Long Walk To Healing
Willow Constantine’s relationship with cannabis wasn’t always a happy one but she now regards the plant as a key companion in her journey to managing the complexities of life, love and happiness.
I want to share a discovery that seems simple yet holds a seed of important wisdom: the things I resisted most have brought about the most profound healing. In short, this is the story of how I had to overcome my own prejudice, fear and conditioning to benefit from a deeply healing cannabis experience.
You see, my father was the archetypal seventies hippie. Inside our Alaskan cabin, there was a secret door that led to a secret room where he nurtured a thriving indoor marijuana plantation. He railed against governments in a manner that bordered on anarchy. He simply couldn’t understand why the tyrant Ronald Regan was waging war against a plant.
I found him deeply embarrassing. As a young adult, I refused his multiple requests to share a joint. He used to call me a Republican, which, to his mind, was a four-letter word. When I had parties, my friends crowded around my dad, smoking joints and listening with rapt attention to the crazy stories of his unusual life. Inevitably, they all wanted a dad like mine and I just wanted a normal father.
Thanks to what he called ‘radical freedom parenting’, I was blessed with an early sense of independence: I travelled alone through South America at 21, went to university whilst exploring the globe, then settled in Cape Town. I smoked a few times along the way but it was unpleasant: I was beset by this weird paranoia - a perfect form of resistance.
In time, I got married and gave birth to two beautiful boys less than 2 years apart. I knew I was blessed but also felt like I’d transformed into a Baby Slave - not a job title I’d willingly applied for. I became depressed, was told I needed chronic medication and was so depleted that I acquiesced.
Despite the calming effect of the meds, I still craved the space to be the raw, authentic, wild me. Luckily, I was afforded the opportunity to travel solo to Namibia, to view luxury game lodges for Bespoke, my travel company. My husband would look after the boys while I enjoyed my first days of freedom. After an eventful trip – which was extended to two weeks due to various delays – I finished my time in Namibia at The Nest: an award-winning lodge in the Namib Tsaris Conservancy. Designed by Porky Hefer and Swen Bachran, and inspired by the principles of biomimicry and sociable weaver bird nests, it provided a haven of curved thatched walls that felt womb-like in their containment.
It was then that my anti-depressants ran out: I simply had not planned for the possibility of delays so, as one does, I Googled how to come off my medication. Several hours of research revealed that I had a few things on hand to manage the impending anti-depressant withdrawal: Omega-3 oils, dark chocolate, oxygen drops, and good-quality marijuana. Giving myself free rein to focus solely on myself, I smoked every evening, slept until lunchtime every day, prepared beautiful meals, listened to the silence and sat with my difficult emotions. I swam. I sat in the sun. I wrote and wrote and wrote. Over dinner, I laughed and danced and philosophised.
At the end of my time there, I was healed. I have never gone back onto anti-depressants and truly hope I never will. In hindsight, I feel the universe (or whatever you want to call it) placed me there to benefit from the healing effect of being nested, sleeping, and smoking. It was an experience I will never forget.
Since then, I’ve had to surrender to the fact that my marriage is over; my business has collapsed under the stress of coronavirus, and that living in lockdown challenges my passion for freedom on a very base level. There have been many moments of me on my knees, sobbing until my breath runs out and pacing the hallways through endless, sleepless nights.
But change is inevitable and a seismic shift happened the day I did a canna-nidra yoga class with KushKush. After a gentle vinyasa and a couple of puffs of a joint, we moved into a guided yoga nidra (sleeping) meditation. It was deeply profound: with every breath, I discovered within me the strength I needed to regenerate. Rebirth suddenly seemed possible, informed by a connection to my own knowing. I knew that if I could just remain present, the building blocks of my new life would be revealed to me, one tiny moment at a time.
With this in mind, I now follow a multi-pronged approach: I use CBD oil to facilitate sleep when the anxiety of an unknown future overwhelms me. I am learning to be available to each moment as it arises. I breathe. I do yoga. I run in the mountains. I appreciate the stolen moments of freedom in nature. I make the most of nesting in my beautiful home.
In essence, I am grateful that cannabis has been my constant companion through various healing crises. I am inspired by the power of serendipity to place me in the right place, at the right time. If I could have one wish for humanity, it would be that we could shed our conditioning and think more freely to respond authentically to our own needs and live a more holistic life.
Perhaps your healing journey includes cannabis. Perhaps it does not. The lesson for me is that if you can learn to overcome your own resistance, you’ll see that miracles are very real.
Words: Willow Constantine
Photographs: Frederick Von Heyer
What a beautiful, authentic sharing for the world. Thank you
Words that resonate on so many levels…thank you for sharing🙏✌🏻
Thank you for this. I have a family member who has struggled and is just beginning their journey similar to yours. We needed this support.