It was 1987 in San Francisco. Three-year-old me jumped up and down in our kitchen, ecstatic that Dad was taking me to buy a toy. I sat in the front seat without a seatbelt. We were driving along a winding mountain road when Dad swerved to avoid an oncoming car and totaled his 1967 Ford Mustang against the barricade. He frantically looked over at me and saw my head smashed an inch into the glove compartment. This happy day turned into a horrific one.
The years went by and I grew up like any other kid. I excelled in both academics and sports. Yet physically, my jaw was misaligned and the rest of my body had organized around the asymmetry. When I looked in the mirror, I saw ugliness staring back at me—my sad asymmetrical face, my droopy breasts, the scoliosis causing the right and left curvatures of my torso to be uneven. As my inner critic became more loud and unforgiving, I became more depressed, anxious and insecure. I was very susceptible to stress. My fight-flight pounding heart mirrored the noise in my mind. My body screamed as if she carried the crippling pains of the world.
I self-diagnosed myself as having fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. Hot burning pain would radiate down my low back into my thighs and into my toes. I couldn’t sit for long, stand for long, have sex for long, do anything for long. From the moment I opened my eyes in the morning until the moment I closed them at night, my pelvic floor would be clenched bracing against life.
I’ve seen an eclectic spectrum of doctors and mystical healers. I’ve had Botox shot into my back. I’ve had a Chinese healer “gua-sha” (scrape) me until I was raw. I have three different kinds of heat packs. Sometimes alone in my car, I’d wail uncontrollably just to release the emotional pain. Others days, I’d be so debilitated that walking to the bathroom was difficult because moving my legs hurt my hips and back. I’d feel possessed, writhing on the floor or convulsing on the bed as the muscle spasms and physical pain overtook me. Some nights, I’d silently cry myself to sleep. Many times, I’ve envisioned ending my life.
When I was at the end of my sanity, yoga came into my life. Like a chiropractor, yoga connected and realigned my mind-body-spirit. I came to this ancient practice for the physical relief; what I didn’t anticipate were the emotional and spiritual gifts I’d receive. I began to experience relief from the grief and fear I had been carrying as a result of the car accident.
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