I found out that my partner had been layering crack in our pot. He would put it in without me knowing it. One day I reached into his pocket and I found this little white square. And then I started smoking crack, just straight out. We got evicted five times in a seven-year period. Sleeping on the streets, drinking huge amounts. Just lost.

I remember at one point thinking, “The fly on that piece of shit is better than me.” My partner would beat me down a lot, tell me how ugly I was, how skinny I was, how stupid I was. And I started believing it.

My T-cells dropped to one. I was down to 120 pounds, wasting, having diarrhea like thirty times a day. I had a staph infection on my back. I threw my meds out the window. I could see them on the roof of the building next to us. I just figured, if I stop taking my meds, I will die and then I won’t have to commit suicide. But I kept not dying. And those meds sat out there.

I had a sore on my hand and it was really hurting badly, so I decided I had to go to the doctor, because I still wasn’t dying. The hospital put me in the Carl Bean House, an AIDS hospice, and that’s where everything changed. I started going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings twice a day.

I was kind of broken when I started doing yoga. I was in a lot of pain after all those years of drug and alcohol abuse. But I found a great sense of calm, of serenity and peace. “Be here now.” That could be the best mantra ever. It keeps me from worrying about the future or feeling shameful about the past.

I fall out of poses, but I’ve learned how to fall gracefully. I’ve learned how to get up and laugh about it and dust myself off and keep going.

I once took a yoga class and the guy would have us sit for twenty minutes in meditation at the beginning of class, and I would be screaming in my head like, “Oh my God! Get out! Run!” Now I meditate for ten to fifteen minutes every day, and that’s amazing.

Life is interesting. It’s crazy and fun and hard and depressing. But it’s certainly a lot better than it was.