The Power of Hug-asana

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“I’m a comedy writer,” I tell myself daily. I love comedy. I love to laugh. My boys and I laugh until we cry many days. But the harsh truth of the matter is that it’s often masking the inner turmoil inside – depression has been my faithful companion for years and anxiety is simply a piece of me at this point – another appendage. Most comics struggle with addictions and depression so it’s not that surprising, but I wish I could have a real belly laugh without any thought of what’s in the pit of my stomach – which is fear, loathing, disgust, angst, and so many other negative things. I haven’t always been this way. In fact, one of my middle school friends made me giggle a few years back when she posted the “Most___” list from our school, and I was voted “Most Friendly”. What the fuck happened to THAT girl? These days, I bury myself in my phone to avoid having to deal with people, and I have to say that pretty high up on my list of reasons for moving soon out of my current apartment is how “peoply” it is. You would never know it by being around me but I’m socially awkward on a good day and completely socially phobic on my worst day. Anxiety is a wicked master, and she has me shackled good and tight.

After my recent visit to Florida, my mom said she was going to call me every day and ask me to name one positive thing that happened to me. How sad is that? Again, when and how did I get here? How did I get to be this pessimistic and jaded? I can point to one thing that happened to me in college that shattered the illusion that only good things happen to me. Since then, a lot of bad things have happened to me and now I go around wincing. I’m constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Lately, I’ve just wanted off the merry-go-round. What happened to the “Sundays Under the Covers” and movie days in our PJs? These days, my boys run from pillar to post and many days cry on the way to their activities. My ex has them completely over-scheduled but I understand his thinking. As long as we are busy, we don’t have to think about the pile of shit that has become our lives during this divorce. But it’s exhausting, both mentally and physically.

The other day, I had nothing for the boys for lunch so I had to run to Rubio’s but was almost about to miss their lunch hour. Pulling in to the parking spot, I swiped the car next to me. I can’t think of words these days, and asked where I could find the “soup juice” at CostCo the other day when looking for chicken broth. A few weeks ago I found my phone in my boys’ sock drawer. Leaving our flag football game the other day, my son realized he was still wearing his flags and I had carried the game ball to the car with me. Two weeks ago, I got a call from a stranger that my ex had dropped our son off at the wrong park and had to leave to drive my other son to soccer so he hadn’t realized that. I shot like a bat out of hell from my son’s soccer game to drive the 20 minutes to get to him. When I pulled up, I was bawling. He was keeping a stiff upper lip but when he saw me, he started crying. Last night, I could barely keep my eyes open and it was 8 pm and I hadn’t even fed my boys dinner yet. I thought I might cry. I pulled out a box of pasta and hadn’t realized it was open from the bottom, and it spilled all over the floor. I went to bed without cleaning it up, and crunched on it several times throughout the night getting myself water and pacing with insomnia. The boys ate cereal for dinner. It’s a disease being this busy and yet if we slow down we know we will feel the full brunt of the pain. Either way, it’s a frustrating way to live.

I berate myself a lot for letting this stuff get to me. “First world problems,” I mutter to myself. “First world problems.” And yet today, I woke up with a bigger sense of dread than I’d felt in a while. I didn’t wake up next to dog shit as I had a couple days prior (thank God for small favors) from my fecally incontinent dog (whom I adore, BTW, but come on!). I’m moving in a month and with that on top of everything else, I had one predominant feeling: I CAN’T DO THIS. I CAN’T. I’M NOT STRONG ENOUGH.

The negative thinking continued:

Why can’t I get my boys ready for school on time? What’s going to happen when we move further away?

How can I add volunteering in my son’s classroom when I can’t get everything done as it is?

Why do I spend so much money at the grocery store and have nothing in my fridge?

Why am I such a marshmallow lately when it comes to disciplining my kids?

When I finally got the boys off to school and had gotten over the fact that I put my son in navy socks with black shorts and had cleaned up the crunchy pasta, I sat down at my computer and read about the bloody massacre in Las Vegas. I cried and I cried and shook my fists at the hopelessness of our world today.

I wouldn’t have it any other way, but being an empath is hard. After 9/11, I watched every news show and read every article. I could have told you the background on nearly every person who died on Flight 93. I had just lost my job and was going through a sexual harassment case in court, so I had more time on my hands than I knew what to do with, so I watched and watched until I thought my eyeballs might fall out of the sockets. The same with Sandy Hook. The same with Pulse Nightclub. The same with the Colorado movie theater shooting. I read about their lives because I feel like we owe them that. They were here and their lives mattered, but it takes a little bit of me away with every word. I cry and scream and wonder where God is in all of this. I believe in Him with my full being and yet can’t help but wonder if He, too, has given up on us. Maybe he’s just letting us fend for ourselves at this point. I can’t be the only one who has wondered whether this is the end of the world.

I think back to my favorite yoga class I’ve ever attended with my favorite yoga instructor (she calls herself the “Pink Ninja” – hello, how rad is that!?). She started out the class with “Hug-asana”. We all turned to each other and, despite already being sweaty from our pre-class meditations in the hot yoga studio, we hugged strangers. And we laughed, and it felt amazing. I was really astounded because I’m sort of ashamed to say that I’m not a hugger. I give wussy hugs most of the time and I don’t really know why because when someone gives me one of those death grip squeezes that shows that they really care, I feel cloaked in love. The Pink Ninja repeated the words of respected family therapist Virginia Satir: “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.”

This isn’ t to say that I’m not going to be my salty self and take aim at people today who defend the 2nd Amendment and others who say things like, “Well, those crazies will find a way to get those assault rifles anyway.” This, my friends, is faulty, DEFEATIST thinking – trust me, I know this kind of thinking well. I’ll call out Tom Selleck for supporting the NRA and his bad porn mustache. But in between putting up the good fight, I’m going to try and remember things like the fact that my older son – who has been putting me through my paces these days – randomly told me how much he loved me several times this weekend. I’m going to hug my dogs. Hell, I might even hug my neighbors. I’m going to do something extra nice for someone today, and that includes myself. The next time I hear that persistent voice inside telling me what a piece of crap I am, I’m going to say loud and clear, “Not today.”

It’s times like these that we feel so incredibly powerless, but we are not powerless to love. These nameless, faceless cowards who take people out do not have the power to take that away from us. As my therapist always says, remember to TAKE IN THE GOOD. Notice it. Acknowledge it. If you see someone doing good, compliment them on it. And don’t forget the hug-asana, as that shit is powerful. Don’t phone those hugs in either. Open those arms, envelop, and squeeze. Repeat.

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  1. Debbie Skidgel says:

    Marnie, You are beautiful, smart, funny and a great mom. Your parents love you, Craig loves you, your boys love you. You will get through this; an hour, a day, a week at a time. Turn off the news, stop reading it on the computer, your phone and just breathe. Take a walk on the beach or whatever refreshes and relaxes you. You can’t fix the craziness in the world and reading about it is draining emotionally for you. Deal with your present space, that’s enough for now and it’s ok.

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