Unreserved

Tracy Bone: From self-discovery to recovery

Tracy Bone’s life is like a country song. She has loved, she has lost, she has hurt and been hurt. And through her journey of self-discovery she is taking responsibility for it all.

A journey of mental well-being and healing

Tracy Bone returns to music after a long hiatus and self-recovery. (Facebook)
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This episode originally aired on April 17, 2016

Tracy Bone's life is like a country song. She has loved, she has lost, she has hurt, she has been hurt. And through her journey of self-discovery she is taking responsibility for it all.

"I had to have my hand in everything and control everything and everyone around me," said Bone, an Ojibway country music singer.

She admitted she was co-dependent, and said it stemmed from growing up in an environment where she had no control of the people or things happening around her. From having no control as a child, she grew into an adult who had to control everything. 

Nominated for a Juno award for her debut album, No Lies, Bone has recently returned from a hiatus from the music industry. Her last album, Woman of Red, was released in 2012.

Healing journey

Her healing journey began when she decided to leave her husband and her daughters to take some time to look after herself. She travelled to South Dakota to spend time with her adopted family.  

Bone spent 10 months on the poorest reservation in America — Pine Ridge. The same reservation where the Wounded Knee Massacre of over 200 Lakota women, children and men took place in 1890. The same reservation where in 1973 there was a 71-day armed standoff between federal agents and members of the American Indian Movement.
Tracy Bone (Kristen Almer, Facebook)

But even when Bone decided to leave her family behind to try to fix her behaviour, she was still in denial there was anything wrong with her.

"It was actually my adopted family ... If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't have even been able to open my [eyes] to be able to look at myself."

Looking for answers

Alcoholism and neglect were some of the factors driving Bone's need for control, but it took her awhile to accept that she needed help. Initially, Bone planned on staying at Pine Ridge for three months — but her healing journey stretched to 10.

"When I was young, I used to cut myself," she said. "I'd cut my arms all the way sometimes just to feel. I didn't understand why I did it, I just did it because I saw it."

Bone recalled the first time true feelings of emotion came to her. It was during her stay in South Dakota.

"I felt like I was dying. I physically felt a burning in my chest all the way through. And it hurt so bad I felt like it was imploding," she said, clenching her fist to her chest, eyes closed.

"I found my feelings. I numbed myself for so long and that comes from that legacy of residential school, that intergenerational trauma."

Breaking the cycle

It took Bone a long time to figure out that she did need to change, that she was broken. It was the love for her children that drove her determination to break the cycle. She dug deep inside of herself, and turned her world upside down so she could figure out how to not only help herself, but help her children.
Tracy Bone is currently recording a new album. (Facebook)

"Everything I ever knew, everything I was ever taught — it was the opposite of that," she said. 

"I saw that cycle and that's what opened my eyes. This can't happen anymore," said Bone.

"I don't own my children. They're a gift to me. I was a dictator to them. I wasn't supportive of them. Just because I would take them to their classes and whatever, we didn't have a relationship."

New beginning

Bone managed to save her relationship with her daughters. Her marriage didn't survive though.

"If I didn't decide to break that cycle, I would be leaving that for them."

Bone is currently back in the studio, working on her third album. She returned to making music only after examining that part of herself too: Was she singing for attention or did she really love performing?

"When I asked myself that, even now to think about that, I can feel it in my heart. It feels warm and it feels right and every time I do sing, I connect and it's a healing for me."