I once lived by Kris Kristofferson’s words, sung by Janis Joplin: Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose … Many times during my active addiction I paid no rent, paid no bills, had no car payment (and no car). I also had no dignity, no honor, no self respect and no respect from others. I was down to nothing with nothing left to lose. It is a pitiful and pitiable state to be in.
I am now a woman in recovery, I have my dignity, I behave honorably, I have self respect. I pay my bills and I pay my way; I am of service and I am helped by others. One might think that I had a lot to lose. If I drink, yes. But yet, I still do not live in fear.
The promises as outlined in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous have come true for me. I have no more fear of economic insecurity, I am very seldom baffled by life, I have come to know a new freedom and a new happiness. These are not the result of a pain and challenge free life. I have been very poor, have been jobless, have had my heart broken, and have experienced the death of loved ones. The change in my perceptions is the result of altering my concept of freedom and understanding of loss.
I have worked the steps a few times over. I go to meetings, I share at meetings, I have a sponsor and I sponsor others. I practice yoga, I meditate, I teach and I study. As a mom, a grandmother, a wife, sister and niece I am closer to my family now that I ever thought I would be. Working through my codependency issues has allowed these relationships to become more authentic and enjoyable to all. This is freedom.
Life can still be confusing, it can be challenging and I still feel pain, sorrow and sometimes depression. Using tools from my recovery kit and from my yoga practice I am able to get grounded and find my balance. Remaining in connection with recovery friends and moving on the mat can clear my head, and get me out of myself. With all my work in recovery my brain sometimes still misfires, but I have the tools to get free of the unhealthy historical thinking. I am free from the bondage of self.
I now spend according to my means, and according to my needs. I had done a fourth step on my spending and budgeting habits and found that much of my expenses were generated from ego. I had wanted to have people think of me a certain way, or to look AT me a certain way. I wanted to fit in with my household accessories by having rugs, wall hangings, furniture that were in fashion. I wanted the right car, the right shoes, the right hair color—all to show people that I was normal. It was my life’s passion to fit in.
I fit in now. I am free from making decisions based on what I thought other’s opinion of me would be. Instead of imagining what I needed to do to gain the respect of others, I have learned to behave according to the ethics and values of my program of recovery and my yoga practice. I am ethically and authentically ME. I have freed both YOU and ME from the charade of defining myself by your standards.
I have a strong spiritual connection to all beings. My values bind me to them, and give me freedom, too. No string, no flight—without the discipline of my connection to my higher power I could not have found the freedom to fly so freely with my soul intact.
From the outside you might think that I have a lot to lose: home, family, work-life, recovery life and I do. I would be heart-sick were any of these were to be removed. And I would survive. I no longer feel that I exist because of those things and relationships. I no longer live to deserve them nor feel that I would be unworthy without them. I am a woman in recovery—and as long as I am that, I have everything I need.
Kyczy Hawk is in long term recovery and is enthusiastic about her life in sobriety. She is the “secretary” of the “Yoga Recovery” meetings, Sundays 7am PST on In The Rooms ( http://www.intherooms.com/livemeetings/view?meeting_id=144&check=1 ). She is a yoga teacher and author of Yoga and The Twelve Step Path and Life in Bite Sized Morsels. For more yoga tools, visit her website at: http://yogarecovery.com/additional She is aided and amused by her family who keep her busy and humble.