...until some nasty old dude on a bike slowly wheeled by me muttering these words, "Mmm, mmm, mmm, sexy, so f___ beautiful. What I wouldn't do to..."
First and foremost, let me tell you that I scanned the entire perimeter to make sure he was talking to moi. Being in my fourth month of pregnancy (basically the stage where you just look like a chubbier version of yourself) "sexy" is about the last word in the English dictionary I'd use to describe myself. When I realized there was no one else near, and that this pervert was indeed speaking to me, I felt a wave of heat rise in my chest and then rush through my entire body. I mentally scanned the small items I held in my hands and decided there was only one I was comfortable losing, dog treats. I grabbed a fistful and hummed them at his head and muttered the words, "F__ you, mother______."
When I relayed the story to Matt later that evening, he laughed (thankfully, for some strange reason, my incredibly zen-without-trying-to-be husband finds my bouts of rage/passion amusing). And when I added, "Had I had a rock in my hand I would have thrown it at his ____ head!" he laughed even more. Because I knew this addition would turn his admiration to worry, I didn't tell him that: as I continued to walk down the sidewalk, I imagined old dude passing by me again, and myself, running full force to knock him off his shitty bike.
Yes, my friends, this is RAGE. Next to jealousy, the least "sexy" of all emotions. Especially if you're a yoga teacher, and expected by your community and colleagues to be a living example of patience and compassion.
So how do I reconcile these feelings and my position? First, I will not give in to the oh-so-tempting excuse that "my hormones are reeking havoc on my body during pregnancy, leading me to say and do irrational things." Why? Because my closest friends would be the first to comment "Bullshit" below this post. They know me well enough to know two things: 1) I am a pretty patient and laid back person, 2) however, when someone pushes one of my few buttons?
And secondly, part of my reconciliation involves simply being honest and sharing my experience. How can teachers inspire current and future yogis if we are constantly hiding our dark sides?
When I went to bed last night, I felt the need to ponder my reaction and my buttons. First, I imagined walking along the same stretch with a few of my closest friends, wondering how they'd react in the same situation. Tory? She'd make a quick comeback that would have me dying of laughter. Raven? She'd roll her eyes and say, "Ugh, disgusting," and continue our conversation. And Cathy? Well, let's just say the guy would already be on the ground and there would be a crowd of people confused as to why some crazy lady just pushed a nice old man off his bike.
Next, I wondered why we would all have such different reactions. After some reflection, I realized that my (over)reaction was much deeper than this particular instance. In fact, if I had to estimate, I'd say my rage is nearly a quarter of a century old, stemming from too many instances when a member of my family made lewd and inappropriate comments in my presence. I never felt comfortable speaking up and sharing how it made me feel; I never felt safe to express my fear, anger and disgust.
During yoga teacher training my instructor, Ana Forrest, pointed out that I was holding unexpressed anger in my body and that I needed to learn how to get rid of it. At first I didn't know what she was talking about, but the fact that her comment irritated me was a clue that she was pretty tuned in and I'd better pay attention.
So I did. And I asked questions, like "why" and how" and she responded with answers like anger isn't always a bad thing, it is also the source of your passion and you just need to learn how to transform it. I listened. And I've watched myself shift from the very seemingly calm on the surface Melissa who buries things in my gut to the, "F__ you, mother___" Melissa. I'm not happy with either of them; what I need is a balance between the two.
Imagine that, in between your index finger and thumb, you are holding a spring that has been pinched tight for twenty five years. The expansion of your two fingers is the only thing that will release the coil...
...now also imagine your body, hunched in a tiny airplane seat for a five hour flight from San Francisco to New York. What is the first thing this coil and your body will do when released from this tension? They will first stretch as far as possible before relaxing to find a more comfortable, sustainable position, somewhere in between the contraction and expansion.
This is the stage I am in right now with my anger. I am stretching beyond my natural comfort zone, I am springing further than the coil needs to be at its resting point. This, I hope, is the first step (at least on my journey) to finding balance.
I offer this up to my readers and yogis who may too be on the same path with anger or some other repressed emotion. I just hope that - for your sake - your unexpressed feelings aren't of the pervy nature, and that you're not riding a bike in my direction.
Photo borrowed from www.123rf.com
PS - Thanks to my other dear friend Marcie for helping me process this experience and for the visuals...for the record, had she been there with me, she'd have just laughed at the old fart.