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“If We Hold it in Where is it Supposed to All Go?”

August 12, 2018

 

It = Emotions. Into our bodies? For me, into my uterus? Here’s the story about me, being emotional and having endometriosis.

I wanna talk to you about the feelings that we have, the ones that we display, and we share, but also the ones we think we have to hide and keep in. After finishing a Yin yoga class, I was so emotional. I had no choice, but to let it all out. I’ve been practicing yoga religiously only for a short time now. But through trainings and courses and my dear friend, the yoga instructor, I have really begun to learn a great deal about myself, my body, and the true gift yoga and mindfulness have to offer. This particular yoga practice I’ve been working on is one where you hold poses for a long period of time. A period of time that may reach a level of frustration, as long as you are not feeling pain (anything sharp, or pins and needles, or numbness), you are encouraged to hold that position for the entire duration. During a few classes, I absolutely reached levels of frustration. I felt the difficulty of holding a particular stretch all while trying to find that patience, patience with myself. Patience with my body to feel the stretch, to feel the different feelings, to allow my body to hold, but also let go.

Overall, I consider myself a pretty patient person. In both my personal (one of six children) and professional life (teacher of students with Autism). However, in yoga, I've been trying to be patient with my body, I’ve began to really hold those difficult poses. I’ve learned to be still, I've learned to be mindful. But during this particular class, my frustration reached a whole new level. I reached a point where I felt I just wanted to cry, eventually explode into tears, let it all out. However in that moment I was in a room full of other people. Recently, I’ve finally become more comfortable with the loud out breathes - really breathing in my breath, being in the moment. To truly inhale and exhale, to allow your body to release all the toxins. With that said, I may be comfortable with loud breaths and letting those out, but I didn’t feel comfortable crying and letting all my tears out. To be honest I did a little bit, quietly, I had to. I couldn't help myself. That’s what my body was telling me to do and that is what I’ve been learning throughout this practice. To listen to my body, to do what it’s asking for. This of course is interpreted more as what stretch to do… downward dog or child pose. As my instructor says, “whatever your body needs”. But during this moment I needed to cry, I needed to let it all out.

Another challenge is not only being patient with your body and allowing yourself to be still, but also being patient with your mind. Allowing yourself to let go of all thoughts, all the worries, all of the things always on your mind. And for me, especially lately, that is needed. Clearing my mind is necessary and I have appreciated learning better outlets of doing this. I've worked very hard to. If anyone knows me they know that my mind is always going. In my work, I multitask. I do a lot, I have great ideas and I get excited. I go, go, go. In my personal life, I am very friend and family centered, I am thoughtful. I am told I go above and beyond. Yes, I suppose I am a people pleaser (which could be another topic to write about). But being thoughtful and doing things for others is what makes me feel good and what I enjoy most (Hint: my career and my incredible passion for it). But being so thoughtful is also a go, go, go, type of life. I have a lot of friends and they mean a lot to me, and a large family- who also mean a lot to me. I want to be present in every moment. I want to do everything I possibly can and always strive to do my best. To be the best teacher, to be the best daughter, to be the best sister, the best granddaughter, and the best friend. Yes I would love to someday be the best girlfriend, the best wife. But that is something that isn't on the list and that is something that bothers me. Not being a girlfriend and yet wife, is something that I try so hard to let go of, to realize it’s not in my control. I've put that in God's hands as I continue to have the belief and the faith that the right guy is out there for me. To understand and accept that timing is everything. He will come, I tell myself, no rush.

Now back to all the other things that I am currently, that I can control, that I am great at. I'm a teacher, a sister, a friend, a bridesmaid - and so much more. I have so many things in this life, and things that I do, and yes, maybe I do overload myself, and yes I’m realizing it's overwhelming, but that is who I am and who I want to be. Therefore, I do think too much, I do care too much, I do feel too much, which is why being patient with my body and being patient especially with my mind... is very difficult.

During this yoga class, I realized reaching my level of frustration for me is never anger and I’ve been put into many situations in my life that cause me to be very angry. Situations that are hurtful, that are hostile, that are scary, and that are surrounded by fury and anger... but no matter how much I boil inside, or how strongly I feel, I never feel hate or anger - or pain - upon another... instead, I cry. I get emotional. I explode in tears and they pour out. I breathe and I cry... and I cry. I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember. It’s funny, my mom says I was always quiet and sweet and kept to myself, as a young child. When I look back - The earliest moment of emotion that I can remember was - I want to say - 10 years old, fifth grade - maybe sixth grade - maybe I was 11 or 12, I don’t know exactly. But I do remember the moment very, very well. I don’t know if I remember the details so well (because this was my bedroom for so many years and this was a place that I would go to cry in private and I would often find myself looking out the window that looks over the driveway) however this vivid memory I have as a young girl at that age of about 10, is of her standing there staring out the window crying and simply trying to understand why. Trying to understand what my mother meant by what she said to me when she was trying to calm me down. She told me that life was going to be hard that girls were going to be mean to me, that people were going to hurt my feelings that even sometimes people might be jealous of me, or simply not like me. That it was part of life and because I was kind and sweet I was emotional (I’m not trying to say I was told that was wrong or that was bad I just was trying to make sense of what my mom was saying). At 10 years old I wanted to understand why people would be mean to me my whole life, why would people want to hurt my feelings?

