Singer Jewel did not have a charmed life before becoming a folk icon in the 90s. Jewel is opening up in this week’s People about the abuse she suffered at the hands of her father which drove her to leave home at the age of 15. Jewel found herself living in her own cabin in Alaska for a few years before moving to San Diego to be with her mom. Jewel said she spent time living in her car after losing her job because she wouldn’t sleep with her boss. The car was eventually stolen which forced Jewel into homelessness for a year. She’s talked about this before but it’s new to me. Jewel said she would have panic attacks. So, she developed mindfulness practices that has sustained her since she was 15 and throughout adulthood. Jewel is now working on a project where she shares her mindfulness practices with at risk youth through her Inspiring Children Foundation. Below is more on the story from People:
“My mom [Lenedra Carroll] left when I was 8 years old, and my dad took over raising me and my brothers at that age,” Jewel says. “My dad had really bad PTSD [from serving in the Vietnam war], but those words weren’t really known at the time. He tried to drink to handle the anxiety, and he became abusive.”
She later learned that it was a cycle her father repeated from his own abusive upbringing.
“As much as we have a genetic inheritance, we have an emotional inheritance,” she says. “My dad was also raised in a wildly abusive home. I had a way better go of it than he did when he was young, but it still wasn’t good.”
Jewel credits the meditation and mindfulness practices — which she first started developing at age 18 while spending a year homeless after moving to San Diego to be with her mom — for helping her break the cycle.
“I ended up homeless because I wouldn’t have sex with a boss,” she says. “I started living in my car because my boss wouldn’t give me my paycheck. Then my car got stolen.”
With nowhere to turn but the streets, she shoplifted to get by.
“One day, I was shoving this dress down my baggy Levi 501 jeans and thought, ‘I’m going to end up in jail or dead,’” she says. “Then I remembered this quote by Buddha: ‘Happiness does not depend on what you have or who you are. It solely relies on what you think.’ I thought, maybe I could turn my life around one thought at a time.”
Jewel opening up about her life and struggle is the balm I needed. It’s reassuring to know we are not alone in our struggles and that despite them we can still succeed. As an asana and meditation advocate and instructor, it is exciting for me to see celebrities really embrace the practices. The other thing I love is that Jewel is sharing her practices with young people who may be in similar situations as she was as a teenager. Talk about paying it forward.
“As much as we have a genetic inheritance, we have an emotional inheritance.” This is such a profound statement and something that I have found to be true. Not only do we have to work out the trauma we have personally experienced but our inherited trauma too. Sadly, most people do neither and it takes those who are resilient to break generational cycles. It is sad that the Jewel was abused by a father who had not worked out his PTSD and familial trauma.
As stated before, I am someone who suffers from PTSD, depression and anxiety because of a rough childhood and time in the military. I have also dealt with shelter and financial insecurity. Practicing yoga and meditation have been major life savers for me. At some point I also hope to share the practice with inner city youth, refugees, and veterans. With that being said, I will read up on Jewel’s foundation. I hope it is successful and will help many young people who may desperately need an outlet.
Photos credit: Getty and via Instagram