Deep breath here.
It has been so long that I haven't visited this blog, or written. Many folks in the SJF fan and family base have wondered if we fell off the earth. There have been many moons since we have created any new music, or done regular shows. Our drop off the radar happened about 4 years ago. This note is intended to explain, and to thank those who have checked in, sent love, and just been present for us as we sorted through it all. I write this note because I have finally come to a place of wanting to share my experience with you, and hopefully my story will inspire you to always know your worthiness of health and healing.
About three years ago, I was diagnosed with severe and complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It was a cumulative illness, with it's beginnings in my very early childhood, and many events of the years leading up to rock bottom in 2011 were contributing factors. As a nervous system illness, PTSD can happen from a single, traumatic event, such as jumping from a burning building, or witnessing a horrible accident. Complex PTSD, as it's name indicates, arrives after many different incidents begin to network in the nervous system, and trigger across stimulation patterns, arising from many different events, accumulating over time.
I had accumulated traumas from very young. Many of us do. Despite loving and caring parents, well meaning friends, a healthy environment, for some of us it just happens. Nobody is to blame for this. It is a part of life.
I have come to recognize that many of the beautiful people around me are coping with past trauma, and many of us just live with it. I think we can be high functioning folks with strong coping skills, and just continue on with life, functioning essentially with a part of our brain not working. And then it might take a major incident to finally tip the balances, so that the normal coping tools simply aren't big enough or strong enough to manage any more.
For me, the final take-down was when our newborn became very ill, in February of 2011. After she recovered, I didn't. I stopped functioning in a normal way. My world ground to a halt. If you attended any of our shows that year, you would have seen Paul and Dorant setting up my instruments and mic. What you didn't know was long after I was supposed to have arrived for showtime, instead I sat at home paralyzed and sobbing, unable to leave the house. I would show up late, sing into the mic that Dorant had set at exactly my height, play the bass that Paul had tuned and set up, and leave as soon as we finished. Then I would lay in bed for two days, my body in so much pain I could barely set my feet on the floor. This was a year of homeschooling my older babe and nursing a newborn - while barely knowing which way was up. It was suffocating, and I felt myself fading into a very dark place.
After months of living in a dense fog, of unopened mail and unanswered phone calls, a friend of mine saw that I was in a crisis. She recommended that I phone someone for help immediately - which I did. In my first visit with the most incredibly talented trauma therapist I could have asked for, Amanda asked me to write down all of the traumas I had endured in my lifetime. We then put them on a timeline spanning nearly 40 years. It was shocking - the numbers, the crazy patterns - all of it. There were 13 different themes of trauma - car accidents, violence, fire among them. It was the first time I had ever seen it all in black and white. I talk about it in a more candid fashion on my blog at www.waymatea.com. Here does not feel like the place for the details.
It took many months, but with treatments such as EMDR and many sessions of therapy, I am so grateful to tell you that I am fully whole. My nervous system is restored. My feeling of overwhelm, grief, panic, shutdown is mostly gone. Sometimes it shows up - like the other day at the airport when customs pulled my bags apart, I started to feel sweaty, and my heart started to pound. I began to shake, and sometimes it gets so big that it looks like a seizure. But this happens so rarely now, and I know how to manage it on the spot. I have my angel therapist Amanda, my ministry class, my friends, my family, and my brothers in Souljah Fyah to thank for my recovery. I now walk this beautiful earth with a firm step, a clear mind and an open heart and I am so grateful to all who stepped in and helped me through this healing journey.
I want to share that above all, this has been a spiritual experience - an awakening for me, that I can't imagine not having gone through. I thank Spirit every day for all that this has shown me. My heart is open, and I seek to speak my truth now from a comfort within my own skin. I love my life - crazy, chaotic, magnificent, magical - I absolutely love it.
In all of the transformation, the men in Souljah Fyah - Dorant, Paul, Norm and Bongbiemi - have stood around me and had my back like heroes. They have never waivered. They supported me by giving me room, never judging my chronic cancellations, sending me kind notes, and at some times, holding space for me while I had major emotional breakdowns. I could have never imagined that I would be loved in this way by these men in my life. I feel tears welling up as my heart is overflowing with love and gratitude for them.
Our band is alive and well. We are experiencing some shifts, but we are stronger for them. We love each other and will continue to make music together as life presents different stages and changes. We are so very thankful for our beautiful fans and family who continue to support us and love us. What an amazing gift you are.
In two weeks, we are heading to Jamaica to write some new music together. We are excited about what this will bring to us. Going to Jamaica will teach us in the most organic and natural way what we are wanting to know....
How Spirit and Music are one.
How a message of Love and Unity Consciousness is what will save us all.
How Love and Light are what the world needs now, more than ever before.
We hope you will send us your well wishes as we embark on this trail of TRUTH and RIGHTS - LOVE and UNITY - STRENGTH and COURAGE - JOY and COMPASSION.
ONE LOVE from all of us in the SJF camp. 13 years strong. Forward.
Waymatea "Sista J" Ellis