I was only 19 by the time the courts decided I was a lost cause.
Sometimes I ponder,
from how many of us have they stolen our adulthoods,
forever shamed as a “convicted felon”?
My heart has always been strong in politics, but I was locked out from voting like my opinion didn’t matter. Locked out from getting a safe place to live – neighborhoods like that don’t like felons applying at 19.
I didn’t know who I was then.
How could they know?
How did they decide I wasn’t worth anymore effort?
Because they saw the track marks in my arms and the pain behind my eyes?
Because I couldn’t stay clean, yet I begged and begged for more treatment, but I couldn’t get a job good enough to afford that – you made sure of it when you changed the label on my head from teenager to drug addict.
A teenage convict:
there is no more help for one of those.
And yet still, now as an adult I know –
I know they only did their jobs and earnestly looked from eyes who showed them a perspective that society had built for them.
I know there are many things worse than what I’ve been through.
But that is why I’m here saying this,
because we can’t let it keep getting worse.
Shame is a killer.
It blocks the light, it tells us we are not worthy of healing.
For those who have been at war with themselves,
we can make their journey home easier if our arms are open.
After a tangled dance with heroin, trauma and the justice system came a long arduous period of healing and finding self-love. Now years later, being an addiction counselor intern working with women who are still in the trenches, I see the pain and terror that addiction afflicts on all those involved, regardless of age, race, sexual orientation, religion, zodiac sign, nationality.
Yet like Leonard Cohen once sang, “Forget your perfect offering, there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in,” I can also see the catalyst that recovery from addiction can be, the deepening of relationship with self and others, the blooming of the lotus flower after growing through the mud.
I wish I could speak to my younger self, to soothe the pain of my childhood and early adolescence so that maybe it wouldn’t bleed into the rest of my life. I wish I could tell my younger self that the sun will shine one day, and it will all make sense. But since time doesn’t work that way for us in this realm, I will just continue to offer that love and understanding to the people I encounter in my life who need to hear those same things.
This is what yoga teaches us and what Yoga of Recovery helped me to embody. Whatever the path, it is a dedication to the awakening. The blooming of the thousand petaled lotus that is our minds.
Yes, addiction is heart-wrenching, infuriating and devouring, but guilt and shame only feed the beast.
Like yoga teaches us, we must sit with our uncomfortable feelings and learn from it. Hold space for that discomfort without judgement. Next time you encounter suffering, I encourage you to offer connection and non-judgement because it could be any one of us. Addiction happens one small decision at a time, but the beautiful thing is, so does recovery.
May all beings be happy and free.