I remember my first alcoholic drink. I was about 13. A seedy nightclub in Bahrain. I was new to the school and I along with my fellow neewby had been invited, by the more the more established school goers, to join them on a "night out".
I had always been a chronically shy child, I could barely look you in the eye and was always consumed by the sense of being inadequate. New social encounters caused me crippling anxiety. I feel, my social and self dis-ease was not helped by periodic bouts of bullying during my younger years and teens by both students and my primary school head teacher, who liked to point out my lack of intelligence and the comical value of my front teeth.
My friend and I arrived at the "club". There was a bar and it was "ladies night" that mean't you could drink as much as you wanted for free. I was not alcohol naive. I had grown up around heavy drinking and had dabbled in a glass of alcohol here and there and liked the effect.
"Five shots of vodka please". To this day I remember the fiery liquid scorching the back of my throat and the heat surge through my body. Suddenly I had the overwhelming sense, of what I can only describe, as arriving. The sense of finally being comfortable in my own skin. I felt liberated, unchained from the crippling anxiety, self doubt and self loathing. My voice escaped me, freely. I could talk and look you in the eye, I could laugh out loud. This was magical. This was the answer.
Fifteen years of destruction followed.
I found sobriety 7 years ago. I was cast back to the feeling of dislocation. Muted.
I found yoga or yoga found me shortly after I'd put down my last drink. My motivation for starting? Nothing profound. I was bored of my then, current exercise routine. After a few classes I noticed that I began to feel more...integrated? That my head and body were attached, one functioning system. The sense of feeling like my skin was home. My skin was a safe space to be. My skin was ok.
When apathy beats me or time escapes me and I miss a few days. I feel that feeling of dislocation creep into me again and once again I feel like "tin man", brittle and dislocated, like a vortex has opened within me and is pulling me inwards.
For me, yoga is not about hipster studios, epic poses and patterned leggings, though these things are nice. For me yoga is a system, a practice, a philosophy which helps me come home to my self and be ok there.
Rebecca, MSc, works as a counsellor in London and has experience working with addiction, trauma and other complex issues. Rebecca is passionate about the field of therapy and wellbeing.