I was office-bound the Friday, August morning that I locked eyes with a passerby on the opposite side of the street. Already the encounter was strange; it was rare for me to come across anyone on my route to work. He was young, younger than me maybe, a high school student even, with half of his braids coming undone. We did not politely look away from one another; I watched him until we passed out of each other’s periphery. There was something about the odd, unhurried way in which he went by—he looked as though he were purposeless. Like he was going nowhere.
Where he was going turned out to be directly behind me. After following for a few moments with an uneasy closeness I was finding more and more difficult to ignore, he struck out and tackled me to the ground, both of us falling in the grass and the brambles beside a railway viaduct.
Overcoming Denial and Facing My Alcoholism
I didn’t like her. I didn’t think anyone would. Who would like a woman with a self-destructive drinking problem and special talent for hurting people? When I wrote Kiana, the main character of my novel, she disgusted me – the way she lied, the way she spoke to people, a sharpness to her comments that cut to the quick anyone who threatened to get too close. I shook my head in disappointment with every decision she made, and I rolled my eyes with impatience every time she stumbled over her own lies.
I was approximately twenty pages into Kiana’s story when I got stuck. The scene I was writing was a particularly important one, and I didn’t know what Kiana needed to do, but it had to be something despicable, and I didn’t know what she needed to say, but it needed to be hurtful – selfish, shameful, and overflowing with guilt.
So, like I always do when I get stuck in a narrative, I took to my journal.
The first time I had an anxiety attack I was at a talk being given by humorist Roy Blount, Jr. I was sitting in the front row of the auditorium, listening and laughing as Roy talked about his latest book–which was on the oddities of language–when I suddenly began to feel as though I couldn’t breathe.
As an academic interested in feminist fitness and a yoga teacher, I anticipated the publication of Becky Thompson’s book for almost a year after meeting her at a conference. Survivors on the Yoga Mat: Stories for Those Healing from Trauma has become an indispensable asset for my work in fitness and academia. Both of us draw from our personal and professional lives, weave the words and experiences of others into our texts, and believe in the power of yoga (and, for me, fitness more generally) as a means toward recovery and transformation. For anyone interested in the healing power of yoga–personally or professionally–this book is a moving and rich resource.