July 6, 2018

My Path from Addicted to Awakened.

A few years ago, I went through the most difficult struggle of my life.

Some health issues I was having and issues with my marriage started to trigger some deep-rooted addictions that stem from generations of alcoholism within my family. Whereas before, I was able to have a couple of glasses of wine with dinner and be done, my alcohol intake quickly started to spiral out of control.

When it became clear that my marriage was ending, I went from drinking excessively in the evenings to drinking in the mornings to calm my nerves about my fear of losing everything: my ability to provide for my children and for them to feel safe and loved by me, my ability to maintain a decent sized home with enough space for us all to be comfortable, and my ability to care for our dogs (we had two beautiful King Charles Cavaliers).

I didn’t know how to process all that was happening. I was so torn between having the freedom to pursue my life’s purpose and losing everything, that not even professional counselors knew the answer to my problems; and the only thing that would calm my nerves and my fears was alcohol, so I really didn’t want to let that go until I was literally forced to.

In March 2015, I started attending my second 200-hour yoga teacher training in Boca Raton. My teacher had this amazing knack for inspiring people to start living on purpose rather than just going through the motions on autopilot.

Halfway through my training with her, I knew that I wanted to inspire others to do the same but I also noticed that a lot of the philosophy we learned in yoga teacher training—from the yoga sutras to the yamas and niyamas, which are ethical codes we follow—many of these principles were similar to the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

I started to make plans to start a nonprofit to raise money for people who suffer from addictions to go to yoga teacher training, because I truly believe that this is transformational work. The only problem was that I was still struggling with my own recovery. I had a lot of work to do before I could make this happen. I stayed relatively sober throughout most of my teacher training but once it was over it spiraled out of control again, and I had to go to inpatient treatment for three months.

Throughout that year, spanning from September of 2014 until August of 2015, I had been kicked out of two bars in Renaissance Commons. Let’s just say that I didn’t go peacefully. I went kicking and screaming. I was charged with felonies for kicking and screaming and resisting arrest.

I was angry. I had repressed anger from my divorce. I had blamed myself for everything at the beginning because I felt so much guilt for not being able to love my husband and keep our family together. These repressed emotions were bottled up inside. This is where the deep work came in and why I think yoga is such an amazing tool: it helped me to bring union to my every thought, action, and emotion—body, mind, and spirit.

During my time in treatment, I kept having to go to court to settle my legal issues, and each time I went, the judge threw me in jail to make me realize the severity of the situation. I had so much fear and anxiety about being in jail that I actually fainted in the courtroom when the judge forced me to spend the weekend in a cell.

I had to pay thousands of dollars in bail to get out each time or I would have had to stay until the next court hearing. While I was only there for three days at the most each time, I met many women who were stuck there for weeks, months, or even years, and 99 percent of their charges were drug or alcohol related.

Witnessing this further instilled my motivation for my nonprofit. Imagine how many people’s lives could be saved if the tools that I had were made available to everyone?

While I was in treatment, my personality started to shift dramatically as my brain started to heal itself from the constant intake of alcohol. I started to revert back to my true self. I started to retreat back to my room, and I started reading books again.

Not that I am an introvert but I’ve always been on a mission to do something on my own—and it was starting to become very clear to me what that was. One book in particular that I read, The Seven Laws of Spiritual Success, talked about how to find your dharma or purpose in life.

It is said that when searching for your dharma, don’t ask what you want. Ask how you can serve. Once I fully started to make this shift, everything in my life started to change.

Once I got out of treatment, I started going to meetings, and in those rooms I met a man—my son’s father—who died last November on the 29th. When I met him he was sober, he had a job and a nice car, and he also had a sponsor who was helping him with his step-work. His big passion had been mixed martial arts.

When we met, we were crazy about each other but it took a lot of time to figure each other out. He thought I was a fruit loop with all my yoga mantras and vegetarian stuff, and I resented him for his powerlifting and eating 10 protein meals a day, but the deep chemistry we felt for one another resulted in our little love child, Cameron, and so we were forced to try and make it work.

We both understood the value of a family unit, and we wanted to get married when the time was right. However, when I was only six months pregnant he relapsed again. Things got bad. There was not much I could do because he didn’t have the right insurance to get back into treatment, and I finally had to take the baby and leave until he decided that he really wanted to get clean.

Not only did I love him but I understood what he was going through because I had been through it myself. I really wanted him to get better so that we could be a family, because being a single mom of a small baby was my worst nightmare come true.

I decided at that point that I was going to go back to school with Florida Technical Institute to finish my bachelor’s degree in computer science so that I could learn a valuable trade and have job security regardless of my charges. This was kind of an outlandish idea but I was trying to think of what was safe for my son’s future.

Thankfully, I was able to get a scholarship to help me pay for some of my son’s day care, so during this time I started going to yoga, which I hadn’t been doing since I had gotten pregnant.

Once this happened, all of my feelings for yoga started to flood back in, and I started to question if I was on the right path. I was at a fork in the road, and I had to decide if I was going to go one way or the other way. I didn’t know what to do but the feeling I got through yoga was so powerful that I started leaning toward that direction.

Soon, I found a tiny little yoga studio for sale in Jupiter Farms. I took a strong leap of faith, put my house on the market, and invested in the yoga studio so I could start my work as a light worker.

Managing my addictive behavior will always be a lifelong effort. But yoga has helped me answer important questions about what is healthy and acceptable and what is not. Through a deep understanding of the chakra system, I’ve found a balance between opening my heart in relationships and creating boundaries.

Yoga has helped me realize when I am clinging too tightly to someone or something or when I need to ease up a bit. Even yoga and my attachment to helping people and healing the planet can sometimes become an addiction for me, and I have to make sure that I stay balanced and connected to my roots and provide that foundation for my children. Most importantly it helps me see the truth.

Every day, I set my intention without clinging to the results. So far the progress is taking place little by little. I am learning through the process of learning to let go, having faith during times of uncertainty, and asking the question, “How can I use my strengths and struggles to serve humanity?”

I have become more sensitive to the intuitive nature of the universe. We are all connected in some way shape or form, and we cannot harm or neglect one another or even ourselves in one way without paying the price or becoming out of balance.

These imbalances always come back around just like a boomerang.

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Melissa McGee

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