I have wanted to write a blog post for so long, subconsciously at least since the day after the last one I wrote back in 2017. Some part of me wants to share, to play an active and bold role in this world. Another part does not. She wants to hide; she is ashamed, she is afraid of herself and of her very existence. It is Her whom I have been forced to confront over the past few months, fiercely so, having had two separate motorcycle accidents within two months of each other in Goa, India.
Breaking my shoulder badly and my wrist in two places, cutting open my leg and elbow, experiencing blackmail and hate on the road, dismissal and neglect in the hospital, and going under the knife twice to get metal put in my body and set my bones, far away from home, with no insurance or money in the bank … was bad enough. I had no idea of the mental, physical, spiritual and emotional repercussions months on, which I am still confronted with every day.
On 1st February I crashed my yellow rental scooter (Bee) into a maturing-aged Indian man’s scooter in front of me, while driving at some speed down one of my favourite open padi field roads. I was nearly home, and relieved. It was baking hot in the late morning sun, I wasn’t feeling good, physically or emotionally, and I had a bag of chicken feet sweltering in my boot, ready to cook up broth and feed to my soul sister Rachael’s and my hungry newly fostered puppies at home.
I did not see it coming. In humble retrospect: it was my fault. My mind was not on the road. BOOM. We were wheel to wheel.
In the millisecond I realised what was happening–that I was actually in the midst of having a dangerous accident, and was going to fall off my bike onto hard concrete, at speed, with no helmet or shoes on, and that the driver in front was also in potential danger–my world was over. Panic rose like a long-asleep dormant volcano erupting from the core of the Earth. My first fearful thought: I have killed someone (I didn’t, thank God). My mind raced to Indian prison cells, solitary confinement, institutional and sexual abuse, death penalties, and a life ruined by the worst guilt one could imagine.
My reality in those excruciatingly long seconds of time–until I knew he was OK–was very strange. I had a full out-of-body experience. I had felt this before in my early twenties, when crashing into the central barrier of the M1 and totalling my car (physically, I walked away fine and no other driver was affected). Time slowed down, and I stepped into a weird, warped and other-worldy, perspective. The present moment moved so slowly and with a thick, loud, pulsating energetic force, it felt like wading through mud to cross a field during an electrical storm. There was nothing but the present moment, so crystal clear it was held in space and time. I witnessed from a perspective outside of my body moment to moment being unravelled, like a 1920s film reel, clicking slowly enough to expose the illusion of continuity of time. Snapshots of reality edged across the ‘real life’ picture house screen, while I felt a complete absence of the sensory world through my body. Simultaneously, thoughts and visions of future and past events came swimming through my mind as I watched, detached from the physical experience unfolding, while knowing also that I was right, smack bang in it.
I fell first, felt nothing, jumped straight up again, and stood staring in horror as the man in front careered slowly but directly towards a concrete pillar. Probably that took all of two seconds. It felt like hours. Thank God/Universe, he did not collide, but in comic book slow-motion fashion, slowed down to a near-halt, tilted and graceful veered to the ground on his left. He too got right up.
In deafening silence we stood facing each other, a few metres apart, in what felt like an old Western film scene. The Stand Off. We didn’t blink. We didn’t move. Our eyes were wide, like stunned rabbits in headlights.
‘Are you OK?’ I asked. Still I had not recognised my injury. Adrenaline flooded, I awaited his response. It did not come. He stood and continued to stare at me in shock. I made a mental assessment: he was standing, not bleeding, not hyperventilating. ‘I think he is OK.’
And then it hit me.
‘Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, I’ve broken my shoulder. Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god.’ These words I repeated out loud as the pain struck and the panic erupted again. My arm was spasming violently out of control, the shoulder clearly not in place in its socket, and I suddenly felt sick and light headed. I howled into the open road ‘HELP!!! Someone help me!’
The old man seemed to be of no use. In fact after this moment I don’t remember seeing him again. (I later found out that he suffered minor injuries but is OK; and I paid him and his family damages for both his bike and health).
The next person I encountered was my friend’s dad. Like an Angel descending from the Heavens he suddenly appeared directly in front of me, as I stomped around, screaming, gasping and clutching my shoulder. I wasn’t quite sure it was real at first. There he was, on his push bike, staring at me. ‘Are you OK?’ he asked after another other-worldly, empty, vast, nothingness length of time passed. ‘No. I’ve broken my shoulder.’ I managed to say. ‘I’ll go get Tanya’ he said, incredibly calmly. His bright blue eyes and cool composure took my pain away, for a moment. Then I watched, feeling grief-stricken and terrified, as he peddled away in the direction he’d come from. ‘He’s going to take ages,’ I thought. ‘I’m all alone here.’ I was sweating and starting to really freak out.
