The Power of the Yoga Community and the Drive-By Divorce
By Carrie Joyner
The main idea when I created my yoga and fitness studio was to build a community of like-minded people; people who loved yoga, people who wanted to get healthy and fit and strong…mind, body and soul.
I had no idea how important this community would become to me until about 2 weeks after opening the doors and had just experienced a drive by divorce.
If you have ever started or owned a business, you probably know how stressful it is.
You bet it all on red, dedicate months or years (in my case it took about 2 years of planning, financing and finding the perfect location, location, location) to even get to the point where you could actually consider it being “in business”.
Add on to that the end of a marriage that involved a 4 year old son, and it was a recipe for disaster.
So what is a drive-by divorce?
It’s getting a text from your husband asking you to come outside at lunch time.
I told him to just come into the studio, I had a pole dancing class going on and wanted to make sure all went well.
Then it’s getting another text saying “please, it’s really important…”, so I went outside.
I was greeted by the black Mercedes SUV, opened the door, got in and found my now ex-husband staring at me with red eyes and tear stains on his custom fit Armani suit.
He didn’t say much as he drove literally to the other end of the parking lot, where he parked the car and looked at me and said “You aren’t in love with me anymore, and I am not in love with you…we are getting a divorce.”
Simple as that.
The conversation was a bit of a blur.
I remember it not being a conversation, more of a speech.
I asked him what his next move was, and he said it was to go home and get his stuff.
He was moving into a near-by hotel, it’s just over.
My only concern at this point was not me, but our son. I said “What about Shane? What do we tell Shane?” “Nothing”, he said, “tell him I am on a business trip until I figure it out.”
I got in my jeep and drove far, far away- not wanting my clients or staff to see me crying.
I headed to my best friends house on auto-pilot. She wasn’t there, so I headed back to the studio and did a few more hours of work like a robot.
I couldn’t think, move, feel….breathe.
It was a sucker punch to the heart.
I thought things were getting better, he said they were.
The next few days were a blur.
I was in shock but trying to act like things were normal for my son, who was totally out of the loop.
Every morning I woke up, took my son to daycare, went to the studio and tried to get through the day.
Working on and at the studio proved to be the perfect distraction.
I was an open door kind of girl, and anyone- staff, client, teacher, etc. knew that they could always pop in and say hi or talk to me. This revolving door of mostly females became my tribe. Literally. I would tell them what was going on if they had the intuition or inclination to ask, and I would repeat the story a million times over.
Not only did I find women who had been through the same or a similar situation and even some men, but I found a sounding board and it became like therapy to me.
Between emotionally fuelled lawyer visits to trying to be zen and teaching my yoga classes, my studio became more than a studio.
It became my happy place.
When we were under construction, I wanted a big executive office in the back room with cameras and an intercom-but I ended up putting my tiny desk in a tiny closet right off the lounge and reception area, so I actually sacrificed luxury for the benefit of hearing every conversation, every client at the desk and being 10 feet away from my staff at any given time.
Which leads me to Merissa.
I heard a woman freaking out at the desk about a canceled Pilates class.
We used Mind Body software, which allowed us to see who had registered for what class, so if there was a cancellation for whatever reason, we could contact them to notify them of the cancellation. She did not register, but showed up at the “regular” time and was livid that the class had been cancelled.
I think the teacher was sick and we couldn’t find a sub. Whatever the case was, I decided to go out and talk to her. I asked her if she wanted some tea.
We sat in the lounge and sipped on tea as she vented about how far she’d come expecting to do her class and go home and make dinner.
I apologized, things happen sometimes that are out of control.
I guess she saw that I wasn’t my normal bubbly self and asked if I was alright.
I said no, not really.
I was a little overwhelmed with what had happened. I explained what I was going through and in the blink of an eye she went from an angry client to a person with the best words of advice I have yet to hear.
She told me about one of her best friends who had been married to a pilot, and he did the same thing.
In this case, there was another woman involved.
What she told me next wouldn’t change my life, but it did change my outlook on everything.
She said “the best thing you can do right now is take care of yourself and your son.
Get yourself into the best physical shape you have ever been in, focus on being happy and spoiling yourself.
Don’t do this to make him feel bad, do it to make you feel amazing and not sit there thinking about the why’s and the poor me’s.”
This did not make everything better. It did not change the situation or my grieving process.
But after Merissa, I talked to literally hundreds of women, of every age, who had similar stories.
I stopped feeling like I was the only person this had ever happened to.
I started to let go of the blame and anger and I started to feel really, really connected to every person who walked through my doors.
We all have a story.
Once we learn to embrace the fact that everyone is going through, has gone through, or will go through a life altering struggle- we become one.
That community that I started building became my pillar of strength in a trying time.
They say everything happens for a reason. I believe it.
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