Last week, my partner and I were on the train that runs along the Hudson River (its real name, Mahicantuck “the river that flows two ways”) to Grand Central terminal. It’s a ride that takes 1.53 hrs, and we held hands the whole time. Except for when I stole his book and he took it back. There was no handholding then.
Because of our work, and the fact that we prefer being around trees and not buildings, we never really leave upstate, but we had a meeting at the AICH (American Indian Community House), and after we decided to stick around for a while. We found a patio where we could do some people-watching and drink a glass of wine. Across from us, on the street, was a man in a suit sitting on a ginormous planter with flowers that was also a bench. We watched him, trying to figure out if he was “one of us.”
Look. The braid! Just like ours.
Maybe an eagle will land on him, and we’ll see it on TikTok later: “Sitting on a bench in NYC, Indigenously.” (Cue: laughs)
Give him “the nod” and see how he reacts.
Believe it or not, this right here falls under things I wanted in life but never knew how it could happen. To meet someone whose life has also been directly shaped and affected by the realities we face as Indigenous people but who also doesn’t mind taking a break from the seriousness to goof around and laugh at things most others would probably think of as stupid. Do you have something like that? Something you want for your life, but don’t know how to make it happen?
Get out of a bad situation.
Change the way you spend your days.
Finding peace within yourself and not being anxious every second of the day.
All these things can feel overwhelming and even scary. Thoughts start to spin out-of-control: What if I can’t do it? What if it never happens?
The problem with that is when most of us feel fear, overwhelm, maybe even panic–– we freeze. That stress of not knowing how it will turn out, or if it will work out, causes a survival response, and exactly like the word freeze implies, it stops us from moving. It keeps us stuck.
The reality is that when you’re faced with terrible odds like how Indigenous people only make up 0.7% of the population where you live, and your relationship track record consists almost exclusively of narcissists and sociopaths… or you’ve only ever learned how to manage and live with your symptoms, not heal from them… or there’s inflation and you can barely cover the cost of groceries that have doubled in price… then it’s natural to panic a bit.
Unless you’re completely numb, you will have a response to something that causes you “harm.” But what we don’t want is to stay in that state. Remember, it freezes us in place, which makes it hard, if not impossible, to move forward.
What has helped me (after a moment of freaking out) is focusing on what I can do, knowing I do my best with what I got or the circumstance/situation I’m in. While also having a lot of faith and trust that the answers will come, or it will work itself out, even if I don’t know how yet. It might not be perfect, but standing up doing something beats laying on the floor like a ball of stress or hiding under the covers. Which I did a lot back in my days with trauma.
If something feels impossible or hard to you right now, comment below and we can come up with some things for you to focus on together. ❤️
Pewkayal (until we meet again),