truly dind't know. So I settled on, "let me get back to you on that one."
I pondered on this question for several days. The obvious fears - breaking a bone, being hit by a car, something happening to LittleVirgo - are things I can't truly say are my biggest fears. I don't really think about those things at all because if I did, I'd be an anxiety-ridden medicated mess. There must be something I'm afraid of, but I couldn't figure it out.
I live in constant uncertainty.I stare the unknown in the face on a daily basis because I chose to give up the safety of a 9 to 5 job. I don't know if I'll have any money in 6 months because I work for myself. I chose to be divorced, so I don't fear being alone. But also, I don't know if I'll ever have a great love again. I choose not to fear that, but be hopeful. I don't fear pain because I had a natural, no drugs child birth. I don't know who will die first, her or me. But, because I chose to bring her into this world, I can't fear that. I"m not afraid of conflict and hate and anger, because I've dealt with an angry person for the last year by getting a divorce. I survived the shame and disappointment of getting a DUI, so I don't fear judement. I have a huge heart, and I let people in all the time, and my heart is real and true, and most men don't know how to handle all that real-ness, so they leave, therefore I'm not afraid of rejection. Really, I'm not. I've been rejected more times than I care to count.
So if I don't fear the unknown, or poverty, or lonliness, or pain, or death, or conflict, or judgment or rejection then what is there left to fear?
Oh, don't worry. I found that out in a yoga class this past week. Bear with me here.... this is a good one.
I go to a womens-only yoga class every Tuesday morning. I'm not bragging. I've only gone twice. It's just as you might imagine a Boulder, womens-only yoga class to be. A kaleidescope of women of all ages, shapes, colors and sizes. Our mats go in a circle, pointing toward the center of the room. An amazing yogi named Kristin, who has a wonderfully calming yoga voice, teaches the class mostly wearing tie-dyed, funky yoga pants. The class starts by introducing ourselves to the group and tell how we are feeling - in the present moment, of course. Then Kristin sets an intention or theme for the class. On this particular Tuesday, our intention was about loving ourselves. She opened with a joke, "ha, like women in Boulder in a yoga class don't love themselves, right?" But, then she went on to say that she meant loving all the icky parts and the corners of ourselves where there are cobwebs and things hiding, or maybe a pile of dirty laundry we don't want to touch. This resonated with me, so I held decided I would hold the intention the entire practice. I thought of all the outward things I had done to "love" myself - massages, weekly mani/pedis, vacations all by myself, dates with just me. All these things were searching, avoiding the real way to love myself: looking inward. So I did it. I looked inward, and holy shit. I was messy and broken in there. It was scary and dark. I didn't "love" what I saw at all. I heard Kristen say, "Imagine that person who loves you unconditionally and love yourself like that." LittleVirgo appeared in my mind, hair messy from playing outside in the summer heat, cherry popsicle stained face, happy and joyful. She loves me. She tells me all the time, I love you mama! Why can't I love myself as simply as she does? And then, while holding the hardest position in class, the culmination of the practice, the reason we all showed up, I lost it.
But let me describe the scene for you: The position looks like you're squatted against a wall, but there is no wall, and your arms are suspended above your head, like you're holding a beach ball. Your legs start to shake. Your arms start to shake. Your core feels like its on fire. All the while Kristen is guiding you through the pain, telling you that the shaking is your edge. It's all the stuff that you don't want to see, and it's your choice if you want to push through it or back away from your edge. I wanted to run away from it; so far away from my edge that I couldn't even see it with a pair of binoculars. But I didn't. I rose above it. My legs were shaking but I couldn't feel them. I let everything out. All the emotion I had blocked inside a deep, dark place came out. My eyes were closed. I was squatted. My hands were above my head and there were tears and snot cascasding down my face. I was sobbing and breathing. I was feeling. And that feeling was Fear. It was coming out of a dusty, cluttered, forgotten, dirty corner of my being. It was a fear of love, becuase even though I had fawned all over myself and pampered myself with clothes and shoes and perfume and vacations, I hadn't turned that love inward and loved all the parts of me that I thought were unlovable. So I did. I told myself, through snotted inhales and exhales, that I loved my flat, square butt, and my imperfect nose, and the mole on the right side of my nose, and the soft part of my tummy that would probably never be firm again, and my deflated boobs, and my clumsyness, and all of my oddities that I had heard so many times in my past weren't lovable. Then I sat in child's pose, prostrated, and while Kristen told us to give ourselves over to the moment, and add a little extra tenderness, I wept more, because I hadn't done that. Ever. I let go of the guilt of not doing that. Of not treating my soul like a queen. Of not looking myself in the eye everyday and telling myself that I'm perfect just as I am. I let myself cry and feel it and breathe it. I was ugly crying, too, but it felt beautiful and free.
At the end of practice, I opened my eyes and felt a hundred pounds lighter. A huge emotional weight had been lifted off of me.
So, my biggest fear? Being loved. And now it's not. I'm going to love me, every perfecetly imperfect part of me, and I'm going to let other people love me too. I never finished the conversation with my friend. It wasn't really necessary, because I finished the conversation with myself.