I have had a long, hard road with Hetheru for as long as she has been in my life. I can remember the day I felt that she was calling out to me for the first time and I can remember the sheer, stark terror at the thought. I have my reasons for why those feelings emerged at the call of a second goddess – none of which have, really, to do with being called by another deity and all to do with whom the deity in question happens to be a goddess of – but they are issues that I’ve had from the get-go. Throughout our entire relationship, I have attempted to prevent myself from shunting her to the side and to stop myself from forgetting that gods have layers. Hetheru isn’t just the titles that can still incite panic attacks in me – Lady of the Vulva; Lady of the Uterus; the Beautiful One Whose Attire is Attractive; etc. As can be clearly seen here, there are a hell of a lot more epithets than the few that make me panic and rage internally about working with her. However, I continue to have issues with the fact that just looking at her statue can make my breathing a little more rapid, sweat break out across my brow, and an unwavering desire to hide in a tiny closet for a while.As time has gone by, and the years have passed, I have spent a lot of my time treading lightly wherever Hetheru is concerned. I have continued my daily devotions so that when I was ready, I could go back to her. But, I pretty much just assumed I would never get to the place where she was hoping I would be, where Sekhmet was hoping I would be. Thing is that I have continued to move forward with the knowledge that, one day maybe, things would work out between us to a satisfactory conclusion. What I didn’t take into consideration was just how difficult all of this was bound to be. It’s ridiculous and silly, admitting that. I have spent literal years ignoring her, shunting her to the side, maneuvering around her as though walking on eggshells, but it never really occurred to me just what sort of difficulties I could expect to face when I finally got to the point where I could admit that, as a deity of the hearth and home, she’s fine, but there are other aspects of hers that I should also honor and pay attention to.
Since our exploration in beauty together, Hetheru has been a rather large presence in my life. The switch from deities has thrown me for a loop, a little bit. As a hard polytheist, I distinguish the syncretic deities by different color associations to differentiate. When I astral with them, Sekhmet is always wearing a red linen, form-fitting sheath whereas Hetheru will wear a white and pink loose sheath. When I feel their presence around me, I see Sekhmet as a hazy cloud of red and when I see Hetheru, I see a hazy cloud of pink-and-white. This differentiation has helped me to distinguish who it is that is “in my head” as well as to better let me know when they’re “wearing one another’s hats,” or syncretizing. (This all sounds crazy and I’m terribly sorry. I’m usually much better with words, making it seem like I’m less crazy than I literally am.) In the last six weeks, I have felt nothing but cushioned by a sweet-smelling pink-and-white cloud. In some instances, it’s almost like I’m drowning in it. In other instances, it’s more like a whisper in my ear. It’s definitely a change from the norm in my life and it’s an ever-present reminder that I have a deity who has taken back seat for three years and is now, seemingly, no longer willing to do so.
I turned, out of need, to Hetheru during Memorial Day weekend when things went exceedingly sour between TH and me. It’s a long story and it’s really not important to the story. All that matters is that he moved out, and it hurt. The problem I kept foreseeing was a little known card reading I had done between the two of us many years ago. During that reading, I foresaw the issues. I saw the possibilities of our futures, both with and without one another. And because the reading was exceedingly negative, I was pretty sure that things were just completely over between us. When TH came back and said that he loved me and wanted to be with me for the simple fact that he loved me for who I am, what I do, what I look like, and everything in between, I turned to Hetheru and said, “I don’t know what to do with this.” This started our lesson plan, our discussion about love, and all of the various items it actually entails.
The lesson plan started off small.
I have exceptionally awful self-esteem. I’ve written about it on my personal blog and I’ve inferred it all over the place. When I look in the mirror at my face, I see the sum total of every Google image search for “the ugliest person in the world.” If you then multiply some of those photos by 20, you may actually get what I feel and think I see when I look at myself. With TH’s admission that he loved me for how I looked, I was floored and nervous. I am guilty of spending quite a while staring at my reflection in the mirror and saying, “You are the most hideous piece of shit this planet has ever wasted space with.” (The worst part is that, during those moments, I have usually gone in there to do some power mantra about how awesome and beautiful I am. As I’ve said, I have some severe issues here.) No matter what I have attempted to make myself seem more pleasing to myself, I have utterly failed: make up, hair styles, positive comments, etc. I know that I can look as perfectly coiffed and wonderful as the women on television and in the movies – and I can do so rather well – but I will always come back to feeling like I am some scared, ugly piece of shit whom no one could ever love for anything about them.
What makes this utterly worse is that I am overweight. While I often say that the body mass index is a load of shit, and I still kind of believe that, I actually fall into the “overweight” category. It doesn’t affect my health. It doesn’t really do anything except to make my self-esteem that much worse. I’m not a fan of dieting – not just because I have no control over myself when cupcakes and cookies enter the mix – and I always feel ten times worse about myself when I attempt to work out. It’s really just a byproduct of having done that “miracle” thing of carrying another human being for nine months. I can remember the days when I was barely one hundred and ten pounds, complaining about my weight. And I can remember the days, still complaining about how fat I must be, when I put on a healthy twenty more pounds. And then, I got pregnant and I’ve kept a lot of the weight that those days added. And as I dry off after a shower, I try not to look at the body I am saddled with, feeling so piss-poor about myself that even the thought of going back to zumba or joining a gym makes me cry from the horror of other people realizing just how grotesque I actually am.