Then a Russian woman appeared. Kind and compassionate she said she would help me, asked me questions and soothed me. I was desperately trying to stop my arm from moving agonisingly around against my will and could not find a way, in any yoga posture, squatting, standing, or sitting, to get comfortable. Finally the woman suggested I lie face down on the ground, my right arm down to my side to keep it still (the way I’ve since been told I must have fallen.) I realised she was right and surrendered. Face-planted on the Earth the woman shaded me and kept on talking to me, guiding me to breath. I realised I had one option only: meditate. I tuned right in. I prayed. I watched every breath, willed myself to stay calm, stay awake, stay alive. I called in all my angels and spirit guides, Archangels Michael and Raphael, my ancestors, my gurus. I prayed some more. And I breathed. And I breathed. And I breathed. Into the belly, out of the belly. Into the belly, out of the belly.
I kept praying, reminding myself of the miracles I had survived already, my faith in the Universe, my inner power, my resilience. But I didn’t feel strong. I was terrified and voices inside tried to convince me ‘you won’t make it.’ ‘Why is this happening?’ I was already asking, minutes into the ordeal.
And then I realised I wasn’t breathing, was drifting away, and I found again my breath. I was right back in Vipassana. ‘DON’T REACT!’ I heard my teacher scold. ‘Anicha, Anicha, Anicha’, I heard Goenka chuckle.
I watched as my body breathed. I observed as new and terrifying sensations flooded my being: rushes of acute pain, intense heat, sweating, aching, twitching, throbbing, my heartbeat, the ground beneath me.
‘Stay grounded. Stay grounded.’ I heard the voices of my Tantra teachers. And The Siddhas: ‘Grow your roots down low like a banyan tree.’ I felt Swami Sivananda and Swami Vishnudevananda, whose ashram I’d visited two months earlier and had found once more my Kali power. I remembered that there were thousands others suffering like this or worse at this very moment.
‘I’m inside a flower of life. I am safe, I am protected. I give Mother Earth full permission to ground me. I am that I am. I am here breathing.’ My mantras flooded back. ‘Trust the Universe. Breathe. All is well. All will be OK.’
And I breathed, and I breathed. And I breathed.
Many teachers came to my mind while I fought with all my might not to self-destruct and give up hope. I felt my family’s presence and my closest friends, dead and alive. And the medicine plant spirits. Aya, The Mother. I talked to the Earth, focused on blades of grass in front of me, sounds around, and the feeling of Pachamama holding me.
By now there was also a Russian man with me, who seemed to be a first aider and was assertively keeping me conscious and getting the information again which the Russian woman had asked for. He knew he had to keep me talking. These amazing beings, total strangers, kept me alive and calm(ish) as quite a scene formed behind me. My head being turned the other way and down into the Earth, I couldn’t see the group, but heard an aroused discussion behind me–talk of calling the police, where I was from, questions about insurance and money, more talk of the police. ‘I don’t have insurance’, I told the Russians. ‘Call a local ambulance. Don’t call the police.’
I couldn’t talk much after about twenty minutes and was starting to struggle with staying conscious. Then, just in time, three more Angels arrived: my soul sister Tanya, and brothers Rob and Darren, whom I’d met at Tanya and her partner Nic’s place, Wigwam, teaching morning yoga to and hanging out on many a hot, lazy morning. I cried with relief hearing and sensing familiar faces and felt the deepest gratitude as Tanya gently took my head in her hands and gave me Reiki, poured cool water over me, kept me shaded from the sun, and told me everything would be OK.
The police idea was being vetoed by my crew, an ambulance was on its way, and Rob, an ex-fire fighter and all-round legend of a mate, said he would come with me and stay with me the whole way. I recall the guilt and shame that my unhealed inner child felt at putting all these people out and worrying them. I felt the dread of having to call my parents back home and feeling their concern. I didn’t like causing a scene. But I wasn’t going to say no to help now. The prospect of going to a Third World country hospital alone without money or insurance as a white, hardly-dressed woman didn’t entice me.
The ambulance arrived about thirty minutes after I fell, which was some time after 11am (I wouldn’t put it past the Universe that it was 11.11). It took nearly an hour to get to the hospital. The Russian man had given me a strong painkiller on the scene–just as well, as there was no medicine on offer in the rickety old ambulance (think ‘Carry on Doctor’ era), just a steel wheelie trolley to lie on which it took three or four people to lift me onto. I was now on my back holding my arm in extreme pain, and feeling more drained and delirious by the minute. As we set off on our epic journey I saw the terror in Rob’s eyes. Bless him, he stayed so strong, kept me talking, telling funny stories and assuring me over and over that this would be one of my finest tales to laugh about one day soon. I tried hard to believe him. I kept breathing.
Two hundred speed bumps, and a ton of cortisol and adrenaline later, I was looking up at broad daylight again, just for a moment, before being wheeled into the A&E department of Mapusa government hospital. What I witnessed then was exactly what I had been dreading: an over-crowded, under-staffed, unhygienic hoard of people and objects. It was noisy and chaotic. It smelled like death. Rob did a great job sweet-talking the ground staff and fast tracked me into being assessed and x-rayed.
