There was a time that I didn’t really know how to take care of myself. I was never helpless. I was considered to be quite assertive, actually. Nor was I slovenly, though friends from high school might recall the period when I came back from a summer abroad and no longer brushed my hair or shaved my legs and looked somewhat unkempt. Still, I got through most of my days and did pretty well so and I thought I should be fine. But there were lots of days when I didn’t feel fine. When it came to paying attention to my need for sleep or my emotional needs, or boundaries with people, or for making time for that really nourishing self-care that replenishes and rejuvenates… I was no good at that. So there would be days when I had energy and pep to take on the world and other days when it felt all used up. It was up and down. Out with friends and then under the covers. And when I got married, I brought this with me into the relationship.
Marriage is billed as a “two become one” kind of deal. I had the impression that really good marriages were set up so that one person could have one set of skills and then the other one would have the complementary personality traits and skills and you would put those puzzle pieces of human beings together and be able cruise through life all matched up, no gaps between skill sets or personalities or needs so you’d have every base covered. Maybe that wasn’t so realistic.
Part of what I wanted out of marriage was the matching puzzle piece to my lack of consistent self-awareness and care. I wanted my partner to be able to help me find my center and maybe even make sure I stayed there so I wouldn’t feel all over the place all of the time. I had a whole lot of expectations, most of them I didn’t fully understand, and those expectations put Dave, my husband, into a very difficult…even impossible situation. “Hey, you are supposed to take care of me in all the ways I can’t. You are supposed to make me happy.” Even though he tried, he couldn’t. It doesn’t work that way.
It seems overly-simple and when stated like this. it’s like, “wow, you were so delusional and why couldn’t you figure out that that wasn’t a good plan?” But I didn’t. For a long time. And I’m sure that’s part of why round one of married life didn’t work out.
We separated and I had a few years to think about things. I also had a few years of a profound and revelatory spiritual practice. That’s when all of this bundle of expectations and passing off the job of my happiness came into the light. Not only is the balance of power all screwed up when I think someone else is responsible from saving me from myself, but it isn’t actually possible. I’ve seen that I’ve got to do the work. That’s the only way. And when I’m really doing it, it looks a lot like self-care and boundaries, plenty of sleep and a dedicated, daily yoga practice.
So when this week, at the end of a really fun date with Dave, at this time when I am enjoying him so much, he said, “Amanda, I love watching you and what is happening in your life as you practice yoga. I love what it is doing for you, and I love what it is doing for me. It inspires me and makes me more excited about my own life,” I had this wonderful feeling wash over me. Because learning to take care of myself, to take responsibility for my happiness and my life and to really practice yoga has been the best thing I’ve done for myself. Turns out, it has been great for Dave and for our relationship, too.
Amanda teaches yoga movement, breath and meditation in Austin, TX and online. She offers individual sessions to those interested in developing a daily home practice. More information is available under “classes” tab or contact her by clicking HERE.