How did I get on this carpet?

Life is such an amazing and beautiful thing. Ceaselessly astonishing and surprising to me. The mystery of it all continues to amaze me each and every day. Experiencing and interacting with the Divine and the Divine’s sense of humor has, often simultaneously, brought me to my knees in gut-wrenching sobs while feeling the embrace of Love and Compassion as I sit there crumpled up in a ball of snotting, overwhelming emotion and awareness of Truth and how far from and close to it I am, sometimes all at once.

Every time I experience an opportunity for some significant jump in growth and dedicate myself to pursuing that jump, to embracing it before and around me, to unfold and become more of my True Self Momma and Papa inevitably call me to the carpet about it – usually within a 24 hr period. That call typically manifests in the form of some challenge. The Divine is ALWAYS listening, and while I imagine They hoot and holler and cheer for us when we make such declarations of dedication to change and healing and are ready and willing to coach us and walk through the whole sticky, messy, and some times painful process of it with us, They are compassionate enough to test us first, to provide us an ‘out’, to make sure we really mean it. My challenge after taking up the mantle of Love and Gratitude on my crusade of anti-negativity showed up in the form of our almost 21 year old son behaving like a complete douche and, well, a typical 21 yr old male with a history of trauma who has only just begun the healing process.

The incident itself is less important than was my response to it. Now, perhaps it’s my Irish ancestry at work, but I am a temperamental being who also happens to be, among other things, relentless, willful and headstrong. It’s a delicious combination of traits (I’m not being sarcastic – really, it is marvelous), and one of the mysteries is that just those four traits can comingle in myriad different measures to produce an astounding number of different reactions and responses. Some healing and creative, some…well, not so much. On this particular occasion, they coalesced and manufactured a river of lava, a veritable flow of fury that simmered below the surface and threatened to geiser at the slightest misstep or lack of adequate contrition on our son’s part. I spent the whole of yesterday walking around in restless agitation, justifying my emotional state by reminding myself of our son’s inappropriate demanding, ungrateful, disrespectful, and bitchy behavior. Replaying the scene of our argument on a movie reel in my mind with extra attention and encore performances of the part where he called my wife (his mother) a “crazy lady.” Like a school yard bully, I aimed a steely eyeball at him (when I deigned to look upon his face) throughout the day, my ears on high alert like a cat’s ready to pounce at the smallest nuance of attitude. I didn’t try to move past the mad. I reveled in it, keeping it barely managed.

By 11pm last night, I was exhausted.  I’d already taken an hour and a half nap earlier in the day, confused as to why I was so tired. It wasn’t until just before bef time that I remembered how tiring being angry was. My wife and I were sitting on the back patio, and she asked me what was up because I seemed not okay. I replied saying I was still angry. She then inquired as to why I hadn’t been able to let go of my mad. The conversation that ensued entailed my wife, as ambassador for the Goddess and God, calling me to the carpet and reminding me of my crusade as well as poignantly asking how I was doing with that right now? Oh, a Divine touche! Well, hell. I was gloriously sucking at it. Hahaha!  How marvelous!  What a wonderful opportunity to grow! Throughout our conversation, I reaffirmed several important tenets I have promised to uphold: 1) I will always love our kids more than I will be mad at them, 2) I will ensure they are firm in this knowledge, and 3) the goal is to heal the person, not to simply change the behavior. I was still a little grumpy even at the end of the conversation, but it was a different kind of mad. It was the, ‘well, damn, I fucked that up and my emotions are not yet in perfect congruence with my goals and doesn’t that suck’ kind of grumpy. Yup, I fell off the Love and Gratitude wagon before I was even settled on to it. Good thing I’m relentless 😉

Today, as I think about yesterday, I simply find myself chuckling to and at myself. Oh, Jess, did you really think it was going to be easy? Of course I have to instill Love and Gratitude in myself before I can begin trying to create it around me. So today, I am dusting myself off from that little wagon stumbling incident yesterday and damned if I’m not going to get back on that wagon again!

