Lessons in Reality TV and Self Awareness

Has anyone out there ever seen Bridezillas on TLC? Come on, this is the internet – you can tell the truth. I have. I distinctly remember seeing an episode before I was engaged. The thought process was something akin to “What a hot mess. I won’t be anything like that when I get married.”

Now that the wedding is two weeks away, all I can think is, “Those poor, poor babies on that TV show. How do they deal with everyone trying to sabotage their special day while being filmed?” And instead of simply understanding their freak-outs, I just have my own.

After dealing with wedding stresses that I won’t elaborate on, but, trust me, are significant (don’t worry, Ryan and I are still rock-solid and always have been) I got kicked out of yoga today. I signed up online and arrived early, of course, just not early enough. There was a policy I wasn’t aware of that allowed the staff (that I’d even emailed with my intention to come to class that night in addition to signing up online) to give away my spot just sixty seconds before I arrived.

It was 5:26. Everything I’d eaten or drank today was with the intention to practice at 5:30. Heavy stress was weighing on me. I’d left twenty minutes early for the normally five-minute drive over, but it was rush hour, I had to park on the third level of the parking garage and run down the steps and into the studio, bag bouncing behind me.

When I realized the woman at the desk was serious and walked away, I hadn’t even made it to the steps I’d raced up just moments before until I began sobbing.

I’m sure you already know this, but this is not a normal human being reaction to something as simple as being booted from a yoga class. Clearly, I realized, something was going on here that was tipping me towards the Bridezilla end of the spectrum.

I went to the gym and ran on the treadmill. No music, no timing. Just me, my breath, and my thoughts. Here’s what I learned:

1.)  I discovered yoga on my own, and no one can take it from me.

I thought I needed the teachers to guide me, the heat to coax me into new postures, the others in the class to push me, the times to motivate me. I don’t need any of that. No one taught or encouraged me to begin running – I did that all on my own, and now it gave me the strength and courage I needed to press through one of the most difficult times in my life. Now that I’m committed to my practice, I can see that I don’t need a fancy studio to continue. There’s no shortage of excellent yoga studios in Nashville, and I can practice at any of them, or none of them, as long as I am committed to opening my heart, being honest with my body, and challenging my mind.

2.)  I do need time away from home (read: distractions) to see clearly.

When I do yoga, my mat is my little space to meditate, pray, work out confusions, and release stress. It’s very helpful to have that physical place to come and be honest, if only for an hour a day. Prayer is great – Ryan and I pray together every day – but I need additional time to be by myself to do it, and to connect my spirit with my body.

3.)  Even when I think I’m handling stress well, I’m not handling stress well.

Just something to be aware of in the future. I was under the impression that because I could plan my life so well (as in, “look at me! I can work, plan a wedding, and work out because I’m so good at time management!”) I could control things. Wrong. Life throws you curve balls, and when it does, I feel lost and out of control. Sometimes for me, it takes a little misstep to let me know that I don’t always know what’s best, and I have to be ok with that.

4.)  I have body image issues.

I considered not listing this one because I know it’s ridiculous, but I’m trying to keep it real on the blog and open up my little story to all you strangers on the internet: even at my ideal, ideal wedding goal weight, I have body image issues that include being afraid I’ll gain weight if I skip one day of working out. Which scares me. I don’t consume a lot of media – I don’t have a TV. I don’t read magazines. When I get catalogues in the mail, I proactively email the company and tell them that there must be some mistake, because I don’t want it. I’ve always thought that the commercialization of women’s bodies is one of the most atrocious complacencies that has ever disgraced our society and I actively try to protect myself against it. If I am so susceptible to these same insecurities and feel compelled to compare myself to photo shopped images, what are young but growing girls dealing with? What are overweight girls dealing with? What are anorexic girls dealing with? This systemic problem is truly bigger than I realized before tonight.

So, oddly enough, since tonight, my progress in yoga was happening in millimeters. Tonight, I didn’t even practice and it feels like I’ve made great strides in self awareness.

But if you think my sobbing, stressing, obsessing, body-image doubting, angry ways earn me a big fat Bridezilla gold star, I wouldn’t blame you.

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