Lent 2017: Things That Will Bite.

On the final day of February, a mere few hours before Lent was set to start, I went off by myself for a few minutes while I considered what I was getting ready to do. I needed to think about what I was giving up, what I could expect. That card reading I had done for myself kept showing up in my mind’s eye, reminding me that what I was looking forward to was despair.

It honestly seemed like no matter how much I tried to spin how positive this experience was bound to be or was supposed to be at any rate, I kept coming back to the bleakness of despair.

Since the start of Lent, I’ve woken up twice in mimicry of the 9 of Swords. I’ve managed to put down the feeling of anxiety and depression those moments brought with them. Before falling back to sleep in those moments, I turn over the image of the 9 of Swords in my mind and kind of sigh. I mean, what other type of reaction can I really have?

I knew what I was getting into and I honestly thought that I could get through this.

Reclusion

Say your prayers, little one. Don’t forget, my son, to include everyone – Enter Sandman by Metallica

I’ve felt a little bit like a monster since the 1st of March. I’ve also felt a little like a doll made of porcelain, minutes or hours or years away from a cracked face, knowing that the cracked face will occur one day. I have also felt more than a tad like a broken piece of pottery, something perhaps once used in someone’s heka, that has been used up and destroyed.

It’s been 10 days since then and my emotions are all over the place. Everyone tells me that this is normal. I’m kicking an addiction – something that I have been absolutely assured is not done every day or even in a day – so emotional upheaval is part of it, I guess.

I don’t know if I really want to hear it though. All I keep thinking about is why in the fuck I’m doing this and what this is supposed to achieve. Everyone says something different from each other about it and in the end, I’m left more confused and annoyed than I was when the advice first popped up.

Quite obviously evidenced from the above paragraph, I spend a lot of my time complaining, though mostly in my head.

I never realized how much having an addiction could, like, lessen your ability to give a tin shit about outside things. I also never realized that this was the one thing I did regularly to keep my mental health in check – I honestly didn’t understand what a coping mechanism this is or how completely unprepared I was for that fucking despair thing the 9 of Swords talked about.

I am far less entertaining with my ongoing monologue while driving and use a lot more curse words (and I’ve always used a lot of them). I am far more willing to get off the phone with someone who is angry not-with-me or maybe-a-little-with-me over work stuff that isn’t my fault and cry. I don’t typically cry at work so that’s been interesting. I’ve done a lot of yelling in the last ten days and I’m not a quiet person once you get to know me.

It’s been… it’s been a lot for all of us.

The significant other keeps reminding me that this is absolutely a good idea. Sometimes I tell him to fuck off. He smiles and laughs since he’s been in my shoes. Other times I tell him that I want to stab him in the eye and he gives me his telltale smirk and continues on with his day. I feel bad for all the times I thought very uncharitably about him when he was going through this.

But mostly, I feel like a monster. I feel like something dark and rabid, living in the swamp with all the dead things.

Monster

Dreams of war, dreams of liars, dreams of dragon’s fire, and of things that will bite. – Enter Sandman by Metallica

Every single morning, I wake up and think about how much I can’t do this. The push to just give up is overwhelming. I always knew my mind was an enemy of sorts. I am very used to listening to my brain tell me what a complete failure and loser I am about so many things. It’s a daily occurrence, so it’s not like I haven’t gone through this particular song and dance before.

The idea of giving up just pushes at me like a weight on my chest though and it is so strong. Frankly, giving up is louder and more insistent than the voice that has always told me what a horrible human being I actually am. I never really considered the fact that there would come a day where I could honestly say that the voice in my head that is named Anxiety is drowned out by something louder.

And truly, it does get drowned out when the voice of Surrender whispers insidiously and seductively in my ear.

When I open my eyes and I am finally aware of my surroundings, I think about how stupid this is. When I have my second cup of coffee before I wake up my son during the week, I think about how it would be easier to stop this ridiculous exercise. When I drive to work, when I get angry, when I want to cry, when I am reading a book, when I am scrolling through Facebook, when I am going through Duolingo for my French lessons, when I have forgotten to take a lunch break at work again, when I have gotten out of the shower: all the fucking time, I keep thinking about what a farce this is.

