When I wrote my article in Elephant Journal, the one about how my breathwork practice rid me of anxiety and saved my life, I was elated at the response. Everything I wrote was true, and knowing that it resonated with so many people made my heart feel full.
I received an email that the magazine had promoted my article (yay me!) and when I clicked to view it, I saw that they changed the title. Originally, “Breathing Into Anxiety: How Breathwork Saved My Life”, the editors changed the title to, "The Anxiety-Relieving Practice that cured me of my Dependence on Xanax & Booze.”
Immediately, I felt ashamed. I was not dependent on Xanax and “booze” (that word). I hopped all over Facebook, asking people to read and share, despite, or in spite of, the new title. I got messages from friends offering words of support. One was from a seasoned writer, who told me about how these things happen, and that I can begin to prepare myself with a response that is honest. So, I set about doing that here.
And the truth is, I can’t deny the title. It's correct. Why was I so triggered? I knew that I was dependent on Xanax, and a vodka with seltzer to go to sleep at night, so why was I so triggered?
I was not an addict. Not ever. Right?
And there it was. I had never taken ownership for what had been. I knew that I, like many (qualify, qualify), needed a drink to go to sleep at night. I also knew that so many people live on Xanax. An old friend even told me that she believed it should be in the water, and I whole-heartedly agreed.
Dependence on Xanax and Booze. Read that again. It’s a scary thing. And while I wasn’t on the street, as the image of dependence might be for some (for me), the truth is that it is the truth. I needed Xanax to get through the day. I needed alcohol before bed, or before a flight, or whenever shit hit the fan. “Boy, do I need a drink,” I’d say, ordering a Tito’s and seltzer, and no one thought anything of it. And maybe, just maybe, that’s part of the problem.
I needn’t be ashamed of my past. As I was writing to my friend, telling her that I was misrepresented, I caught myself. Was that really the truth?
I was not misrepresented. And while the article is really about breathwork, it’s also about what the practice did for me. It saved me from my anxiety. It stopped me from continuing to take small doses of Xanax on the daily (dependance), it saved me from needing a drink before bed.
Thank you, Elephant Journal, for being the mirror I needed to see the truth, to release the shame, and embrace the whole path home.
I was dependent on Xanax and booze. And I’m not today. Nope, not today.
Inhale. Inhale. Exhale.