A male surgeon then appeared to deliver the verdict. He spoke directly to Rob, not me, explaining about my injury and that I would need surgery. ‘Excuse me’, I said. ‘Can you address me please? I am the patient, not my friend. I know I’m a woman but I am alive, and I understand English. And it is MY ARM.’ I was not impressed by the obvious institutional sexism. The surgeon looked bemused and finally looked me in the eyes to tell me I would need surgery, but it would not be possible that day. ‘Tomorrow maybe. Or Monday’, he said (it was Friday), and disappeared.
I was given a tetanus injection and a pain killer shot in my ass which I am guessing was morphine, as I started to feel floaty and dissociated from my body. I was taken to a female-only ward. It took a lot more sweet-talking for them to allow Rob to join me by my bedside, as it soon transpired we had stepped back in time into an archaic, patriarchal organisation, which treated its patients as invisible numbers in a system, not human beings.
To my disbelief, I was told a number of times by the female Indian staff (and patients!) to stop crying. ‘What’s wrong?’ they asked. I was astounded. ‘MY SHOULDER IS BROKEN!’ I shouted, outraged that I was being told to control my emotions at a time like this. Then it was suggested by one member of staff that it might be better that I go back to my home country. ‘WITH A BROKEN ARM?!’ I howled incredulously, ‘are you crazy?!!!’ They certainly thought I was, especially when I accidentally ripped the drip out of my arm sending blood spurting all over the floor as I defiantly got up to go to the bathroom and stealthily smoke a joint through the window. Rolling hash joints for me (a long-standing addiction) became Rob’s number one job while we waited and waited and waited for someone to offer me care.
Frightened at the prospect of being stuck in this god-awful place for another 48 hours before a surgeon would be available to see me, I was quickly losing faith in Love, Light and Rainbows. Well though Rob was doing to keep me going with stories, encouragement and joints, I sobbed with relief when my two closest female friends finally arrived. I saw the shock in their eyes and it made me cry more, though they held it together, their Goddess natures shining bright as they gracefully and calmly came to my rescue. Rachael, looking radiant as always despite the deep concern in her eyes, immediately placed a crystal on my chest as Tanya unpacked a bag of soothing comforts–extra clothes, blankets, wet wipes, facial spritzer, natural deodorant, chocolate, fruit, more crystals. My girls were here with me and it meant the world. Tanya had guests to look after back at Wigwam so left after a while, as did Rob, whose male presence had ruffled too many feathers in the ward. He must have been exhausted and had a flight home to catch in 24 hours. Rachael promised to stay the night with me, took over joint-rolling duty, and took charge of the situation, demanding I be given more pain killers, standing up for me when told I should calm down, and getting us food. Reassured by her Divine Feminine strength and love I started to drift off into a drug-induced sleep.
When I awoke the next morning, Rachael’s eyes no longer showed fear, but fierce determination. ‘I’ve been meditating for an hour’ she said. ‘I’ve called in all the Angels. You’re going to be OK. But we can’t stay here. It doesn’t feel right.’ Taking action, she contacted a good friend of ours, Indian, who knew the local area well. ‘Get the hell out of that hospital!’ he said. ‘Go to Galaxy, right now. Get out of there, it’s no good.’ And so we did. Voicing my concerns about my empty bank account (I still hadn’t had the courage to call my parents) she reminded me that money was no object; it always comes when we need it. ‘I can pay on my card for now’, she assured me. With my Sister by my side it didn’t take long to pack my things, discharge myself, and jump in a cab outside.
Stepping into Galaxy private hospital in Mapusa was like entering another world. The stark difference between state-provided healthcare and private was humbling. There were no other patients to be seen and it was pristine. Greeted by friendly reception staff, all we needed was a credit card, to fill out a form and a surgeon would be with me shortly. They could operate immediately, he said, if I opted for a regional anaesthetic. I’d have to wait six hours for a general. ‘Just do it now’, I said. And within an hour I was being sedated and taken into the operating theatre.
I’d had surgery before: aged 14 to have my appendix removed and aged 30 to terminate an unplanned pregnancy. But being half-awake was a new experience. ‘Can you feel that?’ the surgeon asked, after injecting me with anaesthetic which would numb just the arm being operated on. ‘Yes!’ I exclaimed, and he administered some more. The sedatives and anaesthesia worked, thank god, as did his calm reassurance that all would be fine, and I drifted in and out of sleep as I felt (without any pain) my arm being sliced open, yanked around, and metal pins screwed into my bone. I came to, Rachael by my side, in a private room with television and en-suite bathroom. What a contrast to the every-(wo)man’s hell hole I’d been in before. Two male friends came to see me: Eddy, the one who’d advised we move immediately, and another Rob, good friend and part of the Wigwam clan. I felt loved, I felt valued, I felt cared for. And I was determined that I would be OK. I finally spoke to my parents, both deeply concerned but supportive, and before I knew it I’d been discharged and sent on my way with a brown paper bag filled with pharmaceutical drugs. Come back in 8 days for a check up, and take it easy, the doctor advised.
