Aruba Red: I Believe That Story Medicine Is One Of The Most Powerful Healing Tools We All Have Within Our Grasp

by Aruba Red

3rd March, 2021

Growing up, I dealt with a lot of anxiety. I clearly remember as a young child thinking that people could “hear” my thoughts and this terrified me. I struggled with my emotions, change, confidence and making friends. Aged 9, moving to a new school, my panic attacks got so bad that I was missing more classes than attending. Each morning for several weeks, I would vomit uncontrollably until I was sent home. I still don’t have the answers as to exactly why this overwhelming anxiety gripped my young life. I do have some idea though, I grew up loved by people who didn’t know how to love themselves. Drama, shouting, fights and arguments were commonplace, dinner on the wall of the kitchen or having to walk on eggshells trying to keep the peace. It wasn’t all bad, there were wonderful times and happy memories but the legacy of addiction and co-dependency took its toll on me. I kept everything inside, I had no idea that other people may be going through similar experiences and had nobody to share any of this with. We lived extremely remotely in a big house in the countryside, got to travel, meet interesting people, ate organic food and good grades were expected of us. We grew up in a world of privilege, built on the foundations of psychological deprivation. I did not know what healthy love was, or that it was something that you could choose or cultivate.

I ended up marrying a man whose energy vibrated on the same wavelength as the worst parts of my childhood. In a twisted way, this is what I was familiar with, what felt like home. The drama, turbulence and abuse escalated throughout our ten-year relationship. Deep down I knew there was more to life than this. I just didn’t know how to get there.

I had always expressed myself through writing poetry and songs. In secret at first, too shy and afraid of judgement to share my words, but after moving to London as a teenager, I was drawn to the open-mic scene and began to shed my inhibitions. I learned how therapeutic it could be to connect with other musicians. I quickly began writing and recording music and working with some great producers and was scouted for a project at the Southbank Centre by Nitin Sawhney. A well-known manager picked me up and I felt like things were happening. Unfortunately, this manager manipulated a lot of money out of me, after which he ghosted me. Off the back of this, my then-boyfriend became my new manager. Over the next few years things continued building and I was touring, playing festivals and getting grass-roots radio support. It was an exciting time but behind the scenes, things were a mess and I was drowning, trying to keep things looking “normal” from the outside. In effect, repeating those age-old cycles I had modelled my idea of adulting on. Eventually, my ex coerced me to stop making music. I was worn down by his comments about my lack of talent and inability to write hit songs. Shouldered with mounting debt from his gambling addiction, I relented and gave up music, taking on two extra jobs to try to keep us afloat.

During that time my father died and I became a mother and things started to change. During this transformative time, I saw the other side. Those thin spaces where the veils between this world and the next are at their most translucent, I felt God, the very fabric of the universe, shrouding my world in the ethereal glow of grief and new-found motherhood. The illusions began to fall and when I discovered a long-held secret unravelling a decade of lies, the blinkers were finally fully removed. I could see clearly for the first time. I saw my parent’s relationship, my grandparent’s relationship. I suddenly understood everything.

That clarity of thought gave me the strength to break free and completely transform my life. It took two years of therapy, celibacy, self-healing, many books, YouTube videos and guided meditations, affirmations, yoga and so much work and practice to create the life I wanted. It was so incredibly worth it. My new reality still blows my mind daily. I managed to break those intergenerational chains and create a stable, healthy and wholesome reality for myself and my son. It has been said that the woman who manages to heal herself, heals seven generations of her lineage and that was such huge motivation for me. I want these ripples to spread out continuously, motivating other people stuck in the programming of their childhoods to know that life can be different. Once our basic needs are met, we can choose to be happy!

I have come to understand that a huge part of my healing journey was music and story medicine. My music is hugely autobiographical and literally documents my journey.

After tasting freedom, I came back to song-writing with renewed energy and poured my experiences into my two most recent EPs, Holy Waters and Shadow Work. I delve into pregnancy, birth, motherhood, my relationship to the moon, PTSD, healing from narcissistic abuse, learning how to take responsibility for my happiness, using painful lessons to create divine blessings, stepping away from victim consciousness, self-love, celebrating the divine feminine, manifesting a wonderful new relationship and much more… Phew!

These projects are my diary, my truth, my stepping stones to freedom. I encourage everyone to spend some time getting creative with their pain and their joy. To really sit with it and allow yourself to truly feel your feelings all the way through and then use that to express yourself. It can literally be free writing for 5 minutes per day, singing, dancing, creating poetry, painting. It doesn’t matter what it is and nobody even has to ever see it, but let these things escape from your body. Don’t let anything get stuck. Alongside the power of creativity, story medicine helped me realise that I was not alone. Stumbling across online communities of people who had experienced similar dynamics to me, really opened my eyes to the realisation that I was by no means alone. I had felt so very lonely growing up, always masking my true feelings, my deep hurt. Now I understand how common this is and I’ve tasted sweet forgiveness.

I have gone on to weaving what I call ‘Story Medicine’ into regular practices for myself and my friends and as part of the radical birth keeper and healing work I am involved in alongside my music. I am now a wellness circle facilitator, I also support women who have had traumatic birth experiences. Listening to each other tell our stories, without interruption, without judgement and advice, is such a powerful tool to instigate so much magic. Sitting in a circle with people and holding space for everyone to share their truth reveals so much, our common ground, our shared humanity, the shame and guilt so many of us hold, the desire for more support and more community. I used this philosophy of openness and the ability to share, for my new project Inspiration Behind The Tracks.

In the 7-part series, I discuss some of the themes within 7 of the songs I
performed at my debut headline show at St Pancras Old Church on 11th March 2020, just before the first lockdown changed all our worlds. The series includes footage from the gig as well as leaving the audience with uplifting positive affirmations at the end of each episode. I truly believe that story medicine is one of the most powerful healing tools we all have within our grasp. I hope that you can find or cultivate spaces where you can freely share your own medicine and set your stories free.

Aruba Red’s online series Inspiration behind the tracks is available now.

The live album Live at St Pancras Church is released on the 11th March, and you can pre-order it here.

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