Here's me in 2007, doing tree pose in a bar wearing my friend's Steelers gear (yes, I know my foot is on my knee.) So, I guess you could say I was ahead of the curve and began the drinking and yoga trend. Just kidding, but really though, I was ahead of my time. Back to the picture. This is 26 year-old me, beginning my healing journey. It doesn't really seem like it since I'm demonstrating a yoga asana at an establishment where I would drink my face off regularly. I was fresh out of a terribly toxic romantic relationship that lasted far too long.
I felt so broken after my relationship with G. fell apart. Literally, I thought the man broke my nose. That's where I drew the line. I knew I had to get out or he was going to kill me. It wasn't the first time he had laid hands on me, but it was definitely the last. When he told me that if I called the cops, they wouldn't believe me. BIG RED SIRENS went off in my head. And I finally had the courage to leave him. Upon leaving him, I felt scared to do things alone again. One of them being, going to the gym. So, I forced myself to go to the gym. And I decided to try yoga. It was also my very first year of teaching Special Education and I felt completely overwhelmed by teaching, still in school for my teaching credential, and in the middle of this completely shitty relationship. I needed something to help fix me.
I also began to amp up my reading. I found myself wandering around the Barnes and Noble at the Americana in Glendale. I picked up a Thich Nhat Hahn book. It intrigued me. I have always found Eastern philosophies and religions very interesting and I always seemed to gravitate towards them. Must be the former-Catholic-school-girl in me rebelling. I began to read more about Buddhism and how our attachment to things keeps us in perpetual suffering and we create our suffering. So here I was, reading Buddhist type books and starting an asana practice. I was there on my mat; Monday and Friday evenings and sometimes Saturday mornings, if I hadn't drank too much the night before. I was finding comfort in learning something new. I was moving my body in a somewhat familiar way, since many of the poses were stretches I had done before as a little ballerina. I felt comfortable doing this kind of movement in my body.
My first yoga teacher, Mona, reminded me of my Mom. She had this very warm and caring way about her. I practiced Kundalini yoga with her until I moved to the South Bay from Glendale. I recall in my early days in that old YMCA building in Glendale, thinking to myself. . . "I could teach this someday." And there the seed was planted. I knew I had a lot of work to do on myself. Looking for a boyfriend was far from my mind because I wanted to work on me. I had tried this before, but I needed a new environment, new habits, and a fresh start. My move to El Segundo gave me peace of mind since I was by the ocean and I could ride my bike on the strand and watch the sun set. I was ready for a new way of life.
For the first time in a few years, I was happy. I loved where I worked, I loved where I lived, and I was changing my habits. My journey started with small changes, but the impact was far greater. Where ever you are on your journey, stay with it. There are days where it is hard and you will want to give up. I sometimes step back from where I am and look around and what I've realized, is that there are a lot of unhealed people who are unwilling to look at their lives and fix their shit. They'd rather stay addicted to something; alcohol, drugs, shopping, work, sex, bad relationships, whatever. It's a lot easier to stay stuck than to begin the healing journey. The struggle and discomfort is worth it. I look at the girl in this photo and I see the potential that I really couldn't see back then. I'm a lot more healed now than I was in this photo. I won't lie, from that point I continued to make not great choices, but each day I was getting better. It's about progress, not perfection. Once you have a taste of how sweet life can be, going back is never an option.