“Crazy, how?” I ask. A trained counselor, I'm well versed in how to elicit more details. As a yoga instructor, I'm well versed in how to open people up.
"Like I want to cheat on my husband."
"Mmm," I say which is a repetitive sound in every counseling video I've ever recorded. Its meaning is multifaceted and indistinguishable. It's a way I buy time and act interested. It's a way I empathize.
"You're married?" she turns the tables on me.
"No," I scoff. I want to avoid this conversation. "I mean, I was."
"What's with the ring?" She points to my ring finger where I originally started wearing a ring to derail drunk groomsmen who wanted me to set my camera aside and dance with them.
"Well, I'm committed," I say. "We live together." For whatever reason, I am careful with my pronouns. I don’t want to reveal that I’m gay yet.
“Like you’re engaged?”
“Sorta,” I say because gay marriage is not legal in Texas. And then, perhaps because I can feel her shame, I say, "I cheated on my husband. It's how I got out of my marriage. No judgment here."
She explains that she has it all. And although this phrase it all can stand alone in society, she goes on to explain: a beautiful husband, money, a huge house, etc.
"I had it all, too. My ex-husband is gorgeous. " I cringe. "It was really awful. Painful for everyone."
"I need to read that blog," she says and I pray she won't.
She comes out of the pose. I turn to squint at the clock across the room. "We're running short on time," I say like a therapist at the end of a session.
Worn out and relieved, she lays down. I dim the lights and notice she looks lighter. She's had debilitating anxiety for over a decade. I've known her for exactly three hours over the course of three weeks.
But she has not had an anxiety attack in a week. She is healing. In this moment, her shoulders are pulled back; her heart, open; her breath, effortless. In the space where she once felt anxiety, she nows feel alive.
"You give me hope," she told me during our first session after I disclosed that I began yoga to combat panic attacks. My penchant for self-disclosure is perhaps the reason I'll never counsel on a couch. At once, it likens me to a loyal companion and a loose canon. I know that my story gives people hope. And hope is so healing. So I tell it, arguably too often.
"How does it feel to share that with me?" I ask already knowing the answer.
"Incredible," she takes her first deep breath in a decade, "I've never said it out loud before."
"You're brave to share," I validate. "Women don't talk about this."
"I KNOW!" She exclaims. "You see the thing is I've already met someone."
"Mmm," I say.
"Crazy thoughts," she repeats.
Often we feel powerless to stop our crazy thoughts. I compliment her for her awareness even though inside I’m shouting, Don't! Stop! I feel as if I’m watching a train derail.
Her husband sounds sweet. He sounds like a good source of support. But she can't see what's right in front of her. She can't see past her crazy thoughts.
"He's also married," she holds her breath. "It won't end well for either of us."
"No, it won't," I say. “You already said, ‘You have it all.’ The better question is, ‘What’s missing?’" She looks at me like a lost puppy. “That’s a question you’ll have to let marinate.”
There are other ways to leave a marriage. I didn't know it then. I thought I was alone. I know now that I was not. We are never alone.
And each time I share my story, I am reminded of this, and it gives me hope. It is my hope that I save others from the experience of the pain of my transgressions — the pain that almost took my life.
Hopefully, I help others heal their crazy thoughts.
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