Wherever you are in the beautiful process and journey that is your life, I hope for you the ability to chuckle at yourself when you fall – to not take it all so seriously as to discourage you from continuing on when you get those scrapes and bruises on your knees and shins from falling off whatever wagon you were trying to get or stay on. I hope for you a touch of relentlessness to urge you to keep trying in those times because truly, nothing ever gets better if you just give up.

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Expansions in the name of Love and Gratitude

At some point during the other day, I had a moment of clarity the likes of which I have only experienced a handful of times in my life. I had been listening to the short people in my house and L throughout the day and something was building up within me without my awareness. Like the sky parting after a long and tumultuous storm to reveal blueness so vivid that one swears the sky had never donned this vibrant shade before, it coalesced in my mind in words: negativity. Everywhere around me, the people I love and whose lives I am so honored to share and witness were a teaming bundle of complaints, whining, sniping, and irritability. I noticed it not only in them, but also in myself – either right before I would utter something or immediately after I thought or said it. As pervasive and present as noxious gas, it was everywhere I turned, in everything I heard. Knowing that complaining and negativity is the opposite of gratitude, and only serves to attract more of the same, I became angry; of course, only to realize minutes later that my anger only fed the negativity around me and wouldn’t help to heal these amazing people in asshole’s clothing or the situation so that wasn’t an option. The next part of the revelation occured when I began to pay closer attention to their behavior, to what they said and how they said it. And I found one common underlying theme to all of it: Fear.

I have learned that there are two (I guess technically three, but two are partners and on the “same side”) primary sources whose roots we can trace all of our decisions, thoughts, emotions and behaviors back to: 1) Fear, or its opposite 2) Love and Gratitude. Everything  (and I do mean everything) – from what you decide to wear each day to why you chose the career track you did to how you function and interact in relationship – comes back to one of these two concepts. Now, to be clear, I’m not saying all fear is “bad.” Fear, in its true form and not the hyped up anxiety we often mistake it for today, is a survival mechanism. It is one of the managers of the limbic system and the driver behind the flight/fight/or freeze response. But most stress management experts will tell you that our physiology hasn’t caught up with our modern environment. Rarely, unless one works in a dangerous and high-risk profession, is the fear that drives us today based on our immediate survival. It’s leftover from the days when it served that purpose but except in those rare occasions, its roots aren’t planted in survival. They’re planted in selfishness. AA brilliantly acknowledges this root of self- and other destruction in the famous Big Book and its 12-step program. It’s one of the main reasons why there is such a focus on service in the program and why, after one has reached a somewhat stable level of sobriety, one’s next step is to be a sponsor to someone else struggling. As a side note, the Big Book is brilliant in and of itself and I think everyone on the planet would benefit from reading it and walking through the 12 steps as well as learning the 12 traditions. For those of us without substance issues, there are any number of addictions we can substitute, if not the addiction to selfishness as a whole.

For the past several days, when I’m not herding children or cats or trying to figure out some way to not let the people I love make me crazy I’ve been reading a biography about a Franciscan priest who was a chaplain for the FDNY and died during the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11. I’m less than halfway through the book, and I can affirm to you that this man whom I never met in person has already dramatically changed my life in ways I am sure will continue to unfold for years to come. It’s called The Book of Mychal if you’re interested. Perhaps it’s the Christians I knew growing up or the one my parents attempted to groom me into becoming or my lack of experience with Christians who seem to truly LIVE their faith that makes the story of Father Mychal’s life that much more moving and awe-inspiring. But more than the type of Christian he was, the book (and he) is incredible because it describes the person he was. (A witchy parenthesis – it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if this man actually was Saint Francis reincarnated. That was a damn cool dude that particular time around to begin with.) He was a man of unfathomable love, devotion, compassion, and service.

So it is Father Mychal I think about when I look around my home and see the state of the people I love embroiled in negativity, weighted down in fear. And again, like a few other times so far in this life, I feel an expansion within myself. If I have the capacity to recognize the state of things, then I wholeheartedly believe that I have the capacity to heal them and make them better for us all. And perhaps that might mean expanding even more, but I fully believe I’m capable of that as well and that the opportunity would not be presented to me if it were otherwise.

