Dear yoga teacher, I am not your friend.
By Emelia Symington Fedy
Dear Yoga teacher, you are not my friend.
I went to a new yoga teacher today. I had been hearing about how popular her classes were for a long time, which was precisely why I did not go. Eventually I did go, and her class was good; she was a really good teacher and I couldn’t help but like her. I could see why she was so popular, but there was just this one little thing. She kept calling us her friends. “Friends, rotate your hip to the sky.” “Friends, inhale together and hold for 4, 3, 2.”
I found myself thinking, “Really, am I your friend? Can I count on you when I’m down? Can I call you and be full on dark as shit and my worst self with you, and you will listen to my wailing? When something important is happening in my life, will you call me and ask for tiny insignificant details?”
No, because you don’t even know who I am. In fact, if I did call to complain about how my man made this weird sound when he kissed me this morning, you might call the police.
So I am not your friend, lady.
I have very high-caliber friendships and you have not made the cut. I will take you in fast and furious but you must be willing to reciprocate. I will bare my soul and at times treat you like shit and you must hold fast and true. I will sometimes lose it for no good reason and think my life is over and you will have to be good and ready to listen to all that bullshit.
I am finding that as I get older — funny typical general sentence — my friendships are weakening.
I have had very close and tight friends my whole life. I remember being 18 at this personal growth retreat and vowing that I would cultivate only the deepest of friendships. And from that moment on, I did. As my best friend used to say, “There are the kind of fish that are on the surface and hang out up near the top of things, and there are the bottom dwellers, down in the dark. We are those kind of fish, the fish that swim deep.” Now, I agree with this woman completely, but even she is not my best friend anymore. We are all starting to really do our thing and put ourselves, our jobs, our partners, our parents, our dogs, our own time in front of spending time with each other.
And it’s easier to email and text than call. And things get misunderstood, and sides have to be chosen.
For the first time in my life I lost a friend. I have a womens’ group and we have been having monthly intentional gatherings for over 10 years, but in the past few years it has been drying up. Gatherings don’t happen easily anymore. It’s hard to find the time, and when it happens, there are babies to contend with. I try and try again to make it a priority but I’m getting sick of being the instigator of the visits. I guess I have this underlying fear that my friends are not as devoted to me as I to them. Or I don’t think they would have my back anymore if I needed it. Their focus is elsewhere. Honestly, if I could live in a Big Love family compound I would. We don’t have to share husbands, but a bunch of us all living on some land, fighting and laughing and working together, sounds like heaven to me.
So last year, for many different and long-drawn-out but very airtight reasons, me and another member of our womens’ group had a deep and for real falling out. It was heartbreaking for me to learn that a friendship, a sisterhood, could actually be broken for good, and with the person that you think this is least likely to ever happen to, and then it does.
Too much hurt.
Too much anger.
Too many places rubbed raw.
And knowing that love and forgiveness is ultimately most important and trying — really trying — to let the hurt go… there is still too much pain. There will always be a glaze between us because when you know it can be broken it’s never really safe again, is it? I love her deeply, but we don’t talk on the phone, we don’t go for walks. We don’t seek each other out. We are not really friends anymore. This is still a total shock to me.
Yeah, so friendships are fragile. This is something I have just learned. I guess that’s where the space comes from all of us now, because if you know that things can go wrong, you are a bit more careful, aren’t you? The entanglement of two women is so strong that if separated, afterwards there can only be a huge feeling of distance.
Which is okay I guess. I get that things change. And I’m not hard done. I am just a bit tougher.
And when you don’t call as much as you used to, or you miss my birthday, or you cancel our date again because the kids are sick again or for whatever reasonable reason, I find myself rebelling because I long for it to be the way it was — when we were in love with each other and we would go out dancing together and we would take off our tops and howl at the moon and we would dream big and spend time talking about the bigness of our dreams. When we ruled this town!
No more abandonment into pure love.
That time is done. And we are in our houses, with our spouses, and if I had to choose it wouldn’t be you in first place anymore. At all. And the earth’s axis tilts.
So, yoga teacher, I thank you for wanting to call us “friends,” but we are not friends. It takes a long time to make that word and a lot of effort to hold that word strong and neither of us probably have the energy for it. As my dear pal Beyonce once said, “I don’t think you can handle this.”
Let’s just stick to backbends, shall we?
About Emelia Symington Fedy
Emelia Symington Fedy is a theatre creator, writer, yogi, friend and popular raconteuse. Her favorite quote at the moment is: “Live the light, spread the light, be the light” (found on a Yogi Tea teabag). This is probably because she has a penchant for darkness.