Everyone has a past that we carry with us. Past experiences can strongly affect our physical bodies, our mind and how we live in the present moment. I've discovered that when we pinpoint how the past has affected us, we can then embrace it and move on. If we can learn to let go of feelings and ultimately rise above the darkness of the past we can free ourselves from learned, self destructive behavior. My story is one of just that, I hope by sharing my honest and raw truth it will also inspire others to make healthy changes for themselves.
My parents split up when I was 5, my only sister was a baby and life completely changed when we left my Dad. My Father struggled with substance abuse which lead to an abusive relationship between my parents. At the time of my parents separation, I had no idea why my Mother left my Father and as a young child it tore me to pieces. I found myself longing for my Dad when I was with Mom and vice versa. As a child it was difficult for me to come to terms with them moving on, so I created a lot of conflict as they tried to form new relationships. As time went on I learned a lot of what NOT to do, from both of my parents. I became a mother-like figure for my baby sister (which is an entirely different story on its own). Through my childhood experiences of my parents issues and divorce I learned many tough lessons. I saw firsthand the destruction of drugs and alcohol in my father’s life, further learning that addiction runs deep in my family. Through my Mom's relationships after my Father I learned that a wealthy man can't fix all of your problems. After many years of struggling and difficult lessons learned I am happy to say that both my parents and have wonderful lives full of love and light.
During more turbulent times in my past, I moved with my Father to Osoyoos, BC in 2003. At that time, my Mother was set to move to Bali with a man that turned out to be a fraud (he had a secret other life). This transition for me from bigger city life in Red Deer to the small town in Osoyoos as a teenager was difficult for me. I missed my friends tremendously and found it hard to embrace this new tiny town with accompanying tiny school. I missed my big groups of friends a lot.
Life with my Father became more and more destructive as he became further addicted to many different substances. I hid a lot of this toxic time from everyone, especially my little sister. When it became too much I finally opened up to my Mom. Upon hearing of my Father's issues and what I was living with she packed herself up and she moved here to Osoyoos right away.
Not being around the destructive lifestyle at my Father's place things seemed to get better for me. I found great friends in my new school and met the love of my life. I was 16 at the time and was 21. We are still together to this day and he is my rock after 15 years. We partied a lot as teens tend to do and together floated between staying between my Moms, Dads and his parents houses. Wherever the party was, we were there. We moved away, came back, and thus began our life of destruction together.
I began doing everything my Father did, but because it was on weekends I thought it was okay. It’s funny when your 16, you think you know it all. I dabbled into cocaine, ecstasy, cigarettes and being completely blackout drunk. I loved the feeling of the outer body experience. Because I was only doing these things on the weekends, I didn’t think it was a problem. The pattern continued and every Sunday became a recovery day for the week.
In my early 20’s I was diagnosed with epilepsy. I feel as though it was almost self inflicted with the substance abuse I was doing to my body. I only had seizures when stress was high or when I was experiencing lack of sleep from the uppers. The seizures made me feel like I couldn’t speak, think or do anything. Through that experience I found meditation. I read The Secret, all the Eckhart Tolle teachings and many other self help books. I discovered how to control my mind and cope with the acute seizures.
We grew up, let go of the weekend party scene for relationship and health reasons.
We moved into our own place, which I loved. I quickly embraced the domestic lifestyle. I decided to quit the service industry and start my own cleaning business.
For the first few years I loved it but as my business grew became exhausted. The physical aspect of cleaning caused a lot of strain and stress on my body. I became envious of the work I did for others and disliked coming home to my own house which wasn't up to par. My days on consisted of was cleaning my clients homes as well as mine. It became very repetitive and lonely. To cope I found my way back to substance abuse. I became addicted to Percocet as my now fiancé had a snowboard injuries and was prescribed the drug for himself. I begged for one because in my mind we had to do things together. As soon as the pill kicked in the feeling was amazing. It all started by us taking them here and there it quickly became a daily habit. I tried justifying the reasons why we were abusing this drug to myself. One night I took one of his pills and took it at work the next day, what followed was the worst mistake of my life. When on Percocet I could power through those cleans like a the busiest bee in the hive. I was hooked. We went from Percocet to Oxycodone and as our tolerance increased so did our intake. We found a source and spent almost $100 a day on pills. Our finances starting to drain. We lived like this for about 8 months and I then I decided to quit.
