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"My Search for Wellness Through Healing"
by: Michael Sainte-Andress

My idea of self-care and preservation is based on a process of utilizing healing as the means to achieving one’s

desired goals.  It is not exactly something that I actually sat down and formulated, but rather the development of

understanding how to best move myself from a place of pain, confusion and uncertainty to a safer, more

balanced and healthier state of being.  I became aware of self-preservation at a young age

because of the disruption and turmoil in my home.  My mother became involved in another relationship

with a married man (after divorcing my father) when my sister, Pat, was 7 and I was 2.  Within two years

our brother Benjamin was born and his father, Gus Nickles, practically moved in with us.  It wasn’t long

before “the siege of suffering” began.  This was manifest through frequent, loud and frightening

arguments that interrupted our sleep almost nightly;  by violent, explosive physical encounters

between  my mother and Gus that we witnessed peeking through the staircase slats leading from

the upstairs to the living room and evidenced by the bruises and scars my mother sported from

her beatings.  My initial response was one of anger towards Gus and of protection for my mother; 

a rather vast expectation for  a young child.  Within another two years our brother Richard had joined the

clan and circumstances had only gotten worse.  Shortly after Richard’s arrival (1956) a decision had

been made to move us from Seattle, Washington to Houston, Texas to be near Gus’s family. 

Wow, you talk about colossal change!!!!!!!!


We arrived at the Houston Trailways Bus Terminal a couple of weeks before Christmas

after a 4-day marathon journey.  We were met by Gus’s sister, Aunt Julia, and I fell in love with her right away.  She greeted us with a raucous assessment, “I ain’t never seen such a raggedy, dusty bunch of vagabonds in my life!”  She loaded us into her huge, brand new Chrysler sedan and our journey into frighteningly unfamiliar territory began.  This move was our introduction to segregation and racism, something we had never experienced in our young lives.  It was unfamiliar, shocking and very unsettling to say the least.  We had attended church in Seattle, so were aware of Christian teachings and had some sense of a belief in God.  I found myself praying fervently for deliverance from this unfamiliar and unsettling situation.  Even though I was an outgoing and spunky kid I was also introspective and curious about why things were the way they were.  I began keeping a diary when I was 7 years old and captured my thoughts, feelings and ideas about how I interpreted the things that were happening around me.  I became a voracious reader and lover of music and discovered how I could escape my sad situation through them.  I created an “alternative universe” in which I resided which shielded me from the actual reality of daily living.  This ability made it possible for me to persevere and sustain myself through the trials and tribulations I was constantly challenged with.  School became a refuge, going to Church became a refuge and reading and listening to music moved me beyond the suffering I was actually experiencing.


I developed a protective armor around myself, based on my unshakeable belief that I could overcome my fear, that I could change the odds in my favor and truly experience a life of success, joy and fulfillment.  This idea became the template that structured my method of seeking understanding, acknowledging truth and strengthening my belief in my sense of self and acknowledging the presence of God’s grace in my life.  This became my modus operandi in how I lived my life from day to day and it was reinforced regularly by experiencing successful results.  The challenges I have endured in my life at first seemed insurmountable, but by applying the use of my life template I experienced success and accomplishment that I could not otherwise have imagined.  What I am expressing here is not at all theoretical. It is real, it is substantial and it works.  What makes it work is your profound faith in its possibility.  Like Dorothy  in the Wizard of Oz, it means "clicking your heels three times” and knowing that it will "get you back to Kansas.”  If you believe!  INDEED!  One of my favorite adages is:  “FAITH IS THE WILLINGNESS TO FACE THE FEAR OF DOING THE IMPOSSIBLE.”  I admonish you to open  your hearts to accept the power within you to achieve whatever you believe you can.  Take care, nourish your spirit and invest in acknowledging the power that you possess so you can realize the joy of self-awareness and and making your dreams come true. 



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