Numbed by the meds, and nourished by the love and support of friends, I headed out in high spirits that evening to my favourite Goa restaurant, La Plage, and gorged on ridiculously inexpensive French food and wine. I felt overwhelmed with gratitude to be alive. I spent the first night at Rachael and my house, and the next day moved to a low-key beach-side guesthouse room, since I could no longer get around by driving. Serendipitously, Rachael’s lover/friend Darryl, who’d been due to arrive at the time we were stuck in the government hospital, had had his flight delayed by 24 hours. Also ‘coincidentally’ (I don’t really believe in coincidences) he’d had the exact same injury–bike accident, broken right humerus, surgery with plate and pins–just a few months before. He gave me loads of encouragement and advice. After settling into my new pad, arranging my medications, clothes, and other possessions as best I could with one arm, I woke up the next day grateful to be alive, and bursting with energy and ideas. Then another Angel appeared, named John, who’d years before had a terrible car accident in which he’d broken his leg, pelvis and spine, and had made a full recovery. He (with Rachael’s not-so-subtle persuasion) committed to helping me in any way I needed for the next two weeks while on his first ever holiday to India. I felt reassured by these Divine messages, and messengers, surrounded by white light, my guides by my side, and sure the Cosmos was aligning for some profoundly deep healing and transformation.
I thought after the accident I would be fine. I thought I was fine. What I see now is that I was in shock / the ‘freeze state’ / in denial. My mind was telling me I was safe, but my feet were nowhere near the ground. The shock of the accident had brought me out of months of deep Depression and suicidal thoughts brought on by an on-off emotionally abusive and unstable relationship. I was so fucking high!
For the first few weeks my body was flooded with Kundalini energy. I felt connected to the Cosmos, purposeful and excited about a change in my life’s course. I saw the prospective benefits immediately. ‘I’m going to learn to write with my left hand’, ‘I am going to correct my poor posture and chronic pain caused by scoliosis / anxious holding patterns’, ‘I am going to eat more healthily and nourish my gut’, ‘I am going to become a famous author / artist / DJ / spiritual leader’, ‘I’m going to share openly my truth and inspire others’. I felt better than I had in a long time, for a while.
Aside from these birthing personal goals I felt an overwhelming need to connect with my family at home in a more authentic way. I bombarded them with WhatsApp voice notes, picture messages and links to YouTube videos which I felt conveyed the essence of who I was and my journey. (They were baffled.) I also started to feel genuine love towards my ex(es) who’d repeatedly abandoned my needs. I saw and felt their incompetencies and fears, finally not taking it all personally, and spent time meditating and sending my love and forgiveness to those who’d hurt me in the past.
Not for the first time, but with increased frequency, I communicated with the dead. I talked to my ancestors during one powerful Reiki session (given free by a beautiful light-worker, Sveta), first to my adoptive grandparents (all dead and three of whom I never met in the flesh) then my birth parents (dead or alive I do not know). I talked to and felt the presence of other passed souls–my friends Damia and Vicky, who’d both died in motor accidents, and Philip, whom I never met, but who’s picture I saw staring at me every day at Surf Club guesthouse where I stayed for the first two weeks after leaving hospital. He told me I was doing a great job and that I should cause a little trouble with the men who thought they ran the show. (I did!) I enjoyed these other-worldly chats. They were often less challenging than my interactions with embodied humans.
I also received a sudden hit of clarity about my relationships with people, men in general. I realised I had been playing The Good Girl / Whore archetype for my whole life, pushing down my desires and strong core beliefs to please others and keep a man happy. Triggered by a couple of unsupportive ‘friends’, I did something I very rarely did: I stood up for myself, telling them what I thought of their high and mighty opinions, and cut a couple of people out my life with no regret. I became acutely aware, too, of the damaging effects of patriarchy on myself and those around me. The Rebel rose out of me. I stopped playing nice to suit the archaic structures drowning in outdated and sexist religious doctrine. I walked with my head held high, spoke my truth as an awakened feminist woman, and ruffled a few feathers. I found myself angry with the world but without the Depression I was now motivated to be a part of the change towards true equality.
As has happened during previous huge energy surges of consciousness / Kundalini Awakenings, I re-found my gypsy spirit. My mother was the Earth, we were all One, and for us all to be happy and free was all that mattered to me. I downloaded symbols and information from the Ethers about the second coming of Christ, Christ Consciousness, The Chosen Ones. I spoke to the Angels, I spoke to the animals, the birds and the moon. I felt a calling, like I’d had two years before living in Bulgaria, to wave a Rainbow flag and be part of the rEVOLution, uniting people of all colours and creeds in a global uprising led by the Heart.
I had always felt immense empathy for the boys and girls selling largely mass produced tat to Westerners on the beach, traipsing up and down every day in the hot sun from morning to night to take their menial earnings home to their babies. I felt their desperation and their shame. Although in the past I’d been easily annoyed at the intrusion to my privacy on the beach, following the crash my heart exploded out to them. Almost at the bottom of the rung of India’s cultural caste system, I felt them to be true kindred spirits, feeling forgotten, trodden on and unwanted in this world, although I acknowledged that to them I was on some sort of pedestal left over from colonialism which played out daily in their lives as they served us lighter-skinned and more affluent mammalian counterparts. I felt the sting of guilt at my white privilege and gave my energy every day to visualising a better future for my favourite country in the world and all her people.
