The best day of my life is March 13, 2016.
Rewind to January 1, 2001. Happy New Year! It’s 10:00 in the morning. I’m walking out of jail, shielding my eyes from a sun that’s too bright. It’s cold, my head hurts, and I feel sick to my stomach. In my head, I can still hear the promises I made to God the night before. “Help me get sober and I will forever be of service to you! Pinky swear!”
That morning, a new life of sobriety had begun. I began attending 12-step meetings. I surrendered, I cleaned up my messes, I made up, and I grew up. I became a yoga teacher. I was a wife and a mother and I had good friends. And yet, I felt unloved and unworthy most of the time.
Fast forward to March of 2011. With 10 years of recovery, I’m about to experience a series of traumatic events that will break my bones and leave me in pieces.
My mom passed away. The grieving process began. A few months later, my marriage of 25 years ended. It took him a whole two weeks to move on. His family, loyal to him, quickly moved on as well. I felt abandoned, alone, and unloved. I uprooted myself and moved into a 550 square foot house that was so tiny I found it hard to breathe. My loneliness was becoming unbearable. I spent many dark, long nights on my yoga mat, practicing, breathing, meditating, and praying.
As if that weren’t enough, my best friend of 30 years lost her seven-year battle to cancer. Driving home from her funeral, I received a call that my sister had passed away from complications during surgery. My marriage was over. Three of the four most important women in my life were gone. I still had my daughter, though our relationship was becoming strained due to my recent divorce from her dad. On Mother’s Day, I overreacted to a situation with her and her response was that she “needed six months off from me.”
My dog died.
I was broken and didn’t want to live anymore.
Eventually, though, with the support of good friends, and survival instincts I found my bad-assery. I pulled myself up from the floor, brushed the dust off, and wiped my tears. I got a tattoo that says “I got this!”
Even though I was mentally stronger, I was sick physically. As luck would have it, my teacher Durga Leela, was in town doing an Ayurvedic Yoga of Recovery workshop. I met with her and she recommended trying Panchakarma with an Ayurveda physician. Panchakarma is the art of detoxification, purification, and rejuvenation; it’s been used for thousands of years to help people address the root causes of their ailments.
I completed a week-long program of Panchakarma. I was sent home with instructions about maintaining a daily self-care program to help me eat well, sleep well, and take better care of myself. On my last day of Panchakarma, I met with the doctor for final consultation. At the bottom of my instruction sheet, I noticed he had scribbled the date 3/13/2016 with a s
miley face next to it. I asked the doctor about it, and he said that would be the best day of my life.
Every day for the next eight months, I anticipated March 13, 2016. Would I get a new job? A new car? Should I play the lottery?Sign up for Match.com?
I could not contain myself when I woke up on that day. It was a warm, beautiful Sunday morning. I poured a cup of coffee and sat on my front steps. I felt amazing. Then, it came to me. I was happy. Really happy! And healthy. I had never in my 60 years been so at peace. I felt at peace with the world, peace with myself, and at peace in recovery.
The lesson I learned that morning was that happiness isn’t dependent on a new relationship, a new job, or more money. Happiness is self-love.
In many cases, people hit a bottom before befriending recovery. With me, recovery and I hit rock bottom together. Together, we pulled through. My relationship with recovery and my relationship with myself need to be my highest priorities, until death do us part.