 

Stripped & Unburdened part II: Perspective, compassion, and connectedness

This is the second part of what would have been a lengthy post – if you haven’t read the first part yet, you might want to do so here.

After more time had passed, though, I started to consider that maybe I could want and have friends again, but I told myself it wasn’t safe. I lied to myself saying that my world was too catastrophic and chaotic and anyone who came near me would just get hurt. It was (and is) all bull shit, of course, but I was still too afraid to acknowledge that the reason I wasn’t reaching out was because I was focused on all the differences between me and everyone else and was terrified of facing rejection and shame.

In psychological research (and, really, in most forms of research), there is an ethical danger called ‘congruence bias.’ It exists outside of research as well, and in every day cognition. It means that you find what you’re looking for simply because you’re looking for it; or, conversely, you don’t find what you’re looking for because the idea you have in mind is too specific. The thing is, it backfires both ways: 1) Frequently, we have very specific ideas as to what we’re looking for, and when we don’t find exactly that, we conclude that whatever “it” is, isn’t there. For example, let’s say you were looking for a screwdriver and it happened to have a red handle. You pull out the tool/junk drawer and start tossing things every which a way, and you cannot find the screwdriver. Then someone else comes along, opens the same drawer, and says that the screwdriver is right there, handing you one with a black handle. You would probably swear up and down that there was no screwdriver in that drawer 30 seconds ago – because you were looking for the red one. 2) Similarly, if you’re looking for and expecting people to behave a certain way, you’ll interpret all their behavior to match your thinking. Let’s say you think that everybody doesn’t like you. So when you walk into a group of people and someone happens to leave at the same time, you conclude they left because they didn’t like you even though that wasn’t necessarily the situation at all. Maybe they’d had to pee for the past hour but one of the other people in the group kept running their mouth and Mr. I-need-a-potty-break-NOW! was only able to escape because your arrival caught Ms. Mouthy’s attention and she shut up for a half a second giving Mr. Potty-break the escape he needed.  Make sense?

I don’t remember when I realized I had been doing this with my life exactly, but at some point in the last month and a half, I did. The Universe had been sending me little signs – showing me people who I would never think had seen and experienced the same kinds of things I had (not necessarily in the specifics, but general themes anyway), but they did. I’d been so focused on finding the differences between me and everyone that I encountered that I could not see the ways in which we were alike, the things we had in common, how we were connected. On a drive from (or to – doesn’t really matter) work, it coalesced in my space. What connects us (all) is ultimately more powerful than anything that can divide us. It is simply a matter of perspective.

Does this mean that the possibility of my being rejected by anyone who I decide to trust with some choice pieces of my history and experience has suddenly diminished? Maybe, but not necessarily. Maybe because of the new perspective I intend to take, I will draw people to me who would be accepting. And maybe not, but it doesn’t matter either. It certainly wouldn’t shock me. I recognize that a lot about me is a bit “out there” for most people, and that’s okay. What matters is that I breathe in the Truth of the power of our connection and live in that space. Whether others choose to see that or not is not my responsibility. We all behave from who we are, not at or to anyone around us. If someone I encounter is in such a place that they cannot recognize what I have recently discovered, I have a choice. Because I was in that space so very recently I remember distinctly how absolutely miserable it made me, I can choose to have compassion for them.

Thus, when I read of one of my new favorite blogger’s recent experience with discrimination, I was not surprised. Sadly, “A” has not yet come to learn what I recently have. I have been, at earlier times in my life (and still occasionally, though I try not to be), judgmental or intolerant in some way. And I’ve learned that I make my life and myself the poorer for it when I am. So while I empathize with Ollin, having experienced similar discrimination, I also have compassion for “A” because she probably has no idea of the internal consequences of her decision in her own space, not to mention that her blog will be all the poorer for the contribution she denied Ollin the opportunity to make. And I have compassion for her because of that loss of which she might not even be aware. What I found interesting was that when I was reading through all the comments Ollin’s readers made to his post in which he recounted this experience, I noticed that the comments that I interpreted as a little snarky toward “A” had me shaking my head in compassion for those individuals as much as hearing of “A’s” own action did. Perhaps its simplistic (not to mention unpopular) to think so, but at its root, I think the energy of those kinds of comments is as divisive as “A’s” action was.

