Creating a beautiful life, even from the ruins.

It’s been almost three years since I experienced the biggest shock of my life. The heartbreak, disbelief, betrayal, and ensuing trauma nearly took me out. I will write about it someday because that’s what I do. I speak to the elephant in the room, hoping to help others who face similar sorrows, because an elephant left uncovered can kill you.

For now, I want to speak about the negative effect that stress has on our bodies—physical, emotional, and spiritual—because if I hadn’t experienced it, I would’ve never believed the impact it has.

By March of 2022, I was so shattered that I disassociated from myself. Basically, I left my body. Instinct told me that I had to isolate myself in Hawai’i to get ahold of myself. Amidst the scary inner-work I did to reclaim myself, wonders occurred.

I’ve been coming to the same remote place on the island since 2016, yet last year I noticed ancestors near the tree I pray under. I gave them no mind because I was on a mission to save myself. But after a while, I had a vision in my head of a man standing in front of me, holding a long stick.

I couldn’t not pay attention to him.

The story of that ancestor is long in itself, but as it turns out, he not only protected me, he helped me heal. By the time I left Hawai’i, I was back in my body.

Four days after arriving home, Funk, the bastard I call husband, gave me Covid. I dealt with the lingering effects of that all summer, and big happenings cropped up all fall, so I never had a chance to process the work I did in Hawai’i. By the time Spring 2023 rolled around, I was a mess again.

Oh, the joys of being back in body.

This was the first time I realized how much the stress had hurt my health. I was depressed and had no energy. I’d been walking 4 miles daily since 2009, yet now I could barely make it a mile around my block. I had no appetite, but if I didn’t eat, I sugar crashed so bad that it caused intense anxiety. In a matter of months, I gained 50 pounds, which made me even more depressed. I felt hopeless that I’d ever fully recover.

But I’m no quitter.

I just planned another trip to Hawai’i, without letting logistics get in the way of how I’d get myself there. Arriving the island August 2023, I couldn’t wait to “see” my ancestors again. I immediately went out to my tree, and while I could sense them, I couldn’t envision them like I had the year before. My throat closed in fear because I felt like I needed their help to finish healing.

They noticed my woe.

There is a tiny sand beach where I stay, with a five-foot-wide sand lane that goes from the shore into the ocean and all the way to the reef. One evening as I stepped out of the sea, there, lying at the end of the path, was a long stick. It didn’t look like a limb from any of the trees down here, so I knew it was from that ancestor, letting me know he was with me.

A few weeks later, after a sunset swim, I took a chair and sat by the edge of the water, and with the waves lapping at my feet, I watched the stars come out. Before long, a big wave rolled in, and with it, a heavy rock landed on top of my foot. When the wave rolled back out, the rock stayed put. Looking down, I saw that it was a black lava heart stone, my sister Jane letting me know that she was with me too, also helping me recover.

Here’s to you if you also sense our ancestors. They’re all around us. I’m still on this journey of healing, but I have faith that I will. Indeed, it’s already begun. I’m walking more than two miles a day now, and without feeling like I’m dragging myself through lead. I’m hardly ever anxiety crashing anymore. I’ve lost 10 pounds. And best yet, I’m releasing the trauma caused by that terrible experience, which is freeing up space for joy and laughter to seep back into my life.

The Photo: The tree where I pray, and the long stick I found on the shore.

P.S. Funk, a non-believer for much of his life, wrote a beautiful poem that speaks to this and mailed it to me here in Hawai’i. The last two verses made me cry, in a good way.

My love is on an island, far from me
Communing with spirits, seeing true signs
And doing it all under a magical tree
With peace at last to her ancestral lines

The island speaks to her and seems to say
Welcome! The loneliness is smaller here
Our kahunas respect you when you pray
And in Pele’s domain you’ve nothing to fear

Sit in peace and watch the setting sun
Or walk the lava near the sacred ground
While past and present join as one
And you feel the power of the home you found

Healing at last from greatest pain
A final gift from your sister Jane