Soften

“Soften” is a favorite phrase of many yoga instructors. It is a cue that reminds students to not strain into a pose, to relax even while making an effort. I’ve heard my friends in Yoga Teacher Training use it countless times and they seem to have gotten it stuck in my head. It has run through my mind at least a couple dozen times today alone.

The pace of my life started picking up again about a month ago after a much needed winter hibernation. A few weeks ago during a particularly stressful week, someone at work commented on how tense my face was, especially my jaw. Since then I’ve noticed that my jaw is nearly clenched at least a few times a day.

After a long YTT class last night I squeezed in a few hours of sleep before boarding a plan for a work trip with little time for rest forecasted for the next few months. Dozens of times today I noticed my mouth was drawn tight, and I instinctively reminded myself to “soften”.

This reminder has started to go deeper than just my facial muscle contractions. “Soften” has slowly crept into my internal monologue, and it has become a reminder that I need to soften in my relationships. Not just personally, but especially professionally as I begin building relationships with a new team.

I’ve started researching Yoga & PTSD for my YTT report coming up. Every time I’ve started to attempt to research it, I’ve found it difficult to even think about the topic. I’m happier than I have been in a long time, and the topic reminds me of what I hope will remain the worst time in my life.

“Soften” reminds me that I am safe.

I am safe with those I have since chosen to surround myself with. It is safe to trust. The walls that I built, the scar tissue that has thickened over the wounds from my past, they are no longer serving me. They are only getting in my way.

Since my PTSD was caused by multiple abusive relationships it is no surprise that I’m finding it so difficult (read: impossible) to communicate and build new relationships. I still feel as though I am trapped in a bubble, separated from the rest of the world. But not nearly as often as I used to.

So many people have taken brick after brick from my walls, by loving me and accepting me just as I am. By staying. By fighting for me and with me. By making me laugh. By reminding me not just of who I am, but reminding me that I am still me. I might have layers of scar tissue clouding my sight, but I’ve been here all along.

If you love someone who suffers from PTSD, know that you are the key to their healing. Don’t give up on them. Don’t stop chipping away at their walls.

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Ann Edwards