I have a friend who was struggling with a good many things in life, who escaped into a yoga ashram for a while to journal and sort things out. In that sacred space, they discovered inside they hadn’t been living their truth. At the end of that time, Jason became Jase. There was nowhere for anything to hide. Jase is my hero. I love her. I’ve envied that ability to life in a world without shadows.
I also decided to sort things out through yoga, on a 30-day challenge this September with exhale, to dive deep within myself and discover the source of why I continue to stress eat. It continued into my current 90-day challenge, and while the stress and competitiveness of my life cascade down my body, I’ve realized there are things about myself I’ve been protecting, set aside from the rest of the world behind a façade of “No worries,” and a wall of abdominal fat. My yogi Stefanie says we keep our issues in our tissues. I started to write about these things in a piece for the Philosophy Hope & Grace Community, but it’s become quite clear what I have to do to move forward here, to stop the cycle of writing and withdrawing from having to “talk around things”: I have to tell the truth.
In blogging, we speak a lot about the term “authentic voice,” that vocalization of your true identity that builds relationships. With me, the voice for the past four years has been progressively arm’s length. It’s why I’d spent so much time mimicking what others had done. It’s not because I lack original ideas; nothing could be further from the truth. It’s because for four years, I’ve been trying not to talk about what’s been happening outside what you see on the site. In blogging, we connect through images of a “reality” constructed to create desire. I have realized the only way to create and display the real life I desire, to be truly authentic, is to explain why the posts on this site have felt sporadic and like no one really knows much about me.
Four years ago, on October 10th, I got sober.
There, I said it. It feels big and overwhelming in its release.
What a very select few people have known in these past four years is while the site looked beautiful, things behind the scenes were, at times, anything but. I was homeless for almost three months in that first year. I lost almost all my belongings. It took almost a year for me to secure permanent housing. I didn’t tell anyone because a few people who did discover this effectively ruined my ability to get hired as a freelance writer. I had to keep up appearances. I did what I had to do to save my life.
Keeping this hidden has been an interesting and arduous task. I go to business dinners, and people who know I used to drink will try to offer me alcoholic beverages. Well-meaning partners will send bottles of wine to my house as a thank-you gift. A few people I knew from college and afterward will say, “Well, when I knew you, you didn’t have a problem.” Yes, I did. I started drinking when I was five years old, a means to escape the cycles of abuse that happened from the ages of 3 through 12. I have never known a relationship with alcohol that didn’t require me to cover my tracks in order to survive. I had the problem then, and I’m grateful I have a solution for it now.
For those of you who knew me before four years ago, I’m excited to become reacquainted. If you’re my friend in real life now, have been around for the past four years, or are connected to me on Facebook, all of that is very real. But sometimes people want to hold onto what they knew out of comfort, and I have to crush that vision as a construct of me grappling with a life-threatening problem. That said, I hope you’ll accept my apology. I’m looking forward to becoming truly acquainted.
Eventually, the ship was righted and I’ve received a new life: vastly different, very real, and incredibly beautiful. I have a beautiful home. I’ve found stability. I have happiness. I’ve found love. I’m resolving old ghosts and demons. I sleep well. I’m healthy and happy. But the time has come to drop the façade and write from a place of truth. Real truth. My truth.
Lying on my yoga mat after twisting for hours and hours each week, hands up to receive the wisdom I’d requested, the truth was real, beautiful, and terrifying. Looking deep within myself, after an entire life of creating personages to keep myself safe, the message was clear: I no longer have to be anyone other than myself.
And so, there is the truth.
I’m not saying any of this to gain sympathy. I am also not here to represent what addiction and recovery look like. I am here for the person who struggles with what I’ve battled, the person who feels like they have to live in a false construct in order to protect themselves from pain or judgment. You can absolutely choose to live your life in the pain of the shadows, or you can face the phantoms and come into the light. The light is much better. Life is better. Everything gets better. But you have to start by telling the truth first, and be absolutely ready to disregard what people think of you. That’s none of your business. The only opinion that matters is yours. Your life is worth something. Save yours. Tell the truth.
I’ve also love myself too much to think that saving my own life is something for which I should be ashamed. For years, people have said I might be blackballed again. I don’t believe that’s the case, and honestly? I don’t care. I’m a completely different person now than was four years ago. I am not a spokesperson, nor am I an example or a hero. I am proof you can save yourself, not all that glitters is golden, and that if you do what you have to do to make things right with yourself and others, the life you desire can be yours, rather than an eternity of enduring circumstances dictated by a disease of the mind, body, and spirt.
I also must add that I could never have come to this point without the beautiful yoga practice I’ve been blessed to build. I cannot thank Fred DeVito, Stefanie Eris, Lauren Harris, Isaac Pena, and Vidya Mardi enough for giving me the means to truly discover what a mind body connection really means. I could never repay the debt I owe to my friends at exhale. What I create from here is truly a gift. I honor you by living my best life and helping others to find theirs.
Moving forward, we’ll still talk about beauty products, awesome clothes, and a beautiful means to change your life for the better, but I can’t talk about changing your life for the better without revealing the most profound change I’ve ever made. I may never speak about this again. But after a lot of soul searching, I’ve realized the reason I couldn’t pen anything consistently is because I couldn’t release another word again until it was true, authentic, and real. This is what I’ve wanted to say for four years. This is reality, and it’s absolutely gorgeous.
Life is beautiful now. The war is over. Life is truly short, and from here on out, I’m all about the truth of living well.