Beginning at the End

I have been back in the US for three days and, if I am completely honest, I hate it. I don’t necessarily want to be back in Haiti, but things were monumentally easier there. It was easier to maintain the sort of headspace that I need there and easier to explain my desire to sit in a chair and stare out at the world.

I have physically been out of the djevo for just about two weeks, and, as a result, about two weeks into what my manmi calls my quarantine period. Immediately post-kanzo is a tenuous time, and so we have a lot of restrictions that keep us safe until we are a bit more stable. There are things I cannot eat, behaviors I cannot engage in, times of day/night that I cannot be out during, and even the way I sleep is pretty drastically altered for the moment.

I didn’t think much about what the post-kanzo period would be like. I figured life would go on and I would feel relatively normal, but boy was I wrong. I feel anything but what used to be normal because I am no longer the person I was pre-kanzo. A lot of things have shifted on the inside and I am not used to it yet. I was very protected in Haiti, and here I am largely on my own. I told my godfather the other night that I feel as if I am made of porcelain, and that’s very true. Everything feels like it could crush me, and some things could if I am not careful.

I am tired a lot and spend a lot of time doing nothing. My godfather cautions me not to do too much or get too tired, and I feel grateful that my quarantine period is enforced downtime. I can’t imagine jumping back into life as usual right away. Of course, I have no idea what life as usual means anymore because the person who went into the djevo is not the person who came out.

Kanzo is both an ending and a beginning. It is a death in a very real sense–who I was before died in the djevo and a new person walked out. It’s like a huge restart button was pushed and the door firmly closed on who and what I was beforehand. There’s no going back. It all tastes like ash.

Significantly, I have very much shut the door on a female identity. I was baptized as an oungan, a male priest, and a large piece of my kanzo was literally purging female-ness from who I am. Significantly, I got my period in the djevo and was almost a week early with it, which never ever happens to me–I am always late. As I prepared to go into the djevo, I chatted with priests in my sosyete about my worry about menstruating while I was inside. A good friend and manbo noted that menstruation is a purging of sorts, and that perhaps I needed to purge things related to my gender. Certainly plenty of men menstruate, but there is no denying the significance for me in that context. I think my friend was right.

And here I am. I have a new name, a new identity, a new course in life (though I don’t yet know what it is), a new family, new responsibilities, and a new self to figure out. I have a LOT to process and write about, and I have a life to build back up. I am currently jobless and homeless (staying with generous friends), and I am largely a blank slate. I showed up in Haiti with nothing to call my own except a few boxes in storage and my spirits and divinities. I have a little more now, but I have a ton of work to do. I got lifted out of a hole and It’s my responsibility not to dig myself back in.
Of all the things I have gained from kanzo so far, the first and foremost has been an incredible sense of gratitude for how the last month has unfolded. I didn’t think I would make it, but I did.


~ by Alex on August 6, 2016.

2 Responses to “Beginning at the End”

  1. Congratulations!

  2. Glad to see your words again.

    Glad that you are new.

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