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  • Writer's picturefran de la luna

Fishermen's Friend Mint Lozenges & A-ma

Updated: Mar 10, 2020

Note to reader: As opposed to the title of this series, I did not cook Fishermen’s Friend Mint Lozenges, nor am I endorsing anything about these lozenges. This is however an important post because it relates to a recent incident that happened to me, pitting me into a life crisis, of which I am working hard to recover from.

I have been self-tormenting and self-censoring, not knowing how to continue this series of writing, that I have decided to so openly share, about my traumas, my life, my relational mistakes and learnings, and more than anything, the long-lasting impacts abuse of all kinds that continue to reside within the deep veins, the tentacles of abuse so strongly hooked onto my intestinal walls that all I can could do in the last while was vomit.

However, with every purge also comes the forcefulness of clarity.Accepting the invitation of the waning crescent moon, I chose to surrender; to the words that have been storming within me, asking for every opportunity to leave my body, so I may rest and sleep. And then continue to let the creativity within my battered heart, be able to create some loving life again. I admit. I am a cheesy, romantic writer to myself. I savour words of practical loving. Words that motivates loving actions.

(Here is a loving action):Please support the Wet’suwet’en Peoples, Hereditary Chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en Nation, the Mohawk Nation with these resources that have been tirelessly provided so you can do something from your computer. Thank you to all who put so much energy into protecting the precious and beautiful lands and water. This is the supporter toolkit. Consider going directly to the camp. to Unist’ot’en. them through the wishlist.


Middle image of a sailing wooden ship with white sails surrounded by seagulls. Ship faces to the right towards a bearded fisherman in yellow fishing clothes that takes up all the space on the right side, pun intended. The words Lofthouse’s original flies across the top of the tin box while the words Fishermen’s Friend boxes at the bottom third of the tin box. (Source: pinterest)
Vintage Fishermen's Friend tin box

For the last 6 months, Fishermen’s Friend mint lozenges have become my best friend on managing my trauma. I recently fought and escaped an assaulter who made it unsafe for me to return to my home. As a result, I ran away with one olive green backpack, and it would be my “home” for several months.I was homeless…physically, emotionally and relationally.I was homeless…again.

And Fishermen’s Friend mint lozenges were the only things I found safety with. The crinkling of the metallic seal-pack and the sharp pokey edges, which I keep putting my right index finger to, reminded me that I was alive.In the midst of each dis-associative moment, I would open the small pack and immediately whiffed the sugary puff, take one out and a deep breathe…before putting it into my mouth. Reminds me of grandma’s medicated oil (Safety) except it was very edible.

Chew, suck, chew, bite, bite, bite, bite, why, why, why,

what happened, chew, chew, bite bite, why, why, what, what, why, bite,bite…

I forgot to breathe

I’m holding my breath.

I’m holding my breath.

I’m holding my breath.

I’m holding my breath.

I’m forcing my breath

I smelled the mint in my nose and suddenly, I let out a long and deep sigh. Reminds me of 阿媽(“a-ma” — grandmother). The Axe brand medicated oil that I would often put on my chest when I needed comfort. It was fragrance…and freeze-frame memories repeating the images of A-ma, of trust, of safety, holding me and telling me how much she loves me. Like many stories I know, I too also love my more than I could love my own.

Spiritual trust of my grandma’s soul and memories of them were the “roots” of the house I found and carried. My A-ma would never allow me to go back. She was an artist, a musician behind the opera. She was dazzling. She tried leaving an unhappy relationship for another one that she thought would bring her happiness, only to find herself back in the family, and living out a life of many misunderstandings. The last time I saw my A-ma, before she locked hands with cancer eternally, she looked at me with eyes I remembered, the loving eyes of care and support, the one who understood me as her descendant, and mumbled with a voice that felt softer than the fall of a maple leaf, “YOU ARE BACK”.

Each time I panicked, I reached for these lozenges. YOU ARE BACK. Every time I thought I was about to lose it, I reached for these lozenges. YOU ARE BACK. They were always there, reminding me that I was still ok. YOU ARE BACK. I was still moving. I was still thinking and most importantly, feeling. YOU ARE BACK.

In the last few years of learning about my trauma responses, I have learnt a lot about how I respond to “trigger calmers” and to my non-surprise, making and eating food have been the most calming for me. In addition, music. In preparing each meal, I find my body “dancing” to memories of songs in my head. I would chop, dice, slice, carve often to rhythms of songs I love and shake my body shamelessly. In a way, I had the best of three worlds. Music, food, and dance, the pleasures of life that must always be celebrated. And what better way to find some joy while calming yourself down? It was also the closest I could get to my safe person, my A-ma.

But it is not easy. A dear friend recently reminded me of “the wave”. You know? The ones where you feel fine one moment and then completely flattened the next? Like opera, the duality of dramatic moments fall not only when things are hard, but with celebration as well. For some people, managing comes with taking a day at a time. Living with C-PTSD is a moment to moment survival. You know when people say, tomorrow will be a better day? I usually go for the next moment will be a safer moment.

And back to Fishermen’s Friend. Remember the long sigh I had after smelling the mint? That is now a practical metaphor of survival. Remembering to breathe. And remembering to thank the herbs that created safety for me. Remembering the memory of grandma who used medicated herbal oils. Remembering that I am still alive. Remembering that life can be refreshed. Remembering a-ma, my ancestor who have always taught me safety in her own ways, in my own body.

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