the klesha consideration: an identity crisis story
She was brave and strong and broken all at once. ~Anna Funder
“I sit down on the table in Dr. Tom’s office, and immediately my thoughts turn to how much I don’t want to be there. I adore him. He completely rocks in all the ways. Damn, do I hate being in his office, though. We’re chattering about ugali and writing and yoga and about eleventy-seven million other things when he starts poking around on my leg. He’s slipping questions in every few minutes, and I’m trying my damnedest to answer and then move my mind away from the words I’d just spoken. I don’t know…. Maybe I was thinking that if I didn’t sit with them too long, they wouldn’t be real. Buried underneath those faulty bullshit thoughts, though, I knew what was coming. Before I could even stop myself, I offered up that “Two people have mentioned shin splints: Jonathan Lambert and some complete stranger who saw me hunched over it at the Myriad Gardens yesterday….” The rest of the conversation went a little something like this:
Dr. Tom: “Oh, Adi… I wish it were just shin splints.”
Me: more silence
Me: more silence until I couldn’t stand it anymore, and then “Are you thinking stress fracture?”
Dr. Tom: “I’m not thinking stress fracture.”
This is an excerpt from a piece I wrote in the fall of 2016. I was about a month into training for my next 100 miler, and mere hours after a wicked strong, yet not-in-a-good-way painful run, I was diagnosed with the first stress fracture of my running career. I came home that evening and wrote a post about how I would channel my inner PollyAnna and use that time to write more and study more and connect with friends more, and yada yada yada. That lasted a solid twelve hours – keep in mind, that probably six of those I was sleeping – until my reality set in and those singularly focused intentions of self growth crumbled into a broken mess of ‘my body isn’t cooperating, so wine and snuggles with Murray Dog it is!’ For two weeks, I left my house only to teach. Actually, I take that back. I went to Elemental a couple of times before class and I tried to have a Sunday night picnic with friends, but I was so sick of slapping on a fake smile as I answered questions about my fancy new boot, that I gave up and went home. I’m never going to run again, yoga will never be the same, and Adi as everyone knows her will cease to exist. I swear I’m not a drama queen. Okay, I swear I’m not vocally a drama queen, but, as usual, I digress…
In a last ditch effort to be “normal,” I brought dinner to a friend’s (now boyfriend or boo as he jokingly says – cringe worthy, I know, but also a little funny) house and ruminated in my failure as I – mid-conversation, mind you – got up and went home. I laid catty-corner across my bed, untouched glass of wine on one side of me and my laptop on the other, and felt so small and swallowed up by... honestly, I don't know what? My gaze magnetized to a tiny black smudge on the endless white ceiling. How fitting, really. Marinating in my own self-demise, I wondered how, with a leg that screamed “fuck you” with each step, I’d ever be able to live out loud again. I don’t know how long I laid there like that. Maybe one hour. Maybe three. But somewhere in the stillness, with no warning or awareness, even, my thoughts shifted. They were questions, at first: Can I be okay with this? Can I, somehow, learn to navigate this new normal? Then suggestions: Actually, this doesn’t have to be your ‘normal.’ This can be a phase, if you make it so. These were followed up nicely with stubborn affirmations. I silently lectured myself about how this isn’t permanent and quit flipping acting like it is, Adi! I vowed to get my shit together, show up for my friends, and for the love of all that is good in this world, show up for myself. It was 3am when I finished my first apology email to the friend-turned-boyfriend I’d just abandoned the evening before. It was 7am when I read his reply reminding me that I needed to get out of my own way because I WILL heal and running and yoga will still be there for me, and no matter what, I’m still me. I closed the laptop, dressed, strapped on my boot, and left for class. I’m practicing today.
There’s this word in yoga philosophy, Avidya, and it translates to ignorance. A softer way to say that is mistaking impermanence for permanence, and that was my struggle. Although, logic and, well, science, dictates that stress fractures are comparatively short lived, my emotions and need to be identified as a runner (NOT an injured runner) and yogi (um, HELLO seven other limbs) were winning in the battle against myself. Incidentally, yoga tidily calls those ideas Asmita (ego, or labels) and Raga (attachment). They are obstacles (kleshas), and unless you “get out of your own way,” as I was reminded to do, will be your biggest limitations.
Epilogue/Shameless-Use-of-This-Platform-to-Express-an-Emotion-or-Two: I wrote this essay as part of my YTT homework, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to publish it or not. I’m not going to get all “universe” on you, but sometimes timing dictates that we do something and putting this out there now is one of those things. That man who talked me out of my own head and back into the world – that man for whom I have so much gratitude – is now battling is own injury while trying to hold onto his identity and ability to live out loud. He’s braving the smart decisions and filling this time with other passions, and I couldn’t be prouder. I couldn’t be more inspired. And I couldn't help but say it.