My best friend is Lynda, my son calls her "my Lynda".
We have been through some things together, a mutual friend recently remarked that we talk like an old married couple. This is what happens with best friends, we have inside jokes, encouragements and lots of love. Lynda is my emergency contact and the person in my life who always reminds me who I want to be.
So, of course I was the person who took Lynda to a minor medical procedure that required sedation. I brought my book and checked emails while waiting to be told that Lynda was ready to go home. An hour and a half goes by, the nurse comes out to tell my I can go back and hang out with Lynda while she finishes up. Lynda looks fine and of course she's made friends with the Nurse and knows her kids names and where they live. It turns out they are from the same area of North Jersey and have taken a little trip down memory lane. Lynda is snacking on pretzels and grape juice, and even though she seems a little loose from the sedation, she's alert and able to walk out.
I have no internal sense of direction, luckily Lynda knows which way to get home, another indication that she was fully recovered from her mild sedation. A few minutes into the drive home, Lynda starts getting uncomfortable. I give her some peppermint water and some essential oils to rub on her belly. We are chatting, but I can hear in her voice that she is uncomfortable.
Soon, Lynda is more than uncomfortable. She begins to writhe around in her seat, pushing at the door and the window as if she is trying to run away from the pain.
I feel my heart begin to race and my thoughts slow down. Now Lynda is saying
"Everything is white, Blakey, something's wrong"
I reach out to her, trying to stay focused on the road and pull back my instinct to reach for her, I cannot hold her and drive at the same time.
I look over at her as she says "Blakey, I'm scared" and again "something's wrong" I can see with my eyes that something is very wrong. Lynda's eyes are the wrong shape and they look green (her eyes are brown), she is a funny yellow color and covered in sweat.
Now my body has gone into emergent mode and I am trembling with the fear of what is happening and my inability to control it, holding onto the wheel and trying to focus on the road for a place to pull over or race into, to get help.
Lynda has a seizure (later we learn, not officially a seizure, but seizure like activity). Her eyes roll into the back of her head, her body curls into itself and trembles and sounds come out of her mouth as if she is still trying to tell me that something is wrong. Clearly something is not right. I teeter on the edge of panic as I think my best friend is going to die right next to me and there's nothing I can do about it.
Then it's over, almost. Lynda is conscious again. I'm still driving, we are a few blocks from my gynecologist and I briefly consider going there, thinking how nice they always are. Lynda reaches across and holds my shoulder "I'm sorry, honey". That's my Lynda, always so considerate and loving of others. I finally pull over and with trembling hands find the post procedure instructions and my phone.
I want the people who did this to Lynda to fix it, so I call them. I have a strong sense of fairness and justice. Illogical, as it is, I instinctually think that the medical facility that broke Lynda should fix her.
While I'm waiting for them to figure out who I am and what I'm talking about, Lynda looks like she's going to have another seizure, her eyes roll into her head as she starts to slump over. I consider running into the notary ( they have also been very nice to me and helped me out in a jam during my divorce), as if they will somehow make this stop happening. The nurse says I need to take Lynda to the Emergency room. I am unsatisfied with this answer, they did this to her, they should fix her. This is my irrational thinking that would be present whether I was in fight mode or not.
Lynda is feeling a little better by the time I get off the phone and does not want to go to the closest hospital (it' s not the good one, frankly) but now I'm thinking clear enough to know we need to get her somewhere in case she has another seizure. By the time we arrive at the hospital we are both pretty much fine, and able to laugh at "when was your last period?" this question like "enter your password". I could go on about the irony of women being asked this question at every turn and yet our society is so out of touch with the actual significance and relevance of the hormonal cycles of women - and men, but not here.
Lynda and I one time got stuck at a train station for 2 hours. No problem. We love each other and are good at making the best of situations. We meditate. The emergency room stay was the same. Lynda is the most gracious patient, I joke with the nurse and doctor and display some of my fun facts.
