Category Archives: Things to Think About

An unlikely place for yoga inspiration.

Wrestling has a weird place in my heart.

I have two younger brothers. We grew up in the 80’s/90’s. Wrestling was huge in our house. It was something we watched as a family. When wrestling came to Sacramento, we usually tried to go.

Jesse always called it “male soap operas” and loved the manufactured drama.

I rarely ever thought about wrestling over the years (other than when someone died and it was in the news), but a random conversation about yoga ended up with my friend and her husband telling me about DDP Yoga. I thought it was a joke, because seriously who associates yoga with “pro” wrestling, right? Until I watched this video.

I cried watching this. I think this video illustrates the transformative power of yoga that most people don’t think or really know about. It doesn’t matter the form yoga takes, it creates powerful and positive change if you are open to it.

From there, I found the story of Jake the Snake Roberts’ and Razor Ramon’s road to sobriety with the help of Diamond Dallas Page and DDP Yoga. Again. Tears. Jake the Snake Roberts said something to the effect of “yoga didn’t save me but it helped me learn to love myself” in an interview and I think that’s a really important aspect of yoga.

Like anything else, yoga is not going to save you. You have to save you. But you have to reach a place where you feel you are worth saving. You have to have hope. Yoga is as much about reflection and self-exploration as it is about flexibility and asana.

I’ve often wondered about the connection between yoga and recovery. I’ve spent years encouraging others to try yoga in hopes that it would spark that place in the heart giving realization that “you are worth saving”.  People can talk until they are blue in the face, but until that person has that realization, change is never going to happen.

Hearing stories like that of Jake The Snake Roberts and Razor Ramon have deeply touched me. I’ve had my own healing experiences with yoga, but it gives me hope for others, including one of those brothers who loved wrestling so much growing up.

Have You Written Anything Lately?

That has been running through my head for months now. (Not only because I love The Wedding Singer, but because I haven’t written much of anything in forever.)

I used to write about school and allergies and trying to figure out what was going on with my body. I transferred schools (and ended up doing work I wasn’t necessarily proud of – so I didn’t really feel that I should write about it and share it) and got to a place of being fairly comfortable with the allergies and chronic pain and I stopped writing.

Part of me feels as though I should have kept writing over the last 18 months (probably longer than that really), but I didn’t.

I’m getting ready to start a new chapter of life – I’m done with college, I’m getting ready to finally pursue my love of yoga through teacher training.

It’s time to start again.

I don’t want to lose another.

I tried to explain to someone why your choices hurt me so much the other day.

It dawned on me that I have already lost one brother, I don’t want to lose another. Be it through your drug use killing you or me reaching the point of no longer having your in my life like dad. It’s not what I want.

We have wildly different memories of how we grew up. My memories are largely happy and we were always siblings and friends because we grew up in such a rural location. I have tons of pictures of you being goofy and fun before all of this started. You were so happy. We all were.

When J. died, I realized that he and I had never gone more than a couple of weeks not talking. We go longer than that and usually that’s when you are using again. In fact, if I haven’t heard from you at least by text for 3 weeks or longer, it’s likely you’re using again.

You talk a lot about not having friends or anyone to do things with, but you pushed away the actual friends you have had all along by choosing drugs over family. The people you’ve chosen in place of the people who have been there all along are not your friends. They are there to use you. They are there to keep you down. Your family can be your friends but not when the Meth Monster rears its ugly head.

I’ve said it a thousand times but your choices don’t just impact you. I’ve spent more time than I can count worrying about you. Even before you started using meth, I would worry about you hurting yourself. I would call mom and tell her to watch you closer while I was away. I’ve spent basically your whole life worrying about you. All the years I lived in SD, I would just get a feeling. Those feelings were usually right.

I can’t even imagine how mom feels. She’s lost a husband to drugs. She lost a son to illness. She doesn’t need to lose another son. Your choices impact her health more than you know. The Meth Monster will end up killing you and mom.

I don’t want to lose any more of my family than I already have.

The Meth Monster

You worry so much that how you live your life will alienate people. The things that you worry about people judging you for are the least of your worries.

The thing that will push people away from you are the drugs. It will always be the drugs.

People don’t care about your mental illness. That’s no big deal. You dealing with whatever going on in your head with drugs is the big deal.

Constant manipulation of people so you can get drugs, that will push people away.

Basically, all of the behaviors that are the result of your drug use are the reasons people keep their distance.

You worry so much about disappointing people, but the real disappointment is when you start using again. We all love you very much but the person you become when you are on meth is unbearable. There is no way for any of us to support and love you when the meth monster takes over.

And that’s exactly who you become. The Meth Monster.

It’s hard to reconcile memories of you being a sweet and caring little kid and the raging lunatic you become when you use. The Meth Monster takes over.

Gone is the funny friend. The Meth Monster takes over.

Gone is the guy who I could talk wildcrafting with. The Meth Monster takes over.

Gone are the ideas you used to have. The Meth Monster takes over.

The Meth Monster is killing you. Literally and figuratively. The longer The Meth Monster takes over, the less of “you” seems to come back.

Join a Cult….. Please

I am writing this because this is the only way I know how to deal with my family’s ordeal with drugs and alcohol. I write. I used to journal. I know my family is not the only family going through this, but some times it feels very lonely. It’s isolating.

My dad is an addict. My dad’s dad was an addict. My brother is an addict. Many of my friends were addicts (I say were more because they were my friends and either died or I cut them out of my life for self preservation – not because they got clean).

I’ve decided to call it Join a Cult….. Please because it honestly feels like short of death, the only way out of this.

