Saturday, July 25, 2009

I Heart My Knock Knees

....but this is not a post about them. At least, not exactly. I spent some time thinking about my knock knees today in yoga class. I've been doing yoga now pretty regularly for about 5 years and I've gotten pretty good. What has been humbling though are there are certain simple poses I just cannot do, regardless of how long I practice. For this, I blame my knock knees.

I used to position myself in classes to ensure I could never see myself in the mirror because the image I saw was different than what I felt I must look like. My anger with myself and the dissonance between how good I felt and how different I looked would ruin my mood and invariably break my concentration. I went for meditation and got hyped up on self-hatred instead.

But then things began to shift in all kinds of ways. I can't attribute the shift to a fixed moment in time or even anything conscious on my part. I just fucking mellowed out. About nearly everything; the way I looked, how other people perceived me, the course my life was taking.It didn't exactly happen when I turned 30, but damn if it wasn't close.

For a while after my mom's diagnosis with Alzheimer's, I went to counseling. It felt good to articulate my anger and voice my worries. My counselor was great and invariably pretty adept at seeing through my bullshit and calling me on it, but I do remember arguing with her somewhat over her insistence that I'm hard on myself. Having a counselor tell a woman she's hard on herself is kind of like a psychic telling you you'll have some decisions to make. Duh. Just generic enough to make you feel like someone understands you. But the thing is, I still think I'm not too hard on myself. In fact, I kind of pride myself on my resilience and my ability to laugh and say 'Man, I really fucked that up. I'll try harder next time.' And I do. And this works for me.

But it wasn't always that way. I wasted many, many years hating who I was and getting sidelined by self-consciousness. I missed out on a lot, but thankfully those times seem to be passing. I've got another birthday coming and I'm grateful that I feel the self-consciousness slipping away. A little vanity is good, but it goes a long way. I'd just rather be happy.


  1. All nicely said. I think we tend to be too hard on ourselves on the trivial and not hard enough on ourselves on the substantial, where we can actually pursue meaningful self-improvement. That's what I think, anyway.

  2. And how exactly does one get to that point? I've been yearning to be there for years and it just seems to slip from my grasp.

  3. Anonymous,
    For me, partly a function of getting older and feeling more comfortable in my skin and deciding consciously and continuously to not hold on to negative thoughts about myself when I experience them. Not so much trying NOT to have those thoughts (impossible) but recognizing them for what they are -- a passing emotion, or a reaction to an unmet need OR a genuine issue that needs honest and hard work on my part.

    When I got stuck, my counselor always made me ask myself: What am I feeling? What do I need? How am I going to get there?

    This was a helpful exercise to get me in problem-solving mindset.