The lesson plan started with how I had to admit, at least once a day, that I am an awesome and spectacular human being.
Another part of the lesson plan had to do with derailing the general discomfiture when TH mentions how much he loves my body. As I’ve indicated, I have absolutely no love of the shell that my soul inhabits. Whenever I wriggle with the need to hide at TH’s voluminous outpouring of sentiment regarding any aspect of my body that I find disdainful – of which there are many – I have to attempt to internalize what he says. And there are days where this lesson has worked to my advantage.
I find myself singing and dancing in the car now, more so than normal, with the knowledge that there is a man who loves my body for what it is. Previous relationships were adventurous and interesting and many of those men claimed they enjoyed and loved my body. While I have to admit that in many of those relationships, I was nowhere near as large as I am today, I never actually felt that was a real possibility. There was always the nagging belief that if I ever got fat, which was always a possibility due to genetics, they would leave. I don’t have to worry overmuch with TH regarding that being the reason. We may have our faults, but his love and worship over my physical stature is true. (The cards I’ve pulled repeatedly regarding our relationship confirm, at least. So, I guess we can say that this is kind of confirmed personal gnosis of sorts.) And there are days where the knowledge can incite me to ecstatic dancing, ecstatic singing, and an over all appreciation of everything around me.
It’s a step, at least, in the right direction.
Another step in this direction, at Hetheru’s direction, has been to post pictures, occasionally, in the sexy pagan Friday tag that has been going around on Tumblr. I don’t really know where or how this started. However, the fact that it started in league with the attempted lessons Hetheru was trying to instruct me in was fairly precipitous. And while she has explained that I don’t have to post every week and she has explained that I don’t even have to make the picture particularly alluring, I have begun to try to incorporate the kinds words that others have said about me. Just this past Friday, a fellow Sekhmet kid she loved my hair. (Thanks!) And another Sekhmet kid said I had a pretty face. (Thanks!) I may not have fully incorporated or internalized the kind words these two lovely ladies have said to me, but I am beginning to at least be able to say, “There are people who like things about me.” As much as the kind replies have helped to boost my self-esteem, there is something even more exciting about the comments that TH has said to me.
I have found, oddly enough, that with the knowledge that someone cares about my body that I have found myself thinking more positively about myself. It’s probably a little sick and twisted that the knowledge of someone else caring about my physical stature should impact how I feel and think about myself. But, there is something incredibly sultry about knowing that someone is willing to kiss all of your parts and to assist you with your beauty regiment if the need would arise. (Do you really think it’s possible to shave your legs when you have a nine-month belly? No. It is not. Not only did TH assist me with leg shaving, but he also assisted in me in shaving other parts as well. [I had a traumatic experience with 70s bush a few years ago and I have kept my trimmed ever since.]) There is something heady and inebriating about the fact that TH is willing to see me in all of my glory and all of my deprecation. And this has absolutely and completely given me a boost that I never knew I actually needed.
It was Hetheru, really, who explained to me that I needed to hear these things on a regular basis. I had spent so many days and so many nights living in the horror of my own head that I began to believe every aspect of those horrors. I began to believe, truly and honestly believe, that I was everything I thought myself to be, which was not good enough, not perfect enough, not beautiful enough to be loved or wanted. And she explained to me that I needed to hear that good things could come to me, that I deserved good things, and that, frankly, I needed to stop living in the snarl of my own head.
“You have lived for so long believing every word your mind has come up with to describe you that you cannot even begin to see that you are a human being. You are everything that a human being is, but you think that you are actually less than a real human being. You have spent so much time living in the tiny, little box that you invented for yourself. This box is a cloister for all of your self hate and self loathing. You are not the sum total of the things you have decided you are. You are the sum total of your love, both for yourself and for others and for the causes that speak to you. You are the sum total of the lesson of beauty that we had together. And you are the sum total of the gods’ love. You are alive. You are worth everything that you say others are worth.
“You are so sweet. You are so kind. You are so congratulatory. You are so into boosting others’ self esteem. You are the positive influence in many peoples’ lives and you forget this. You forget the power of your heka when you tell your friends that they are worth every hurdle someone else has to go through in order to be with them. You forget the power that you wield with each act of kindness, with each sweetness, and with each moment that you infuse your friends with your care and your time and your spoons. You are all of these things and you forget that you deserve to be the recipient of every word you have ever given to your friends.
“You are worth it just as clearly as everyone else.”
And this is something that I need to remind myself. With the constancy of TH’s presence and his ability to make me feel loved, sometimes, I can hear her voice in my head, reminding me that I am worth all of the attention. She tells me that not only am I worth all of the attention that he lavishes on me, but I am worth every sweet caress, every tender kiss, and every positive reinforcement. I am not just worth it because someone loves me for me, the ugliness that I think I have and the body that I wish I didn’t have, but because I am a human being who is worth every ounce of respect that I should be garnished with. And that respect isn’t just based on what other people think about me and what other people feel towards me, but also the respect one gains from the love they give themselves.
It’s a lesson a long time coming, but at least it is finally begun.