Nick-izms: Rez Born, Urban Raised


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


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

Mother’s Hope."