I just finished reading, “This is Not the Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness,” a memoir by Laura Munson.
It is the story of what happened after Munson’s husband told her, “I don’t love you anymore, and I don’t know if I ever did.”
Yikes. Well, she didn’t hightail it out of the marriage or turn to the arms of another. Instead, she said, “I don’t buy it,” and remained steadfast in her belief it was just a rough time in his life and he would come back to his senses. She was right. After a handful of months of difficulties, they did slowly reconnect and reunite and make a return to love.
I spent much of the book both admiring Munson for giving him the benefit of the doubt, for not shaking up her two kids’ lives and not freaking out in massive crying or anger jags, and also thinking she was crazy for not letting go and getting the heck out. From what she writes, he was mostly a monster to her for months, didn’t acknowledge her presence and didn’t spend time with his kids, instead preferring to be at the bars.
Aside from all that, one bit from the memoir reached out from the pages and grabbed me by the throat. She offered a piece of advice her grandmother especially loved to repeat:
“Taking care of yourself might mean letting yourself be misunderstood.”
I’m paraphrasing here, but the sentiment is the same. I read that part half a dozen times, it moved me so.
You must not be afraid. You must take the best care of yourself that you know how and not be concerned if others understand or not. This appeals to the quirk who lives and breathes within me. I haven't always adhered to this philosophy. Being a teen or insecure 20-something can make you do things you know aren't good for you, but will keep you in another person's good graces.
Taking care of myself might not look like how you take care of yourself. And no matter the relentless urge to explain myself, I must remember it’s okay if nobody else gets it today, tomorrow or ever.
I am reminded of the times in my yoga practice, an easy example. When I come to class dejected, exhausted or particularly unmotivated, I am the only one who knows how I feel. I must be okay with dropping into savasana ten minutes early, and allowing my fear of appearing inadequate to wash over and through me.
I sometimes struggle with that internal debate: “Oh, can’t take a break now. The teacher will think I’m lazy,” or “Can’t quit now, everybody’s watching me, and I can feel this Type-A do every single posture yoga student next to me judging my practice!”
I think maybe we all harbor tinges of worry about what others think of us. We are humans after all, gloriously flawed humans. Maybe you don't. Kudos to you. But I’ll be over here, appearing a little weird, but really just in the midst of some serious self-care.
Jennifer Mulson is the managing editor of Marmapoints. She also teaches yoga at CorePower Yoga in Colorado Springs.