I finally finished reading Eat, Pray, Love the other day, by the way. I had set it down for a while and it just seemed time to pick it up again. I’m sure that all this embracing of compassion has everything to do with what I’ve taken away from that book. I’m interested to see what else I’ve garnered from it, to watch it unfold in my space and my mind. The father of a mentor of mine used to finish every workshop he did by telling us that we were taking away and had received far more from our time together than we understood in that moment. I think the same is true for this book for me.

Moving forward, I realize that I have allowed the experience of these crises to result in an extreme and negative change for and in me thus far. I’m done with that now. From this point on, I intend to strip myself like a shameless menopausal woman in the midst of a personal summer of this fear and pain that I have been harboring and, instead, continue cultivating this new perspective on connectedness and compassion.

Stripped & Unburdened part I: Hiding behind fear and pain

After writing this post and realizing how long it was, I decided to split it into two parts to make for more easily digestable reading 🙂

When I was in grad school, I took a class on crisis intervention. Ironically, while I was taking it, my family and I were actually in crisis. I’m going to pause here for a moment because ‘crisis’ is one of those words like ‘depressed’ that has reached a point in our vernacular where it has been overused to the extent that its definition has gotten lost. Kind of like how socks manage to vanish between the washer and the dryer. In order for us all to be on the same page, then, I’ll share with you the definition I’m using which is the working definition in the shrink world: when you’ve reached a point where your perceived demands of your environment overwhelm and exceed your perceived coping mechanisms. In plain English, that means that the stress you’re experiencing with whatever it is going on in your world is so great, so vast that you literally cannot deal with it. You are drowning in an ocean when you’ve only ever learned to doggy paddle and your stamina is quickly running out.

Crisis is a strange thing. It’s strange when you’re experiencing it, and it inevitably changes you. Due to its extreme nature, the change it brings about is also generally extreme, though the individual experiencing it is the only one who can determine which way that goes. In crisis, it typically feels as though nothing is stable, nothing is solid, very little is safe. It is a time not just designed for tending those most basic of needs on Maslow’s hierarchy (e.g., food, shelter, water, sleep, etc.), but it is a time when there is no room for anything else.

 I don’t know and won’t speak to or for anyone else’s experience of crisis, as we all process things differently. For me, I had no idea how to “appropriately” invite, ask, or accept support from others. The crises I experienced spread across a range of topics that are all in some way taboo in one form or another. Finances and homelessness, spirituality, incest. It didn’t help that my family lives on a different planet from orthodoxy and my greatest fear of someone pointing a finger at any of the things that make us ‘different’ as the reason for what we were experiencing was too great a fear to conquer in the midst of chaos. It haunted me every day.

And so I withdrew. I stopped talking to my family of origin completely. I kept my eyes averted when I was in class. I stopped calling friends. The world had become a desolate and coldly unpredictable place. It seemed every time I turned around, something else had exploded. I want to clarify a moment here – it wasn’t that I didn’t receive support from others throughout this time. I did. In many forms. But it was as though I had lost my knowledge and ability to interact with others. Because focus has to shift to all those primitive needs, interactions with others become more, well, primal. Thus, there is no sugarcoating, no easing your way around things. A starving person will simply snatch food out of your hand if you hold it out. There is no thinking about manners and politesse. That’s just not the space they’re in.