I sat with the beach sellers nearly every day, chatting about ways they could expand their horizons and use their creativity to give them personal freedom. We talked about motherhood and patriarchy, controlling men, and rules. I felt like Mother Teresa with Kali by her side: fierce and with a pure heart. These incredibly strong women, and men, were my inspiration. I welled up with a rare type of emotion–embarrassment mixed with appreciation, humility and divine grace–when one tough young mother of many, said to me : ‘Thank you. Thank you for coming out to be beach every day and showing the Indian women to be strong’, she said. ‘They would stay inside for months suffering if they got hurt but you are strong.’ It makes me cry to write that now. I felt the beautiful bond of Sisterhood, unmasked by social conditioning. Pure, Earthly, Love.
My non-Indian friends were an enormous support too. Upon leaving hospital one of the first things I did, quite bravely, was set up a JustGiving page. Rachael had paid on her credit card for my surgery and I decided it was time to ask for help from a broader pool of resources than my mum and dad to pay her back. I made a video. I cried. It was raw and real and a huge ego death to share my trauma and my vulnerability and admit I was broken, and broke. The result astounded me. I was overwhelmed by the love and support of dozens of people from around the world, some old friends, some current, some I hadn’t even met. Every message of support felt like a piece of my soul returning home. I raised £1,500, paying for my surgery and allowing me to rest and recover in the place I feel most at home. Gratitude was flowing.
I wrote down my blessings, my mantras, my goals. I meditated. I watched the sun setting every day, a ritual that gave me a deep sense of peace and gratitude and often brought emotions to the surface. The rest of the time I spent drawing and painting, something that had kept me sane during my teens and I was good at, but had tossed aside as a practice for a good decade upon entering the world of work.
One of my greatest accomplishments during this time was learning, slowly, to use my left hand to draw, write, and well, do everything, including wiping my ass. Tasks that required two hands proved far more difficult–tying shoelaces, tying back my hair, heavy lifting and opening bottles and jars, was impossible without assistance. To my sweet amazement, John stuck to his word, and kept appearing with fruit, joints, notebooks and pens, and his working two hands to assist me when I most needed it.
I don’t think I would have gotten through this period, however, without our two puppies, Bubble and Squeak, whose innocent, angelic love fed my body-mind-soul and kept my maternal instinct alive. I think I needed another life to care for while the shock was still fresh, to keep me humble and in positive vibrations. I am so grateful for these gorgeous souls entering my life–though for Bubble it was a bitter sweet ending to her story.
Upon learning about my accident Rachael had taken the pups back to where we’d found them, one of Arambol’s long-standing dog rescue centres, ‘I Love Goa Dogs’, to come and be with me in the hospital. We assumed they would be fine. But by the fourth or fifth day after my surgery, I felt a niggling feeling in my gut that they were not. One afternoon I could ignore it no longer and walked down the beach to check on them. I was devastated to see what affect our abandonment had had on their confidence and, by the state of their flea- and tick-ridden bodies, I knew they had not received enough care. Little Bubble immediately came up to me and I smothered her with cuddles, starting to pull the nasty bugs off her body and soothe her whines. Squeak refused to come near me: my heart broke as he stubbornly sat away from me, hunched down and forlorn. After about ten minutes I coaxed him over, and apologised profusely, kissed and nuzzled him until he relaxed in my arms. Then, holding both pups close to my chest, nestled in the crook of my working arm, I walked straight out of there. I bawled with rage and guilt that these babies had suffered because of my own ill health. I felt I’d failed as a mother and realised with grave clarity how fragile and precious life is at their tender age. (I also saw the stark parallel with what had happened in my own early life, which I saw as a profound Universal lesson playing out in physical reality. I too was separated from my mother as a baby and passed between various foster mothers before eventually being adopted into my current family. But more on that later.)
Though I’d have loved to have the puppies stay with me, the proprietors of my current guest house (and sadly I realised, Indians in general) had a less than sympathetic outlook towards our orphaned canines. They were not allowed. And, despite my high spirits, I was physically in a fragile state. So Rachael took the puppies back to the house she was now sharing with Darryl. A couple of days later, Rachael and Darryl both fell ill with a tummy bug and fever that kept them bed-ridden and running back and forth to the loo every ten minutes. As their health took a turn for the worse, so did the puppies’. Both needed near-constant care and a visit to the vet, an hour away by taxi, which was impossible in the current circumstances. To my dismay, Rachael called me a few days later to tell me the devastating news. ‘Bubble isn’t going to make it babe. I’m so sorry. But we have to let her go.’ I cried and cried and cried but realised this was another test from The Universe, and guilt, shame, anger and self-pity weren’t going to help. She passed away in the night and Rachael brought her to my new lodgings, wrapped up in our old clothes in a cardboard box for us to bury her. John stepped up to the task and dug a hole in the ground in a clearing off the road. Rachael said a prayer, and we sent Bubble back to the stars.
