Kyczy Hawk was raised by an alcoholic mother who was incapable of taking care of the family. She graduated early so she could dive head-first into the counter-culture, drug-filled world of 1960s San Fransisco. She became an alcoholic and an IV drug user, and let herself be abused by men to the point where she had but one thread of dignity left. That last thread brought her to Alcoholics Anonymous where she eventually found sobriety.
Fourteen years later, Kyczy was overworked, overwhelmed and in danger of a relapse. By a divine sign, she discovers yoga, taking her recovery to new heights of healing, self-discovery, and self-love. She has written the book Yoga and the Twelve-Step Path where she weaves to two philosophies of yoga and twelve steps together.
CLEAN DATE: April 29th, 1985
Listen to her transformational journey from substance abuse and self-loathing to yoga and self-love in recovery!
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Here are a few highlights from our interview. To get the full story please join us on the Podcast now!
Kyczy’s Recovery Routine
Early in recovery, Kyczy was a working mom and had to put her recovery on a schedule. Now that she is older, her entire days are about recovery. She sees sponsees every day. She teaches yoga four times a week. She also teaches yoga in jail and shows inmates affirmation-based poses to help them in recovery.
Kyczy is a recovery writer and is working on a new book. All these facets are part of her recovery, just like her breath.
How do you maintain spiritual condition?
Sometimes even Kyczy is bereft. She experiences spots of feeling that she’s not enough. She gets depressed and overwhelmed. She still doesn’t have a resource within herself, but she knows where to go. A meeting, a walk in nature, and music is what she turns to when she is feeling low.
Kyczy meditates every day. She does 10 minutes or more, consistently. In this way, she feels she is able to slow time down. When she feels angry, hurt, depressed, or overwhelmed, she uses meditation to stretch time out. It’s a remedy to reconnect her to her universal spirit. It broadens the time between the perception of a sensation and the response to it.
The First Time
Kyczy grew up overseas. In 7th grade, she attended a school where the teachers lived upstairs. Is was a dry country, and when their teacher was away at a meeting, the students went upstairs and raided his room where he kept his bathtub gin. All the kids got drunk. Even though Kyczy was sick from the alcohol, the situation gave her the chance to hang out with the cool kids and be with the boys.
Because it was a dry country, the teacher got deported when it was discovered he had alcohol. This was the beginning the pattern of Kyczy using and others playing the price.
The Battle – Wreckage, Rock Bottom, and Recovery
Kyczy stayed sober for year and a half till 9th grade. She was back I the US. It was the late 60s in San Francisco. When first arriving, she felt alienated, separated, and unsure. But she didn’t feel lost for long. She found her tribe immediately. They were kids who had discord in the home and parents’ with problems like she did.
They shared matchboxes of pot and Boone’s Farm wine. They experimented with pills and cut school. But Kyczy lived a dual existence. She came from an alcoholic house, she had to be home by four to take care of her younger brother and sister, and to make sure mom didn’t burn down the house.
She was almost ejected from school and knew she wouldn’t be there very long, so she enrolled for extra school during the summer so she could graduate early. Then she hit the streets.
She moved to Colorado and lived on a commune where she got pregnant with her first daughter. She had to find a way to support herself and started working in the bars at nineteen. This was where her life began its spiral out of control. She remembers borrowing a van to get to work and getting so drunk that she left it on with the doors open in the middle of the road. She befriended dangerous people. Her jealous boyfriend shot up the kitchen. Friends overdosed regularly and had to be put in ice baths and revived. She lived in abandoned houses without electricity or running water. What looked at first like hijinks became ugly. The relationships become more abusive. The moving more frequent. The self-esteem diminished to zero.
Our standards lower to meet our level of functioning.
She remembers holding a gun to her head wanting to pull the trigger. She prayed she would die in her sleep. She then became an IV drug user and went down even further. She traded her body and moved in with dealers to ensure her supply of drugs
Her children paid the price. They fell asleep in hallways waiting for her to read them a story. In the morning, she had to look in the fridge to see if food was missing. It was the only way to know if she had fed them the night before.
Then came the day, not a big day with tears and vomit, or a fist in her face, or being spat on. She woke up again after not wanting to have used. Night after night she had told herself, “This has to be the last time.” And it never was. But this time she was sitting on the edge of the bed. She felt hyper-aware, so raw she could hear the dust in the air. She looked around the disheveled room. Her soul was hanging by a gossamer thread. She wanted to let it go, but for some reason she didn’t. She knew a woman she used to shoot up who got sober. Kyczy thought, “If she can do it, I can do it.”