When you’re in a crisis, though, other people don’t know that unless you tell them, so they still expect you to behave like a “normal” human being. This adds a degree of stress in and of itself. I would find myself wondering, How many times should I say ‘thank you’ so that they would know how grateful I was? How could I infuse those words with enough emotion that I sounded as genuine as I was especially when I was doing my best to not even glance at my emotions because if/when I did, I’d fall apart? How many times should I apologize for burdening them until they believed me? How cliched did I sound when I asked my best friend to borrow money? Again? How should I explain to my professors that, I’m sorry, I can’t come to class today because my family and I just spent our last $2 on egg noodles from the dollar store so we could eat today and therefore we don’t have the $4 I need to get a subway ticket to get to class and home again? Who could I possibly talk to and share what I was going through with and not have a concern that they’d call DFCS on us and tear my whole family apart? So I hid behind my fear and my pain. And I kept my mouth shut.*

After we moved here and things had settled a bit, I found that I still kept my eyes averted. I wouldn’t tell anyone I met much about myself or my family or the circumstances that surrounded our arrival in this new state. I was still hiding. But while I was hiding, my thoughts were as venomous as the mouth and belly of a kimono dragon. Internalizing my fear and pain was destroying me, so at least in my head, I began to direct that poison outward.  I alternated between using that fear and pain as a shield and as a weapon. I clung to my sense of wounded entitlement and became resentful of everyone who wasn’t me. When I looked at the people with whom I worked and the people I served at my job, the people I saw in the grocery store or on the street, all I saw were the differences between us. Differences to which I took personal offense. (Before all of those crises took place, believe it or not, I had liked people in general. While I wasn’t ever one of those super outgoing, extreme extrovert types, I found people fascinating and loved learning about them, hearing their stories.) Now, there were few people who could provoke even a kind look from me. And while I realized this wasn’t me – wasn’t who I was – at the time, I had no interest in changing it, let alone any idea how to do so even if I did.

(continue on to part II here)

*If you know or are close to someone who is experiencing or has recently experienced a crisis, I hope that what I share in these two posts might help you to understand what they may be feeling and going through. I encourage you to keep reaching out with compassion, understanding, and patience while they move through the dark night they’re facing.

Winter morning

This will be my first north Florida winter. Having grown up in southwestern Pennsylvania, that sounds like an oxymoron. The trees here (you know, the ones that aren’t palm trees) have begun to change colors in earnest. I’m told that supposedly most of them don’t ever participate in that great seasonal strip-tease and truly ever get naked. Somehow, it seems, just as they get ready to unburden themselves from those heavy, now-russet, sunflower, and crimson clothes, new green clothes just take their place. I hope this is not true because it would be sad at me if the trees never got the opportunity to shake off the year of their clothes and get to dance naked in the winter sun and moonlight. I also have a hard time believing this – the mere physics of it baffles me, and the coating of dead leaves that covers the entire lawn of the wooded lot that our little house is nestled into speaks on my behalf. Regardless, I will be sure to report as to whether this seemingly miraculous event takes place.

But I will say that, myriad palm trees be damned, it smells like winter here today. We got our Yule/Christmas tree – and on December 6th, the day of St. Nicholas, to boot which we haven’t been able to do for the past couple years. I’m not sure what kind of tree he is, other than the soft-needled kind, or, according to my wife, the “huggy” kind. I am reveling in the purchase of this kind of tree because when I was growing up, we never got this kind even though it was my favorite. My mom in her neurotic cleanliness didn’t want to clean up all the pine needles that this kind of tree supposedly drop more often than other types of trees. And tonight, we will have a fire in our fireplace, play happy Christmas/Yule music, and dress Giorgio (we named our tree) in fabulous yuletide bobbles and maquillage. It will be splendiferous.

