The Surprising Way I Finally Chilled Out (And Saved My Marriage)

By

relaxed couple
It wasn't drugs. It wasn't therapy. It was so much better than that.

About a year and a half earlier, I'd gone off my SSRIs and my mood-stabilizing birth control because we wanted to start a family. This was risky, as I suffered wild mood swings and sometimes morphed into a psychopathic Hulk Smash version of myself. But we figured the risk was worth it.

When a year had passed, however, and we still hadn't managed to get me pregnant, things changed between us. We stopped communicating. We stopped being good to each other. Each of us was already disappointed and heartbroken by our struggles with infertility, obviously, but this was compounded by the fact that each of us suddenly felt unloved by the other.

He coped by bar-hopping with his colleagues almost every night, in a gesture of avoidance. I coped by seething with resentment until—again and again—it all boiled over and we ended up screaming at each other, late at night, my ring flung across the room, my foot out the door.

Several months before I started attending classes at my local yoga studio, we almost separated. And even though we eventually agreed to fight for our marriage, I still felt I was walking on eggshells.

That tiny yoga studio was my escape. It was my sanctuary.

The transformation I began to experience once I started yoga was slow. With every breathing exercise we did at the beginning of class, I could feel myself getting lighter. With every end-of-class savasana, I could feel myself attaining a sort of peace.

Suddenly, I was managing my chronic depression and anxiety just fine, without Lexapro or Xanax or Yaz. Suddenly, I no longer had to worry that I might devolve into a raving lunatic over some small slight or disappointment.
Despite my brand new existence as an Enlightened Being, however, I wanted more. I wanted to feel this way all of the time. There were still things in my life that left me frustrated and angry and overcome—our infertility issues, our real estate troubles, the shaky state of our marriage—and I wanted to know how to let go of these emotions.
So I fled again, this time to a weekend yoga and cooking retreat in Vermont.

On the last day of our retreat, we did an early morning flow and then arranged our yoga mats in a circle. On the first day, our teacher had asked us to share why we were there, and what we were hoping to accomplish. This time around, she asked us to share what we had learned.

When it was my turn, I drummed my fingers on my knees and stared at my toes. I picked imaginary pieces of lint off my mat. I snatched a glance around the circle and then swallowed.

"When I came on this retreat," I finally said, "I was angry about so many things in my life." I paused. They smiled encouragingly, so I went on. I told them about our failure to get pregnant. Our inability to sell our one-bedroom condo without taking a huge financial hit. A handful of things that, when put together, made me feel hopeless and helpless and frustrated with life.

"But this weekend," I said, "I kept feeling these immense waves of gratitude. That I had yoga in my life. That I was on a yoga retreat. That I was at a place in my life and in my career where these things were even possible."

My fellow yogis nodded.

"Basically, I realized that I have a lot to be grateful for," I said, feeling that I was sliding dangerously close to having a Lifetime Original moment, "so I should probably just chill the eff out."