(and by you, I mean me)

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when you’ve been in a great deal of pain for months on end... and prayed, screamed, begged for relief. when you’ve dreamed of the day where you could inhabit your human body in a way so many are privileged to do without effort, and that day finally comes.... where your pain thaws, eases just enough to inhale. and those days turn into a week, maybe even two, the body fills with incredible JOY. immense gratitude like no other.  and you think, I will never not pray again (even if your prayers looked like staring back at your tear stained reflection in the mirror, repeating one single word: please, please, please).... those days are the gift of everything you’ve prayed for. and you think, I will never forget. never forget what it’s like to be without this luxury of a pain- free body ....

but then you do, little by little. When anger or discomfort and all the little silent sorrows of living with an invisible illness, overcome that joy, you have to commit, you have to practice. Practice the cultivation of joy, of gratitude, even of able-bodiedness. It IS a practice. a discipline. a daily commitment, one that can feel like a chore- to swim though the sea of hurt and fear and stories that aren’t yours (but live deeply in your bones) ... and it means all the more. your gratitude is not saccharine- it is a bloody ugly mess that keeps your head above the muck. and damn, it is so much easier to breath up here. but even breathing is work.

and it’s not pretty. gratitude as the antidote to pain, it is a discipline that itself can itself break you. but when you’re broken that wide open, all you can do is let it all ascend. and you return to this discipline every single day. and maybe, just maybe this stretches into a few days, if you’re lucky into a week, or longer

... THIS, this is what healing looks like. it is not the absence of adversity- it is the transformation…your every movement, your walk, your exhales lived as prayer. and then someday you’ll look back in that mirror and maybe you’re still crying, but you smile through the tears at the person looking back begging:  please, please, please.

(and by you, I mean me)

reclamation/// introduction


///artwork by shilo shiv suleman///

I’ve been feeling a deep NEED to write lately.

I’ve also been avoiding sharing certain aspects of my health struggles for some time in the name of keeping a false peace, so this writing come with big dose of fear as well as release. I have come to see that this fear is as damaging as any physical suffering I’ve endured -to keep it all inside, when it wants to come out.  I need to channel and direct this energy- to practice the art of shapeshifting.

I hesitated for a long time to make this a part of my business + personal account, but ultimately I believe all of the parts of us make us whole, and lovable and oh so very human- we all are much, much more than a stream of pretty and polite images telling only one palatable side of our story. We are also our pain, our trauma and our suffering- and I consider being able to share (in) that with others, as healing as any plant, as any medicine. Our shared humanity is a balm for the wounded and broken pieces in so many of us. And a piece of my humanity as well as my brokenness, goes into each and every thing I offer here. 

I think also, there has been a certain amount of shame and stigma, being a plant-loving human who offers “a health product”, being someone who is frequently called on within my community for healing suggestions- whose livelihood is in direct relationship to the plants- that it’s not okay to be that person AND struggle with my health. But that part of the story isn’t mine— and it’s not a contradiction, but I hope: a strength. I want your pain; I want your stories- and so do the plants. And I believe that they want mine too.

But the bigger reason I’ve been afraid to be painfully honest, is that I am deeply afraid to hurt people, especially those I love and who love me.

But choosing not to share comes with its own pains. Having so much of the residual pain from the last 18 months- which has now transferred from my body to body-spirit, be privately discussed in hushed whispers or in the container of a weekly therapy session with a trained individual, isn’t enough for me anymore. At this point my fears around telling my truths are feeling explicitly detrimental to my healing process. They are getting in my way- they are directing the show.

I want to share and to be honest because we are are more than the sum of our parts… I want to share because I have something to tell. I want to share because my story wants to be heard. I want to share because I have found profound understanding, compassion and empathy in the stories of others in pain and suffering, deep in their own trials with their health and wellness …

and those stories have helped me more in the last year than any other medicine combined.

I will speak of my hurts here. I don’t want to hold that back. But please know this: multiple truths can exist simultaneously. I can know that my family, friends, and medical team (who I will refer to generally as my care-team) most of the time, did the absolute best they knew how. I do not fault them for when they didn't know what else to do or how to be. I also know that in a lot of ways their best still failed me, hurt me or caused me further suffering and pain…

and that can be a truth too.

I also believe this to be a reflection of the culture more than a reflection of my community- cause I know deeply, deeply in my soul just how lucky I am to have who I have in my life, by my side, day in and day out. I have a very large list of tremendous, generous humans who have been there for me through sickness + health. I’ve never lost sight of that.

This sense of suffering that I still endure is much bigger than individuals’ wrongdoings (my own very much included) - it is a disease of the culture. It is misogyny; it is sexism; it is ableism, capitalism, tribalism and it is our broken as fuck culture that values nuclear family over community, independence over interdependence, dollar bills over trade, title over our own skills and offerings, and profit over people. It is the loss of culture, the loss of community,  degradation of our environment, the domination of our species, resource consumption and the loss of sacred space as well as the loss of inner medicine + magic, in the name of science and power, particularly in the hands of men.

Please know my intention is never to hurt or blame any individual in my story (myself as much as anyone else), but instead it is to heal and make myself whole with my truth. In the absence of my voice, I realized I’ve been letting others narrate my story. And I can no longer be silent; I can no longer let others be my voice. And I absolutely can no longer let others define my illness, but also my wellness.