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  • Andrea Kauenhowen

Breaking to rebuild

Updated: May 19

Like many people in the world, I’ve been under quarantine since late March. Other than the 1-hour window we get per day to venture outside, there aren’t many opportunities for exploration. As someone who lives in such a beautiful country and feels most herself when connecting with nature, it’s been difficult to accept this new reality. Faced with the inability to explore the outdoors, I decided instead to focus deeply on my journey inward.

Spiritual healing has taken a front seat priority for me over the last year. I’ve never really thought of myself as a spiritual person, certainly not in the “woo woo” sense at least, but I knew that I wanted to work on myself, even if I had no idea where to start. Knowing you want to work on yourself and putting it into action are certainly two different things. At the beginning, I tended to hate people online talking about how life is magic, and everything is wonderful if you just meditate every day you can be a light and manifest your dreams. I was depressed at the time, so to me this sounded like a load of shit. Life wasn’t magic, life was pain.

Eventually, I was able to begin seeing things from a different perspective. This took time. It took several breakdowns and reaching points so low that I’d ignore my friends for days and stop eating. Whenever I was sad, my main move would be to isolate myself and pretend that nobody cared about me. It made things worse 10/10 times.

I felt somewhere deep in my soul that I was meant to be doing more. I wanted my life to mean something. I didn’t want to keep making the same mistakes. I saw patterns of generational trauma that I did not wish to repeat. I questioned my ability to experience joy. I’d been paralyzed by grief when the worst thing that I thought could happen in my life - did. I couldn’t deal with it. I literally ran away. Not just to a friend’s place, I left the country. I had no idea what to do next. All I knew is that I didn’t want to be defined by my trauma; I just didn’t realize the effort it would take to find peace with it. I thought healing was something that would just happen on its own, something that mends with passing time – like a scrape on your elbow. Surely if I just stayed in a beautiful place long enough, I’d eventually be okay. As it turns out, this was not the case.


My healing efforts have taken many forms – from talk therapy to body work, books to podcasts, and psychedelics or natural “medicines” like mushrooms, LSD, and ayahuasca. What I've realized along the way is that healing is really just synonymous with learning. A massive learning and unlearning, and a practice of being able to go towards the pain and face it head on. No distracting yourself with social media, no numbing it with alcohol/shopping/food, no leaving the country, no more pretending it doesn’t bother you… just sit with it – and feel it all. This is the only way to begin to let things go.


Letting go has never been easy for me. I prefer to be seen as the strong one, the brave one. When I called my grandparents to tell them that their daughter, my mom, had passed away, I didn’t cry. I didn’t cry at her memorial either. I had shoved my feelings so deep down inside me that my voice didn’t even croak as I shared my favourite memories of her in the park that day. I thought my mom would be proud of me, because she always hid her emotions away too. It was a practice I had learned from her.

My mom didn’t like to share any details about her life, any pains or worries, any dreams or desires, because she thought those around her would take this information and use it against her. She liked to keep up an image of mother rather than person, selfless rather than passionate, with a constant aim to keep the peace even if that meant sacrificing her own mental well-being. I strongly believe that her keeping everything so deeply tucked inside is what caused the cancer. Now that I’ve read more on this topic of when the body says no, I have no doubt in my mind that what we choose to hold on to, eventually comes back in varying forms of stress, disease, and terminal illness.

This realization sparked a turning point for me. If I was already holding onto this much pain at 26, what sort of life was I heading towards? Self-healing wasn’t just an option anymore; it became a necessity. It didn’t matter how healthy I was in other parts of my life. Even being active and eating a plant-based diet would not be able to save me from the fate I was bound for by living with a closed heart. So, I started doing the work.

I wouldn’t say it’s been any one single thing that has helped me so far in my journey of self-awareness, but a combination of experiences and a willingness to learn and remain open. I still have so much more to discover but I’ve truly realized the value of everything I’ve been through. I needed to break in order to rebuild. I now know that healing is not a destination to be arrived at but a never-ending journey. Now my main hope is that I can share my experiences with others in a meaningful way and hopefully open the doors for relatability and growth. Writing seems to be calling me as a way to share now more than ever. I’m not sure what that’s going to look like but I’m really happy to start.



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