Nick-izms: Rez Born, Urban Raised
Thursday, April 02 2015
Written by Nick Metcalf,
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jpeg_pic.jpgCravings: Health and Wellness

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 something.

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 speak.

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 wellness.

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 survival.

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 Mother's Hope."

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