In spite of where I am and the position I’ve put myself in I feel optimistic about my life.
Sometimes it’s hard, but because of my understanding of the Medicine Path, I can navigate situations like this feeling good. As long as I listen to the world around me, live by my moral code and remember the lessons I’ve learned in ceremonies I am confident things will be OK.
I see my Mom, Inch, sometimes on the Downtown Eastside. I follow her around and just watch her. She’s only about 4’8” tall, and I can see her a block away. She’s a very focused woman, and if we don’t make eye contact, she rarely notices me. I am a thinker, and I wrack my brain for how I can ever spend time with her. The only way I can see it happening is for me to sponsor a Native American Church (NAC) Ceremony.
My mother is an addict, but first and foremost she is Nehiyaw (a Cree person). She has medicine, and she remembers her teachings.
When I can sponsor a meeting, I will go to my mother, and I will ask her to come. I already talked with her about this, and she said, “Oh, I couldn’t. Not if I was using.”
I know she should want to but I also understand that for her, it’s been a long time since she felt part of the community. And I know how hard that can be. I will tell her about the NAC way that I was taught, that often the ones who need the most healing are the brothers and sisters who are still using.
Many people disagree with this teaching because they worry that when someone is using, they might bring bad spirits into the ceremony. As someone who had been that way, I believe that is true.
But I can also say with absolute certainty that the bad spirit I brought into the ceremony didn’t have a chance. I felt it clinging to me throughout the night. It was scared, and it was desperate, and it was angry. I used to believe it was so strong.
In many ways, these spirits are strong but, in many other ways, they are not. At least not when they are put up against the collective power that is found in the people who gather together in prayer in ceremonies, churches, in many different ways. I believe that addiction gets its power from other people, but it also loses its power the same way. As individuals, we are often easily tricked and convinced, unable to see the beauty and power within ourselves. Honestly, we’re usually our own worst enemies convincing ourselves that we are no good or unable to do things with which we struggle.
Destructive spirits are no match for the power found in people who gather together in prayer.
I struggle with addiction, but I have also gotten clean several times. In my experience, sobriety is only attainable when you surround yourself with people you want to live like. Go to 12 step meetings if you want to be in recovery and a recovery person. Go to ceremonies if you want to be traditional. Go to both if you want to. This is how it is for me.
I have had a tremendous year. I have had a challenging year too, but I am thankful for everything. Some things are hard to share so I will take my time. But I finally feel capable of handling whatever life throws at me, even in a depressing, dangerous shithole like this place.