I had relocated, not by choice, but when told there were no longer rooms available (seemingly they could no longer accommodate my Divine Feminine power). I moved just down the road to a slightly eery, but magical all the same, yoga retreat centre by a huge lake. I decided I wanted to keep Squeak with me, and give Rachael and Darryl their lives back. I missed him so much and needed the Oxytocin. Begrudgingly, the owners agreed I could keep him there as long as he stayed in my room.
For the next two months I hardly left Squeak’s side. I adored him, was enchanted by him, and felt a fierce determination to protect his future wellbeing. I wasn’t going to let another puppy die–though there were moments when he pushed me to my limits with his whining and pissing on the floor and I often imagined throwing him into the lake. Motherhood wasn’t easy, that was for sure. Rachael and I had taken on the puppies with the intention of finding them a permanent home with locals.
We soon realised this was no easy task. As I’ve said, dogs are not valued in the same way in India as they are in the West, which is understandable given the far greater economic challenges and poorer social infrastructures (when you struggle to feed your own babies you have less empathy for those of other species). We tried our best, driving around in the early days with the puppies in tow looking for the ideal home to manifest itself, talking to everyone we met on our travels and asking if they’d take them. We had a few leads but nothing felt right. They’d either have been chained up (not an option) or probably neglected. We had to find them the right home.
After two weeks at the lake establishment I was kicked out, again! The son of the owner blamed the fact I had not paid yet for my proposed monthly stay, though I clearly wasn’t going to do a runner. I knew it was something else. Despite explaining I had every intention to pay, I had just had to first sort out the damages I owed to both my bike rental guy, and the guy I’d collided with. I explained I would go right now to the ATM, but with fury in his eyes he declared I must leave in the next two hours! Again I knew this had nothing to do with space, or money, but a personal dislike they’d taken to my ‘out there’ modern femininity, and perhaps too to my innocent little dog who’d done nothing but given joy to the yoga students who passed by and gave him daily attention. I packed my things with no help from the disapproving, judging patriarchal male staff, now (just) strong enough to carry my backpack, two another bags, and Squeak in one arm. I was furious, but undeterred. I felt connected to magic, to my inner power, and had faith that The Universe would have something even better waiting for me.
I was right. I found a young boy on the road and gave him some money to help me carry my bags, and walked to the beach. The first place I gravitated towards was Lover’s Corner, where I was greeted by Ganesh. With his beaming smile, cocky but harmless sexual banter, and a laugh as outrageous as mine, I felt safe immediately. A soul brother for sure. Within five minutes he had offered me his room, free of charge, and promised to take care of Squeak when I returned to the West. My prayers had been answered.
Squeak soon became renamed as Bruno, which I somewhat reluctantly admitted was a better fit if he was to get any street cred and the respect he needed to survive from humans. Having him there gave me my ikigai (reason for being) every day. For the first month we were together he slept in my bed–as much a comfort for me as for him, I’m sure. I was fiercely protective, perhaps over-attached in some eyes, though I knew deep down that my unconditional love and attention was the key to his survival at this point. I was relieved and touched that an older female dog, Julie, had co-adopted him with me. She turned up every day to see him, showing him how to tussle and fight, and hold his own with the many other stray or restaurant abiding beach dogs. Slowly I loosened my grip and realised I needed to wean him off me a little before I went home. I also wanted to see how well Ganesh would look after him while I was away. So I moved just a few hundred metres down the road to another simple beach hut run by lovely Ayurvedic experts.
I loved my daily routine–waking up alone whenever I felt like it, drinking coffee, eating breakfast and smoking joints while downloading music or writing in my diary in the place I was staying, then heading to see Bruno, Ganesh, and whoever else would turn up at Lover’s Corner to spend the day chatting with, dancing with, and watching the sun go down. The ocean and the elements were healing me. A good friend Robby would often come and sit with me, bringing delights such as chalk pastels, paints and brushes, fruit. An authentic hippy, artist and writer, he was inspiring me to dive into my creative well, reminding me that I wasn’t just a massage therapist and yoga teacher; I had forgotten other passions and had a lot more to share and explore in this world. He, and other male friends, Rob and Paul, were restoring my faith in the male population. They seemed genuinely to enjoy my company, see me for who I was, and had no hidden agenda of getting in my knickers (not that I wear any). This was a novel feeling! I felt stronger in my body every day, and had started using my shoulder again by gently getting back to my yoga practice. I danced every day. I even became a DJ, playing a few nights at Lover’s Corner from my itunes playlists. I loved it!
