I used to be Lesley. Then I got married much younger than I ever expected. Then my husband went back into active duty in the military and we moved away from everyone I knew. This was when I became known as someone’s wife. Soon after we got to our first duty station in Savannah, Ga, I got pregnant and had a beautiful baby girl. Now, I was someone’s wife or someone’s mother.
My life and my identity were no longer my own. I didn’t mind much at first. When our daughter was almost three, we received a diagnosis that rocked our world and reshaped how we functioned as a family. I have spent years in doctors’ offices and therapy waiting rooms. I poured every ounce of myself into trying to mimic the incredible speech, occupational, and physical therapists that worked tirelessly with our sweet, stubborn little girl.
I knew that I was not taking care of myself the way I needed. I couldn’t sleep at night. My stress levels were physically manifesting. I would cry sometimes for no reason, but every reason. I have always been a firm believer in faking it til you make it. I don’t always see the point in letting the world know just how hard somethings are, maybe that is ego or maybe it is my way of accommodating others. Some things you just can not fake, while others simply will not make. I learned this the hard way.
My husband deployed in 2016 for 6 months to Afghanistan, and left a gaping hole in our lives and our routine. In many ways, he was how I recharged my batteries from the struggles of special needs parenting and without him I was completely drained. We compliment each other well, when I freak out he stays calm and vice versa. To not have that anchor point was much harder than I expected. Our daughter struggled to grasp how daddy could be at work for that long of a time. She had meltdowns and would refuse to sleep at night. I was trying so hard to be mommy, speech therapist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, and daddy. I had nothing left for myself at the end of the days. I felt like I was disappearing.
When he came home, I promised myself that I would do better about taking care of me. It took me several months to figure out what that might look like, and finally I decided on yoga. I love yoga, because despite my total lack of athleticism I am still able to participate. Through the years though, I have not had the best of luck with yoga studios. Many have been uninformative, some have been kind of snobby and intimidating, and all have been a bad fit. I googled “yoga studio, Sanford nc” and I saw a closing announcement. I mumbled something to the effect of “well, of course” and I went back to a life of ignoring myself.
A couple months later, I do not know why, I decided I was going to find a yoga class. Again, I searched “yoga, Sanford nc” and there was something new. I was excited and nervous. I reached out and received a really encouraging message about the classes and the skill levels. I decided to go for it. All I remember from that first class was Meadow cueing us to take the most insanely deep breaths. It felt incredible to breathe. I don’t think I have realized until this moment that the reason I love yoga so much more now than before is because I have spent years holding my breath. I have held my breath in so many doctor offices, therapy appointments, and even a few hospitals bracing for bad news I never expected or knew how to handle.
I found my breath at that magical little yoga studio, and it changed my whole life. Yes, I love the challenge of pushing myself and the incredible people but above all I am just there to catch my breath. For that hour of class, I am Lesley again.