this is not about being missing.
this is not about sexual violence.
this is not about being physically abused.
this is not about being murdered.
there is a long gap between that windigoism and the one i want to continue unpacking today.
i wished i would not have been so naive. as a 30 some year old it’s embarrassing to think about being so naive. i wish someone had of told me that windigoism exists in us as humans and to be wary of it’s presence.
maybe i knew this and i was blinded by something else.
in fact, i think yes, i was.
if i’m to be honest, i have to say yes, i was.
blinded by altruism; by commitment to decoloniality; being responsible; and, by being recognized by someone i admired.
oh, to be recognized by someone you admire.
i used to be in friend-love with this anishinaabe woman. i thought she was a friend. i respected her. i admired her. i trusted her. i gave her everything thinking we were doing community together. i never thought she was using me for her own agenda until i did and by that time, it was done and i was there shaking my head thinking what the fuck just happened.
the first time i got a whiff of something sketchy, i discounted it. actually, i didn’t discount it. i blamed myself — i turned on myself and thought that there must be something wrong with me in thinking negative things about a friend. i thought i was being arrogant. i thought my thinking was distorted. i thought there was something wrong with me.
when something happened again, again i shooed my negative thoughts, interpretations, inklings away. she was my friend, our children were friends. we ceremonied, worked, gossiped, laughed together. we had community and were a part of emergent community.
when something happened again…
finally, i decided to trust my reading of things. i decided to say something in a round-about way. i said, “i remember sharing these ideas in our conversations on a few occasions.” friend skirted and never said anything. i’ve learned people with certain kinds of power get to hide behind silence while those who have questions or are unsettled or have less power do the labour of trying to make sense of a shitty thing they’ve done.
later, when friend disregarded my needs on a project i invited her to participate in with me and then tried to advance her own agenda of advancing her friend, that was it. i had enough. i said my words and things imploded. i was the asshole. the friendship and all the community associated with it, ended, just like that.
it took me over a year to understand what happened. but things didn’t just ‘end’ like relationships do—this person was not done with me.
gossip, sharmy moves in publications, etc. etc.—various forms of ambient violence ensued.
you think you are going crazy. you wonder wtf is happening. wtf did i do to deserve this?
you realize what you did was refuse to be their compliant, unquestioning source. you realize that what you did was say no. you realize that the moment you realized your work, your thinking, your passion, your spirit is your homefire and not up for exploitation or theft by others and the moment this led to a hand up in refusal was the moment of truth—you were just a source. nothing more, nothing less. you realize that what you did was carry on living the life you were living before they came towards you performing friendship but really mobilizing an agenda and that that pissed them off. as though how dare you carry on…
when something like this happens with a person who—in a capitalist society is of more worth than you—nobody listens to you about the underbelly shit. they don’t because they are caught up in what they want, in what they want to believe. it’s easier to cast the victim-who-speaks as the crazy, jealous, competitive, aggressive, out-to-lunch problematic one. we see that dynamic play out all. the. time.
so be it.
feed the windigo but own your part in it when it gets out of hand.
or, test it: set a boundary, ask a tough question, say no. see how windigoism responds. pro-tip: wait for the performative stage to pass. just wait and see what happens when you hold to account or say no or withdraw your own light and limit access.
whatever you do, whenever someone signals the windigo to you, don’t discount it. don’t cling to whatever bit of desperate is in you to not see it. just recognize that, as a wise, tapped-in anishinaabe woman once told me, we all have that windigo-potential in us. it is evident in some but it could be me, or you, too. we need to be disciplined and aware and truly grounded–striving to be grounded–in who we are and in the homefires we come into this world as spirit burning for.