Unclipping my wings

You may know him better as Malala’s father. The young Pakistani activist shot in the face at point blank range all because as a girl, she dared to go to school. Somehow she survived the horrific attack. A testament that miracles do happen. And yesterday I was listening to her father Ziauddin Yousafzai describe his daughter with such pride while describing the plight of women in a culture that does not value them. How they learn obedience at the threat of death, even by the hands of their own families, if they dare to step outside the cultural norms. To Ziauddin’s amazing credit, Malala was raised differently. Malala was raised to believe in the value of herself as a person. Value not gender based but simply because as a human being she has inherent worth. As we all do.

And when Ziauddin was asked how he achieved this, he simply said ‘it’s not what I did, it’s what I didn’t do. I didn’t clip her wings’.

It got me to thinking how many of us have had our wings clipped. And while it may not be as obvious as what happens in other places, in our own way many of us still learn obedience. We learn to live according to another’s expectations. We learn to deny who we truly are. I believe this is true for both genders. And it happens in many ways. And I believe it’s part of what causes our troubles.
Take our health for example. We learn from a young age that health is something that comes in a pill. Or via a needle. Never are we encouraged to realise that health is something we can create (or recreate) from within. By slowing down, making different choices, exploring different pathways, learning to value ourselves, becoming connected, learning to live with meaning and purpose, learning to live as a new version of our previous selves. Instead we learn obedience to the powers that be.
Or it may be that we learn to live our lives according to the needs and desires of others. That we feel disconnected from who we really are. What we really want. What matters most to us. What our heart desires. Again, when we give up our needs, our desires to the dictates of another, we are living with clipped wings. And in these circumstances we can’t possibly maintain our health for long.
When I read that people who receive psychological and social or emotional support during treatment lower the risk of cancer recurrence and dying by approximately 50 percent, I wonder, why is that not publicised? When we’re told that radiation or chemo or tamoxifen can boost our survival by x,y and z percentages, why is this area, where we can do so much to support our own healing, ignored on the conveyor belt of western cancer treatment? And we don’t even know to question it. Instead we obediently hand the responsibility of our health over to ‘experts’. Our wings have been clipped.
You know the beautiful thing about clipped wings? Feathers can regrow. A major part of my own healing was to reverse the damage of my clipped wings. To learn to live anew. With new choices. Valuing myself and what I could do to protect my own health in a way I’d never learned to before. Becoming connected. Healing old wounds. Working out what was important to me and then taking steps to make it happen.
Understanding that I had a role to play whether it was consciously or not in the decline of my health meant now I could now choose something different…

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