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    Out of Hiding

    This is not a message I planned on writing. From the very beginning of this story, through the twists and turns, I intended to not draw attention to it. And yet, as time passes, I find myself compelled to share as a practice of receiving, as a hand reaching to others who feel alone or shamed in their suffering, and as a way to honor the life and loss that is so profound right now.

    I have spent the last six months hiding.

    This fall I found out that I was pregnant. I was sick much of the time, which kept me away from teaching. I felt cautious knowing the risks at my age, and I wanted some privacy as I adjusted to my new and very unexpected circumstances.

    The weeks turned to months, and I made it past the magic three-month mark. At one of the few classes I taught in the latter part of the year, I shared my news. No more hiding my changing body, my absence, my new role. I was excitedly rearranging my plans (inner and outer) for my life.

    Shortly after that class, I received the results of a blood test that showed that the baby had an extra chromosome. Like Noah’s Ark, we come with two of each – he had three of one. It was a terminal diagnosis.

    Despite the accuracy of the blood test, my doctor emphatically urged that I wait three more weeks until I could have an amniocentesis, which would give a definitive result. This was an unbearable time of fear and dread… and more hiding.

    In the middle of January I got the call. Joan Didian starts her book, The Year of Magical Thinking with the line, “Life changes in an instant.” Mine changed dramatically three times in a very short amount of time. The baby did in fact have the extra chromosome. Only one in 6000 babies with this condition make it to term, only to live a few days.

    For my physical and emotional health, I decided to end the pregnancy.

    It’s difficult to put words to all of this. I have been in a washing machine of depression, despair, grief and rage. This is a physical healing as well as emotional, psychic and spiritual.  It has dismantled my life in many ways. I suppose that is when we get to decide how we put things back together.

    By making the brain organize words around this incomprehensible story, I can start to integrate it into the fabric of my life. It slowly begins to find its resting place.

    While I do not have the big insight or list of lessons learned, this does bring up conversations I want to be a part of:

    I am struck by how much silence there is around events in the human life cycle, particularly related to death. Maybe even more so around women’s health. Infertility, miscarriage and pregnancy challenges are private matters, certainly, but in keeping these experiences hidden, it’s easy to slip into shame, isolation and guilt. For me, it also dishonors the life that was and the loss I feel.

    No one is exempt from loss and pain, so why pretend it doesn’t happen? (Many reasons worth investigating.)

    Let’s open a dialogue about how to be with someone who is in grief. I believe we are asked to increase our capacity for discomfort and vulnerability so we can be with someone who is in deep pain. Without wanting to fix it, without making it about us.

    As my therapist confirmed, most people want to talk about their loss. It’s probably the most real and constant thing in their lives. It may be awkward or uncomfortable to call attention to someone’s suffering, but to not acknowledge it is like pretending you don’t see the sign they are holding that says, “I’m hurting.”

    This doesn’t always require elaborate words – a touch of the hand, a simple “I’ve been thinking of you” can be enough.

    At the same time, a well-meaning “I’m glad you’re better now” or “it will get better with time” can come across as, “Please get back to ‘normal’ so we don’t have to talk about it.” Even when a person is past the acute stages of grief and having moments of enjoying life again, the loss is always right underneath the surface.

    Some things can’t be fixed. This is a foreign idea in our culture. When recovering from loss or trauma, there’s no way to shortcut or lessen the blow (at least not healthy ways). We can’t figure it out or make a plan, which the mind is so anxious to do. We eventually heal, but grief is slow to scab and always leaves a scar. It’s also cyclical and can be triggered by the smallest of things. It’s essential to not rush inner healing – our own or another’s. How difficult it can be to remember this. The practices of kindness, compassion and forgiveness become as necessary as breath.

    There’s an intimacy that comes with sharing our humanness, and in that intimacy, many things can come up. I share my story with sensitivity and respect for what it can trigger in others. As part of this practice, make room for whatever emotions, memories or judgments that may have come up for you.

    This practice asks us to come out of the places we hide. If you want to share stories you’ve held inside, I welcome them (that link is to my email address). My intention at It’s All Yoga has always been to have a space where things that have been hidden can be shared openly, from the physical to the esoteric.

    And this is when I am reminded what Yoga is. It’s not poses, it’s not having an OM tattoo, not being able to speak the lingo. Or at least it’s not only those things. Sometimes it’s the honesty of anger or elation, sometimes it’s hiding and today, it’s being undisguised, letting myself be seen.

    There isn’t anything that isn’t Yoga. It’s all Yoga, right?


    42 thoughts on “Out of Hiding

    1. Colleen

      Thank you Michelle for this very honest and touching story. I’m sorry for your loss. This was beautifully written. Take care,
      Colleen Cascio

    2. Shannon Mitra

      Hi Michelle. I’m sorry to hear of your loss. I joined a Death Cafe group in Sacramento a few months ago. It has helped me get through my losses. Let me know if you might be interested in coming to a discussion.