My contentment, even euphoria, lasted a while–more than a month. Then things started to go downhill. Rachael left to go back to the UK, which was sad, after we’d spent four months together nearly every day. Bruno got sick, a common skin infection that led to swollen glands in his neck and him temporarily looking like the Elephant Man (I managed to get to the vet but felt terrible seeing him not in a state of good health, which went on for a while). Then I went out, got smashed, and lost my bank card. The hangover lingered for days. I felt vulnerable again and ashamed of my addictions and lack of responsibility. Instead of asking for help, I started to slip back into my lifelong pattern of negative self-talk, shame, self-hate and fear of the future. The money in my account was running out again and I didn’t know what to do next. I knew I couldn’t live on fundraising forever nor did I feel ready to go back to work. I then found out that the friend I’d lived with in Bulgaria had been institutionalised against her will in a German mental hospital. She was being abused, she said. I was brought into her drama and felt her pain. Then my ex-boyfriend, who’d hardly communicated with me for six months, except for a nasty message which I’d received just before my shoulder accident, again sent me some cutting words which made my heart ache and my head spin.
After a week or so of feeling low, and running up debts all around my neighbourhood, I realised I had to face the bank card situation and go and see my friends to find out if someone could lend me money in rupees which I could transfer to their English bank account. I was nervous about being on bikes, but with no cash, and an inner voice that said I should be brave and get over it, I walked out to the road and asked the first person I saw for a lift. He was wearing a helmet, had a decent bike and didn’t look like a dick, so I entrusted him to take me down the road to Mandrem. He didn’t speak much English but understood and agreed. ‘It’s only a ten minute ride’ I told my anxious belly. ‘It can’t happen twice.’
Sitting on the back of his bike I realised how nervous I was. I did what I always do when scared: I closed my eyes and talked to the Angels, asked for protection and grounding from the Earth, and put sacred geometry symbols around my energy field. Calmer, I opened my eyes again, just in time to see a car pull right across the road in front of us as we came round a bend. It was a ridiculously dangerous move and there was nothing my Russian driver could do. We were going to hit it. ‘Oh my fucking god, it’s happening again’ I thought. I was not only terrified, now I was angry.
I fell again to my right, jumped up, and immediately grabbed my wrist. There was no doubt it was broken. The adrenaline roared through me and I stared at my arm in disbelief, curved like a snake, throbbing and swelling by the second. Oh boy that fucking hurt! Sweltering in the heat and by the side of a busy road I jumped into action. There was no time to panic.
There was a stall selling drinks with a table and a couple of plastic chairs. I sat down and asked the lady working there to give me some pineapple juice and some ice in a plastic bag for my wrist. I noticed a gash in my right knee. ‘That’ll need stitches’ I thought, but could hardly feel it in contrast to the pain in my wrist. I propped my leg up on a chair, lent my broken arm on the table, and got my phone out. My left hand shaking, I managed to leave a voice note for Tanya, explaining what had happened, though I accidentally sent it to Rachael first, who was by now back in the UK. I realised I had low battery and was feeling very light headed. I looked around for the Russian man. He was standing by the road looking grief-stricken. With his hand on his heart he looked me dead in the eyes. ‘I’m so sorry’ he said. Feeling his remorse, I felt no judgement or anger. ‘Are you OK?’ I asked. He had a bloody t-shirt but didn’t seem to be badly injured. He didn’t reply. That was the last time I saw him.
I soon I realised why he’d fled. A very angry middle-aged Indian man was suddenly hollering at me right up in my face.
‘You owe me money! Give me now money! 8000 rupees. Now! You crashed into my car. We rented this car in Mumbai and we don’t have insurance. I need you to pay me now. You damaged my car. You must pay now!’
I was taken aback. Seeing red, I took a breath. His eyes were dead: soulless, psychopathic.
‘My arm is broken’ I said as calmly but assertively as I could, trying not to project my rage at his lack of empathy and make the situation worse. His wife hovered next to him, saying nothing. Clearly he was in charge. I tried calmly to explain I was injured, showing them my visibly deformed arm, and attempting to get the sympathy of his wife. (It didn’t work.)
‘Can you help me please? My phone has low battery and I need help, right now. I need to go to a hospital, right now. Can you call Galaxy Hospital and see if they can send an ambulance please? My arm is broken. Look, see? I need help now. I was not driving. I was a passenger.’
After a lot of back and forth he finally made a phone call, though I am not convinced it was a real one. ‘They don’t have ambulances today’ he said and then hung up the phone. Tanya was calling me. She was on her way.
‘I need a taxi. Can somebody get me a taxi?’ I could not believe the lack of help I was being given by the people around me and with the guy continually arguing in my face I was losing my cool. The pineapple woman was asking me to pay her for the drink, and the angry Indian man would not stop trying to blackmail me. ‘All they care about is getting my money. Where is their humanity?’. I felt outraged and hurt. Thank god Tanya arrived quickly and helped diffuse the situation. With her patiently listening and calmly responding to the man’s persistent accusatory demands, I called my taxi guy (the one who’d rented me my scooter from the first crash). He couldn’t believe it was happening again and said he’d send someone immediately. With the man still aggressively demanding my cash and trying to stand in my way, I finally got into a cab, a good half an hour after I fell, and instructed the concerned, sympathetic driver to go to Galaxy Hospital. At least I knew the drill this time. But again I knew I didn’t have money in the bank to cover private hospital fees and was worried they would not help me.
