Writing my full story is a way for me to openly share my experiences and what I’ve learned with all of you.
I think we are all connected, we all experience different life struggles, and we are all on a path of acceptance and love.
I was 5 years old when the police officer picked me up from preschool. He took me to a shelter where other kids were and I recall it was bunk bed style. My biological father had shot and killed my mother. 5 bullets, he unloaded the gun, went straight to prison, and I was left with no family. My biological family was in India, the social services system was in the U.S., and they were not going to go all the way to India to find my family. My mom had been handwriting letters home to India still, not even using email back then.
I stayed at the group shelter for a few days, although the details are fuzzy. My neighbors took me in for awhile and I was assigned a social worker. Soon after, I was taken to a grief counseling center where I finally learned what had happened to my mother and that my father was in prison. About a month had passed before I was told that my mom would never return. They did not know how to share this information with a 5 year old…that my mother was deceased, my biological father was in prison, sentenced to life with parole, and I was left all alone.
I lived with my neighbors for a couple months and then lived with a foster family in Connecticut, for about a year, and took on their last name. I don’t remember too much but I know I was pretty quiet, I wouldn’t talk and this frustrated the foster parents. This foster family was not the right match and I was flown back to California where my grief counselor took me into her home. I had stayed with her prior to Connecticut so I felt loved by her. She ended up adopting me.
I was 9 years old, in 3rd grade, and we moved to a small town where she was married immediately and had two kids of their own. I changed my name to Christina to fit in. I was the only Indian girl in the school, looked different than everyone, and my family story was embarrassing to me at that point in my life. This is when my negative self-thoughts and lack of self-esteem started. I compared myself to all the ‘normal’ kids I went to school with. I just wanted to fit in, be normal, and pushed out my past completely as if it never happened.
My family wasn’t always the healthiest, but we had good times mixed with bad. As an adult I can reflect and realize there was a lot of emotional/verbal abuse; it was not a healthy environment, and as a result, their was a lot of damage done to my self-esteem and self-worth, which would appear later in my adult years. Nothing I ever did was right, which made me more of a perfectionist, thinking that if I was perfect, they would love me and wouldn’t be upset with me. I had no clue what was considered loving behavior, as I so badly wanted to be loved and have a family. I didn’t know anything different.
My adoptive mother had been through a lot, and therefore; I understood her unhealthy behaviors towards me, and for a long time made excuses for the way she would treat me, defending her ways. Perhaps there were behaviors she did to cope with her past that were hurtful to me. While I’m grateful for living with them for 9 years and will always love them, I finally understood that I can love them but have no relationship with them as it’s only harmful to my mental health.
I was a sophomore in high school when my biological father was up for parole. I had to testify against him to keep him in prison. I completely lost it when I saw his face. I’ll never forget him walking into the court room at the prison, wearing all blue, he looked right at me, and I was hit with wave of emotions. I was shaking, tears falling, and I held up a binder in front my face so he couldn’t see me. I was petrified he’d have someone find me if he knew how I looked. I had to speak in front of the prison board and share why he should not be released. The words barely came out in between my shaking voice and nonstop tears. He was sentenced to another 7 years, the maximum amount he could have received, and I was relieved to have the trauma disappear again.
I was 25 years old when he was up for parole the second time. I did a video statement this time which was to be played at his parole hearing. I moved to NY and found out he was released with a 5 year probation, there was never a parole hearing and my statement was never even read.
I was 29 (two months away from my birthday), when my adoptive family and I stopped talking, as I finally gained the courage to stop calling them as I was ‘supposed’ to. I was unemployed during the holidays and felt extremely alone. I was 30 when my biological father’s probation period was finally up and he contacted me the day before my 30th birthday. I had an emotional breakdown and will share what I learned throughout this time later in my story.
I never thought I’d speak to my biological father but I arranged a conference call as I wanted answers. I wanted to know why he took my mother’s life, what provoked him, I wanted the details. Don’t ask me why I wanted to know, it was something unexplainable within me. He answered my questions, he said he blacked out and didn’t remember shooting her. I’ll never get the full story of that day or ever understand his unhealthy mind. He cried over the phone, apologizing, expressing a lot of remorse. It was strange as I had never felt so much love from someone. I remember thinking this is how a parents’ love feels. This feeling I had is how we started a relationship with each other, speaking over the phone every so often. Me asking questions about my mom and my childhood, him sharing all he could about her and my Indian heritage. There were days I internally battled how I could talk to someone who killed my mom. I think my heart wanted to understand and forgive to help myself.
