8/20/18 #SameHere Hero: Alec Balfour

Today’s #SameHere🤙Hero: alec_balfour There’s something “aboot” all you Canadian folks I have really connected w & admire & love. Have met some truly great ppl up north from this movement & Alec is absolutely one of them. You read his story & you just feel his heart pouring out – helping friends who were picked on, sticking up for ppl, wanting to help others heal. He’s an inspiration, & in the short time I’ve gotten to know him, I already feel like a friend. He’s got that charisma to him that just pulls you in…even just thru talking. And..he’s another athletic dude who buys into TSRR practices to live, heal by, & thrive. Reading this you leave feeling uplifted. Welcome to the fam, Alec!
 
“I want to preface this by saying how blessed I am. I come from a loving middle-class family. My parents have been together for 25 yrs now & have supported me thru my highs & my lows. They are not the reason for any issues I’ve encountered & are the reason why I’ve come out of dark places several times.
 
As a child I was content but as soon as I got to school I was faced with my first obstacle. I was bullied throughout elementary school, & was made fun of because my best friend at the time was autistic. I was also younger than everyone in my grade so I was always smaller, more immature. I was also an anglophone in a French school & would be made fun of bc of my accent. So I never felt like I belonged.
 
In high school in the first years, things didn’t change, I was bullied again. My way out was thru sports like basketball. I was fast & that compensated for my lack of height. I also worked harder than anyone would, spending hours shooting by myself (I was an only child).
 
Towards the end of high school, I hit a growth spurt & got bigger. At that point, I had the opportunity to be the bully, but instead of picking on smaller people I started picking on bullies. On the basketball team, I became the enforcer & I started playing rugby & also there would use my brute strength instead of wit.
 
I eventually chose rugby over basketball bc I had a lot of built up aggression & hatred stemming from being bullied & ridiculed. However, the sport started breaking my body & my mind (concussions). To cope w the injuries & frustrations I started using alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, & cocaine heavily. At a certain point, I was even selling MDMA to support my addiction.
 
I would get in deep depressions & lock myself in my room in darkness, I stopped going to class & started contemplating suicide. At that point, I hated myself & thought the world would be better off without me.
 
It was either kill my self or call for help. I chose to call my parents who came to pick me up from Bishops (the university where I played rugby). And they brought me back home (5 hrs away to Ottawa).
 
They stuck w me as I went thru withdrawal symptoms & supported me. Put up w my tantrums. They sent me to psychologists (didn’t work).
 
Eventually, I went to yoga (I had tried it before as a means to avoid injury). The focus on movement & breath brought me into a state of now. I stopped focusing on what I had done, on my past, my trauma & also forgot about my anxieties about the future. Eventually, through about 4 yrs of daily practice, I finally started loving myself for the first time since I was a 5 yr old. I forgave myself for what I did. And I started teaching yoga & sharing the practice that healed me.
 
I have had moments of weakness since leaving Bishops, & relapsed but yoga always brought me back on to the path.
 
Also surrounding myself with a healthy community helped me heal. I had to let go of friends who still used. But, I found genuine friends who I have common interest w, & who uplift me.
 
The key is a healthy safety net or community that you can trust & brings your best self out of you. I have found that in a place like @pureyogaottawa @ironnorthstudio @upwarddogyoga @myyogatown & @n1thai. Also a special thanks to my parents, my BFF @zachtraer & @catherinetraer, my yoga inspiration & mentor @genevievemunroyoga who thought me for that first year after my rock bottom. And my big yoga brother @groundwithme. So blessed to be surrounded by love & so many more to thank.
 
Yoga brought me from darkness to light from death to life. In my #SameHere story, I’d dealt w depression, suicidal thoughts, the addiction which led to anxiety, & low-self esteem.
 
My asking for help came when I had no other choice. When it was either suicide or beg for help. I surrendered to life & let it guide me in the right direction. But you don’t have to wait till you hit rock bottom. Ask for help and be vulnerable. Fall & trust your friends will catch you (make sure you have good friends). My family, my aunt Annette Doucet, my yoga mentor Genevieve Munroe, the Traer’s where the main supporting net that I fell on and guided me to health.
 
Yoga, movement, dance, hiking, running, meditation, watching my breath, vipassana (10-day silent retreat), Brazilian jiu-jitsu, friendship, family, canoeing, music, good food are what’s helped me heal & thrive & can help you too!”

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