I told my friends and family and got the help I needed at the time. The withdrawal was so horrible I thought I could never go on. Thanks to a friend I started to fallow @yoga_girl on Instagram. I remember reading this a quote from Rachel Brathen that completely changed the way I felt.
Feeling lost? It’s ok. You are at the right place, this is the right time. Every single choice you’ve ever made has brought you here because this is where you need to be.
You are supported by the earth below you and watched over by the skies above. You are a divine being of light... And you are not alone. Light surrounds you; love surrounds you and emanates from your very being.
If you ever forget, just place your hands on your heart. Close your eyes and Listen....
That feeling, your heart beating inside your chest. That’s it right here. Love cannot be lost, you can lose your way yes, but you can never be lost because love is at the essence of your soul, and love is always present. –Rachel B.
That quote hit me hard. I thought about my current state and felt overcome with a roller coaster of emotions. I placed my hand on my chest and felt my heart beating. As I did this I lay down on my lawn and did a big full body stretch. For the first time I found comfort in my physical body. This is where I began to discover the practice of yoga. I was a self taught myself for a year when I set the for myself to goal to teach others.
During this time of new found inner peace and yoga studying I fell off my path once again. Only 3 months after opening up to everyone about my drug addiction I found out that my other half had a monthly prescription. I secretly dove deep into it again. The temptation got to me as I knew the pills were around and we started the viscous cycle again. I would search for them when he left for work and I started sneaking some of his pills. I couldn't believe the person I had turned in to. I came clean to my significant other about sneaking his pills and we began supporting each other in our destructive habits once again. We found a source to purchase more pills to fuel my addiction. The downward cycle continued. The only way I can describe it is, living at a fast speed in a slow paced life. We were numb to our surroundings in the present moment. Always thinking what is next, nothing had intention. We filled our days with work to pay for our addiction.
Over two years of being addicted to something it really begins to effect the mind, body and mostly your relationships. I distanced myself from the ones who knew me well and created justification in my head for backing away from friendships. I wasn’t ready to stop. I was living a lie of wanting to be a free yogi, but using substances to power through cleaning houses for a living. Here is the truth bomb, it was early in 2015 when I finally quit for good. We looked at each other (and in the mirror) we both began bawling and wondering how we got to this place. We made the choice to secretly quit. Being addicted to something with your life partner is very difficult. I was so dependent on him giving me my fix every day and vice versa. It took over a month before we felt normal. We kept our firm decision to finally quit a secret between the two of us as we had already told friends and family that we quit previously. Those first 2 weeks coming off the drugs were hell. You are uncomfortable in your skin, can’t sleep, eat, and coming face to face with the feelings which made you want to take the drugs to numb yourself in the first place. The second withdrawal was 10X worse than the first. These narcotics act upon the nervous system and the brain. Prolonged usage stops the body from producing natural endorphins. This makes people feel sick or depressed if they stop using. Having epilepsy I couldn’t function without sleep, so my partner would take care of me. He was my rock through the quitting process. He took care of me as much as I took care of him. We were both finally at a point where we were ready to move on in the right direction with our lives. He became the person I fell in love with again as we were actually present with each other. It was a real relief on our relationship. He no longer had to carry the burden of watching and supporting me as I went deeper down the drug rabbit hole. I could see the pain in his eyes everyday and how much emotional baggage he carried on his shoulders. We created this toxic life where we actually could not function without opiates. Life was a complete struggle.
