From the Podcast: Flor Edwards: Writing Her Way Out of Trauma
Flor Edwards is Ashley Loeb Blassingame’s guest on Episode 13 of The Courage To Change: A Recovery Podcast. Flor is the author of the acclaimed Apocalypse Child: A Life In End Times, her memoir Publisher’s Weekly calls “a wrenching testimony about a complicated childhood reclaimed.”
Born Into a Cult
Flor was born into the apocalyptic Children of God cult that was transient in their quest to escape the antiChrist. Born in 1981, and one of 12 children, Flor’s childhood was consumed with moving. By age 12 she had lived in 24 locations across three continents — and the belief that the world would end in 1993. She grew up “never knowing that (she) would be an adult.”
When Flor was 15, her family left The Children of God community and moved to California, where she and her twin sister were enrolled in highschool. That’s when she started hanging “out with the crowd that was doing all the bad stuff. So [she] started drinking, smoking pot, did a few other things, but thankfully didn’t get hooked on speed.”
Numbing the Pain of Being Different
Having never been educated, she and her twin sister, Tamar, had a rough time socially in the day-to-day of high school. “We just wanted to kind of forget where we were, what we were doing. We just needed to numb.”
It was at this time that Flor fully realized that she had grown up in a cult, which she struggled to cope with.
“I don’t think I would have gotten through that period without numbing it out, to be honest.”
Flor then went to college, which is when she eventually stopped her substance abuse. She shares:
“I don’t believe in stopping, if you’re addicted to something the substance is not the problem. I’m not a counselor, please don’t take my advice medically, but I did have my own addiction to something and I had to figure out psychologically what that was. What was I avoiding and what was I numbing? That was a much deeper, much longer process than if I was actually one day able to be like, ‘Oh, let’s stop this.’ Thankfully the things I was doing were things like alcohol. I also had an eating disorder and terrible body image. So, for me it was about figuring out what I was trying to escape and coming to terms with that.”
Writing Started Her Recovery
The real abandonment of her addiction came when Flor started writing her book.
“Writing is extremely healing. You can’t not face what it is you need to face when you write. I always say, ‘You can lie to someone, you can lie to yourself, but you can’t lie to a blank page.’ You can’t sit and put words on the page that aren’t true.
“Once I chose to write out my narrative, it was like there was no avoiding anything, it was all out in the open, but I also wanted to do something.”
“There’s no creation or destruction, there’s only transformation. You can’t create or destroy energy, you can only transform it.”
“I think when we’re addicted we’re trying to destroy something, but you’re not going to be able to change that into a creation. You’re going to have to transform it into something. I couldn’t run away from it. I couldn’t get over it by running away from it. I was going to have to turn it into something productive. And that was my book.”
Learning About Herself Through Yoga
Yoga was also a key component of Flor’s recovery. She and her sister started practicing yoga at college when they were both 19. “We both loved it. We had similar and some different reactions to it, and it was healing for both of us for sure.”
Flor and her sister became Yoga instructors, along with doing a lot of travelling and teaching for about 10 years.
“It was about more than just physical health. It was like physical, spiritual, mental, emotional health and I, again, I did a lot of reading so it wasn’t just like going in and practicing something. It was, again, understanding I think from talking about addiction, it’s like the desires of your soul. I think our souls are hungry for something…So, I think that’s where spiritual, mental, psychological, emotional healing come in.”
Recovery has been a revelation for Flor. She shares that, “healing, recovery, all of it is a process. Most people think recovery is something you do and then you’re done. But it’s an everyday thing…every single day.” And being well is the gift you give to the people around you.
“I always say, ‘Put your mask on before you help,’ even the child. Save yourself, then save the child. Because you can’t help anybody if you’re not well.” Flor is quick to add that taking care of yourself “is not selfish.” Rather, she thinks that “your own wellness and your own recovery is your gift to everyone else.” She adds, “the better off I am, and I’m feeling, and I’m doing, I’m better for everyone else around me.”
Quotes have been edited for clarity.