My lungs were holding on so tight to all the feels that I didn't want to feel anymore.
I thought if I could just exhale it would all go away.
I decided yoga was the answer. Even though the thought of being in a room full of strangers all squished in together and feeling rude if I didn't engage in small talk felt somewhat awful.
Of course I sat beside the sweetest mother and daughter. They had just joined the gym and were new to the class. The daughter was moving to Germany this summer to get married.
I quickly shared how beautiful the country is, how my husband and I spent our honeymoon exploring Bavaria. How it holds some of my most cherished memories.
She was excited but fearful - sad to leave all that is familiar and safe.
Oh how I remember that feeling too. Even though I moved a mere 2 hours away, I remember weeping as I drove further and further away from home. Home was always my constant. It was the place I moved out of and back into countless times. The place held more memories than I could count.
I remember seeing my husband driving behind me, which felt absolutely crazy to say out loud. My what? You mean, we really did this thing? We're in this for the long haul?
And my Dad, my number one man for the past 25 years, pulling a large U-haul with all of my things. Really, a lot of their things, they so graciously donated to fill our first home.
So I recognized that fear and hesitation in her voice as my own.
If it had been appropriate and not extremely creepy, I would have hopped over her moms mat and onto hers and given her a hug.
In yoga, they ask you to come up with an intention for your practice. Often times I fumble around in my head for a word that is clear and concise, something that embodies all my thoughts and feelings. It is rare to find one that fits.
This day, the word came with little thought or effort: forgiveness.
Maeve, you need to forgive.
You see, I wish I was an expert forgiver. I can say the words - I forgive you -but the doing part, the actual letting go and giving it up are much harder and feels nearly impossible.
I become a hoarder. I hold on to past mistakes [my own included] and file them away in little drawers that I can pull out and read later.
Reader, I'm sure you know, this isn't truly forgiving.
We can't hold on, we can't bring it up three weeks later over lasagna when something rubs us the wrong way. And because we really don't have words for why we're upset in the now - we pull words from that other thing that made us boil.
Truth: I really want to be a better forgiver. And when you are trying to work through something so big and wide - you need back up. You need to ask for help.
The friends help I sought didn't simply promise to pray and validate my hurt [love her for it] she also encouraged me to feel all of it. Don't wipe it away just yet if you aren't ready.
Because you see, my m.o. is to pull up my boot straps, wipe the tears and just keep going. I rarely give myself permission to sit in it; sit in all of it, press my hands around the edges and sides.
I want to just swim through it. I want to move on to better and brighter days because let's be honest - the sitting in it hurts.
Though this time, I let myself feel exactly what I wanted, for as long as I needed. I let myself hurt the next day when all the pain rose to the surface after a whole lot of processing and prayer. I let myself cry when normally I'd tell myself not to.
And I think this is an integral, sacred part of forgiving - giving yourself permission to lean into the discomfort and allowing your whole body - all the way down to your toes, to grieve.
Call in backup if you need it. Ask a friend to sit close by, remind them that they don't need words for fixing or a how to manual for putting things back together - you just need a steady presence.
We have to feel it all before we let it all go.
When I came back to my mat, with each inhale and exhale, I chanted and whispered the word forgive. With each breath, I felt the pain and heartache rather than running away from it.
I think that's the bravest part - to actually feel in a world that tells us we're too sensitive and emotional.
To feel when the easier thing, the less painful thing, would be to just let it all go right away.
But doesn't it always come back and break in, making it hard to breath again?
Forgiveness is messy friend. The beautiful parts of life are. It's a process I wrestle with daily - one I haven't perfected - one I hesitated to write about because it's been so difficult for me.
But then I remembered, God uses the wrestle and the fight. There is still worth and value in the discovery. There is still purpose in the do overs and let's try this thing again.
Take a deep breath with me. Fill your whole belly up.
And when you're ready - exhale.
Exhale and let go and release.