Time is cyclical. We see it in the phases of the moon as she journeys back to fullness every 28 days. In the predictable rotation of Earth and her orbit causing seasons to change, to usher in our time of falling away, closing in and for me, looking back. Each fall I find myself in this state of revisiting grief.

Yes, I know I have a lot to be thankful for. A loving family, amazing husband and never knowing a want for food or anything really. I have a roof over my head and a very comfy bed.  I know I have plenty to be thankful for. But that year’s Thanksgiving I felt something missing. Mostly, while I was resigned to dinner at the kids table, instead of sitting with my own kid. Feeling almost like I had regressed in time. I had just been preparing for the most growth I could know and then I lost it…lost it.

I was pregnant. Then I wasn’t. It was not an immediate action, nothing changed suddenly. It was gradual. A long, painful process. And bits of my heart are left. Just gone. I had made so much room and filled so much love so quickly and just as quickly I was left empty.

I knew I was pregnant before I even took the test. I joked about it over vanilla porters on my birthday with my husband and then confirmed it in my first days as a 29 year old. My husband’s excitement helped to tamp down my feelings of unease, fear and uncertainty of what was to come. Yet, those fears overwhelmed me. I turned to my intuition and a full moon ritual to connect with a message of reassurance. Sleeping with rosemary under my pillow I asked for a message in my dreams.

I was facing a huge hill, a mountain, alone. And as I climbed I knew that there would be someone at the top to help, if I could just get there. As I climbed I bled and bled and bled, but I would not stop, I just pushed on. Finally, I reached the top and met the wise woman who told me that she was gone.

I was not surprised to find spots of blood in the next few days. I couldn’t shake the feeling and even though I knew what was coming, it didn’t make the hurt go away. There were days of visiting the bathroom with a sense of dread, a visual reminder of what my body was doing, or rather not doing, what was releasing, what I did not get to keep.  So bright, beautiful, magical for such a short time. I was raw, thought my body was broken and knew that things wouldn’t be the same. Even though everyone said that it happens often, that it is actually normal, that it’s not my fault, that it just wasn’t the right time…even though I heard all these consoling thoughts, I still felt like I was experiencing this loss alone.

I hadn’t learned yet that as many as 10 – 15% of pregnancies end is miscarriage. I certainly didn’t hear any women in my life talk about it. There’s a strange sense of shame in miscarriage, even within the word itself, my body miscarried, missed the chance, failed to carry. I felt so different in my body after the loss. I felt like my body had changed, I knew it had, yet without a product of that change it was difficult to accept.  I felt heavy, weighed down and blocked off determined to continue to climb this mountain of grief. I felt like a failure. I drank whiskey and sang country songs and lashed out at my body, this body that failed to do the one thing that it was supposed to do – procreate. And yet through it all, I danced on the balance, trying to tiptoe between numbing the grief and experiencing it, taking in the lessons of compassion, love, and cherishing each fleeting moment.

I found most of my healing on my mat. Challenging myself to move through the process of finding myself at home within myself. Finding my way back home through the breath, through the practice and through the walls I had built up to protect my fragile heart. I started at the beginning, coaxing myself into just a few sun salutations each day. I learned that I needed to link my breath, my movement and my mind deeper to what was happening within my heart. I had to sit with my grief and at the same time use the experience to move forward. Those mornings on my mat where some of the most painfully connected times I felt. I relished in the routine and the normalcy of my practice.

Image via Jason Crandell Yoga

As I moved through each asana, I repeated my mantras:

I stand confidently
I reach for support
I bow to you, and surrender
I look for guidance
I trust
And offer my heart
I am patient
I look for guidance, and surrender
I reach for support
I stand confidently

The process allowed me to open up and blossom. I learned that I can handle what comes to me and that I can live openly and fully. I can accept the hurt and pain along with the joy and love. I have tested my tools for survival and know that I am strong in body, mind and spirit. This strength comes from my softness, the ability to sit with raw emotion and rejoice that I am alive. The strength will be tested and I’ll be reminded always, of what could have been, and at the same time, I’ll be reminded of my resiliency. I have tools to support me the next time I face a grief beyond belief.  I’ll return to my mat and come back to the beginning.

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