The good, the bad, and the bitchy

In my process of self-discovery and exploration, I have uncovered a piece of myself. I’ve talked about self-acceptance before (in one of my posts that’s probably brought the most people to my blog of everything I’ve ever written), and while I think it’s possible to have a measure of self-acceptance even if you don’t know yourself completely, in some space in me it feels like it almost doesn’t count unless you’ve thoroughly researched the vast expanse of your personality and identity. An unpopular notion, perhaps, but I think it’s true. I had come up with a couplet when I recently decided to make some more headway on figuring out who the hell I am, and because I felt as though I had a pretty good awareness of a large number of my character flaws (I can be selfish, inconsiderate, self-absorbed, thoughtless, entitled, irritable, etc.), I had phrased the couplet in a way so as to communicate to Momma and Papa that I needed to become more familiar with my more positive traits. When They gave me the sense that I was vibrant and bright, I thought I was off to a good start. But, apparently, you need to get  up earlier in the morning than I did to try to pull a fast one on the Divine. Evidently, a diet of only happy qualities is not balanced, and despite my belief that I’m acquainted with my less-than-beautiful traits, I needed some more vegetables, too.

I have discovered that I truly have an Inner Bitch. My wife made that comment to me when she was marveling that I did not have an Inner Brat (like she does). My Inner Bitch is a whole other ball of wax. I don’t use the term ‘bitch’ lightly here. When I say ‘bitch’ I mean this is a part of me that is just plain mean, vindictive, cutting, vicious, and she’ll smile (and perhaps laugh) at you the entire time. Of course, it’s one of those wicked smiles because she doesn’t have any other kind. She’s got some nasty looks, but her weapon of choice is words, and she uses them like a serrated dagger – the kind with the hook near the hilt so that when the knife gets pulled out of whomever it was plunged in to, it does as much damage coming out as it did going in. Did you ever hear that saying (or have one of your parents or caregivers recommend you use it) of, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me!”? I don’t know who came up with that but whoever it is, I don’t think they ever were a recipient of a truly scathing remark in their life. Bruises and breaks heal, and most of the time a hell of a lot faster than the emotional and/or psychological damage of a few choice words topped off with just the right tone, especially imparted by someone you care about.

I grapple with my Inner Bitch on a rather regular basis, especially when I’m any kind of stressed out and it feels like my defenses are already weakened. I try to keep her locked up in a bland, utterly nondescript room. There’s an intercom system hooked up – kind of like a way for her to communicate her nastiness and have the satisfaction of it being heard (except, I try to ensure that I’m the only one to hear it) without much damage resulting. Thing is, she’s sneaky (I guess that’s part of the territory of being a bitch) and I have a harder time keeping a muzzle on her and the circuits between the room she’s in and my mouth closed when the situation at hand seems small. My control when it comes to big things is pretty solid, but the every day annoyances are a different story entirely.

I know that with my cute little analogy and imagery I’ve got going on here, she might be a little difficult to take seriously, and perhaps you’re thinking, “So what? No big deal. Everybody has that.” No, no. Not everyone does. And certainly not to this extent. My being a witch, empathic, able to read energy, and mildly psychic renders the situation a whole new level of messy and potentially disastrous. It’s like the difference between someone carrying around an uzi loaded with blanks versus the real deal. I can know by reading someone (and Goddess help them if my control on my Inner Bitch falters) exactly what to say to leave a mark with my words that may last forever. And while my Inner Bitch typically only attempts to strike out when someone has caused me pain of some sort or has treated me in a manner I deam unjustly (tricky thing is, it can be as minute and childish as bumping into me if I’m already annoyed), if you combine that with my idealistic streak, my sense of (largely inappropriate) entitlement, and my bad temper, the result is what my wife would call a hot mess. And, it’ll be a hot mess almost entirely of my own creation. When we throw in some the stress of crises I’ve been dealing with recently, you can perhaps see why grappling with this part of myself has become something of a daily challenge.

I was wondering and theorizing the other day about how exactly my Inner Bitch came to be. My current theory revolves around having been tirelessly teased and provoked by my sister ever since I could remember, my parents not defending me in the process (I figure, I’ve already pointed the finger at them in a previous post, why not continue the trend? Maybe I just need to get it out of my system, what can I say?), and that being compounded by the hideous “friends” (I use that term very lightly) all the way up through junior high. I was surrounded by people who were mean in one form or another. My parents advice never shifted from a pathetic and futile suggestion of “Ignore them,” and I was otherwise powerless. So if ignoring them didn’t work, being nice didn’t work, and no one else was going to stand up for me, I had to be meaner than they were. Enter the Bitch. As theories go, I think it sounds rather plausible.

