In 2013 I found myself living the dream life I never thought I could have. I was living in Bondi Beach, a long way from the working class mining village I was from in the north of England. I had a group of friends that were always ready to run wild as much as I was, i wore the right clothes and maintained a small waistline and was self-employed. By society’s standards I had made it.
Except, I hadn’t made it, because my life was a façade. It was not real.
The reality was my life was out of control, I was deeply unhappy, depressed, anxious and insecure. There was a deep pain inside my soul that I had been trying to fill for as long as I could remember, I have since learnt that I am an addict. Addiction is the only disease that can keep you in so much denial.
I was drinking and smoking pot everyday. Then I would binge on hard drugs and drink to excess on weekends, which would often roll into the week. I would spend most of my partying time in black out, never being able to remember what had happened the night before. Looking back now I realise this had been the case since before I had finished school. I started taking hard drugs at a young age and had just been moving from one addiction to the next.
SEARCHING FOR THE SOLUTION
I began to search for something to soothe the hole in the soul I had been suffering from for so long. At first I tried meditation, i even went to vipassana meditation centres for a self detox where you don’t speak for 10 days, but nothing seemed to stick. I got caught back up in my old patterns very quickly and as drinking and drugging were the priority, meditating in the evenings was out of the question and then, surprise, surprise, so were the mornings.
I then started practicing yoga, I found it became a part of my life more easily as opposed to forcing meditation. I could fit it around my schedule and, to be honest I was in exercise addiction at this time weighing 49kg so I ensured I prioritised my practice.
What I didn’t expect is the affect yoga started to have on me. It actually took me to my rock bottom. I needed to reach this point to firstly see and acknowledge my reality, and then to heal. How? It took me inside myself, the very place I had been running from all these years. Furthermore it also taught me to respect my body and my soul. I stopped looking in the mirror and hating what I saw. Most miraculously of all I stopped taking hard drugs, I just couldn’t do it to my body any more. I started to wake up in a profound way and felt like i was coming back home to myself.
This is where my recovery journey began. In 2014 I managed to stop everything; smoking cigarettes, pot and drinking. I have not achieved this on my own. I am part of a fellowship of men and women who walk with me on this path. With the support of these people and my beloved yoga matt, and now my meditation practice, I am the happiest I have ever been. Life continues to happen, things can still be really difficult some days, but I ride the wave and know that it will pass. And should I ever forget, there are people who remind me close by!
My passion for yoga became far more significant to me. I came to understand yoga as a life style and I immersed myself in it. I had spent long periods of time in India looking for the answer in the past. The problem with searching for the solution overseas is that wherever I went my addiction went with me.
But I had finally found the answer and I travelled to India clean for the first time in 2015 where I did my yoga teacher training. I mostly wanted to deepen my own practice but as time has gone by I feel the need to share what has been given to me so freely. To have peace of mind and respect for myself, physically, mentally and spiritually has been invaluable and that is how I came to launch my business Crave Living.
YOGA FOR RECOVERY
Crave Living includes Yoga For Recovery whereby I run weekly yoga classes, which are by donation, for people struggling with addiction and mental health issues. It was a natural decision to run them by donation as true yoga should not be valued with price, demographic, or how you look. Yoga means unity, to join and its a gift for me to be able to help others on their path to wholeness.
My life, three years later, looks nothing like my old life. I still live in Bondi but I now live in line with my values. I wake up feeling grateful rather than full of fear. I nurture and take care of myself with self-love on the days that I am feeling less than, rather than abandoning myself and drinking or using drugs to numb out. The hardest part has been the reaction from others, but that is mainly because what things look like from the outside can be a far cry from reality. The perception off addiction is still the paper bag drunk on a park bench. Just like people, addiction comes in all shapes, sizes and demographics, and I hope to help break the stigma around these issues so people get help sooner.
My future looks bright, I’m sure of that, not because I’m in fantasy but because I trust I didn’t receive this gift to do nothing with it. So I have faith that Crave Living and my holistic services and approach to addiction can and will continue to help others.