Cravings: Health and Wellness
|Written by Nick Metcalf,
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This month I want to write about
something that I’ve been thinking about and that has piqued my
interest: craving. Craving is defined as a powerful desire for
We all crave something. We crave
connection. We crave comfort. We crave understanding. We crave
forgiveness. We crave love. We crave moments when profound loss and
pain are gone. We crave reconciliation. We crave.
Each of us is on our own individual
journey, but we are bound together by family and community. I don’t
mean to generalize, but my experience has been that most Native
people define themselves by their family (tiyospaye), their clan,
their tribal affiliation, etc. In order to know us, you must first be
aware of our social structure that we exist within and we thrive
within. Once you know this, then you can know us, individually, so to
I offer my own craving to experience of
health and wellness. It’s my healing experience. I ain’t no
psychologist and I ain’t no mental health therapist. I studied
Family Therapy for my master’s degree in Social Work, but I
followed a different path. Therefore, this is what I’ve come to
know about my experience to understand my craving for health and
Awareness: It all began with my
becoming aware of the world around me.
Reconciliation: Next, I had to take off
my rose-colored glasses and truly see my world around me. I had to
reconcile what I thought was going on, what I wanted, with the
reality of what is.
Acceptance: I had to stop lying to
myself. I had to accept the reality of the world around me.
Forgiveness: I came to know that
forgiveness is not for the perpetrator, but for my own well being.
Holding onto pain and reliving trauma doesn’t do me any good. It
stops me from growing. Forgiveness doesn’t absolve people from the
harm, but it stops the psychological harm to me.
Resurrection: Once I did the hard work
of cultivating an internal life by becoming aware, by reconciling
life, by accepting life as it is and heartfelt forgiveness then I had
the opportunity to resurrect myself.
Thriving: I craved this. I craved being
capable of navigating our contemporary Native life and thriving.
“Caring for the people” is a belief
and an action of my family. It permeated the fabric of our lives. I
was raised in a family who served on the tribal council and/or worked
in social service. The work my parents, my aunts, my uncles, my
cousins and the people they were surrounded by all focused on the
survival of our people. If someone were in need then there’d be
someone to help.
This caring of ‘the people’ came at
a cost. The very people that are receiving help are the ones who
return harm. The people needing help looked at ‘the helper’ with
a critical eye and assessed if ‘the helper’ was capable and
competent to help. Sometimes, they’d hurt the people trying to
help. This mere act of humanity is suspect.
I attribute this type of survival
behavior and thinking to why we, Native people, are still here. If
you read historical documents of Native people and the colonization
process we experienced in the building of this country, then you’ll
understand that no one was safe. We were taught this type of thinking
by our grandparents, our parents, and our family for good reason, our
What does this have to do with craving?
Everything. Our craving to experience health and wellness is an
individual and communal experience. In getting some of our needs met
then we may experience being vulnerable to someone else. We must ask.
We must know what we need. We must trust those offering it.
This conflict of individual and
communal existence can be difficult to reconcile. There are parts of
our community struggling with addiction. They are caught up and bound
to lifestyles that may lead to their early death. Unfortunately, many
of us know people caught up in addiction and we know the desperate
behaviors that come along with it. Yet, at some point we must accept
that their struggle belongs to them. We must protect ourselves. We
must forgive ourselves for establishing different kinds of boundaries
than what we were taught. We can love them, but we are not required
to love the life destroying substances they are using.
People crave wellness and connection.
All my community craves health and understanding. All the Native
people I know are living their life purpose in various communities
and in various stages health and wellness.
I offer all of these ideas as food for
thought and to encourage conversation. We are all in this together.
We are bound together. Your health and your wellness are bound to my
health and wellness. Let’s talk.
Cetanzi –Nicholas "Nick"
Metcalf, MSW, is an emerging writer/poet who manages a blog entitled
"Nickizms" and shares his daily musings on his Facebook profile. Nick's
first published piece can be found in the 2014 St. Paul Almanac, "A