I think I said something along the lines of, “I’ve spent a lot of my life being broken and then spent a lot of my life fixing where I have been broken. I don’t even know how to recognize when I am actually put together,” right before I burst into tears in my Masters level class closing circle.
There had been multiple events leading up to this “healing epiphany” for me. For example, the night before a waitress at a bar accidentally gave me a Vodka and Cranberry drink instead of my Redbull and Cranberry. I am almost five months sober and had taken three drinks when I felt my mouth burn and asked my companion to take a sip to see if I was trippin’ balls or if it was a liquored up drink. However, she had already had some drinks and couldn’t detect shit and said it was just bad cranberry juice. I took another sip and felt the burn and for a split moment thought…. Well I’ll be damned, I can just drink this drink that may or may not have liquor in it and get a buzz and get away with it!
Other me said, Helen you fool. Ask the waitress and stop drinking it. Now..
I put the cup down and asked the waitress who confirmed that it was a booze laden drink and apologized profusely when I told her I’m sober and she needed to fetch me a non-alcoholic beverage. I drank my liquor free cup, danced two songs, and then left the joint and went to my hotel to sleep.
I did not end up drinking it anyways and use it as an excuse to keep drinking. To let my hair down for the night and do five consecutive shots of tequila for old times sake. Tequila probably misses me hard. I didn’t freak out completely or panic. I did not cry. I did not feel guilty. I took it for what it was, a test from Creator or where ever… a test that I had passed.
A few days before this I was visiting my good friend and telling her about an incident with a guy who had really liked me that I had shut down. I ended up saying it was because I wasn’t in a place to talk to anybody, I was in a space of non-feeling and this made me think I should step back, instead of saying… I don’t like you like that. Period. I did kind of have those feelings but some of it was a remnant from my previous boyfriend who reminded me A LOT about my issues, issues which I was quick to claim. I am all about healing right? Gotta own up and step up right? Well, sometimes being all about healing equals people manipulating the situation so they can be all about whatever the fuck they want and make it your problem. I told her, “sometimes I feel like I’m too broken to be talking to anybody. Like I don’t know what I want or what I am doing. Maybe ___insert a previous bfs name__ was right, I am a lot of work.”
She looked at me square in the eye and said, “there is nothing wrong with you for having boundaries. There is nothing wrong with you for not liking someone because you know what you want and he isn’t it. We spend so much time acting like we are the ones of the problems for the sake of the male ego but you don’t have to do that… and Helen, you have a lot of the God damn answers. You have more answers than most of these people running around here and you are put together pretty damn good.”
Earlier on in the day of my epiphany, our class had skyped in Shawn Wilson, the writer of “Research is Ceremony”, and we prodded his brain with questions regarding developing Indigenous research methodologies. I voiced a question, that was a reflection of where I was at, “What would you say to someone who wants to develop an Indigenous research methodology but feels like they don’t have enough cultural knowledge to do it?”
I am paraphrasing his response here but he said something along the lines of, “Even elders or people who hold knowledge will tell you that they don’t know everything. You never will know everything either as it is an ongoing journey and you will learn throughout this process. Sometimes what you know is I enough to build the foundation for it and it will change as you go…..”
I heard… “Be easy on yourself. Trust that you were placed here for a reason and acknowledge that you do have some humble beginnings to work with”
I have been a broken girl, a broken woman. I have broken things like trust, pens, and bank accounts. I have broken open bottles that broke me. I have broken the hearts of men, of boys, of my mother and numerous other family members. I’ve broken down, open, split myself sideways and shattered myself in all ways.
I have been broken by the callousness of humans, by the actions of godless men who were broken themselves. I have been broken by addiction, by the constraints of a faith laid in the crucifixion, by unfettered prejudice and binding shame. I have been a broken girl playing the broken girl’s game.
I am no longer broken. My edges have been buffered by countless trips to the water and my wounds diminished by the healing salve hidden in my Mama’s arms. I have called my spirit back from places and times where I had let it live for far too long. I have mended myself with therapy, with these very words, and through conversations held under the naked beauty of stars. I have let go with the help of medicines, mentors, and tear filled prayers.
As I drove home from class that day I talked out loud to myself, because I totally do that, and I said, “Baby girl all this time you have been waiting for yourself to arrive and you have already been here all this time”.
Cue the crying.
I think that many of us are carrying around our broken pasts and they become the albatrosses around our necks, especially Indigenous peoples whom have been oppressed, traumatized, and re-traumatized. I know I have had a hard time understanding what being put together feels like. I’m guessing that there are many, like myself, who have no marker for what being whole, healthy, and balanced feels or looks like so how in the hell do we know when we arrived?
I truly believe that healing is an ongoing and continuous journey. That one should never get too comfortable in where they are and make excuses to not continue to examine their selves and strive to become a better human being… but that also needs to be balanced with the acknowledgement of the gains, changes in behaviours, and successes that we have accomplished. We are beautiful in this very moment at this very second, and we can rest in that knowledge so that we may move forward. Always forward.
When it comes to Indigenous knowledge’s and teachings I have struggled with the sense of rightfully belonging to them. I know that this stems from my estranged Christian upbringing, historical shame, racism etc…. and I had struggled with being “Indian enough” as a mixed blood woman trying to find herself. In all honesty, it has upset me before to watch White people embrace Indigenous ceremonies, culture, and spirituality with such ease and become a part of it all without struggle, because that is something that I as an Indigenous person, have had to undo years of trauma and shame to be able to settle into (and at times still struggle with).
At this time I can look back and see how my path has unravelled and brought me to this point. I have more answers than question marks. I am more put together than not. I am more healed than I am broken. I am reclaiming the warrior every. single. day.
Sometimes the signs are there and we just gotta be quiet enough to see them, to hear the words…
You have come home to yourself.
If you are on that healing journey I SO encourage you to acknowledge the hard work that you have done and celebrate it. I am a BIG fan of celebrating healing and sobriety.