By: Phyllis McKenna
This story is a reflection of me on a small part of my healing journey. A simple Anishnawbe/Irish kwe (woman) that has had a long battle with mental health issues and how chi (big) changes are needed in order to be reborn. I reflect back on a teaching of an eagle and the changes it has to go through in order to survive. How it has had an impact on how I look at the changes within my journey.
My life like many anishnawbe kwe’s has been filled with chaos, trauma, and self sabotage. I had to make a choice to move from a place of unhealthy behaviors to a place of comfort and acceptance of myself. Two years ago I hit rock bottom and became homeless. I ended up in a native women’s shelter where I currently reside. I felt very alone and helpless when I first arrived. I didn’t know how I got myself in such a bad position. I was living a lifestyle that questions ones morals on a daily basis. The time had come to an end for me and nomatter how hard I tried I kept falling down. My previous survival skills were not working besides I was aging and no longer a young woman in an industry that caters to the youthful pretty girls. I was an exotic entertainer in a strip club. There is a teaching about an eagle and that without some painful changes it cannot survive past forty years old. When an eagle reaches this age she can no longer fend for herself.
She is unable to catch pry, feed herself or fly well. Her talons are no longer sharp she is unable to catch prey. Her beak is bent so she is unable to rip her food apart to eat, and her feathers become thick and dense making it difficult to fly. If she is to continue like this it won’t be long before she dies. Or if she goes through a very painful and time consuming process she can continue to live.The eagle will fly to its nest atop a cliff or mountain rock. She then beats her beak off the rocks until it breaks off and waits for it to grow back. Once this happens, she then pulls out all her talons and dense feathers also waiting for them to grow back. Once the talons and feathers grow back is able to survive another 30 years.
This teaching has given me reason to appreciate change. Although it may be painful and unbearable at times it takes patience. There is a rebirth of one’s self, confidence to move forward in life and be better equipped to face challenges in a new way. The changes that I had to make were learning to love myself in spite of the abuse, trauma and shame that I carried within myself for far too long. I had to put my life on pause to deal with these unhealthy ways. I had to relearn new coping strategies to deal with mental health issues. Most importantly to be self-loving, and believe that I do matter in the web of life and creation. Turning to my community for help and support I was able to heal and have a new perspective on life. Now, like the eagle that has done its work ready to soar off that rock and regain its survival skills back. I too am ready for new adventures and opportunities that await me.
None of this would have happened if I didn’t take the time to look deep within myself and change the old habits that were no longer beneficial to me. My greatest challenge is also my greatest teaching. For, had I not experienced losing everything becoming homeless. I would not have seen the need for change. I wouldn’t be the self- loving confident Anishnawbe kwe I am today.