Life goes on

Hi all,

If you gave up alcohol for lent I truly hope you have noticed the vast improvement a booze free life brings and have decided to continue on sober and free!

My life continues in a normal way. Kids at school, traveling for concerts (we saw Weezer a few weeks ago). Planning for the rest of the year. Work, teaching yoga, family. Normal stuff.

Along the way I gave up my volunteer yoga teaching at the local recovery centre. I had been teaching alternating Saturdays for a couple of years. It is small, a 16 bed facility, and provincially funded. They get people from all walks of life.

Over the years the class had its ups and downs. It is mandatory for the clients, who are all there at varying times of a 28 day stay. I didn’t expect them all to participate, but at a minimum to relax on a mat and nap if desired. As long as they weren’t disruptive. I generally kept the class pretty much a stretching exercise, with some breathing and moving to just get the group back into the body and perhaps to slow down. And a guided meditation, which was always very well received.

In the past few months the groups had been less receptive. There was a fight between 2 clients one week and I had to insist the facility staff stay in the room (they used to come and go). And in the weeks following there was always someone voicing their unhappiness at being made to come in the room. Of course, then there were great weeks where people participated and the time went by quickly.

Teaching to a non responsive group has been a huge learning. I know it is not about me. I know these people are in early sobriety, they are scared and angry and prickly. I am not trying to change the world, but to offer them an hour of respite. I know all this, but I still fall back into self doubt…thinking I am not doing a good job, nervous, generally dreading going to the recovery centre at all.

A few weeks ago I went to teach. I didnt want to. The group had been really aggressive the week before, and my anxiety was very high. I knew I should stay home, but I hated to disappoint the staff.

When I got there we had moved to a different, smaller room. There was general grumbling about that and as we settled in one of the guys stood up and declared it all bullshit that he had to attend. He was very angry and aggressive.

At that point I realized this was no longer a good situation, for me or for anyone else. I gathered my things, and wished everyone a good day  left. The nurse came and talked to me, apoplgizing, but I realized this was exactly what I needed. A break from the constant discord. I was shaking and almost ill

I was pretty distraught after. I felt I had failed, that a “regular” person could handle the conflict, that I was weak. I cried and cried.

Eventually The sadness passed and I and realized none of that is true.  I had stood up for myself and declared a boundary that I needed. I put my own mental and emotional wellbeing first. 

Afterwards the centre staff called and told me they would change how things are organized, but I have decided I will take a break from that for the rest of this year. Maybe someone else will take over and she or he might be the perfect person for the role.

For me, it pushed the boundary between wanting to help and trying to fix. 

When I ask myself what feels right for me today, I know I have chose the right thing for me. 

And life goes on.

Stillness and peace,


45 thoughts on “Life goes on

  1. Gorgeous post Ree. You are so helpful, so gifted, so capable. But it doesn’t mean you have to do everything and be everything for everyone. We all love and support you. Xx P

  2. So important to recognise when self care is needed. I can’t imagine how you coped so long, especially when your confidence is being knocked . You gave your time and expertise in an altruistic way, but I know that I am not good at being criticised and would of bailed long before. Often people don’t realise how hurtful they are being especially those of us in recovery. Hope they realise what they are missing x

  3. that sounds like a very hard decision to make–but we also have to protect ourselves in order to serve others. ❤ good for you for setting your boundaries even when it's tough. ❤ and it sounds like you have given some incredible service over the years which is amazing.

    1. That’s a very good point. I often felt unsafe, but then told myself I was being silly and that the people at the recovery centre were just like me.

      But the truth is I don’t know that. Yes, they are definitely suffering, but they were not all looking for recovery.

      1. No, with what you write I fear that indeed the persons who’s anger was stirred often and easily were very much lead by the internal addict. Sad. And dangerous. I am happy you did not let your fear of arrogance (do I interpret that correctly?) stand in the way of your perception.
        xx, Feeling

  4. Yes, self care is key. You made the right decision.
    Thank you for this, in fact I am thinking about giving up a class as well. Though my class is well attended and received, I feel like it’s time to give it to someone who can grow from these students. A woman in class last Sat made me think about it and I thanked her for her opinion. It wasn’t abrasive, it was more an awareness that although we can’t change the world, we just want to offer some inner peace and vitality in a class session. Xo

  5. love this.
    it’s so interesting, right…how time moves forward and we do too!
    We change, and set boundaries and live in our truths…what a concept!
    good for you anne….they were lucky to have you while they did, and you learned so much too.
    Perfect situation!

  6. Sounds wise Anne to move on. There is just no time in life for things that create dread if they are not totally necessary. It would be better if they did not force people to go to yoga. Then you would have a smaller class of those that wanted to be there. It would be so much healthier for all.

    1. That was my feedback. I know that someone who isn’t interested might just be surprised, but for the teacher it becomes another battle.

      You are right, no one needs dread. And I was somewhat concerned my own distress was causing distress in the class…removing myself was probably a helpful choice all around.

