So instead of a post about food, you're getting me on a soapbox. (Don't worry, I will talk PLENTY about food. And soon!) And before I get started for real, I'll admit, that I'm a touch reticent to write this as it requires baring a bit of my soul--and I'm not very good at facing real emotions. You'll find out more about that soon.
So. Back to Amy Winehouse. I've seen any number of comments about her passing. My initial thought was "Sad, but sadly not surprising." What I have been shocked by is some of the reactions I've seen various friends and acquaintances. Things like "I mean really, was it any surprise?" and "I just don't feel sorry for her..." and, the worst I've seen, "They tried to send her to rehab and she said... *thud*"
I've you're looking for the Cliff's Notes version, my Facebook status from earlier today probably states my position most concisely:
Allow me to take a long step back and then elaborate on that last sentence. For a variety of reasons, my parents voluntarily sent me to live with my (maternal) grandparents when I was about 4 years old. When I was in 7th grade, my mother had a freak accident in a beauty parlor after which she developed epilepsy and a host of other health problems. (No, seriously, I couldn't make this up if I tried.) As far as I am aware, my mother never drank a drop in her life because of the alcoholism that runs in our family. (You should have seen the look on her face when someone offered her a bite of their Kahlua cake during a meal after my grandfather passed away. Priceless.) But she did carry a backpack full of pills with her wherever she went.
As smart as she was, she never considered that her doctor-prescribed medications might possibly be worse than self-medicating with booze. So, less than a year after the grandfather with whom I grew up died of cancer, I got a call that my mother was found unconscious. And even though they started her heart again, her brain function was gone. The machines were turned off. The death certificate specifies her cause of death as "acute intoxication due to the combined effects of methadone, hydrocodone [Vicodin], and zolpidem [Ambien]."
My mother was 48 years old at the time of her death.
So maybe you can see why I have a real problem with people saying that they feel no compassion for Amy Winehouse's death because "Well, it could have been prevented..." and "She should have known better..." and "Yes, but did she ever COMPLETE a rehab program?"
Clearly, life isn't so black and white.
And in addition to having lost my mother, I recognize that I could easily have met the same fate.
The grandfather died in June 2006. My mother followed in March 2007. My grandmother (who was primarily responsible for my upbringing) passed in December 2008.
Needless to say, 2009 was not a good year. I was an emotional wreck. My best friend was also going through a traumatic time in her life and we enabled each other. Addiction runs in my family. I don't talk about emotions, not real ones at least. So I struggled--a lot--and coped in unhealthy ways. (Nothing illegal, mind you, but nothing healthy either.)
And then something happened in November of 2009. One of the teachers on my team at school invited me to go to a yoga class. She was a yoga teacher and owned a studio nearby. Out of pure vanity, I decided that some physical fitness wouldn't hurt and I went to her Yoga I class on November 12, 2009.
MAN did I hurt the next day. (Which, in retrospect, is laughable. I just go back from a yoga vacation last week and attended 22 yoga classes over 7 1/2 days.) But I loved the feeling that I had after I shut my phone off and rest my workaholic mind to focus on myself for 75 minutes.
So I went back twice more in December. And once a week in January. Then I added a core focus class on Wednesdays. And then I added a Saturday class with another teacher. And I got stronger--mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Yoga allowed to realize that I wasn't just in a funk... I had been depressed. And honestly, I should have been seeking treatment for that year--because planning 3 funerals and trying to hold my family together was just too much for even strong, stoic me to handle. And the more I went to yoga, the lighter I felt.
So, while I might be an addict now, my addiction is to yoga. It is the only reason I will force myself to leave my classroom at a reasonable hour. I am careful to listen to my body and practice mindfully--so that I can continue to practice regularly.
Since that first class less than 2 years ago, I have taken another 238 classes. (I keep a spreadsheet. More on that later.) At the studio, we joke that I'm a "frequent flyer"--I attend classes more than any other student. (Okay, from January to May I was #2, but the "#1" woman didn't have a job and had a nice severance package from her previous employer...)
I normally practice yoga 5 days per week, although I challenged myself to practice every day in July. I have met and exceeded that challenge. I am working on developing my home yoga practice and if it wasn't for marching band I would be training to become a yoga teacher this fall.
Yoga has returned me to health in numerous ways. I truly believe it has saved my life. I wish that Amy Winehouse and my mother had found a healthier way to cope with their circumstances before drugs led each of them to a tragic and premature demise. And I wish that my friends and acquaintances, while perhaps not understanding why people turn to drug or alcohol abuse, learn to express compassion for those who struggle with it.
Lokah samasta sukhino bhavantu.