They went to the gay, atheist, agnostic meeting. She looked around and saw people with 5 years of sobriety. She thought they could never have had a problem. How could this possibly work?
Then she saw one woman had 3 days sober. She almost cried with relief. She asked her, how do you do it? The woman said, “Just for today.”
Against all odds, she remained sober. She got away from her husband and went to her mom’s who had been sober for some time already. She lived in a garage with her kids and finally felt safe.
One day her husband showed up again. She didn’t know if she loved him or what he had in his pockets, but she slowly got back into drugs. She kept going to meetings, but since the meetings were alcohol focused, she didn’t admit to using. She celebrated her 1st sober birthday in AA and then went home and smoked pot.
Finally, she divorced both her husband and the drugs, but it wasn’t her last use. She got a job as a receptionist in a psychiatrist’s office and she had the key to the drug cabinet. One doctor told her to take home a bottle of codeine cough syrup in case she need it. She brought it home, and conveniently developed a cough that required a whole bottle of medicine.
That was her last drug.
She kept going to meeting but keeping her secret of having used past her sober date. Then she heard a woman tell her story of having used drugs and not having fessed up about. Kyczy was so grateful and thanked her. From that day on Kyczy went to all her meetings and confessed what she had done.
I needed to reset the clock.
Next, she went into full-fledged workaholism as a CPA. She was hired into a company at a high level. Exciting things were happening. She was getting positive feedback on all that she learned in meetings, like leadership and negotiation. She worked 10-12 hour days 6-7 days a week and had to lighten up on meetings and her recovery. There wasn’t a lot left of her. Something had to give.
One day, she was drawn to a yoga class. The loving teacher, the tenderness of her voice, and the body movement drove her to tears. Kyczy experienced a tremendous release. She laid in savasana and she realized she had never truly let go. She kept practicing yoga and felt herself healing. Her repairs didn’t happen quickly, but she just let it happen and didn’t try to figure it out why or how.
There is a listening to the internal landscape. At meetings we talk, but there is something deep in the tissues you can’t get to that way.
She decided to become a yoga teacher and has been teaching recovery-based yoga ever since.
What kept her from staying clean?
Let me tell you the truth, it’s the sensations of my feelings.
I was running from my feelings.
The aha moment
Okay, that was while sitting on the bed made me, where I was thinking about letting the true me dissipate and going away forever, I knew that that was a crucial moment. But there was another moment when I was walking into a meeting and I … I’m very dramatic in my head. I was super happy, I was content. We were all kind of walking toward the fireside room or whatever room it was named at this church, and I was thinking, “My God, we’re all threads in a tapestry. Some of us are thin and not so unsure. Some of us are thin like silk, very strong. Some of us are bumpy and irascible. But we’re all threads in this big, beautiful tapestry, and I belong.” I think it was like it went right through my chest and around my shoulders, I just felt complete.
…we’re all threads in this big, beautiful tapestry, and I belong.
Favorite book from early recovery
Daily Reflections. That was about as much as I could take, was just a little sentence and then a little quote, and then a little discussion. I didn’t talk a lot about this, but I was really damaged in my first three or four years. I couldn’t retain. I could read, but I didn’t understand. It was very, it took me a long time to get well, so just a quote and a comment, that was about all I needed, and it was inspirational.
Best suggestion ever received
The best suggestion was, I think my third sponsor told me to think before I speak. That might seem like a small thing, but I was one of those kids in the back of the class always wanting to share at meetings and just jumping up and down, and she just wanted me to slow down. The guys, they say take the cotton out of your ears and put it in your mouth, but for we petite fleur women, we had to have another way to approach it. She just said, think before you speak.
Think before you speak.
Suggestion to newcomer
Love yourself. It’s going to be the hardest thing you ever do. I don’t mean just look in the mirror and say that, but to truly let yourself settle down in your heart and be you. It’ll be a lifetime journey and it deserves to be started as soon as you can.
Website – YogaRecovery.com
Twitter – @SOARyoga
See you then!
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Disclaimer – The opinions shared on this show reflect those of the individual speaker and not of any 12 step fellowship as a whole and though we discuss 12 step recovery and the impact it has had in our lives we do not promote or endorse any 12 step anonymous program.