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What Do You Need to Heal?

field of purple flowers

This week, a roundtable from the RHJ partners with guest Paula Kahn! Paula is the co-founder of Cosmovisiones Ancestrales, an organization that was founded in 2018 to build bridges between indigenous communities, psychedelic researchers, mental-health professionals, drug policy makers, psychedelic consumers, and populations that have been acutely impacted by the legacies of colonialism, slavery, war, and forced migration.

What do you need to heal?

Magali: I need to be able to try many different modalities of healing. Some don’t work for me, many work within a certain context, issue, or at a certain time. I relied heavily on 12 steps during my initial substance use recovery — now I feel like I need to heal from 12 steps. But, it was very easy to access.

I will always be a therapy client. Here, access starts to decrease because therapy often depends on insurance coverage. I am lucky that I work with a therapist who uses a sliding scale and that I can afford that right now, but in times that I can’t, I think about what resources that I have that I rely on all the time and how I can uphold them to support myself. I have many trusted friends, a spiritual guidance system, and my gut/body. Currently, I use sacred plant medicine within ceremony to guide my understanding of myself and the universe, work through trauma, and deepen my connections. I offer this ceremony for trade so others can do the same. So, what I need is access and like-minded community whom are committed to self-awareness, building authentic relationships, and supporting community through whatever means possible.

Kate: I think for many of us, there is the step before we explore and (hopefully) find how we heal. What I need to heal, first and foremost, is the decision to do so. Especially for women and femmes, many of us have been inundated with the life lessons to judge our worth through sacrifice and ultimately, martyrdom. I could blame much of this on the Christian notions of sacrifice and saviorism, but I know mine is equally entrenched in the Asian ideal of women’s self-sacrifice. Much of our current society is built upon that exploitation and extraction. Everyday we live through the weaponizing of empathy, as we ask school teachers to offer up what they can from their meager salaries to buy basic tools for students or how case managers are told that raises in salaries and benefits mean even less for their clients. When we look historically at the roles that women of color and low-income women have taken, this narrative only deepens. Historical roles have always included care labor of children, older adults, the sick and, more generally, the domestic sphere. And all of this is predicated on the singular narrative: you are worth what you sacrifice to others; you are marked by your disposability.

In the wake of this, I always think back to audre lorde, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” It is a manta I try and repeat often, especially when I think I am most unworthy of care and healing. Much of my healing has been wrapped up in organizing and advocacy, a method which will always be a complicated double-edged sword with which I still grapple. But it is the intention and decision “to” which always foregrounds my “how.”

When thinking about what I need to heal, it may change depending on my time and budget and mood and catalyst, but the consistent answer remains: to heal, I need the make the decision to do so.

me, baking and hosting a ten hour brunch with my partner for queer family.

Sasanka: I’m always joking with my partner that if I didn’t spend so much time consumed with racism, sexism, homophobia, whoreophobia, transphobia and how it manifests in my life and the lives of loved ones, I’d probably be a pastry chef. I think there is something really healing about the practice of making dessert — creativity, indulgence, ritual, patience, sharing, mess, making something out of mess, learning from elders, imagination, art and science in balance. I think one of our principles — valuing space and time for connection, learning, unlearning, elevation, and liberation — manifests for me in the kitchen. Like so many industries/practices in a White supremacist patriarchal society, cooking is feminine when domestic and unpaid, while it is masculine when professional and salaried. Healing looks like resisting this binary, protecting our worth while honoring the communal and community-based.

Paula: My healing is demanding and unabashed. It calls on a collective effort for each of us to identify our roles in radically, unapologetically transforming the toxic infrastructures that poison our lives and ecosystems with chemical and psychological pollution. I am still navigating revolutionary liberation work as a person with inherited traumas, while also incurring first hand and secondary traumas from the accompaniment and rapid response work I do. I feel called to ingest psycho-active plant medicine for guidance from my ancestors and from the universe. I feel called to live in nature with others and live cooperatively. I feel called to plant, grow, and harvest plant medicine. I feel called to make medicine. I need access to a collective learning environment in which I can learn the mediums I have dreamt of practicing and sharing: music production, film-making, acting, aerial-silks, trapeze, acro-yoga, herbalism, and sustainable farming. I need time and space to write like I never have before.

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