By Angela Glaz
Ayurvedic Specialist & 500 Hour E-RYT
Disclaimer: This is a personal story and may contain triggering language.
I’ll start with talking about my birth mother, the starting point for my distrust in other women.
Like many of my generation, my parents got divorced when I was about seven years old. My birth mom was an alcoholic and unfaithful to my dad. She stuck around for the first couple of years after the divorce, but lived with a number of unsavory men, sometimes more than one.
Our (my little sister and I) visits with her were pretty dark and depressing. I remember the places she lived always filled with smoke and her and her friends referring to my sister and I as little brats. I honestly don’t think we even spoke.
One afternoon, our mom went to work and left us with one of her unsavory boyfriends. For weeks, I had been working on mustering up the courage to ask him if he could not smoke in the apartment while we were there. When I finally asked, he blew smoke into my face.
Another time, we were left to be babysat by this fellow. He refused to help us make lunch, so I tried to make Macaroni and Cheese on my own, an eight year old. The mere height and strength of my body couldn’t efficiently carry the pot of boiling water to the sink. Needless to say, I dumped the pot of boiling water down the front of my body and ended up with second degree burns. The boyfriend did nothing. My mother did nothing. My five year old sister is the one that helped me get in an ice bath afterward.
One other vivid memory I have of my mother and our time together was when my sister and I were purposefully locked out of her apartment for hours, while her and her boyfriend “cleaned.”
These visits changed me. I quickly become a very sad and angry child. When I would have to visit my mother, I would try to go to sleep as soon as I got there so it would be over with sooner. I would secretly break small things of hers because I was so angry with how she treated us. On “mom” days, I would go to the nurse’s office at school, pretending to be sick. I knew that if I was sick, I could stay in the safety of my own bed at my dad’s. School eventually caught on.
Fast forward a few years, my dad married two more women that treated my sister and I like an inconvenience. My experience with my birth mother and this series of step mothers really did a doozy on my relationship with women.
I was a curmudgeon, a depressed and bitter old lady by the time I was 18 years old. Throughout high school I did a great job of hiding my depression and daily thoughts about taking my own life because I had to. I was already being teased (mostly by other girls) for having a long neck and being weird, I didn’t want to also be known as the crazy girl. In the midwest, in the 90’s, mental health was not discussed the way it is today. I knew if I talked about it, things would get even worse.
Unfortunately, things did get worse upon entering college. Add additional stress, lack of sleep, and alcohol to the mix, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. At this point, I hated all human beings. I was angry when other people were happy. I told myself they were ignorant because they didn’t see all of the suffering in the world. I told myself that those that were happy were happy because they already had it all. They were either pretty, smart, had money, or all of the above.
I realize now that I was playing the victim card. Yet, at that point in my life, I didn’t know how else to process and cope with everything I had gone through. Like many others, I played the victim because I thought I was. I didn't have the tools to fix myself, I didn't even know any tools existed.
One day, I was invited to join a yoga class by a dorm mate. I didn’t want to go, but for some reason I did. No surprise, I hated it. I hated all of the pretty skinny girls that could do the poses. I hated my soft and frumpy self. I hated being left alone with my thoughts. I hated someone telling me to, “Just breath.” My initial response was, “breathe this” you skinny &*#$#.
It took me a bit to get over the trauma of my first class, but I went back. Not because I wanted to, but because I bought a punch card and I was going to get my money’s worth! After about a half of dozen classes, dare I say, I kind of started to like it. At this time, I didn’t have a lot of self-awareness, but I did realize my insomnia was starting to lessen and the pure rage I always felt inside was starting to lessen. I went to yoga 2-3 times per week for about a year before one of the instructors asked me if I wanted to teach. I nearly shit my pants. I looked around, like she was talking to someone else. When I realized she was actually talking to me, I’m pretty sure I asked, “Why?” and then sucked in my gut to look more fit.
I said yes, and a few short weeks later I participated in a mini-training offered by my university and then started co-leading some classes. It was the craziest feeling to be the one in charge. I had the entire room’s attention. I had both the power and ability to help people feel good. Don’t get me wrong, I was still very self-consciousness, as I didn’t fit the fitness instructor mold, but for the first time in my life I felt good at something and in control.
After about a year of teaching gym yoga, the university offered a weekend workshop with one of the professors that studied yoga in India. This is the first time I was introduced to the philosophy and spiritual side of yoga and it blew my mind. While my Midwestern and Catholic raised self couldn’t quite wrap my mind around it all, I knew that there was something nestled in there that I needed and could help me heal inside and out. Two years later, I headed to India to figure out what it was.
At this point, I had become self-aware enough to realize that I had an issue with other women. Since my intention behind my trip to India was not only to learn more about yoga, but to heal some of my deep seated issues, I decided to room with three other women… for an entire month!
I was terrified about what I signed myself up for, but it turned out more than okay. I was lucky enough to room with some of the most inspiring and kind-hearted human beings I have ever met. Daily meditation and yoga, as well as additional education on anatomy, philosophy, and Ayurveda took me to an entirely new existence and gave me a perspective of myself and the world I never thought I would have. Living with other women was the icing on the cake, really the final push that I needed to grow and move forward in my life.
Over the last 10 years, I have continued to study both yoga and Ayurveda. I even opened a yoga studio and started an online platform designed around the ancient healing wisdom of Ayurveda so that everyone and anyone can have the tools they need to take their health and happiness into their own hands. While I love helping anyone that is sent my way, I definitely have a soft spot for helping women become the best version of themselves.
I know that life can be tough. I know that we all have experiences that shape who we are and the things we believe to be true about ourselves and others. I know that shifting your perspective and admitting that you’ve been playing the victim is no easy task. I also know that we all have the power and ability to throw that victim card away so that we can continue to grow and evolve as human and spiritual beings, and by no means does it have to be via a yoga teacher training. We were designed to live out our dharma, our best lives, but we have to be awake and open to that invitation to our “very first yoga class” in order to view things from a new perspective.