Of Words and Healing

image-2.jpegTwo years ago, I was sitting on a bench one bone-chilling January morning, smoking a cigarette. It was my first day at university; already overwhelmed from the great number of people on the campus, I absorbed the overall environment and let my newfound reality sink in. Like a bell, the voice of a young man shouting my name pulled me out of my preoccupation.

Much to my surprise, the advancing figure grew familiar. Indeed, it was not our first encounter. I met the young man, who I have nicknamed Apollo, through my older cousin when I was only fourteen years old, but Apollo and I did not keep contact until this serendipitous moment. We immediately proceeded to catching up until our conversation was cut short; I had to attend my first class. Before I ran off--because I was, of course, already late to my first class--we exchanged numbers and agreed to meet every Monday and Wednesday before my class for coffee and cigarettes.

We managed to carry out our plan and as the weeks went by, I grew more and more fond of him. I had finally met someone who would inspire me for the rest of my life. Apollo was the ultimate muse, the anti-hero that I was subconsciously searching for all this time.

I was studying psychology and neurobehavioral science at McGill University at the time because that was my father's wish. Was I happy? Not in the least. I thought I had no interests of my own until the muse I was seeing gave me the life changing advice to read Jack Kerouac's On the Road.

After devouring the classic American novel, I felt my dormant passion for words awaken. I found myself craving words. I needed my fix--I was in need of reading and writing them all of the time. 

After completing my first semester at McGill, I arrived at the conclusion that psychology was not for me and never was; instead, I enrolled myself in English Literature as a major and Professional Writing as a minor at Concordia University because McGill offered no such minor at the time. My father was greatly displeased, but it did not matter to me. It was the best decision I ever made.

Essentially, what blossomed out of this magnificent love story was my love for the English language.

I had now made the switch and Apollo graduated from his program that year. We kept meeting each other for coffee and cigarettes, but this time we brought the books that we read to analyze them together. Much to my dismay, we eventually grew apart due to our busy lives. It left me, in all honesty, confused and heartbroken.

A year later, one December morning, after Christmas, I found an envelope signed with his initials in my mailbox. Anxiously, I ripped the envelope open and found there a typewritten letter. We corresponded thus for the next couple of months until life took him away from me, but this time for good.

It has been a difficult loss, but I promised him that all of my poetry and prose would be written in his memory and honor. His legacy lives on through my work and I have kept my promise ever since, for he has in great ways rescued me from my very own shadow consisting of insecurities and fears.

Because of this loss, I found myself lost and alone trying to cope with this terrible situation. Ultimately, I developed my own defense mechanisms. At first, I was confronted with denial and then regression. I felt reluctant meeting new people--nobody compared to this special person. I began acting out--rebelling in any way I could, really. Also, I grew dissociated from others and worse--from myself. Luckily for me, enlightenment quickly followed one sunny Sunday morning.

I was looking for something to read from my bookcase, when I immediately noticed the Dhammapada, one of the best-known Buddhist scriptures, just sitting there and looking right at me. Naturally, I picked it up and dove into my reading. I had bought Buddha's collection of sayings a while ago for a religion course during my CEGEP years, but I never really paid much attention to it until that morning. Thus I delighted in my reading and found meaning in the following quote: "Our sorrows and wounds are healed only when we touch them with compassion." This is what I needed: compassion for myself. Yes, I needed to forgive myself, forgive life, and let go.

This experience, as a whole, proved itself meaningful on so many levels by instilling in me the love for English language. Most importantly, it taught me self-expression and independence. Life presented me with a great challenge and then mercifully offered me a solution. My remedy, my healing, came through the form of holistic practices: yoga, meditation and aromatherapy. This is how I found peace of mind and I would very much like to venture sharing the healing powers of holistic practices with anybody who may be in need of spiritual recovery or peace in general through Montrealités.

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