This passage from The Gita makes me think of Taylor Hunt.
“What the outstanding person does, others will try to do. The standards such people create will be followed by the whole world.” 3.21
December 31st, 2016 was my last drink of whiskey. I wish I could say I committed to being sober the next day but I didn’t. I knew I was destroying my body and my relationships. I knew I needed to stop drinking for good, but I gave myself an out. I was going to “experiment” with not drinking for 120 days.
In March 2017, I traveled to St. John for vacation. This was my first sober vacation. The friends I was with were overwhelming supportive. I brought a book I bought at my shala, “A Way from Darkness” by Taylor Hunt. It is a book about his journey in life. Every morning I read his story over breakfast highlighting all the sentences that resonated with my experience.
On vacation, I joined the Trini Foundation Instagram yoga challenge. Now, I am the last person who should be doing this. On my best day I am an awkward unathletic Southern boy doing yoga and most days more like a sweaty walrus. But maybe if I could get on his radar it would push me to commit to being sober.
Holy shit, I am one of the winners. How in the fuck did that happen? I won a workshop with Taylor. There was no way I could go to this workshop and tell this man I had started drinking again.
Eight months later I met Taylor for the first time in Atlanta. I was still sober and sharing openly about my struggles and sobriety. It was my first Ashtanga workshop. I had lived in fear I was not “good enough” to do one. I did it.
Last week I went out of country for the first time. I traveled to Costa Rica to practice with Taylor and many other amazing humans. Taylor shared that he knew of me before the yoga challenge; that my teachers cared a lot about me and had reached out to him for advice on how to help me back when I was drinking. He selected me as a winner in the the yoga challenge so I would have to meet him at a workshop.
Why one man chose to help someone he didn’t know, I don’t know, but I do know I want to be more like that. Time to do the yoga!
Thank you, Taylor.
It has been 1,646 days since my journey began.
“Write hard and clear about what hurts.” – Hemingway
Someone I love dearly recently accused me of writing about my sobriety to boost my ego. The accusation made me angry, and I responded with words I regret. I have spent the last few days examining why I was so angry.
Writing a brutally honest post every 10 days is hard for me. I am not a good writer.
I struggle with the vanity in producing these posts. I can’t deny I enjoy the comments and allure of the social media like. Checking my mobile device and social media is an addiction. I pick up my phone so many times in a day that my wrists ache constantly.
But I write in the hopes the public accountability helps sustain my sobriety.
I write because there is a stigma with recovery, and I hope by being open someone will have the courage to seek help.
I write to understand myself better.
Why was I angry then? I am angry at myself. I was angry because I let this person live alone with the stigma of addiction for nearly two decades.
I feel dishonest every time I write because I dance around the truth.
“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know”
I was addicted to cocaine for over 10 years. I started my recovery on May 25th 2013.
I know addiction all too well.
I know what it is to say, “Not today. Today I will not do it,” and an hour later be driving to some shady part of town.
I know what it is like when a friend kills himself, and the last message his parent’s hear on his voicemail is you yelling at him for not paying you back for his part of the drugs.
I know what it is like to destroy an amazing relationship because I was too high too often to be intimate.
I know what it is like to look in every addict’s eyes and know their pain, and although they played a part in getting to this point, it rarely is entirely their fault and they have have no control now.
I write because I know recovery is possible, and you can have an amazing life.
I write because I don’t want anyone to waste as much time as I have.
As I was reading early this morning, I received a text from Flo.
“On your way?” She was holding me accountable to showing up to practice today.
Flo and I call each other sober buddies, but in truth she is my inspiration and role model.
Today I have been sober for 300 days. Today Flo has been sober for 20 months (608 days.) I have been fortunate to witness Flo’s transformation both physically and spiritually over the last 20 months. She showed me sobriety was achievable with consistent practice, focus and self-love. It is a blessing to have someone to model my behavior after, and a gift for her to care enough about me to hold me accountable.
Sutra 1.20 reads,
shraddha virya smriti samadhi prajna purvakah itaresham
Others [those not born a yogi] follow a five-fold systematic path of 1) faithful certainty in the path, 2) directing energy towards the practices, 3) repeated memory of the path and the process of stilling the mind, 4) training in deep concentration, and 5) the pursuit of real knowledge, by which the higher samadhi (asamprajnata samadhi) is attained.
The entire passage is powerful, but one word stood out, shraddha
Shraddha: Developing the faith that you are going in the right direction or the conscious faith in goal.
For once in my life I have faith I am on the right path. I see Flo, and know what is possible. Thank you.
“Let the god that is within you be the champion of the being you are” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 3.5
Flo, I can definitely see the goddess in you. By focusing on finding your true self you make us all better.
Flo inspired me to be open and transparent about my sobriety. We both choose not to be anonymous about our recovery. My hope is that by sharing my journey I might help someone the way Flo has helped me.
Flo and I both credit the Ashtanga method of yoga with helping us get sober and maintain our sobriety. We support Taylor Hunt and the Trini Foundation and their efforts bring the life-changing practice of Ashtanga yoga to those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. Please consider sharing this post and donating.
It has been over half a year since I stopped drinking (190 days). This is an attempt at an honest reflection. Is it worth it? Absolutely. However, it is not easy or without pain. For me. For those who love me. If addiction is a wave of destruction, sobriety is a rollercoaster of emotion, shortcomings and learning. Joy and Pain. Like sunshine and rain.
Ashtanga yoga was essential to my decision to stop drinking. Yoga helped me understand what was wrong in my life and what needed to change. I have made more progress in 6 months of not drinking than the three years before.
I experience joy, much joy. I was unfamiliar with the emotion. I think I had the happiest days of the last 20 years in the last 6 months. Taking my niece and nephew to the Renaissance Festival is the best day I’ve ever had.
I rediscovered a passion for learning and study, and unearthed a love for philosophy. It now sit and learn from the likes of Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus and Pantajali daily. Living is an art.
I love being present when I am with people. It is the greatest gift I can give. It is a struggle in this age of distraction, but I do my best.
It has not been without pain. It is hard it is to love someone who has chosen to get sober. We often don’t love ourselves. Even in sobriety, I can leave a wake of destruction as I struggle to figure out who I am.
I now know what it really feels like to hurt and disappoint without my armor of whiskey to protect me. I have no way to hide from it. No substances to blame for my behavior. I have no excuses. I am left wishing I had done things differently. I carry the responsibility to learn from it seriously.
I vacillate between being open and vulnerable and being scared and needing to protect myself. I now exist with the same thoughts and feelings that drove my addictions but without a way to numb them. I am raw and exposed, often flailing.
But above all I am grateful. I am grateful to all of my friends who love and support me. You continue to love me even when I don’t love myself. It has taken an army of people to get to where I am today. Thank you. I hope I am honoring you with the path I am on. I will not let you down.
I love you.