  7. Working in an environment like that is very stressful. I am witnessing my own husband, who works in a similar setting, going through PTST after yet another disturbing incident on his shift. He was so strong for years but all the incidents build up and sadly he is now facing a demon he never expected. You did the right thing recognizing how bad the environment was for your health and walking away. Believe me, there are no medals for those who stay.

  8. So happy you did what was right for you…even if it was hard at the time. Sometimes life tells us when it’s time for a change. Sounds like you listened. xo

  9. I think you definitely did the right thing. I’ve also been in the position of trying to teach people that did not want to learn, it’s awful and sanity sapping 😦 This scenario sounds like it took that to extremes, kudos to you for sticking with it for so long.

    It’s so true that you can’t teach/change/help people unless they really want it for themselves. Your talents and willingness to give will find the right audience someplace else. Hugs x

  10. That sounds horrible, poor you. You do not even know how many people you help with your kind wise words, you should set up an advice column or something online, you have so much to offer, go where your work is needed i think xx

  11. Yes to boundaries. This year boundaries and saying no are huge for me. After that initial period of guilt it felt (feels) amazing and freeing.

    I actually looked at this opportunity to teach, as I have not been teaching much due to choice. My father has 20+ years in recovery, I am 31, I remember alot of the before, and the process of his recovery. Most of those memories are not happy ones. Our relationship has now become something good, full of good memories. There is something about groups of recovering addicts that brings alot of feelings back for me. After sleeping on it, I decided I am not ready for that at this point in my life.

    You made the right choice by taking some space. Its healthy for you and the people who perhaps are not ready for your kind kindheartedness and prana as they have a little self work to get through first.

  12. When things don’t feel right, it’s always better to take a step back and evaluate. I probably wouldn’t have even stayed with it that long!

  13. If they weren’t ‘willing’ then trying to coax that energy out of them is impossible. This is not serving them or you. You did the right thing by taking a break. Yoga to aid recovery is a great idea but there are so many different people in the world and the people that early in recovery may not be near willing to try anything new. Especially if they aren’t in treatment of their own volition. xxx

  14. I’m glad that you quit, but I’m sorry that it had to come to that point, where you felt unsafe and unhappy. Standing up for ourselves and setting boundaries is so important and I am so proud of you for doing that for yourself ❤

  15. I was very relieved that you stood up and left. There is compassion, and empathy and all that, but there is also workplace safety and also boundaries, like you mentioned. I am not sure why they make it mandatory, but I know what you mean about the grumbling. At treatment (after care, which was not mandatory, but they highly suggested you do – $$$), they did have us do meditation. And I mean for 5 minutes and *everyone* had problems with it, including me. Sure some people grumbled about it a bit, but there wasn’t explosive anger.

    I would have done the same as you. Not because I didn’t care, but because I cared enough about my own serenity and safety to do so.

    1. There seems to be a dilemma in treatment between treating people,like they are in jail and recognizing they are ill.

      Because of that rules sometimes seem punitive. This is one of those times. Maybe they feel forcing everyone to attend is making them take responsibility for themselves.

      It definitely doesn’t work well.

  16. Great job of taking care of yourself. What an excellent example to us all. And the upshot is you can find something that brings you joy in addition to escaping the bad situation. Win win

  17. Hi Anne, I think you did the right thing. If it’s making you feel awful, that’s not right. If they are being forced to attend that’s probably not right either. Yoga classes should not involve anger or aggression from participants. You did your part helping out for a long time. Hope you enjoyed wheezer!

  18. A hostile yoga class….how stressful that must have been. You were right to leave it behind. I agree with some of the other posters that participation should have been by choice. As we all know, people have to want the peace for themselves.

  19. I am probably misquoting but Oprah often said that when something is wrong the universe at first whispers, then speaks a little louder until eventually it is shouting at you. I think this sounds like that. You felt it for some time but your kind giving nature wanted to keep helping. All signs are pointing to you leaving this behind and you have, well done!
    Now you can be open to something new whether that is every Saturday off for the next 50 years or something not yet presented to you.

  20. You completely did the right thing, and it often does take something to push us out of a situation. I’m sorry to hear how upset you were by it after, but perhaps releasing all the frustration and emotions caused by the class. Teaching a class like that, being who you are, no doubt being around all those raw, turbulent emotions would of course take their toll. Therapists have therapists! No one is immune. Remember, everything is fluid, and it’s okay that you taught that class. And now you don’t. Enjoy your Saturday mornings commitment free. And maybe in the future you’ll want to start a new commitment – somewhere else? Or maybe not. It’s allll okay! ❤

  21. That must have been really hard for you to do and I understand when the window of opportunity opens jumping out is a really good idea. It’s a silly way I use the saying but I remember being in a difficult job which I loved and one day the window opened and it felt right to leap out.

    I hope you aren’t thinking about it too much now the dust has settled – you are very grounded and know yourself which is so great.

    More time for concerts!!

    M xx

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