Re-Opening Scabs.

Shadow work is probably one of the most grueling things we can ever undergo. I’ve often known that I need to work on things and I have just as often shied away from the prospect, knowing how much pain I could and would unleash upon myself. It’s not just fear that has kept me from working on these traumas, but it’s also the knowledge that I will still need to smile and interact with others, others who may not understand and who may not care, as you work on bits of you that have been folded into the very fabric of your soul.

Picking and pulling apart your soul is hard work, but even with all of that, you still need to live your regular old life. If you don’t answer the questions of people around you, they’ll start asking you what’s wrong. And if you are very busy pulling yourself apart, there is no way that you can explain it to them without sounding, well, without sounding a little unbalanced, a little unwell. So, of course, you have to continue to live your life as you normally would and maybe they’ll forgive the fact that you’re just a tiny bit off your game for a while since you’re so busy destroying who you are on a fundamental level in order to rebuild yourself into who you may have been without those damned fucking traumas having gotten in the way.

I ripped a scab off the other day. It was gross. You know what it’s like to rip off a scab from your knees, when you’re a kid? It’s kind of painful but you’re just like intent on fucking ripping that shit right the fuck off. I don’t know why kids feel the need to pick at their scabs; I used to do it and my son does it unless it hurts too much. I don’t know if picking at scabs is really useful when you skin your knees, though. You end up with scars if you do that. But sometimes, I think, the scars are useful because you can wear them proudly and point out to people that you survived.

I’ve done a lot of shadow work in the last few years. I know that I’m not perfect and I know, clearly, that I have a lot of things to resolve. I doubt, most times, that I will be able to remake myself into the form I want to be before I die, officially die. Rebirth is all well and fine and a part of shadow work, but I mean honestly and fully die. I know that I’m only thirty [-one] but sometimes, the uphill battle to get to where I need to go is so difficult that I can’t be bothered. I just can’t look up any further at the cliff face I’m climbing and I just stop.

But the thing about shadow work that I often have to remind myself is that that there is an ultimate plan in play. Sometimes it relates to bigger picture; sometimes it doesn’t. I have a lot of issues that I have to contend with on a daily basis; issues that I didn’t realize how deeply they impacted me until I started picking and pulling at what needed to be reformed in order to work through the trauma and come out the other side. I thought that after the yearlong work I did regarding my ex would be sufficient for the needs; I was wrong. I was very wrong.

I guess shadow work is one of those ongoing processes that we all have to explore and go through. Each person’s journey will be unique, of course, because the issues that we have faced and how we came out of them relatively intact is going to be completely different. I can write whatever the hell I want to and say what I think people will need to hear, but whatever journey we have been on is [probably] going to flavor the unique shadow work before each individual. There’s no all-purpose way to do this, unfortunately. There are only some tricks, some ideas, and some possibilities to throw out there for those looking to learn.

My best advice? Be prepared to fuck yourself sidewise ten ways to Sunday, screaming and crying [internally], and hoping that you get the fixing you part right one day.

Ripping that fucking twat waffle of a scab off was some really fucked up shit.

I have discovered a lot of triggers in myself lately. I don’t really like that terminology, honestly. I understand the point behind it and this gif set illustrates it the best. But the reactions that I have to those moments aren’t necessarily “trigger” like. I don’t have a flashback; I tend to have a flight-or-fight response in all honesty. If I see it, I can fight it out and end up in an emotional avalanche coupled with such terrific physical reactions as increased respiratory and heart rate; cold sweats; and the shakes. Other times, I end up fleeing the fuck away from whatever the hell it is, either physically or mentally, and I bury myself in a world that doesn’t include such things.

This doesn’t really help in the long run, I admit. The point is that I have to get through what has happened and, hopefully, build something workable. I don’t have any blueprints, though, so I’m not really sure what “workable” means. I can assume what it means by its very definitions, but when it comes to breaking yourself wide open and see what parts fit together after removing the tender bits, well, maybe not everything will really be so fully functional at the end of it all.

I wish there was a manual for these types of situations. I really wish there was this one way that would make everything work out appropriately. Everyone just follows the instructions and everyone can come out the other side, maybe not completely whole, but relatively close to that. It would be like one of those dance floor mats that teach people who to do the samba or the waltz; you put your feet in the designated places and teach on autopilot. Unfortunately, no one thought one of those mats was in our best interest when they realized that we have to destroy in order to become reborn.

Rebirth is a terrible process, but it’s the process we all need to go through at some point or another.

Shadow work is some fucked up shit.

But so, too, are the experiences that we’ve gone through. It’s all some fucked up shit. People think that the end goal is some kind of utopia or something. I don’t think that’s really possible. It sure sounds sweet when you look up what other people think a utopia may be like, but I don’t think perfection is really the end goal. We’re imperfect creatures with wants, desires, and feelings. No matter how old we are and no matter how ornery we may get in that old age, we still have those wants, desires, and feelings. They make us imperfect, I think, but they keep us human.

One particular trauma, specific to the ex-husband here, keeps coming back to me. I’m not re-living it, per se, but I’m poking at the hornets’ nest that is that moment in time. There are other things associated with that moment; things that I honestly can’t even begin to fully comprehend. The worst part about this is that the single moment I’ve been working on is tied seemingly imperceptibly to everything else. While I can focus on this one thing right here, I have to admit that it means pulling apart bits of other things as well. I end up with a giant fucking mess on my hands and wonder, how the fuck am I supposed to pull out the good parts while shedding the bad parts and end up, nominally, whole at the end of it all?

No manual; no road map.

We just move forward with a hopeful look that things will end up better at the end of it all. And when things get hard, there are ugly tears with snot running down our faces and blotched cheeks and sobs so hard that you can practically feel your ribs breaking from the pain of it all. At the other end, you can only hope that what ends up coming out of it is all right and that, you know, you were able to put the pieces of you back together.

