When life beats you to a pulp, you get soft…and humble

I was struck by this interview I saw a few weeks ago between former UFC Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey and Ellen DeGeneres. Here Ronda discusses her shocking loss to Holly Holm that had cyberspace buzzing. No one expected the fight to turn out the way it did, and, given her tough demeanor on and off the ring, seeing Ronda break down while discussing the heartbreak she suffered from losing in such a swift and brutal manner was in itself jolting – in a good way. Here is a woman who has had to act solid, together and strong finally melting down and showing the world it’s okay to be a pile of mess when life knocks you out.

“Winning all the time is not best for everybody,” she said finally.

I agree, because winning all the time makes one cocky (which she was). The funny thing is, even when you’re not winning (all the time or not even sometimes), you can still get cocky. You can tough it out and say to yourself “I can do this by myself, thank you very much.” Of course, you can’t.

This is a lesson I continue to learn as I navigate this path that I chose to tread. I was talking to a good friend about some of the difficulties I’ve been dealing with – day-to-day challenges that have stacked up and become a mountain of shit that I have had to scale for some time now. I had come to a point where I was questioning my past and present choices, thinking maybe I should have taken another route instead of this unstable, shaky rope bridge that I seem to be walking on all the damn time. Then I heard what I needed to hear, and it landed like a sucker punch that left me open to more hard-hitting epiphanies afterwards: “You now realize that you can’t do everything alone. You need other people to help you.”

I do have difficulty admitting to people – and God – that I can’t do it by myself. Being on my own has always been the only life I’ve known. Even as a child, I relied on my own devices to get me out of emotional ruts. I hardly complained or asked for what I needed because such timid behavior was applauded. When I wanted something, instead of asking for it, I would wait for someone to give it to me. Guess how that worked out.

One vivid childhood memory comes to mind: When I was about 10 or 11 years old, I remember salivating over a can of preserved peaches that had been in my grandmother’s pantry forever. I kept thinking she might be saving it for something else, like making fruit salad come Christmas time, so I let it stay where it was and told myself I’d wait until Christmas for it to be devoured. One day, my uncle and his family came for a visit and my little cousin, who was all of maybe three years old then, DEMANDED that the can of peaches be opened. Of course, she ate them (I don’t remember if I had any. I was probably too upset to have some). Can you imagine my fury? I was mostly angry with myself for not asking for the freakin’ peaches and was seething as I watched my cousin eat what I believed were MINE!

Change the can of peaches to something else and you get the picture: job, promotion, love interest, project, life…

Now that I’m in bed unable to do anything because of cough, colds and asthma, I am once again confronted by these thoughts of entitlement, pride, shame and extreme shyness. Then I get to thinking about the people I used to think were weaklings because they were constantly bugging people for assistance or simply asking for what they wanted.

Let me make it clear that I’m not deriding independence nor self-control. They are virtues that breed self-respect and create a healthy sense of self. I’m also not for complete reliance on other people to bail you out every time you foul up or expecting people to provide your every need without you contributing anything to the kitty. That’s freeloading and it’s awful.

I’m talking about assistance that gives other people the chance to lift you up, openness to loving support, acceptance of grace, giving someone the chance to open the can of peaches for you and watch you delightfully bite into each piece of fruit.

Sometimes, it takes a good beating from life’s circumstances before we take the hand that’s reaching out to us. Like dough, we become softer and easier to shape when we’re all gooey and limp.

Here I am, in bed, unable to teach or practice yoga, turning down sub requests that I want to take on, cancelling classes I’d been itching to teach, contemplating my life and realizing I’d been wanting to trade it for another that is possibly not suited for me. This is as gooey and limp as I can get.

Then I remember there are people – friends, family, strangers – who would be more than willing to lend a hand when I need it. There’s the Universe, of course, sending me the experiences I need to be molded into the human that I am being. I am humbled by all of this and strengthened by it, even for just a bit. My soul asked for rest, and I’m getting it. I know all of this is pointing me towards TRUSTING the Universe’s perfect TIMING, and telling me to accept whatever life throws at me RIGHT NOW.

Because help is here. It always has been.

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