The key, or so I have been told, is to distract myself. The funny thing is that I would use my addiction to distract myself from the voice in my head that tells me how much I suck at everything. Everything else I try now seems to pale in comparison or fail miserably. Chores, books, conversations, etc. They all fail to offer the distraction that I have been assured is the key to this.

I write about all of this, thinking about what Alex said in a comment on my last entry about this. He told me that sometimes willpower isn’t the way to go, sometimes asking for help is the way to go. I’m not very good at asking for help, so I write a small paragraph each morning to the ancestors. I think they’re listening.

Last night, a very nice and happy cheerleader appeared in my dreams. She wore an A on her uniform and her skirt went to her knees. She had white sneakers and a peppy little grin. Her eyes were made of the universe; she was my ancestors in a single body. They did a cheer about how I could do this and how I shouldn’t give up because, of course, yesterday’s daily entry was about giving up.

I haven’t given up yet, but I want to.

Day 3 (Barbed Wire)

And never mind that noise you heard. It’s just the beasts under your bed, in your closet, in your head – Enter Sandman by Metallica

It’s not all horrible, I suppose. Part of Lent includes donating more regularly than I already do. If I hadn’t gotten a body modification within the last year, I would have most likely donated blood which is a favored go-to of mine for a myriad of reasons. Instead, I have been having a lot of fun researching various organizations to give to in order to ensure that almsgiving, as requested, is a part of my Lent experience.

I get to donate every 10 days and I get to choose the organization so long as it is not the ACLU. I have a recurring donation set up there and the ancestors requested that the places I donate to be new places. I have determined which two organizations get the first two donations – Planned Parenthood and Hope for Paws – and I have a pretty good idea of what the third will be. I guess I’ll have to look around for the fourth.

When I’m not complaining or hurting or annoyed, I think things are going remarkably well. I’ve managed to ignore my desire to give up on all of this and I’ve managed to keep to the goals I had set for myself. I don’t think I’m doing too badly all things considered.

It could be worse, I keep reminding myself in as cheerful a way as I possibly can. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. It just really depends on the day.

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3 thoughts on “Lent 2017: Things That Will Bite.

  1. I’m so sorry. I don’t know what you are giving up, or the addiction, but as some-one who was a complete alcoholic, I do know that giving up an addiction can be like having your skin ripped off and living without it.

    There seemed nothing for me to look forward to, if I couldn’t have a drink (after going through what is described as two days of hell). I didn’t want to live a ‘grey’ life, never feeling the boost of alcohol hitting my system or wearing the rosy glasses drink gave me. I absolutely did have to give up for my health, but in some ways it made it worse, that I had very little choice. I couldn’t look forward to, at some point, being able to have a drink.

    (I also went through a really bad withdrawal from anti-depressants, which mentally was worse and physically far more debilitating). But neither the drink or the meds were serving me; both were making me ill, so both had to go. At least from my own life.

    But the antidepressant episode was in 2000-20001 and I haven’t drunk in over 10 years, and now don’t even think about it or care if I’m around it. Things didn’t remain ‘grey’ or bleak. All I can say is my thoughts are with you.

  2. In late 2015, I, too, struggled in kicking an addiction. I likened it to Ishtar descending into the Underworld and being stripped naked, or to Christ plunging into Hell. For two weeks I woke up in cold sweat and filled with a kind of terror that I can hardly describe, my stomach tied in knots and my whole body trembling. This lasted all day until my sleepiness finally outweighed my fear of nightmares.

    But out of the fire I came and was purified. And Ishtar took back her clothes and assumed once more her rightful perch. You can and will do likewise–and that you have asked for help rather than doing what moderns so typically do, which is to rely on the tenuous “self” for “motivation,” is key.

    For Lent I have done much what I did last year: extended Mardi Gras a few days into what should be the fast period and, seeing what it is I have clearly become too indulgent in, denied myself for the remainder of Lent (even the Sundays).

    All the best to you and yours.

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