What I’ve Lost Since Losing It
by Nicole Markardt

I lost it.
What ever it is…
That thing that keeps us wrapped and raveled. Before it is lost, we are neat and able to be kept; kept neat and kept contained, so they ( the contained and neat) can be kept comfortable. I was comfortable once.
But then…
Then I unraveled. It got messy. I was unable to fit into any situation without feeling as if I was passing for normal. It was palpable with every social interaction.
A panic disorder is crippling. We long to be wrapped tight again. It felt safe to fit so nicely into the scenery. But now, as it all unravels, it’s lonely.

Now there is space.
There is space to feel it all, and it all hurts so much. This spaciousness leaves room. There is room to feel unsafe, to coil into a ball of fear, but what’s even scarier than anything is that now there will always be room to fall apart.
I’ve crossed over, and once we cross over to a place where something is lost, once we unravel, we can never get the wrapping as tight as it once was. It’s like trying to re-wrap a box with used wrapping paper. It will always look wrinkled and its shiny, flawless appearance is never quite the same.
It took me a long time to understand that the gift inside is still luminous. Sometimes we must lose ourselves to fully experience our own brilliance- we breakdown to break open.

I lost it in my 20’s- somewhere between landing my dream job, and meeting Mr. Right.
It’s funny how just when things came together, I found myself falling apart. It is then, that the reality of my heart and how it’s wired became evident to me. I started to manifest all of the things I wanted for myself. I wanted to feel safe. I wanted to nurture and teach. I wanted to offer guidance to children, and being around them fed the scared little girl inside of me. After a relationship with Mr. Wrong which ended in trauma and violence, I wanted to find Mr. make-it all right. I no longer craved the drama of saving the troubled boys. I wanted someone to just love me- someone I knew could never put his hands around my throat until I passed out.

I met him. Straight out of college, I got the job I’d wanted. I had all of the things I prayed for. It is when wonderful things started showing up in my life, that I found myself in a locked bathroom panting and breathless unable to talk or breathe. These episodes would occur at random and when I least expected it… until they occurred every day. I began to hide from life after driving over the Manhattan Bridge one beautiful afternoon. I lost my peripheral vision, my ability to regulate my breath, and any control that I had over my own thoughts. My mind was my enemy that had invaded my being, and along with my pounding heart, my mind pounded thoughts of doom into my consciousness. Those driving trips became more infrequent, and I began to rely on my really nice boyfriend to drive me everywhere. If he wasn’t available, I made up all kinds of excuses as to why I could show up for life. I was a young 20 something and while all of my friends were out living, I was at home hiding from life because fear and panic were too much to bear.

It was too risky to chance a breakdown and be seen as unsteady, unstable, or as someone who was losing it. I was hiding from others, but mostly I was hiding from myself. I never dealt with the night that the guy I wanted to save, the guy I swore I could change, wrapped his hands around my throat and squeezed so hard I lost consciousness. I never dealt with him believing he took my life and drove the car we were riding off of a bridge. I never dealt with the shattered bones in my back and the month that I spent in the hospital learning to stand up again.

I did what strong people do. I practiced walking every day, I smiled, and told everyone that I was ok. When the doctors suggested that I take time off from commuting into the city to attend school, I defied them. I finished my semester because that is what strong people do.

Everyone cheered me on and told me that I was a warrior. They called me an inspiration so I proudly wore that title and kept on going. I don’t even really remember crying. When the doctors told me that the surgery may not be successful and I may be paralyzed, I asked to see a priest and I gave the nursing staff a thumb up as they wheeled me into surgery. I was what people describe as strong. It made sense not to pick scabs off of old wounds or feel unfelt feelings. When we do that, we awaken sleeping giants.
So I didn’t.

I got everything I ever wanted after that night, and when I imagined that I could finally breathe a sigh of relief, a sense of completion… I lost it.
It took me a decade to redefine what strength really means. A decade of my life was spent seeking safety in other people, places, and in life; a decade of teetering over the edge as I sought healing everywhere.

On the other side of the edge was the wisdom that I am safe without any outside factors.

Strength does not lie in staying wrapped and raveled. Strength is shedding tears, admitting fear, and sitting with pain. It took me a very long time to admit and let go of trying to appear perfect. The freedom that I have found in imperfection has opened up new worlds for me.

I’ve connected with other imperfect people who no longer try to pass for normal either. I share my stories and my heart with the world.

I lost many things since losing it.
I lost the definition of the word normal.
I lost my closed mind.
I lost my desire to fit in.
I lost self-hatred.
I lost fear.

Every now and again, that tricky beast taps me on the shoulder and tries to get reacquainted. I tell him to fuck off because he’s a liar who tried to convince me that I was going to die- that I was going to die having never lived. We broke up a long time ago.

Losing it cleared the way for my experience with strong authentic relationships where I never have to hide. Mostly, losing it helped me find a more honest definition of myself. My rich, tender, wild, and powerful emotions are now integrated and have helped transform my trials into revelations.


A public school teacher, writer, reiki practitioner and certified yoga instructor- I guide both children and adults through yoga practice. After breaking my back, doctors couldn’t be certain I would ever walk again. Igniting my desire to heal both the emotional and physical body, I went on to receive my 200 hr. Hot Yoga/ Ashtanga Vinyasa teaching certificate, along with a specialized 100 hr. Yoga Rocks!Kids certification. As I share my journey toward peace through healing practices like yoga and meditation, I am immensely grateful for the second chance I have been given. My articles have appeared in MindBodyGreen, Elephant Journal, Rebelle Society, and Positively Positive. I am the author of Peace, Love & Practice- a column for DoYouYoga.com