‘It’s me again!’ I joked when I arrived, though it was far from funny. I was x-rayed and told I needed surgery. Luckily they trusted me enough to go ahead without the credit card this time. I assured them one of my friends would be along shortly to sort it out. I was back in the same private room, two months to the day exactly, waiting to go under the knife. All my joy, courage and hope vanished. I was in a black hole of despair.
I woke up from the surgery screaming in pain. This time I’d had a general anaesthetic and I was confused and delirious. My wrist hurt, a lot. The doctor came in and asked what was wrong, and then Robby appeared. He stroked my head, soothing me, and told me he’d sorted out the bill downstairs. Grateful as I was for his presence, I could not be soothed. Something in me had died that day. There was something seriously wrong with The Universe, or more likely with me, I now felt. It didn’t make any sense. How could this be happening, again?
I tried to get back to normal on returning home from hospital but it was futile. I had to admit defeat. I booked a flight back to London for a few days’ time, to my parents’ relief. I was devastated, feeling deep remorse for my poor body. More than that, I was harrowed by what had happened. My lovely friends did all they could to cheer me up for the remaining week in Goa but joy and gratitude had definitely left the building. Rob, Robby, and Paul were continually checking in on me. Robby helped me pack my things, settle my debts and move to Wigwam for the last few days. I managed to put a smile on my face in public and even got into the party spirit for the final gathering of the season in which I’d take part, helped by my usual favourite concoction of cocktails, MDMA, and joints. But I was far from my usual self. The pain was almost intolerable in my wrist as I had two metal pins sticking through the skin which screamed with every slight movement. My shoulder ached from wearing the sling, my knee had been stitched and I had to walk with it almost straight. I realised the drugs were no longer working to lift my mood. Nothing was. I felt desperately low, and extremely anxious. Going home with another injury felt shameful and depressing and knowing I’m be incapacitated for six weeks in a cast, at a bare minimum, was overwhelming. My ex-boyfriend was suddenly at the forefront of my mind. The prospect of being in the same city with this hate he apparently felt for me–and my unresolved love for him–compounded my misery.
Serendipity again ensured my protection on the journey home, as I found myself by chance sitting next to Paul on the flight. I took two valiums and slept the whole way. My mother met me at Gatwick and helped me with my bags home–though I’d only have 24 hours with her before she was going to America for a 3 week long-before-planned family trip. Rather strangely, she’d fallen off a push bike a few days before and also hurt her right knee. The two of us hobbling through the airport did make me laugh. And it was a beautiful feeling of relief to see her again.
Arriving back at my family home in what was to me, freezing cold weather in mid-April, was a huge shock to my system. I’d just spent five months in 35-40 degree heat and humidity. Here I couldn’t go outside without fifteen layers on, and my right knee was still very tender. I couldn’t bend my leg properly. It was uncomfortable to walk, to sit, to shower, to go to the toilet, to move at all. I couldn’t get comfortable. I couldn’t cook. I lost my appetite completely. I spent most of the first few days wrapped up in duvets in bed. I was scared, really scared and my whole body hurt.
As mentioned earlier, I thought I was OK after my first accident, but in retrospect, I was not. I was in high: partly from the near-death-experience, partly from the love from friends and little Squeak, and partly because I was fuelling myself with caffeine, nicotine, cannabis, raw chocolate and fruit for most of the day, eating just one cooked meal in the evening –and on occasion drinking alcohol and taking MDMA. This was nothing new for me, and had evidently worked for a while, years in fact. I’d long been in the habit of delaying eating a meal until I was really hungry. I called this intermittent fasting, but in retrospect it was also a hangover from the disordered eating (bingeing, throwing up, starving myself), low self esteem and body image obsession that had started in my early teens. I’ve smoked tobacco on and off (mainly on) since I was 14, and cannabis almost daily (aside from when teaching on retreats, or attending meditation, massage and yoga courses) since 2014. And while I’ve dramatically cut back on alcohol and hard drug binges I certainly still have it in me to go wild and party hard with the help of plant based stimulants and narcotics.
I had been aware of my behavioural and chemical addictions for a long time but as anyone who’s experienced drug addiction or disordered eating will know, seeing it and changing it are two different things. It never occurred to me after my first accident to give up smoking; I felt I needed it, even more than before. After the second accident I was forced to accept that my coping mechanisms (smoking, drugs, alcohol, toxic relationships) were no longer serving me, though this didn’t happen overnight. Before it got better, it was going to get a LOT worse.
But … if any of you are still with me (?!) I imagine your eyes might need a rest. This is the longest blog I’ve ever written, and I am by no means finished with this story. I think I should continue this in another post. I have a lot to share about what happened from April until now (mid-August) including my experience of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), panic attacks and anxiety, realisations and memories of childhood trauma, addiction, attachment and separation disorder, and the very slow and painful journey it has been coming out of denial and back into my body. And, on a more positive note–how I have been learning lessons, facing fears, breaking habits, owning my truth, and re-finding my purpose.
More to come …
With love, gratitude, acceptance, and an ever-growing faith in telling one’s own truth,