Thursday, July 5, 2007

I perched on the edge of the black examination chair, legs dangling centimeters off the floor like some kind overgrown eight year old and stared at an insurance noticed taped to the wall. Something about how we should write to CIGNA and chastise them for not meeting the clinic's terms. I really like coming to this hospital, which is odd I know, but some clever architect managed to hide the actual hospital-y parts below the ground and grouped all the outpatient services into this lovely shopping mall atmosphere. There are glass elevators and fountains and a coffee place, and when I go there for appointments, I feel like I should be walking out with a Nordstrom's bag on one arm, too.

This was a visit with my ENT who gets to visit with me for sundry reasons each year ever since I realized that my rapidly failing vocal health was probably not a good physical path for a music teacher to travel. This time he was there to look at my tonsils and determine whether or not they should be exorcised from my body and hung from the London Bridge for making me use up all my sick days on actually being sick, rotten traitors that they are. He didn't really give me a strong opinion one way or the other, but a tangential conversation we had made all the difference in how I'm feeling since my sulky post of last Tuesday.

I walked into his office wearing yoga pants, a tie-dyed t-shirt, and flip flops, which I ordinarily wouldn't dare wear in public for fear of seeing my grandmother's ghost, looking disapproving and resigned to her sloppy granddaughter, floating in a corner and knitting some sort of commemorative quilt at the same time (I presume even in death her Teutonic genes enable her to multitask with ruthless efficiency, and that the afterlife has the shiniest linoleum floors its ever seen). But I had driven straight from summer school, where I get to mess with kids who can't read well in the mornings and teach yoga in the afternoon. The ENT is usually used to seeing me in some permutation of black dress pants and button down teacher shirt, so he asked me what I'd been up to this summer, and when I told him about the kid yoga his normal expression of bored amusement lit up into something resembling genuine interest.

We spend the next fifteen minutes discussing what I did with the kids, and his Bikram classes in the heart of Kansas City and how the hot yoga classes I once attended weren't true Bikram classes so I should really come and see what it all was about, and how the winner of the 2007 Yoga Games came to class and performed and he was truly incredible and if I ever wanted to go to his studio I should mention his name so he could get 20% off, and then FINALLY when we ran out of yoga conversation he remembered I was here about my tonsils and we got back down to business.

When I walked out of his office, I felt this peculiar sense of lightness, and it took me the entire trip to the parking lot before I realized what it was: while we were discussing yoga, and his progress and my progress, and especially my interest in the most physically demanding and kind of competitive form of yoga there is, he never once indicated that it was absurd for someone like me to participate in those classes, and to be with those kinds of people. My ENT is the paragon of health; glowing skin, lithe body obviously built for endurance athletics, and every time we talk he mentions a new physical activity he's challenging himself with. I feel like Jabba the Hut talking to him, even though he's an extremely kind and unassuming man.

But it completely blew my mind, because in everyone of the yoga classes I've taken, in the dance classes filled with their Russian former ballerinas, in the Pilates workouts and the tennis afternoons, I have run into the people who look me over and say "You're seriously doing yoga? Isn't it difficult to do if you're not already in shape?" "Tennis is a pretty big cardiovascular workout...are you sure you don't want to start with walking?" And the comments roll on and on and I end up just sort of cringing underneath the shame of them, all the while furious that I'm relegated to the fat lady exercises that I don't want to do. But this man...he ACCEPTED me. Even while I was frantically trying to come up with novel things to say about yoga so he didn't think I was a fraud, he just kept acting like it was the most normal thing in the world for a 220 lb. midget to be able to do a handstand or a Scorpion. And in not questioning how someone like me could do something difficult, he very much helped blow a good portion of my funk away for this week.

I suppose it's little secret that I have something of a self-esteem issue, and I swear to you I cannot figure out why that is. I know, intellectually, that I am good at things. I had trophies and plaques and scholarships in school to prove it; I have job accolades and compliments to validate it now. But I absolutely cannot translate any of that into really knowing that I'm good, that I can do stuff, that I deserve better things. And it's also fairly obvious that I bounce from one exercise, one diet plan, one philosophy on life faster than a Paris Hilton headline pops into my newsreader every morning when I log on. I quit so much because I don't really ever believe I'll succeed. I don't stick with anything because I don't want to admit to failing.

I've felt recently sort of spiritually bottomed out, although I'm not really sure what that means even more. When I lost weight last time it was joyful; I talked myself through hard runs, and tempting meals...I seemed to spend a great deal of time focused inward in a really good way. The difference was between then and now, I guess, is that I was a fairly devout Christian at the time. Things and circumstances have changed, and I'm confused about how to regain that level of commitment and dedication and sincered belief in my ability to succeed, because in each of those things I was confident and self-assured and successful, and that's what's missing at this point. Right now I feel pretty empty...raw...joyless...and I didn't used to be that kind of person.

I think I need a pretty rigid routine, and I think I also need to find something to get me out of bed in morning that doesn't involve work or the pressing need to vanquish the pile of dishes from my sink before things grow on them. I have this whole next month free of obligations, and I can already foresee a disastrous stretch of napping, getting depressed, being alone, and getting more and more unhealthy as the weeks progress. I desperately need to find something else to do, something to focus on, something that makes me feel more alive and ready to actually believe in myself, even when very few people seem to believe in me, too.

Or maybe I should just take up crystal meth. I hear provides similar results.


Luna Bella said...

Interesting post, Erin!

You're right--you could always go the crystal meth route. But the thing about meth is that it'll make your teeth fall out and your skin get all there are some tradeoffs to that zippy sense of motivation it's supposed to give you.

But seriously, I'm so glad you had the experience you had with your dr! I think we all need people to believe in us and to connect with us around things that give us energy, and it's a shame that we don't get as much of that as we need or want in life.

I hear you on the self esteem thing, too. It's mind-boggling to me that a person can have all the proof in the world of her own awesomness, and it still doesn't change that deep-down feeling of just not being good enough. I'm exactly that way.

I'm also interested in your thoughts about spirituality and how feeling fulfilled spiritually can aid in adopting healthier choices in life. I'm not a Christian, but I know that when I feel connected to something bigger than myself, it's easier to be optimistic and generally more positive. That in turn means that it's so much easier for me to embrace self-loving and self-honoring things like healthy eating and exercising.

I'm glad that some of your funk got blasted away today! Sending you some positive vibes, so you can continue on your upward trajectory:

Abba said...

Skip the meth. The doctor would probably turn his nose. Glad to hear someone else besides myself has issues with self esteem. Thought I was on a lonely road.