I normally wouldn’t advocate that people join cults, but there comes a point of desperation where you hope that anything, even a cult, will help make the lives of those around you better.

I find myself thinking “just join a cult…. please” pretty much every day. When faced with the choice of having a loved one join a cult or be a drug addict, a cult member seems like the easier way.

Hell, there are even days I find myself thinking “why can’t you be a heroin addict?” Downers are so much less stressful than meth. Though none of it is easy.

Meth compounded with mental illness is even worse than meth. It’s not just a problem for the person doing it, it becomes the problem of everyone around them. Your loved ones. Your neighbors. Everyone. Then there’s the vicious cycle of psychosis caused by meth. After a while, it doesn’t go away even if you get clean. And again, everyone around you is left picking up the pieces.

When you have a family member that has nothing to do, no structure other than thinking about drugs, you want them to find something that will give them structure and exert control over them. A cult is one way of doing that. I’m not an advocate of brainwashing, but if a cult can brainwash away the meth, I’m all for it.

Perhaps rehab would be more effective if brainwashing was a common technique At this point, I feel that rehab is a scam (I still don’t know of anyone who actually stayed clean after attending rehab).

Sure you will probably lose contact with your loved one, but at least there is some illusion of their safety if they aren’t out using. I say illusion because we know how the Branch Dividian’s ended. Ultimately, you lose contact with them anyway, unless they are trying to manipulate money out of you. With a cult, that’s typically not the case.

I know that a cult isn’t really a viable option, but there are days it feels like it is the only way.

Never An Easy Choice

Today Mark’s Daily Apple shared an article about 95 year old Emiel Pauwels’ choice of euthanasia after having a grand party to celebrate his life. This man was a senior athlete (competing in the Veteran’s Games and winning in multiple categories at age 94) and had been diagnosed with cancer.

I don’t know why I was surprised by the number of people posting comments about him “giving up” or that he could have “beat cancer”. At 95, cancer treatment can be more devastating than the cancer itself. We don’t know anything other than his choice after being diagnosed with cancer and I’m saddened by people’s judgement when it comes to death with dignity and issues surrounding death in our culture.

Our society on the whole values quantity of life over quality of life. There are no questions about it. We as a whole are so uncomfortable with death and dying that we look at it as “giving up” or “taking the easy way out” or even “cowardly”. We keep people hooked to machines to prolong lives for often times selfish reasons. We don’t want to deal with the grief and feelings that accompany loss.

Many people form these judgments having never experienced watching a loved one suffer. They have not witnessed the sadness and suffering that terminally and chronically ill people endure on a daily basis.

 

This is a picture (probably my favorite ever) of my younger brother, Jesse.

He made the choice at 29 to enter hospice care. He suffered tremendously for 15 years from gastroparesis and the side effects of his treatment over the years. He did not make the decision lightly. It was not rash.

His choice was NOT “cowardly”. His choice was NOT “giving up”. He did NOT “take the easy way out”.

And our family did NOT try to talk him out of his choice for our own selfish reasons. It was terrifying for all of us to consider life without him, but we honored and respected his choice. We also had to fight to have others respect his choice.

The first hospice organization that was treating him had a new medical director start the week after he had been admitted to hospice care. This man pulled the rug from under our feet by saying that Jesse was too young to make this decision and he was not going to help him commit suicide because our family doctor told him there were other options. He discharged my brother immediately from their care. When confronted about “other options”, this man told me he couldn’t discuss it with either my mother or myself. (Never mind the fact he would not tell Jesse either what these “other options” were.) We confronted our family doctor, who told us he did not do any such thing.

I made a flurry of phone calls that day to try to find someone, anyone who could help us. Being in a rural community, the first organization was “the only game in town”. I called countless organizations that day, but no one was able to help us. I called the last group in the Sacramento region that I could find. While they couldn’t help us (we were out of their treatment area), the nurse asked if she could pass our information on to a new group, Bristol Hospice, to see if they could help us.

Again, we were outside of their treatment area, but Bristol Hospice took over Jesse’s care and helped make the last 6 months of Jesse’s life the best he had experienced in years. He was comfortable. He was able to enjoy the time he had left. He got to see the San Francisco Giants win a World Series. He saw one last Winter Classic. One last Christmas with the family.

Most importantly, he passed away peacefully at home surrounded by the people he loved.

There is something to be said about quality over quantity of life. Having watched my brother (and best friend) suffer for so many years, not just physically but emotionally as well due to his illness, I respected his choice. Tomorrow it will be 3 years that he has been gone. I miss him every day, but take comfort knowing he is no longer suffering.

The choice to die with dignity should be just that, a choice. A choice that is respected like any other. We spend so much time talking about not judging others, yet when the topic of dying with dignity comes up, everyone is quick to judge. We talk so much about respecting others, but when a person chooses to end life extending measures that respect seems to fly out the window.

Life is something to be lived to the fullest and celebrated (not everyone gets the chance to have a grand party like Emiel). Each person has to make their own way in this world, let’s keep the judgement to ourselves. 

Eat FAT?

I wanted to write about a realization I had the other day that was pretty awesome.

I’ve struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember.  I’ve tried every diet on the planet (low fat, low calorie, vegetarian, high fiber, Weight Watchers, etc).  I spent most of my life being stressed out about what I ate, when I ate it, if I was working out enough, counting this and counting that.  Let’s just say that wasn’t the most wonderful way to live.  Freaking out about food and whether or not I was spending enough time at the gym is surprisingly stressful. Read More