Where do I start? I'd like to tell you what I need to say let's hope in one page. :-) My life has been --- well I am not sure what to call it. I grew up with an abusive, alcoholic father. My mother was an intolerant, religious fundamentalist. I watched things happen that shook me to my very core in horror: fist fights, strangulation, beatings that caused bloody sores, substance abuse, abandonment, and the list could go on. I lived in this place for 18 years. I watched my brother decline and become an alcoholic & drop out of school at 14. I watched my mother cry. I watched my friends fall apart and die of drug overdoses. I watched my brother slowly die when his two friends were violently murdered. I have struggled with cutting, suicidal thoughts, and addiction to most every drug you can imagine. I was so "gone" using that I've been raped more than two times. I watched as my older brother ran away when he was 10, only to later molest me at 14. My dad implanted into my head, as well, that if you are not absolutely the best at something, you have failed. You are worthless. I was told I didn't know what anger felt like. That I was dramatic if I cried. Crying also earned punishment. I completely shut down around 21. I failed out of college. I watched the different boyfriends I had cheat on me. I always blamed myself. I wasn't good enough or smart enough or pretty enough or loveable. I wasn't worthy of care and kindness or attention or sympathy. I wanted to die. I still have moments where I feel that way. I tied all of my self-worth to how others treated me. I don't know if I've ever have been treated well, and I've always hated myself for it, again blamed myself for it. I was diagnosed with "complex PTSD". I go to a therapist but it doesn't really help.
Then I tried yoga. It was okay, but it just felt like another competition--- until I found you guys. You have changed my life. My first class was with Carmen. She said things to the class (I pretended it was directly to me) that no one had ever said to me: "I am perfect. I am beautiful. I am enough. I am worthy of love. I am exactly where I am supposed to be. It's okay to cry. Everything is perfect as it is right now." I was floored. I am in no way religious or spiritual, but I've always believed in love, kindness, beauty & hope. I believe we are incredibly lucky to have evolved into intelligent hominoids, which allows us to experience the beauty that is this world. TO appreciate every moment. To know that we are so unbelievably lucky the universe has allowed us to experience this tragic, difficult, beautiful, stunning world. We have very little time here, and I don't think anything happens after this life, which makes it that much more precious and beautiful. I am filled with gratitude that I, and all of us, have been afforded the gift that allows us to experience this world. I have had this view of life my whole life, but the huge factor is that I never believed I was worthy enough to enjoy it.
Sometimes I still find myself go into those dark places of abuse and rape and substance abuse, of flashbacks, and anxiety and overwhelming pain, worthlessness and hopelessness. But when I come to yoga --- your yoga - sacred hot yoga--with all of your beautiful and amazing instructors, I leave with a sense of hope and peace. I never knew what those felt like until you. You have helped me come so far. More and more, I feel like I fit into my own skin. And you know what? I may not be the prettiest, or the skinniest, or the smartest, but, and here is what I learned from you:
I am more than enough. Everything really is okay.
I am beautiful. I am perfect. I am worthy.
Peace and hope are possible. I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I will recover. I will get better. I will find my place here--- in fact. It's here. It's now. And it's fucking beautiful. Life is beautiful.
Every single one of you have healed me from the inside out. Please know you are doing something extraordinary. I am forever grateful.