Jeff and I met before either one of us considered attending a yoga class, let alone teaching yoga to others.
He was a VP of Finance at a management company in the city and I was the receptionist (I was a late bloomer in my career). We were friends. I liked that he used the natural light from the outside to light his office instead of fluorescents, and he liked that I was a seeker.
After three months of complete boredom at the job, I moved onto greener pastures and left Jeff behind. A couple of years later, we flashed back into each other’s lives and would go on double dates with our respective partners. He was engaged and I was very happy just dating. There was a connection between Jeff and I, and we both felt it.
The following year, his engagement was off and I was in a relationship that was becoming threadbare. We moved to the same town and started spending time together. We went out on our first date on my 29th birthday and we were married 364 days later on the beach in Antigua, barefoot and in love.
Our ultimate demise was exactly two years away. We had no idea and the people around us certainly had no idea. In my yoga circle, I was constantly told how fortunate I was to have such a sensitive, agreeable, attractive, loving yogi for a husband. When I say constantly, I mean at least twice a week. I was talked to by women who said they would give anything to have their husband/partner practice yoga with them.
It was nice. It was lovely, actually, to have the person I was sharing my life with as excited as I was to go on a retreat to southern Brazil and practice yoga three times a day, to go to class at our local studio, to teach partner yoga workshops with and to talk late into the night about the science and philosophies of yoga and how they fit into our lives, both separately and together.
But it wasn’t enough.
Eventually, we began to drift apart. It was so subtle at first that I hardly noticed it. It was a tiny seed of emptiness that I felt somewhere very deep down in my physical body.
As much as I tried, I couldn’t seem to fill the space. There was a part of me that thought to myself, It’s so small; don’t concern yourself with it. Keep calm and carry on, so to speak.
I tried to let it quietly sit inside of me. I knew that I loved this being that I was married to, but it began to feel awkward. I began to feel that I was married to my friend, and only my friend.
We went about our lives in the adorable house we had recently purchased in the adorable town with the fantastic school system for the children we would eventually attempt to have. I planted flowers, he mowed the lawn. We worked well together on projects. I thought perhaps this was the foundation we would build our marriage on.
Our circle of yogic friends began to separate in this way that was hardly noticeable. We didn’t attend the Thursday night yoga class together anymore. Instead, he met a female friend there, and they would practice together. And I, I started noticing someone else in my new circle. It was all so harmless, wasn’t it? Weren’t we, as yogis, supposed to create community?
Neither one of us said anything about any of this to the other. We still taught partner yoga, although the connection I once felt to him was replaced by discomfort as I placed my hand on his thigh to demonstrate double seated spinal twist. Slowly, we began to say things to each other that began with: No matter what happens…
We were coming closer to the truth that neither one of us was ready to admit. We were the yogi couple! We had a goddamn meditation room and an adorable yellow house with a front door that I had intuitively fucking painted! How could that possibly be wrong?
The man I had my eyes turned toward was no one I had any business to be looking at. He was a man with a wife, and I was a woman with a husband. In retrospect, I can see that I was not looking through the eyes of a woman who knew who she was without a man in her life.
The woman my husband had sent seemingly innocent* e-mails to about her beautiful energy in class the evening before, found by me as I accidentally** checked his e-mail instead of mine (my name was the password) was a friend of mine that I was confiding in about my doubts in our relationship.
*only innocent if one is paying absolutely no attention whatsoever
**completely on purpose, and not proud of it
Things were getting ugly and getting ugly fast.
There was still a part of us that was on the same side, though and I know that was because of the lessons we had learned through our individual yoga practices. We were each attempting to figure out what was right for ourselves, and at the same time trying to spare the other unnecessary pain. It meant some lying by omission. That wasn’t the yoga talking. That was the fear and we both had it.
It was a frightening time. We were just on the cusp of learning how to tell our truths, both to each other as well as others in our lives. There’s something I can only describe as an internal tornado when this happens for the first time. Even though there’s no stopping it, one will look for every single coping mechanism and reality avoidance tool in the box to avoid it, because it’s new and it’s scary as hell to stand in your truth and let the chips fall where they may.
We looked to each other for comfort during this time, strangely, but then again, not so. We went on a cruise planned months earlier to celebrate our anniversary. We sat at a table at dinner in Fort Lauderdale and talked about a divorce. We went on the cruise the next day and we were friends again, thoroughly. Upon our return, we began to make plans to separate. I left our house and moved into an apartment. He lived in the now nearly empty house (he told me to take everything) and put it up on the market.
There was a part of me that thought we would get back together. Perhaps he would come over to my new bachelorette pad, we would have dinner and find our spark again. He did come over, three days after I moved, and announced that he was seeing the woman from the yoga class on Thursday nights. I tried to argue him out of it, but only because I wanted him to want me so that I could make the final decision.
It didn’t turn out that way. I asked him that night if he thought we had made a mistake, and I saw the clarity in his eyes when he looked at me and said, quietly yet firmly, no, I don’t. I got the message, and I respected him for standing in his truth. It didn’t stop me from bawling over a marriage that didn’t even last two years other than legally, and it didn’t stop me from attempting to build my rope swing to the Man I Had No Business Looking At (gratefully, to no avail).
But his honesty did teach me one thing.
I learned that what is true is true, no matter if it’s spoken or not, and that, ultimately, when we speak our truths, we can at least give them the chance to see the light of day, to watch what they blossom into.
So, Jeff and I had the most amicable divorce ever. We drove to the courthouse together on a rainy, cold day in December. We sat together and giggled in the hall at how the judge had chastised us for not properly filling out the paperwork. We drove back to the town we now together lived separately in, and as he dropped me off, I looked to him one last time as a husband. We said that we loved each other and I left the car and our marriage behind.
Learning to not be a wife again was difficult for me. I thought that the rest of my life was planned out. I feel extremely fortunate that I had the physical as well as the spiritual practice of yoga in my life during that time. During moments of panic, I would drop into ujjayi breath and ride the wave. That was most of the time. Some of the time, I was crumpled on my living room floor, feeling like I would never again feel like a woman of worth and literally crying out for help in moving through my pain of loss.
It’s been almost four years since my divorce. My thoughts on marriage have evolved consistently during that time. I would have said that it wasn’t the path for me in the first two years post-divorce. Now I know that being a wife and mother is something that I want to be a part of my experience on this planet. Although I cannot say that it will certainly happen, I can say that I am most certainly rooting for it these days.