In Part I, I shared with you my prescriptive thoughts on how language around healing should be formulated and shared: honestly, without the fluff and woo. In Part II, I will present a my own experience with healing, honestly, without the fluff and woo.
I am third generation anxiety in my family. I did not have a traumatic childhood. I am, however, as a person of African descent acutely aware of the history of my people in this country - a history that has involved sustained systematic state sanctioned oppression against my ancestors and my contemporaries. This knowledge of the historical record of African-Americans in the United States, coupled with a newfound interest in epigenetics, specifically the FKBP5 gene and the way it has mutated in African-Americans due to our sustained experience of oppression despite the legal end of slavery, and other human rights gains, leads me to believe that the anxiety I experience is inherited from my ancestors.
Late last year my anxiety showed me its entire behind. I couldn't tell you if I ever knew precisely what triggered it. I was clear that I had no intention of going to a doctor for fear of being prescribed an anti-psychotic or some other synthetic drug. It was, that I can recall, the worse I've felt as an adult, ever. It felt like consistent butterflies in my stomach, nausea, going to sleep with mind racing, waking up with mind racing, constant panic that the aforementioned symptoms were going to cause a panic attack, and then constant panic in an attempt to stop the already happening panic attack, dizziness, heat palpitations, sweats, inability to fall asleep, poor sleep quality even I did manage to sleep, being a total bore and weirdo in public, not wanting to leave the house for fear of being a total bore and weirdo in public, and any number of these and other crazy making, physical and emotional symptoms. More than anything it was exhausting. It was exhausting to the point of being tired thinking about it and talking about it and researching it to figure out what to do to stop it. Thankfully I had my mom, and three other dear friends who made it their business to check in, give hugs, offer viable solutions, and make sure i didn't lose my shit completely, though, in my head, I already had. Summary: it was a f***ing shit show.
Summer 2003, I was living in NYC. I was working as a paralegal for a major law firm and thought I wanted to go to law school. I was infatuated with some boy (in a man's body) who brought drama to my door step and which I indulged for way to long. I was also just clueless and it sent 23 year old me into deep sadness. Not to mention my finances were a mess, I eventually learned that I was rejected from all of the law schools I applied to, and I felt unwanted romantically. Not quarter life indulgent spoiled 20something drama, depression as in sleep for 15 hours a day, sad when I woke up, and generally not wanting to be bothered.
I have always maintained a cursory knowledge of African and African rooted cultural traditions. It was the way I was raised. Four years studying Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean studies familiarized me with the Lukumi tradition and I realized that I actually knew one person, coincidentally a woman from my community in Chicago, with whose children I grew up, who was a priestess practitioner in the Lukumi tradition. It was to her I turned for advice, hoping that she would do, exactly what she did, which was take me for a reading.
My reading was with one of the most well known and well respected priests and oba oriates (master of ceremonies, presiding over initiations) in the United States. When I sat down in front of him and he began to manipulate the diloggun (cowrie shells used in Lukumi divination) and speak on what fell before me, what I experienced was a mixture of shock and simultaneously relief. To hear a stranger speak so lucidly about my innermost personal thoughts and feelings was, indeed, embarrassing but also a major relief. I wasn't crazy, despite how I felt. More importantly, through the process of marking ebo (offering ritually given to spiritually entities) there was a plausible solution within reach - an ability to shift the energy of my immediate environment that would then allow an opening for progress and advancement.
That was a defining moment for me where I knew, most certainly, that a spiritual practice that had the capacity to effect not just the spiritual realm, but also the mental and emotional, was one I needed to learn and be a part of.
As I approach 40, I find myself at the heaviest I've ever been, which as of Monday was 173.8 pounds. I love to eat and drink. I love the sensation of chewing and the taste of savory and the right combinations of flavors. My favorite thing to do is go out to eat or invite people over to a meal I have prepared in my home. I'm also an emotional eater and when I am feeling moody, which was, and occasionally still is often, I'll eat, for example, an entire Beecher's Gluten Free Mac n Cheese and drink 2-3 glasses of wine while watching Downton Abbey on my Apple TV. Really. Who is going to stop me?
Apparently, I will have to stop me; however, be clear, this newly established decision to lose weight is not because I hate my body. Let me tell you, this body attracts regularly and I have never been denied carnal pleasures of flesh nor admiration because of this back fat and my jiggly mid-section. I abhor Western society's gym culture and it's beauty standards that STILL dictate to women super damaging aesthetic prescriptions so I will be doing this get fit journey my way. This is about taking care of this container that has served me well and giving it reason to serve me well into the future. It's also about maturity. Thus, I must get over my 25 year old mindset, that had a 25 year old metabolism, and waist line to boot, and establish an almost 40 mindset that includes discipline, healthy eating, and eventually exercise. *insert eye rolling at self for even admitting this*
Thanks to a friend, who is my fasting partner for the past three days, I am doing a modified fast that includes 1.5 gallons of water per day (still working at that), fruit, vegetables, and protein when I feel necessary. I am keeping my caloric intake well below the minimum needed to lose weight for my size to promote quicker weight loss and I continue to take my supplements (you really don't want me to go off CBD, but that's another post). As of this morning, I've lost 3 pounds, I am sleeping well, the bloat is gone, energy is good, and I have not gone stir crazy from carbohydrate and alcohol deprivation.
So, "Negarra", you ask, "great story but what is your point?" My point is that all of the aforementioned info is the real deal in regular language that I use all the time (ask my friends and my clients) to describe my healing journey to date. Regular Negarra. I have not buttered you up with feel good key words, nor did my story end with some grand illumination only attainable at an ashram resort in the mountains in an exotic locale. Quite the opposite, all my suffering and all my healing took place in my own home, occasionally in public, or in the home or office of my healers. None of it was aesthetically pleasing and all of it felt like shit. Now that those phases have concluded, I have some much needed perspective where before there were panic attacks, sadness, and excessive quantities of wine and mac n cheese.
You got the real, the true, and the no holds barred. THAT is how anyone claiming to be a healer should communicate their journey as well as their ability to support you: in plain language that doesn't gloss over what will surely be a challenging experience, when done properly. For your own sake, if it sounds fluffy and woo, it probably is, and you must know if that is for you. If not, resist the temptation to be dazzled by the good feels, and find a healer who can serve your needs.
I may be that healer for you and if so, I welcome the opportunity.
Negarra A. Kudumu
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