While my Inner Bitch rears her head occasionally, it’s been a long time since I’ve actually chosen to give her free reign, to let her out of the box in which I have her living or at least pressed the little button in her room that broadcasts her venomous words from my mouth. My wife’s Inner Brat(ling) doesn’t usually cause enormous problems or reak havoc that can damage relationships. Those of us who know her well enough know that there are certain phrases that we don’t say to my wife (like, “You should,” “You have to,” “You can’t,” etc.) because if we did, her Brat would lash out to do just the opposite of what was prescribed. We don’t ever dare my wife either. It’s just not smart. And while those of us she calls family may be dumb some times, we’re not typically that kind of stupid, and certainly not about anything that may result in her Brat actually causing damage. My Inner Bitch is a different story. She is completely contrary to me upholding my integrity. Her goal is to inflict pain and damage, mostly out of revenge for something that was done to me, but that doesn’t make it okay. While my wife’s Inner Brat lives to prove people wrong about her and her capabilities, my Bitch exists to prove that I can be meaner and tougher than anyone who crosses me, and while you might hurt me, I’ll make sure in the end that you’re hurting just as much, if not more.

When I was reflecting on all of this, on her origins, and on how she fits in to my identity, my essence (something that goes beyond my personality this time around), I came up with another theory. Think too much? Who, me? Surely, you gest. I think that all of the darker traits of our personalities are like distorted or contrary versions of traits of our essence. I remember not long after MySpace became popular (eons ago), I took one of those quizzes – Which superhero are you? The result of my quiz was “Super Girl, Protector of the Innocents.”  It may be one of those chicken and egg deals, but I can see that being the trait that, due to my early childhood experiences, got flipped on its head and twisted a bit. No one was there to protect me, so that purpose of protection of others innate in my being needed to be used to take care of myself in whatever way necessary.  

So, what? I can’t go back and change my childhood. I am genuinely not angry anymore at my parents, though I still strongly disagree with their choice of (in)action. And what’s the point, even if my theorizing is correct, now? My wife and Teacher told me (probably several times), that as children, we are like a garden into which we have no control of what gets planted. It grows and we grow, and early on, we have no say in any of it. But then, we’re grown enough so that we do. So that we can look at everything in that garden and decide – decide what stays, what gets nurtured, what gets put in the compost pile, and what gets burned so that it can never possibly come back to take root. Even those parts of us that are hardest to look at have something to teach us, something to share with us, something we need to hear. And then, after we genuinely take the time to do that, we need to respond to them in turn. I think that what my Inner Bitch wants to hear most is that she shouldn’t have had to be, that someone should have stood up for me so that she didn’t have to do what she did. I think she needs what we lovingly refer to in my house as “squish therapy.” And I think the compost pile would be a good resting place. Her fierceness, her passion, her loathing of injustice, and her loyalty are all qualities that simply need to be turned right-side up and cleaned off a bit, then redirected. I’m not sure how it’ll all turn out, but you never know…

 

Holding on

Things here have settled a little after our recent explosion, but aftermath is not pretty, and it sure as hell isn’t easy. I have made the discovery that one of my gifts is that, when it comes to coping, I am in no danger at this point of turning to alcohol, drugs, self-injurious behaviors of the direct and indirect varieties, etc. Instead, even when I am my most miserable, what I do is I keep doing. I just keep going. When it sucks, when I’m hurting, when I’m lost, confused, frustrated beyond imagination, rageful and bitter, I refuse to stop.

One of our mounting frustrations here is the absolute dearth of advertised Pagan- and poly-aware/friendly shrink people in the area. My beloved needs a shrink person, and scour the internet for countless hours though we have, we have found nothing. Perhaps it’s idealism or just sheer stubbornness, but regardless, I have a very difficult time believing that such a professional does not exist. If we were in rural Alabama, I might have an easier time believing it (no offense to anyone who lives there), but we’re not.