    3. Judy

      Thank you for sharing your story. I am so sorry for your loss, Michele.
      We are all fighting battles, so it is important to be kind to one another. I am so happy that you spoke to me last week. It was so good to put a face with a name.
      Blessings be upon you.

      1. Michelle Marlahan Post author

        It’s so true, Judy. We all have something. It was lovely to meet you in person as well. Love to you in your own healing journey.

    4. Julie Anchor

      Thank you so much for sharing your difficult circumstances with us. Words can not express the sympathy I feel for your loss. All I can say is, “You are loved.” I hope to see you at the studio soon.
      Healing hugs.

    5. Jessica Heskin

      Michelle, you are the bravest, toughest woman I know. My heart is breaking for you right now, and I am so very proud and in awe of your “coming out of hiding” blog. This is not an issue women talk about; and it’s one many of us have had to face. Call me if you need anything–and I miss you.

      1. Michelle Marlahan Post author

        Thanks Jess…thank you for the work of Truth you do on behalf of women everywhere. Love to you.

    6. Jason

      I am sorry to hear of this news. I don’t know you that well and haven’t seen you for a while but have definitely noticed your absence and have been thinking about you often and sending out good thoughts. Wish you well as you continue to heal. Much love and hugs (not to mention sparkles).

    7. Rhonda Halushka

      Welcome back Michelle! Thank you for your touching and so personal story. You have a wonderful community at IAY that I am sure will make healing all the easier, although I am sure it will take time.

      1. Michelle Marlahan Post author

        Thanks, Rhonda. Yes, this is a remarkable community…that you are a part of. Much love.

    8. Lalanya

      You are so beautiful, Michelle. Thank you for sharing your story. So much. So deep. All I can do is hold your heart next to mine in spirit and love.

    9. Kitty

      I honor your process. As one who has also had some of life’s events, (why not me?), unplanned and unexpected. You are brave and I welcome you back to all of us who love you and each other. It is my experience that we are more the same than different. Know you are loved!

      1. Michelle Marlahan Post author

        Kitty – Why me/why not me?! Thank you for sharing. My hope was this story would help remind us that we are so the same. Blood, sweat and tears. Thanks for reading… xo

    10. Kate

      My dear teacher…on those days when loss & life seem palpable… I hear your sweet voice, “and this is what the living do”. We breath together!

      1. Michelle Marlahan Post author

        Thank you, Kate. We breath when there’s nothing else we can do. Thanks for being my teacher.

    11. Ellen

      I am sorry that you had to take this journey, but Joan Didion is a good companion. I would add dealing with mental illness as one of the “silent” life events faced by many. My heart is with you.

    12. Leslie McFadden o

      Dearest Michelle,
      You were very brave to put your tender and raw emotions down on paper. Part of me wants to hug you and be calm. The other part wants to yell in anger , jump up & down, shake my fist and maybe say a few things that are not very yoga-like. For now all I can say is that I am glad you have been taking time to heal. Ahimsa in practice. Take all the time you need. I am thinking of you and sending you love always. Xoxo Leslie
      P.S. my awareness of how our culture-and even my own family- hides from loss became very evident when I lost my parents close together in 1995. Sad to say I don’t think we have made much progress in our culture since then. (20 years this summer). I can talk about this at another time offline. Here’s a little humor (I hope) til I see you in person—I used to tell my therapist that I should wear a T-shIrt everyday that says “Approach with caution”. I should have taken more time for myself etc. I kept on with my normal routine with only a few adjustments. Glad in that respect that you have stepped away. You may come in and out of being engaged. That’s OK! Xo

    13. Jeanne

      Sending you so much love Michelle. Sharing our struggles with each other is a generous and brave act of kindness. Thank you for sharing yours.

    14. Jody Ansell

      Dear Michelle,

      This is such a profound loss. What a turbulent experience, no doubt from the very beginning, when you first suspected you might be pregnant. My heart goes out to you as you find your way through this intensity. May peace and equanimity support you and come to be you.


    15. Dan

      You are in my thoughts and prayers, Michelle. May you return to ease, may you be comforted and know you are loved.

    16. Corky

      Some things can’t be fixed… as usual, you do not just come out of hiding, but open the door to the rest of us with a kernel of wisdom, generously allowing us to come forward – our empty hands seen by you as open hands, ready to hold yours as we walk together.

      1. Michelle Marlahan Post author

        Oh Corky, always such beauty in your reflections. Thank you for open hands. We walk together. Love.

    17. Roberta

      Dear Michelle – thank you for being so brave and sharing your story. I am so very sorry. These are the most difficult parts of life. You are not alone. I wish I could be there to sit with you – and hug. Xoxox

    18. Yvonne

      Michelle – I’ve been to your studio only twice and spoke to you only once years ago. But I have never opted-out of receiving your emails. And this affirms why.. You approach life with extraordinary kindness, respect and love. Your sacred story is a gift to anyone who reads it. May you continue your healing knowing that all who experience your passionate commitment to life experience personal healing as well.

      1. Michelle Marlahan Post author

        Thank you, Yvonne – that’s very kind. Yes, may we all experience healing. Thank you for reading.


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