This past few months have been hugely intense for me. Starting therapy and yoga teacher training is big: so big that I am still looking at it on my plate, chewing my first bite. I have come up with so much forgiveness, so much comfort and care for myself by allowing myself to pursue a dream that is still undefined but so needed. I have pushed myself mentally and physically and soulfully in ways that I totally hated every second of, but did it anyway because I know the hard stuff I can barely stand is the stuff I obviously need to pay attention to and do. I have loved so much of it, deep down constant gratitude and joy for being here, where I am.

It all winds back to the decision I made to quit drinking. That moment, that life defining choice, has built and grown my courage to be nice to myself. To care for the being I am that lives in this body, the person I have always been and am allowing myself to become. It was so awkward and weird at first, this kindness and care for my own self, but it keeps getting easier and more normal. This goes on forever- I am always healing and forever changing because healing and staying always one way aren’t necessarily the same thing.

In teacher training we did an exercise about shame during our study of the third chakra. Our teacher had us write down three things we were ashamed of. I wrote:

my drinking
my lack of sexual abandon, yet TOO MUCH unconscious abandon
breastfeeding my children after I’d been drinking- losing their early childhoods

Then she had us decide about that shame. Decide yes or no, then stand up in this lofty open wood and brick big windowed wide space and push our arms out with great force away from ourselves, one arm at a time, side to side, yelling our word: yes or no. Hands open or in fists, eyes open, she started us off- yelling yes! YES! YES! her body swinging back and forth with the strength of her conviction. We started too, shyly yelling and moving. It took us a minute to warm up, and then we all yelled our yes’s and no’s and threw our arms out and in pulling our way towards a bit of freedom.

My shame about my former life is so big when I think back on the things I do remember and cringe to imagine the things I don’t. I can’t live in the steps I’ve already taken. I am not that person anymore, even if my brain wants to drag me back there for another round of punishment.

After about five minutes she stopped us, and said write it down. Write down what you mean about that shame now. I wrote this:

YES
it wasn’t right. it was awful, and selfish, and it’s OK. I did it the only way I knew how. It was wrong and I am forgiven. I am forgiven. My heart was always there 
ALL ALONG
ALL ALONG
ALL ALONG 
ALL ALONG
ALL ALONG

Then she said write your biggest wish. I wrote:

to continue

I cannot change what I’ve done, but I can honor myself every moment from now until I die. I can forgive myself, I can surrender to the bad and the good of who I’ve been and the woman I am at this very moment. I am all of my history and I’m making history all the time, the longer I live the more I can tip the scales so memory mostly recognizes who I am now. We’ll tell it like used to be stories you tell about your children. “Remember when Amy would only wear dresses to school and ate cereal every day for breakfast? Remember when Amy used to roller skate all the time? Remember when Amy used to drink? Whoa! That was a long time ago.” Then we’ll scratch our heads and look off into space trying to even remember what that felt like.

I got myself sober and then I learned how to live like that, and now I am feet on the ground enough to open my heart enough to love and be loved by others and the world. To trust that my dirty laundry can be what it is, and not be more than it’s been meant to be. I know that I am all those blacked out hook ups, those nights I had too much to drink and picked up my innocent baby sons in the middle of the night and fed them breast milk laced with alcohol, I am the fights I picked with my husband, the drunken wish for it to stop but not stopping. I am all of those things, but that is not all that I am.

I am just warming up.