I put a working on my altar over a week ago sending out an S.O.S to what we lovingly call the “Universal HR Department” explicitly stating what we needed for my wife. As of yet, we’re still waiting. I know I only see a fraction of the puzzle pieces that are our lives and the Divine Grand Scheme of things, but I cannot believe that what we need will not be made available to us. But as of right now…

Sometimes…

DISCLAIMER: If you are in a fragile space of any kind, I would strongly urge you NOT to read this post until you are stronger and more centered and grounded in your life. I wrote this post when I was moving through a very dark time, when hope was at an all-time low. Writing is one of the ways in which I exorcise all those things that I feel (but note that this is not Truth) I simply cannot move past. So if you find your self/Self in a similar space at the moment, give your self/Self the freedom to come back here when you are stronger and know that, if you are in need, I am sending Light, Compassion, and Unconditional Love to help see you through until you can visit again. Blessed be.

Sometimes the other shoe does not exist. Sometimes we spend so much time worrying about it falling that we even go so far as to not live our lives because we are drowning our Selves in anxiety. And we waste all that time and energy.

But sometimes it does exist. And it crashes to the ground in a deafening roar that forever changes…yes. Everything. And who’s to say why it exists for some people at some times and not others? I don’t have the answers to those questions.

Today, that shoe plummetted, exploding in to the center of my family’s life, and shattering. Something. Maybe a little bit or a lot of everything. I’ve never (thank the Goddess) been in an area where an explosion has gone off, but in my imagination, it’s something like this. There is this moment of quiet immediately after the explosion where the mind is battling with itself – the frontal lobe and the limbic system warring for control and trying to determine who is best for the crisis at hand – and everything seems to be in slow motion. And then, it is as if someone pushes the play button for the reel to return to regular time, yet regular time feels like fast forward after that seeming eternity of slow motion. Then, there is noise everywhere and it seems as though everything is moving all at once. Everything is harsh and bright and sharp and jagged.

Then comes preliminary dammage assessment. This is the time to scan for bodies, to see if limbs have been severed, if anyone is in the process of bleeding out, and to begin triage, all the while debris is still raining down threatening concussions and further injury. After this first round, there comes another to more closely investigate injuries, to examine the extent of the dammage in the surrounding area and to try to figure out how to establish some kind of safety. Initial steps are taken to attempt to construct that – whatever it may look like, even if it’s only temporary. Something to keep further damage from occuring.

It feels as though where we are right now is huddled in a ramshackle lean-to, wounds bandaged but seeping, poisonous gas having been inhaled and internal injuries abound. And worse is that members of my own family were responsible, in some way, for setting off the explosion. Even worse yet was that this wasn’t the first time that we caught them playing with metaphorical pyrotechnics and explained the potential life-altering, life-long, and seriously grave ramifications that could result. Somehow, somewhere, it seems as though something didn’t sink in. And so here we are.

I’m not writing to whine or to get pity. Hell, I’m not even writing to get prayers. I’m writing because, even though I’m not describing the details (and won’t) of what happened, I need to have the recounting of it somewhere, to have it recorded, to face it myself. I’m writing because I need to believe that we can heal from this, and I need to have almost a mile marker of where we started from when things at least appeared to be at their absolute worst so that when we do heal from this, I can look back and know. I’m writing because right now I am so fucking livid that I feel as though I am on fire. Writing is the element of Air, so maybe if I can bring enough of it in, it will blow some of the flames down to somewhere a bit more manageable. And I am terrified. I am terrified that of all the “one more things” that could have come down the pike, this might be the one that we simply cannot survive.

And so I sit here, in this jerry-rigged lean-to with debris still falling from the sky, and I pray because I can think of no other thing to do that might help this situation and the people who are in it with me. There is a heavy quietness in my chest and a deep longing and wishing for…healing, stability, and a healthy and whole family.