Being a 60-year-old Mi’kmaq, aging woman, disconnected from life, practically immobilized by fibromyalgia and forced into a long introspection of myself that I had previously avoided with the help of my ADD, work and family responsibilities, is not easy!
All the avoidance added to my sense of being disconnected from society, reinforced the devaluation of myself. I did not embrace the opportunity to try to reconnect; oh no, instead I kicked and screamed my way into this situation.
To be fair, my disconnect happened at a very young age, a product of my mind to protect me from the horrific circumstances if my life. From early childhood into my teens my mind disconnected me from each ugly event, so that my memories became a poorly made scary movie that I happened to be starring in: but not really participating in anything that was going in. Any recounting I have ever made of a memory that I managed to retrieve is robotic in nature, with no emotion. I’m just watching and relaying what’s happening in a black and film with poor lighting and very little dialogue.
This being said, and more to the point, I have always had a distinct lack of tolerance for tradition, ceremony and formalities. I would fleetingly wonder why, after attending a native ceremony (not Mi’kmaq) because the beating of the drums, the dancing and ceremonies touched my heart so deeply it was hard to bear, practically bringing me to tears (and I’m no crier!).
As drawn as I was to this phenomenon, I also feared it. That fear kept me from seeking out my own people’s traditions and ceremonies, preferring to explore other tribes and staying far away from my own. My ignorance was truly appalling.
Bringing me to present day. After almost 20 years of slow and painful self-discovery because I have nothing but time on my hands, where being still, with no responsibilities to distract me, has led to countless hours of learning my history, personal and ancestral, I can honestly say thank you.
I am oftentimes overwhelmed with my lack of insight and my ignorance shames me on most days. However, the fear is easier to push away, allowing me to learn about my Mi’kmaq culture, our beliefs, values and traditions. This knowledge leads me to understand that I am connected to a rich and valuable culture. The learning leads me to value our traditions and beliefs, which leads me to care and enjoy them, which in turn, leads me to seek more knowledge and understanding.
The valuable knowledge of our elders, that they so generously share, becomes an important tool to reinforce sustainable practices in daily and future choices. I see it, I embrace it and I want to share it.
So, thank you fibro, for the wonderful gift if stillness.