Now, almost 20 years later, I look back and I think of that moment. Maybe I was trying to make sense to why anyone would want to be mean or jealous or not like people. However at that young age of 10, that was out of my nature that wasn’t who I was. I simply don’t understand it, it felt uncomfortable because it was different for me... It wasn’t normal. Being angry and mean never feels normal. So I cried and I cried and... I continue to cry. That is my strongest emotion, that is the emotion that defines me, it is who I am. I always wondered why I was so emotional. I looked into it with my doctors. I believe I was only 14 or 15 when I talked to my OB/GYN about how uncontrollably emotional I would get. How even at moments when I wasn’t even sad, or nothing was even going wrong in my life (yes I saw an obgyn that young as I had my first ovarian cyst at 14). I would cry and cry and cry. The doctor, my mother and I discussed the possibility of PMDD, which to my understanding was extreme PMS and like other girls I reached a level of extreme emotions before my period so I took a “special”, different, “stronger” birth control. I tried drinking special different types of milk - chocolate soy milk to be exact. The milk that my little brother referenced one day when I apparently was being a bitch (so I guess I can be mean). He said “why don’t you go drink your chocolate milk and stop being a bitch” (and it’s funny because at that time again for a very little boy- who obviously just wanted the special chocolate milk in the downstairs fridge, but was told he couldn’t because my dad bought it specially for me- apparently it was more expensive than regular milk). Everyone knew - well all my siblings knew - I had a special chocolate milk because I was “emotional”…God bless my father raising six children, yes four of them were girls. Emotions are his specialty. Which supports why I always want to call him when I get upset, sorry Mom! Maybe it’s because we’re too much alike in the emotional female body struggle world. And when I say that, I reference the fact that her and I share in both having been diagnosed with endometriosis. 

 

Well after a long winded introduction, me rattling off about my emotional life (even inside a yoga studio), I want to begin to finally embrace my adulthood, myself, understanding… ME! I want to be more in tune with my emotions, my mind, my body. I am starting that journey by opening up about my story of living with endometriosis.

Ever since I was diagnosed with endometriosis I would only explain to people, even my doctor, that my insides would boil. I would literally feel like a volcano was inside of me trying to erupt. That at times I feel as though my ovaries are on fire. But now I want to say more!

I’ve had episodes where I feel like a barbed wire is wrapped around my uterus, squeezing and squeezing. It’s painful, there is absolutely no doubt about it. I’ve had better episodes than others in my day, and my now six years- I was diagnosed in 2012. I remember that day, not the diagnosis day, but the day that I had such extreme pain to the point that I had to walk myself to an urgent care and then to be rushed to an emergency room. It was six months of doctor visits about other possible scenarios before I was diagnosed in 2012. So this vivid moment of being on the floor crying in pain in the fetal position, sucking on ice cubes, eating tums, taking deep breaths, all while on speaker phone with my mother (Dad was sleeping), while she’s trying to calm me down. This I believe was still the fall of 2011, I had just graduated undergrad. I decided to move to Boston for grad school. I remember that bedroom, that floor, that wall so well. I decided that next morning (thanks to the check in phone call from my mother and her encouragement) to try to go to urgent care. I looked up a location on my phone, put it in my GPS and was lead into a part of Boston I was not familiar with. One-way streets, no where to park, I finally got myself to the urgent care and thankfully I was able to be seen right away. The pain I was describing, the doctor was convinced it was appendicitis and he had me rushed to the emergency room. Long story short, a lot of tests were done. I want to say I was there a night or two, maybe more? Maybe the fact that I came back pretty soon after to get a colonoscopy and then a endoscopy... that all the visits and exact timeline is a blur. I felt I was just in the hospital a good amount. (Also God bless my father for coming to Boston, staying in my apartment, and being there to pick me up and bring me home after these procedures). Do I want to get to my whole story about my journey with being diagnosed with endometriosis and my life since, yes... Yes I do.

I saw a commercial recently about speaking up about your pain and living with endometriosis. SpeakEndo*, it was called. Therefore, I, too, am ready to share my story. I am ready to continue to go to doctors and advocate for my health and what I need. I agree that it is not normal to be this uncomfortable down there, to have that volcano of what they call the uterus. Because every time I reference that beautiful uterus of mine I am sincere in wanting to love it and need it. I would love to have children of my very own one day. What I’ve described myself as, in just this one post, and I know my friends and family would agree- I know I will be one hell of a mother (someday).

For now… Stay tuned for what I’ve done, what I have to do, what I’ve gone through, and what I need to do, to continue to live my life and not let END-o be the END-all that defines me.

Thanks for reading my story, I look forward to sharing more.
Colleen

*Check out https://www.speakendo.com/ in the meantime. 

 

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