Suzula Bidon’s hippie parents named her after a word they found in the bylines of a Grateful Dead album. Growing up in the woods of Wisconsin in a counterculture lifestyle, Suzula struggled with isolation and depression all through her childhood. This led her to self-medicating with gateway drugs like alcohol and tobacco and ended with heroin and methamphetamines. Her addiction led her to federal prison and a serious criminal record.

Today, Suzula is a practicing attorney, recovery advocate, and a Minnesota Certified Peer Recovery Specialist (CPRS). She is the creator of the Recovery Yoga Meetings® and has been teaching it since 2012. Recovery yoga meetings help people live and breathe recovery on the mat and in their lives.

Listen to Suzula’s unbelievable story, from being a drug-addicted felon to yoga recovery lawyer!

CLEAN DATE: April 23, 2008

Listen to Suzula’s Story

Here are a few highlights from our interview. To get the full story please join us on the podcast now!

Suzula had her first experience with alcohol when she was twelve or thirteen years old. She and her friend camped out in the woods with a six-pack of warm beer and a carton of cigarettes. She thought the beer tasted awful and she didn’t like being drunk. What she did love was the fact that there was something outside of her that could change the way she felt.

Growing up in a counterculture family who lived off the grid, Suzula didn’t interact with many people until her little brother was born when she was five years old. By the time she went to kindergarten, she knew that her family was different than everyone else. She was terrified when she had to enter the real world and begin kindergarten.

I don’t ever remember feeling happy and I don’t ever remember feeling comfortable in my own skin.

As she grew up and became a teenager, she became depressed and suicidal. She had no boundaries with people and was extremely self-centered and self-conscious. She told her parents that if they didn’t move to civilization, she would kill herself.

Her parents listened to her and moved to St. Paul, Minnesota. Then tragedy struck. Her father died. He was only forty-one years old.

Suzula was already experimenting with drugs. Now She began drinking more, taking more risks, and entering her first toxic, codependent relationships. Suzula admits that she wasn’t an innocent Red Riding Hood, corrupted by bad influences.

I was looking for the wolf.

She chose to go to college in New York City, not because she had any preference of schools, but because she knew she could get the best drugs there. When she arrived, she was not disappointed. She found everything she was looking for, including heroin. it made her feel complete and at ease. She thought:

This is what must normal people feel like.

Suzula got into a relationship with another user. After he ended up in jail, his father and Suzula’s mother orchestrated and intervention. Suzula was enraged when she was forced into treatment. She had finally found something that made her feel good and now it was taken away from her.

Suzula behaved so badly in treatment that she got kicked out. Her mom refused to take her in, so she finds a shelter. She mades a deal with a higher power she didsn’t believe that she would be sober for three months. After that, she would escape to San Francisco, where her boyfriend now was, and get high.

She followed through with her plan. When she got to San Francisco and her boyfriend, they copped, shot up, and he overdosed. He survived but his father tells Suzula she would never see his son again.

Left on her own, Suzula shacked up with her dealer. Now it was her turn to overdose. When she woke up in the ER after being given Narcan, she was not moved by the fact that she had almost just died. Since she could remember, she never cared about dying as long as it wasn’t painful. She was angry because the hospital staff saved her by reversing the heroin. She wasn’t high anymore and she told them she wouldn’t leave until she was high again.

Suzula did not stop using until she found Methadone. It saved her life. With help from her mom, she got an apartment and graduated college. She was able to stop using for 4 years. But Suzula wasn’t done. She still wanted to change the way she felt. To avoid the withdrawals that came from opiates, she made a conscious decision to start using coke and meth and start her own drug dealing empire.

After mailing 2 1/2 ounces of meth to an old drug buddy in New York, Suzula was sentenced to a year in federal prison camp and five years of supervision. When she was released, she relapsed and was facing serious legal issues. She began asking herself:

Who am I? What am I doing?

Still, she couldn’t stop using and got caught trying to fake a urine test, landing her in jail a second time.

This time, she had no denial left. She had no one to blame but herself. Her life would never change unless she did.

What kept Suzula from getting clean?

Suzula only became willing to change when it became more painful to stay the same. She had been able to use her mind to control the world while she was using, but that stopped working. She had to surrender.

That aha moment

Suzula’s moment of clarity occurred before she even went to any treatment. It was that second time in jail when she could not rationalize her drug use anymore.

If recovery’s going to happen, I’m going to have to do it.

Best suggestion

Reach out. Continue to reach out and connect. Do the things you don’t want to do.

The whole of Suzula’s life, she was socially isolated. Now she knows the power of connectedness.

Suggestion for Newcomer

Discipline and responsibility is freedom.

Suzula once thought that being responsible was like being trapped. Now she knows that structure makes it possible for her to co-create her life with her higher power.

 

RELATED EPISODE: 024: Nikki Myers “Y12SR” The Yoga of 12 Step Recovery shares 40 years of drug abuse, alcoholism, relapse and recovery!

 

We SHAIR our stories every Tuesday so subscribe to us on iTunes and Stitcher Radio!

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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.