Shannon Whaley here, a Leader at Inner Glow Circle.
The first time I was caught smoking I was 10. Ten! I was 12 when I was caught with a pack of my own. My mom found them hidden underneath the lining in my purse. My punishment was to smoke the entire pack in one sitting. 19 Marlboro Reds went straight to my head. Barf-o-rama.
When I was 13 I was stealing liquor out of my best friend’s dad’s liquor cabinet during sleepovers. We’d get buzzed and giggle all night and then fall asleep.
It was during this time that I discovered a book on Tibetan Buddhism in my dad’s book collection. I was fascinated. I didn’t completely understanding everything I read, but I felt a deep connection to it nonetheless. I had no idea that my lifelong path of personal development + self-discovery had just begun.
This wasn’t an overnight process. Although the book on Tibetan Buddhism was fascinating, I still had some major hurdles to overcome. As a freshman in high school, I was expelled for dealing marijuana. I was forced into home school. I was “high risk” and no school districts within a 30 mile radius would take me. They didn’t want “my kind” in their schools. I flourished in home school. I was able to set my own schedule, worked at my own pace, and even got ahead in my studies.
And then I started smoking the pot, instead of just dealing it. And doing acid. And then there was the meth.
By the time I was 17 I’d already lived many lives. I’d fall in and out of addiction, often cleaning up for a short time before falling back into the cycle. I started using heavier drugs, losing more weight, and closing myself off to anything and everyone that was good for me. I was living on my own. Still, I kept my dad’s book on Tibetan Buddhism. That text continually reminded me to look within for the answers instead of to outside sources.
My bookshelves at this time were filled with books by Melody Beattie, The Dalai Lama, Don Miguel Ruiz, Anthony Robbins, Ellen Bass, Wayne Dyer. Books and books and books. I was busy taking all of the information in, but I wasn’t using it in my own life.
I spent my college years in the same cycle of addiction. Smoking pot, taking hallucinogens, trying ecstasy and of course drinking on a regular basis.
I was also attending workshops and classes on Buddhism and even spent some time at two Buddhist monasteries studying, meditating and chanting. There was something about the practice and way of life that kept drawing me in.
And my addiction kept pulling me back out.
My life continued like this for 21 years. The darkness of my addictions always beat out the light. I would get back on my feet only to get dragged back down into the darkness of depression, self-hatred and self-harm a few months later.
How I am still alive today, I have no idea. My Guardian Angels were with me the entire time and they knew I had a higher purpose, even though I thought otherwise.
After years of individual and group therapy, I realized that unless I made a drastic change, nothing in my life was going to improve. I’d been trying the same thing over and over, expecting a different result.
So I sold everything I owned and moved 3000 miles away to the Cayman Islands.
You can’t run from your problems, but the beach and sun can certainly make them a little better.
After living here for 6 months, reading ‘The Saint, The Surfer and The CEO’ by Robin Sharma, and taking a serious look at how I was living my life, I realized that unless I was completely sober, my life was never going to be my own. If I ever wanted to reach the level of consciousness I desired, the level of self-awareness that I desired, I was going to have to be 100% drug and alcohol free.
So I quit.
On October 7, 2013 I quit poisoning my body and mind with substances and dedicated my life to my true purpose, which is to be the best Shannon I can possibly be.
I used yoga, meditation, studying the Yamas and the Niyamas, and eventually coaching and Inner Glow Circle to get clean and sober. I’ve found myself, my passion and my purpose. I still own the book on Tibetan Buddhism that changed everything.
I’m so honored and excited to share more of my story when I speak at IGC’s IGNITE event on April 28th. It has been my dream to share my story with other powerful women who ‘get it’ and I can’t wait to meet all of you! Reserve your spot now.
You can read more of Shannon’s inspiring journey on her website at www.travelingwildwoman.com and snag her new ebook, Your ‘Can’t Mess It Up:’ Checklist for Creating Your Dream Business.
Guest Blog Post written by Shannon Whaley, Leader at Inner Glow Circle.