As we found ourselves again, I enrolled to become a yoga instructor in a 200 hour course. I finally had a goal which created purpose. I wanted to share how meditation helped me in my health journey with epilepsy and drug addition. I dove deep into the practice of yoga with the goal of helping others. Although I felt happiness in becoming a yoga instructor the secrets of my dark past created a feeling of being unworthy of my dreams. I was guilty that I went down that path in the first place. At the time, I justified everything as we were functioning drug addicts. We worked, lived day to day, and so I thought it was okay. I would look at people and assume they had their own dirty laundry to make myself feel better. The truth is, I held onto that guilt until recently. I still cleaned as a second job and still had a nagging little voice in my head saying if you had a pill maybe this would go faster. I told my fiancé and he encouraged me to quit the cleaning business as it was too much of a temptation. Today we count ourselves fortunate that we quit before the fentatyl crisis began. It was easy to do with his support emotionally and financially.
Although I taught yoga for the past two years, I’ve been holding on to a lot of guilt for hearing that temptation in my mind. I found myself rushing through my days and not taking the time for self love and care. I was overworking working myself just to make money which really affected day to day life. I spent my mornings doing my plans for morning classes followed by 2-3 cleaning jobs. After cleaning I would then return home to prepare for my evening yoga class and end the day by walking my dog. Meals were still not priority and I didn’t increase my food intake for all of the extra active work I was doing. I feel as though I was struggling with an eating disorder. Giving more than I received allowed me to wither away. Teaching and cleaning was all for others, I didn’t keep up with my personal practice very often. I also couldn't shake the feelings of unworthiness for my new life as a yoga teach as no one knew about my dark past.I felt guilt for the lack of time spent with my family, friends and my animals as well. It didn’t hit me until this past winter when I fractured my SI joint and saw my chiropractor. He mentioned that I was super skinny and that if I had some meat on my bones, I probably wouldn’t have injured myself. Food never sat right as I always waited too long. By the time I was over hungry I would just skip meals to not feel sick when I actually ate.
Opening up to my loved ones has helped me let go of all of these feelings of guilt and being unworthy. The encouragement and advice from fellow mentors, teachers and close students has helped immensely as well. Since I quit cleaning I have focus and drive to be the best teacher I can be. I now completely practice what I preach in class! Food is fuel and I have a healthier relationship with it. It’s a necessity, one of the only ways to nourish our bodies. It took me a week of forcing healthy stuff into my body to create my appetite again. I’ve already gained 5 pounds; it’s amazing what stress and not being mindful does to our physical body! I’m sober am very proud of that.Since I left my cleaning jobs I have more time for self love and more time to share this beautiful practice that’s changed my life, and honestly I wouldn’t change a damn thing! I’m aware that I have an addictive personality, but also know that if I didn’t go down this path I might not have did that life changing full body stretch in my backyard. I wonder if I would have have found this path to inner peace without the practice of yoga.
By sharing my truth, I hope to help someone make the changes that they are seeking. I hope my story serves as an inspiration to others on a path to become that ‘once sober’ version of them again. Everyday people are overdosing on these substances; there were 488 overdose deaths in BC during the first four months of 2017. My only hope is that I can help past users, current users or friends of them see that anything is possible! The truth is, the choice is yours. It truly is possible to rise above the darkness and feel worthy of this beautiful life and still make your dreams come true. We all make mistakes and it's time to let go of guilt and feelings of judgment. Your life isn’t defined by past mistakes. I’m now embracing my past by sharing a dark and honest part of my story. I am no longer feeding my fears and letting it hold me back anymore.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I would love to hear from you! I am here for anyone seeking advice or encouragement on their path to soberness and healing. Please feel free to share my story with anyone that you feel that it might help. I highly recommend talking to someone impartial like a councilor as it’s important to find the reason we turn to substances in the first place. The number one thing is believing in your strength and having confidence in yourself!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.