I go get us some sandwiches and we make our way to my house, to watch TV in the air conditioning. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for Lynda. My best friend who did not die in my car. My friend who loves me right where I'm at, my friend who is easy to love, my friend who takes me for a walk when I want to hide in my shell, who reminds of the person I want to be. I was powerless over what happened to her and had not much I could do for her, except to get her to the hospital. I do have the power to feel, express, and share my love. My life is better with Lynda in it.
Check out her beautiful work here lyndapilkington.com
Yoga and Recovery are both paths to spiritual awakening, both encourage us and provide a way to find our internal locus of control and be in the world in a way that suits our nature. These systems are the one path for me, saving my life and giving me a life worth living, enjoying and celebrating.
A tenet and major tool for both of these systems is awareness. Awareness is the beginning of change and transformation.
I was not eligible for surrender until I became aware that there was an issue. Even after I became aware of my own unmanageability, change was not immediate. Awareness is the beginning, when it is combined with utter desperation and willingness, movement towards change begins. I was aware that I was an addict long before I became desperate or willing to do anything about it.
The first time that I was in treatment (late 2002), my external unmanageability was apparent to myself and anyone who was around me: I didn't look people in the eye, I didn't eat or bathe regularly. I made feeble attempts at recovery after that first time: I went to meetings, I got a haircut, started taking daily showers again, my mom let me stay with her and would take me to meetings. I started looking like I was alive, but I had no willingness to be known. I kept lying to others about my true internal state and kept using, which was how I ended up back in treatment a few months later. The second, and last time that I was treatment in 2003 I had an awareness that my life was unmanageable on the outside (I was yet to be confronted with my internal unmanageability).
I was truly dumbfounded as to how I was in treatment again. I had an awareness of my unmanageability, but no awareness of who and what I was. I was fooled by outward improvements and thought that I had reset myself to 4 years before my first time in treatment when I still looked functional. I needed an awareness of my nature and the disturbance within it if I was going to change the trajectory of my life, which was very much in danger at this point.
In my dumbfounded, desperate state, I opened a recovery book that had been given to me and found the awareness that I needed. I'm sure I had been given this information before in meetings, or by others in recovery. In this moment though, my desperation created space for awareness. When I opened the book and read that once I put one in me I was in the grip of something more powerful than me, I understood in an instant the truth of this dilemma. I accepted that I could not control my addiction, that I was in the state I was in because I had taken one pill. Once that one pill was in my body, I was in the grip of a force that I could not overpower. This awareness led to a frightening thought "If I can't overpower it, how will I survive?" I knew then that I had a spark of a will to live and that I wanted to survive. I wanted to live.
My exposure to the miracles of recovery had left a seed of hope that Recovery was more powerful than this addiction that lived inside of me, and if I could just get clean, perhaps Recovery could overpower my addiction by enveloping me in unconditional love and a return to awareness of my spiritual nature. The awareness of who and what I was had initiated the process of change and transformation.
My Recovery began in that moment, as I surrendered to a spiritually focused way of life and embarked on the journey to a fully embodied life. I needed more awareness. Awareness of the faulty, outdated belief systems that kept me from knowing that I am spirit. Awareness of these limiting, deceptive samskara incites action to move into expansive, authentic, thought patterns and behaviors.
Today, awareness is still the beginning. Yoga brings me to the reality of this moment. My body and breath are here now, where there is truth. Awareness of truth guides me to my fully embodied, authentic life.
The past few years of my life have been tumultuous, chaotic, and extremely revealing. Through it all, I come to the truth of the present through my breath in my body. Each breath letting go of what is not me and embracing what is. Awareness, like all spiritual principles operates much the same way as the muscles in our bodies. Practicing awareness of my breath in my body and my body in space, builds the muscle of awareness. Awareness becomes strong and dexterous, so it is available to discover the more subtle truths of the heart, the true teacher.