I know sometimes things can feel really hopeless. Like you’ve screwed everything up, or you can’t get any traction going, or no matter what you do, you always end up feeling isolated. Sometimes there are really ingrained coping mechanisms that keep a person at a “safe distance” from everyone else. Maybe that’s how you got through your childhood. By detaching or dissociating. If you cut yourself off from what you were feeling as a kid, if you took yourself somewhere else, somewhere safer, that can be a difficult switch to flip.
I know lots of people who moved into adolescence coming out of a difficult childhood, and just numbed out. Turned to drugs. Shut the thing down, so to speak. So if you have a lifetime history of cutting yourself off from what you’re feeling, and struggling to really trust or open to anyone, it’s perfectly natural to feel alienated and alone and like there’s not much point in any of it.
I have a particular soft spot for children. Some people believe we pick our parents and the exact situations we need for the evolution of our souls. And other people believe it’s all random and we end up as worm food. Whatever you believe, a child in an unsafe situation breaks my heart. Because the tools aren’t there yet to recognize pain is underneath whatever is happening with the adults around them. Pain, and an inability to handle it in a healthy way. A child can’t process that. A child who is abused or neglected or abandoned can’t understand it isn’t about them. All they can do is figure out how to maneuver. How to exist in an unsafe environment. How to disappear.
So many people coming out of backgrounds like these suffer from depression, anxiety, and addiction. But if you’re not in an unsafe environment anymore, there’s no reason you need to repress your feelings, or be ruled by panic attacks, or create a haze to get through the day. Your way of life may have become centered around this idea of, “I Can’t Handle the Pain”. Sometimes people don’t even try anymore. They just numb. Smoke pot every day or drink wine every night or shop every afternoon, or get hooked on relationships or sex or work or exercise. Schedule every minute of the day so there’s no time to feel anything. And run like hell when a feeling slips through the cracks.
Life truly doesn’t have to be like that. There are so many healing modalities available. So much conversation about trauma, and ways to work with it, and through it, so it doesn’t rule your life. Yoga, meditation, therapy. Different ways to work with your nervous system. But it can be scary to even consider a new way of moving through the world. And all kinds of resistance can come up.
If you’re living in this kind of pain, I really recommend you reach out. Because too many years can go by in a haze. And it’s such a shame, because when life is in focus, it’s so beautiful, it takes your breath away. I’m not saying it isn’t painful sometimes. But I am saying even the pain can open you to more beauty. It doesn’t have to close you or shut you down or make you run. And if you did grow up in an abusive environment, there’s so much healing that comes from understanding there is nothing lacking in you. Nothing.
There’s also nothing lacking in you if you love a person coming out of a history like this. You just fell in love with someone who hasn’t figured out how to love well yet. They aren’t loving themselves yet, so they can’t really love you. And you can’t save anyone, but you can love people and support them and encourage them to get help. Sometimes you have to do that from afar in order to love yourself well.
The thing is, I think we all tend to take these things on and internalize them. If someone can’t love us well, whether it’s a parent or a romantic partner, we walk away with the feeling that there’s something unlovable about us. Instead of recognizing the pain that exists in the other person. We get angry and defensive and hurt, we point fingers and tell ourselves stories, and the cycle continues. Healing is a choice every day. There are always opportunities to move toward love or to move toward fear. Choose love. Seriously. Sending you some now. Ally
About Ally Hamilton:
I grew up in NYC and thought I’d never live anywhere else. I went to Columbia University, and began practicing yoga during my senior year with the incomparable Dharma Mittra. Fell completely in love with it and watched it change my life. Moved to L.A. in January 2001 to continue teaching and to explore the L.A. yoga scene. Realized I love being by the ocean and the mountains. Never left. Had my son in November of 2006. Opened a yoga studio with my business partner Dorian Cheah in 2009, Yogis Anonymous, at the same time I had my daughter. Pretty much didn’t sleep for a year, but wouldn’t trade it for anything. Feel totally blessed to have assembled such an amazing, gifted group of teachers under one roof. Used to say things like, “everything happens for a reason”, but I’ve seen some things that are so incomprehensibly heartbreaking I don’t try to wrap things up in neat little packages like that anymore. Do my best to witness what’s happening around me, and to witness the way I respond. Believe in personal accountability, and in doing the work to get right with yourself. I think the natural state of all humans is love. It’s not a scientific study, but I’ve birthed two babies into this world, and I think we arrive full of love and curiosity and passion for life. Sometimes we learn fear and limitations and mistrust. I teach because yoga helps us unlearn those things, heal what needs to be healed, and return to our natural state, again, LOVE. I try to spread some wherever I go. Don’t always succeed. When I don’t show up the way I’d like to, I examine what happened and figure out how to do better next time.
And we love Ally’s blog!