After about a year, he decided to take my adoptive mother to court for reasons I could not comprehend, even after I had said not to, and that was the end of our relationship. This is when my adoptive family completely disowned me (we had already not been talking, but now it was really over). I begged for their forgiveness, cried a lot during this time, and felt scared losing them for good, as if everything was my fault. It was a couple years of these feelings before I finally understood, after many therapy sessions, that it was not my fault and this was not unconditional love. I finally stopped trying. It’s taken years for me to be ok with not talking to my adoptive family, to stop saying I’m sorry, to stop blaming myself, and to adjust to having no family during the holidays. As an adult in my early 30’s I was being abandoned by my family. I had already experienced abandonment as a child and it was reoccurring as an adult. These years were some of the darkest, loneliest, saddest years of my life. I found various escapes through unhealthy substances, but ultimately knew this was not the way to deal with it, and I had to face the emotions under the surface.
During this dark time, which was a few years ago, I would have panic attacks, major anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and was unemployed at one point. I was put on a short term disability leave when I had a breakdown and took a month off. Since then, I’ve worked really hard to pick myself back up and get into a balanced healthy state, mind body soul. It has not been easy, some days feel unbearable. Yoga, living healthy, writing, music, traveling, my true friends, crying, my dog, have all helped me get healthier and manage my depression without turning to substances. I still have really hard days where I’m really down, but I’ve learned that it always gets better at some point, even when it seems impossible. You just have to believe in yourself and somehow keep finding your ‘why’ to push forward and constantly improve. My why is my biological mother, knowing how strong she was makes me want to be the same. I know she’s always with me and I owe it to her to become a better person through all this.
About 4 years ago, my story gets more interesting. My biological mother’s side of the family found out what my name was now. They had their two family members who lived in the U.S. look for me through an adoption network. My two cousins found me through Facebook. The crazy part is I didn’t see the messages until two years later as they went to the junk tab in my Facebook inbox. Thankfully I eventually saw the messages, reached out, and met my two amazing cousins in person. It was an instant connection, they felt like long lost sisters, and I then flew to India with them to meet the rest of mom’s side of the family. No one knew what had happened to me since my name had changed and I basically disappeared. This was the most amazing, loving, fulfilling, emotional experience of my entire life. I could feel my mom’s love and spirit emanating from the entire family….This is when I learned that you never know what can happen in life. I would have never thought at age 34 I’d be reunited with my mom’s side of the family in India.
There is much more to my story but I’ve given a brief rendition of what occurred. I now understand how much I’ve been through and how I can help others with my experiences and relatability. I’ve experienced a lot of trauma, as a child and an adult. As a result, it effected my mental health, re-wired my brain, caused me anxiety, depression, a lack of self-worth, poor choices with romantic relationships, substance abuse issues, and more. It’s been a work in progress to overcome these hurdles and move forward; it’s taken a desire to want to get better, to learn about my past, to dig deep, and feel emotions that don’t feel good. I am self-motivated and I’m grateful for that. I took myself to therapy, became involved with yoga, eat clean, workout, listen to inspirational podcasts, educate myself on mental health and trauma to create awareness of the symptoms I may still have, and work hard to improve and practice compassion for myself. I’ve changed a lot. I’m more introverted, prefer small gatherings, don’t drink much, go to bed early; I now enjoy anything that brings me a sense of peace and calmness, anything that helps my mental health stay steady, and anything that fosters creativity and self-expression. I wouldn’t be here without my closest small circle of friends whom I’m forever grateful for. I pulled out of the deepest darkest days of my life.
I’m living proof you can do the same if you’re ever in a low spot. The lesson through all this is you have a choice. You can either let your past bring you down and take over your life, or you can allow your past to fuel you to rise above, to overcome what you’ve gone through, and use it to become a better human being who brings more love, wisdom, and support to others. When you go through hell, you gain empathy. And the world needs more empathy. Know that you can always get healthier mind body spirit but you have to want it. You have to choose it. And you have to know the journey will not be easy.
It’s therapeutic to release my trauma through words. Thank you for reading, supporting, and inspiring me to keep sharing. Life is damn tough and ugly. But life is also beautiful and loving.
I am a yoga artist, trauma survivor, and mental health and wellness advocate. I’m passionate about helping others discover their true potential, find healing, and create a healthy lifestyle.
I’m Indian by background…at age 5 my biological father took my biological mother’s life with a gun, I was adopted at age 9 by a Caucasian family (they are no longer in my life), and was in foster care for a few years prior. My story (click here to read in full) carried a lot of trauma from my childhood into adulthood. When I discovered yoga in my early 30’s, it was instrumental in my healing, and I felt the positive changes in my body, physically and mentally, which was the catalyst in my desire to teach others about this lifelong, lifechanging practice.
I have completed over 200 hours of yoga teacher training and studied Vinyasa Yoga, Mindfulness, Anatomy, and Breathing Techniques. I am also Street Yoga certified, a non-profit organization which helps bring yoga to underprivileged youth on the streets. I have a degree in Business Marketing from the University of San Diego and studied abroad at St. Clare’s International College in Oxford, England. Although I’d say that Life has been, and continues to be, my biggest teacher.
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