I Am Free.

I’ve decided it’s time to share my truth.  In reality, no one has to read this post.  I just have to own it.  And my way of owning who I am has always been to share it. 

Last night, I released my mission statement for Abby Newton Yoga.  Something inside me felt so clear about who I am and the student I want to serve as a yoga teacher.

“It’s my mission to make yoga accessible and fun, while creating a space where you can grow yourself spiritually in a way that’s authentic to you.⁣⁣” And my call to action – “Join me in making connections, building community, and awakening the mind, body and soul.”

I wrote it, read it and my soul was set on fire. My mission statement mirrors the woman I’ve turned out to be. It tells a deeper story, my story. A story of wanting to belong, but never really belonging anywhere. A story of questioning myself until I could stand in my truth. A story of activating parts of me that I didn’t know existed. The story of me.

Our lives are made up of moments. Here are some of the darker of mine. The shadow self that’s existed in my light.

During my senior year of high school and into college, I was in a committed relationship with a really toxic guy. For those of you who have created a story about me. Brace yourselves. We lived together, I was barely 20 and clueless. While I was working a full time job, taking care of our rental house and two dogs, he was addicted to heroin. And I had no idea. Don’t ask me how. I don’t know that either. I was twenty-one and I wanted to be loved. So much so that my story became his. I wasn’t using drugs, I was adopting his behaviors. I shut my friends and family out. I spent a lot of nights crying. I thought a lot about my own Dad, who committed suicide when I was 12, and how I couldn’t possibly let another person I loved slowly kill himself. Was I not good enough to keep the ones I love living? I never thought to save me. Only him.

I grew up in the church. One of my favorite things as a little girl was going with my family and after the service on Sunday, my grandma would take me to Wendy’s with her friends. I was the only little girl at a table of grown women. When she decided to move churches, it only made sense that I’d go with her. My parents stayed behind and together we ventured to a start-up church in our community. We happened to be present for the very first sermon. And we stayed. Me for ten years. Her until she passed in 2020.

In 2009, I started dating Ted and told him attending church was a non-negotiable if he were to date me. He wasn’t raised in the church but he entertained me anyway. We went every Sunday and I lead the girls in the youth. I went every Wednesday to Bible Study. I participated in starting a women’s program. Ted and I dated for a few years and we made the decision to move in together. I’m honest to default, so I wrote my pastor a letter letting him know. I loved Ted. I knew then I planned to marry Ted. And as a grown woman, I got to choose who I lived with.

Things starting happening inside the church. I received a four-page letter from the pastor full of statistics about divorce when couples live together before marriage. What God says about sin. The same letter telling me I could no longer serve in any capacity at the church, telling me all of our decisions have ripple effects and that this one would effect me forever. The sermons changed and echoed my letter. The women in the women’s group pleaded with me to change my mind. I graduated a four-year intensive study of the Bible and all that was said was that I did it. I no longer belonged. In fact, I was an outcast in a building full of people whose mission was to make ‘more and stronger disciples of Jesus Christ.’ A church founded on the premise that God (essentially them, because they represented God) loved everyone. . but not enough to leave them there.

Then 2015 came and Sam died. I thought a lot about God then. I’d imagine if I were to go back and read this blog from the beginning, you’d start to see a transition of my soul in my writing. I vividly remember sitting in a puddle of tears with our grief counselor that year. I asked him if Sam dying was a ripple effect. I so deeply owned the stories that others told me about myself, the story of not belonging – the story of being unlovable, that I told myself God allowed my baby to die because I wasn’t a good person.

To this day, I still get anxious going into a church building. I feel sick and my palms sweat. As a friend recently said, the church hurt is real. My parents have relocated and I adore their community. They have a beautiful pastor who leads in love. Who has created a true place of being enough. But in 2015, I couldn’t go. I was in the throes of sadness. I needed something outside of religion to sustain me. And I found yoga.

For six years, I’ve immersed myself in the practice of yoga. I was intimately lead by a wise woman who knows a great deal about it. I re-learned how to love a body that my baby died in. I bought endless books on what it means to not just move the body on the mat – but to live my yoga as a lifestyle. I became aware of the breath and it’s power. And in 2020, I decided to take a 200-hour teacher training. I knew I wanted to become a teacher but the time truly was never right.

I spent eight months learning more about yoga than I had in the five years I practiced it. I closely listened and took a large binder of notes detailing every thought that was shared with us as students. The qualities of a yoga teacher, the ethics of a yoga teacher, how to teach yoga, how to take care of yourself as a teacher, how to take care of your students, the cultural appropriation of yoga, yoga’s history, honoring the roots of yoga, studying yoga philosophy, a basic understanding of anatomy, the business of yoga and more. It was a very comprehensive program that I took to heart.

Simultaneously, I became aware of things in leadership that I didn’t love. Thankfully, I had my twenties to learn the skill of discernment and had an awareness of what was happening again.

There’s something in yoga philosophy called samskaras. It’s our habitual patterns, or the subtle impressions of our past acts left in our mind. For a brief moment, I entertained that something was wrong with me. That I connected myself to strong leaders and then disconnected from them for some fucked up subconscious reason.

But this year, I intentionally put a stop to that story. I recognized my own samskara of the shadow stories and said ‘no’. I trusted myself enough to let go of a community I loved. My story isn’t one where I don’t get saved in the end. My story isn’t one where I have to work to be loved. My story isn’t one where I have to change who I am, how I treat people and what I eat to fit in.

I trusted that my people would find me.

And they are.

Apart from marriage and motherhood, it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced.

No one can tell me that I am not enough.

I don’t have to belong anywhere, because I belong to me.

God sees me, all of me, and loves me.

It’s my mission to make yoga accessible and fun, while creating a space where you can grow yourself spiritually in a way that’s authentic to you.⁣⁣

I don’t care what God you love. I love you enough to let you choose.

I don’t care if for you, yoga is simply a physical practice. I trust your innate wisdom.

You don’t have to be a certain way or eat a certain way to show up on your mat. I trust yoga to guide you.

With me, you’re invited to make connections, be held in a safe community that celebrates who you are, and awaken all that’s good and true in you.

I recently created a ’10 Things About Me’ list for a new job to share with it’s clients. No. 7. – Glennon Doyle Melton’s book Untamed changed my life. Why? Because Glennon is an untamed woman, living and loving exactly who she is.

And now, so am I.

I am free.

A selfie I literally just took because it seemed. . . real?! =)

3 thoughts on “I Am Free.

  1. Oh, Abby, this is beautiful. I already felt so very lucky to know you before reading this, but now I deeply appreciate how your experiences have shaped who you are and the work you’re doing. Also, this writing is all the things I love: brave and fierce and honest and moving.

    Like

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