On the fourth of August 1982 I surrendered. Drinking abusively since I was 16, the end came without drama; just a sad acknowledgement that the switch I turned on for fun and confidence had no off mode. As my husband put it, “You bopped till you dropped.” So I called the AA number and spoke to a nice woman who took me to a meeting. Thus began a 32-year journey.
For the first 10 years, I felt like I was living inside a lovely cocoon. I made new friends. My career took off. I remembered where I went and what I said. My skin glowed. Lots of good days, but one day in particular stands out.
It was the morning after I had completed my first full week of sobriety. Across the street was a park with a swing set. It was an odd looking place; just an empty field, and off in one corner sat a large metal frame with one lone swing. Some inner spirit urged me to walk across the street. I sat on the swing and rested my feet on the bare dirt. As I gave myself a hesitant push, the sun came out. ClichÃ©d I know, but as I felt warmth flow through me like a healing breath, I had a powerful insight: “So. This is what it feels like to be free.”
Fast forward to 2014. Still sober, but stressed, I”™d launched a company and left the company”¦15 years of fun and frustration. I”™d adopted a daughter in China; (my AA friend Sheila used to say about having a biological kid, “Seen the movie; don”™t need to see the rerun.”) I”™d felt the burn, done the aerobic thing, run the 5Ks and finally turned to walking. But nothing offered the serenity I”™d experienced during that moment in the field.
And then I discovered yoga. I knew about it (who doesn”™t?) but hadn”™t tried it. So I looked online and found Yoga by Degrees”¦two blocks from home! I started Level 1 and moved on to Level Two and Yoga Sculpt. Pretty soon, I was going every day. Alcoholics are compulsive; if one is good, more is better. I sculpted with Eugenia and Christi, vinyassed with Nadja, sweated with Fiona and balanced with Todd.
Six months in and still not mastering my Frog pose, one day something changed. I posed high over my toes and leaned my knees against my upper arms. Looking out in front of me, I cautiously floated forward ”“ toes still planted. “Point your toes toward each other” yelled the instructor. I did, and balanced in the air for one moment. The image of the swing appeared. The feeling returned. I floated for just an instant and thought, “So this is what it feels like to be”¦”