He moved out four days before my 40th birthday. My best friend came over that night and we popped champagne and toasted to the next chapter while honoring the last. We rearranged the furniture, hung up new artwork, cleaned and purged. When she left and the champagne was empty I was home, by myself, but I didn’t feel alone. For the first time in four years, I not only had space to myself, I had space for myself. That realization was simultaneously empowering and terrifying.
He had an office in the house. The girls each had their own rooms. I worked from my computer in the living room, a communal space where energy was constantly moving and distractions were abundant. But those were just the physical logistics. There wasn’t space for me to be my authentic self. I gave to the point where I was depleted and empty. When I wanted to practice yoga I would set up my mat on the living room rug and ask for 15 minutes to myself. It felt needy and greedy but I wasn’t myself without yoga.
I came to the practice when I was 16 years old and in an intense battle with depression. I was working at the local YMCA, and since I could take classes for free I thought I’d give it a try. A former rhythmic gymnast, I ozzed lavish flexibility and spastic energy but had very little body awareness and didn’t recognize the importance of slowing down. I had never paid attention to my breath. Yoga was both an easy and challenging practice. Physically, I could do all the poses with grace and ease but my mind was racing and I was always distracted.
Over the past 24 years my practice has evolved and changed but it’s always been mine, the one thing I come back to. When I went to sit vigil with my dying father the last two days of his two and a half years under hospice care, I brought my computer, yoga mat, and lots of coffee to the nursing home. During breaks from the morphine treatments and meetings with the cremation society I would take 15 minutes to breathe and move with intention.
I bought myself a new yoga mat for this 40th birthday. A sophisticated grown up one, not one that I won in a raffle or got at a sporting store in my 20s. I picked the color and design that spoke to me and yes, I painted an accent wall to match it. Because that’s the thing I’ve never knew that I’ve always wanted- an accent wall that matches my yoga mat in my own studio space sanctuary. The room, my studio, was a bedroom but now houses my desk, piano, bookshelf, diffuser, and yoga mat. It’s open, all the time, waiting for me. Inviting me to breathe.
In the three months since he moved out, I’ve practiced yoga every single day. On the beach at 6a. In the backyard at noon. At the yoga studio after work. At night in my house, on the yoga mat that I bought for myself with intention and love. I have more healing and exploration to do on this journey, and am grateful for this practice which helps me embrace challenges as opportunities for growth, space, and connection.