To be functional.

To be “normal.”

Okay, maybe just to be relatively complete.

Sometimes, when I’m working hard on those things, I try to desensitize myself. I know that this type of therapy is used for certain disorders and most often phobias. I don’t think what I’m putting myself through, reliving this shit, is really a phobia. But desensitization has worked, slightly, so that I don’t freak out publicly. I can have that frightened, scared rabbit moment in the confines of my own home, usually locked in the bathroom underneath the shower spray so I can grieve or hurt privately. I don’t recommend this therapy type, in all honesty; I don’t really know if it’s helping at all.

Sometimes, I just poke at things like a kid with a stick. I don’t look at anything; I don’t read about anything. I just follow the yarn until I come to a point that needs to be plucked about. Poking things is all right, I guess. It gets me a little farther, I think, than the desensitization. But the problem with poking at things means that, at some point, I’m going to awaken something that I didn’t really want to wake up. And then I have to deal with the aftermath of that. Periodically, that aftermath is at work or when my kid is up and asking for a story or when I’m lying in bed at night, staring at the ceiling. The angry monster inside of me surges and I know nothing except that monster. I’m not sure if I really recommend this type of shadow work either; I couldn’t say if it’s beneficial or not.

Sometimes, I just let it lie. I leave it alone and wait for something to occur to me, an epiphany of sorts, and hope that I can parse out the meaning of that epiphany when it happens. Shadow work, in my opinion, isn’t always on the go type of stuff, but can also mean lazing around while you wait for the next thing to come to you, in my case, an epiphany. The problem with his particular trick is that, maybe just maybe, there are other factors pushing me toward resolution and I can’t wait amount for that single moment of clarity to happen. I don’t think this is helping me at all, but it gives me a rest at least from the hard work.

Sometimes, I ignore all of my hang ups and try to just live my life. Nothing is wrong with me and I am perfectly fine. This is a lie I’ve told myself for years; it’s still there in the back of my mind. But when I look at myself in the mirror after assuring myself that I’m okay, I can see the lie in my eyes, in my nose, in my hair. It’s all just hanging around, the big fat epic lie, and I know that I can’t hide from it anymore. As scared as I might be, I have to move forward. I don’t recommend this at all. Don’t lie to yourself. As painful as the work will be, lying to yourself makes it that much harder to break things down to their fundamental parts and work them back together again.

As I was saying, I started ripping off the scabs with full abandon recently. I didn’t care what scab I was going to rip off; I chose one at random. The scab, though, was connected to another one and another one. I ripped that fucking thing off like nobody’s fucking business and got a punch to the face for my trouble. It hurts, you know, when you do it that way. It hurts worse when you’re pulling off emotional and mental scabs than it does when you’re picking at physical ones. You don’t know what sort of pain you’ll unleash when you pick at them, of course, which is probably why it hurts worse.

I ripped off that fucking scab and reveled in the moment, briefly. It was nice to feel a little free. I am free, I screamed, from this pain. And then it came back twenty times worse and whatever heka I thought I was doing by screaming that out loud was wrong. I wasn’t free because there was more lurking under the surface wound. A lot more. I didn’t realize how much more.

I’m tired all the time; I’m weepy all the time; I read too much to hide from the pain; I delve deep into the work when I’m sleeping, hoping that one day I will wake up and it will be better again. Someone told me yesterday that this was long-term shit, at least a year or more. I can’t say that I’m shocked by this, but it still sucks that I have so much fucking hard work ahead of me.

There’s no manual about how to do this hard work, so I have to hope that what I do, at least a little, works well for me because otherwise, this job will take me that much harder.

I ripped off a scab the other day; I ripped that motherfucker off and screamed with the power of my own intentions. I just have to remember that, I think, while I work hard on this shit. I just have to remember that moment when I screamed and reveled, thinking about burning down my enemies with the power of my own thoughts. If I remember what it’s like to feel that way, then maybe, I’ll be okay through the next year or so.

And maybe, in the end, I’ll come out of it a little more whole than I am now.

Self-Care: Work.

After realizing that I probably had no idea what self-care actually was and that I would need to build the foundation of my self-care from the ground up, I began stopping frequently to evaluate what it was that I was doing. I thought that it would be best to take a look at my normal, everyday actions and see if I felt that they merited entry in the mostly empty “self-care” category. I had been so focused on just having shadow work equate to self-care that I had been ignoring things. Sure, mental and emotional health is fine and dandy, but I’m not just a mind and heart: I’ve got limbs and teeth and organs that need to be taken care of, too.

So, I would do the dishes and ask myself if this was a part of self-care. And I would walk the dog down the block and wonder if that was part of self-care. And I would play a game on my phone for way too many rounds and wonder if that was self-care. And I would stand out underneath the sun, soaking up the rays before it got too warm, and wonder if that qualified as self-care. And I would sit on the couch and stare moodily into the distance, berating myself for my perceived failures at work that day, and definitely declare that probably wasn’t part of self-care.

I could find that I have a lot of negative habits, mostly rooted in deep-seated neuroses and anxieties that have to do with things from a while back, and that none of them really belong in the self-care category.

I tentatively had a game plan. I was doing okay, mostly, with the mental and emotional things that I felt were included in the self-care definition. I had a bunch of physical things, though, that I had to work on. And I began working on them, but I found that every week, I was backsliding somewhere.

That’s to be expected, of course, because I’m doing new things and attempting to teach myself to do those new things. However, when I was saying, “I will do these things and it will be great,” at the start of the week and within two days, on the verge of tears, eating an entire bag of M&Ms, bemoaning a million things and thinking about how much my self-care maybe didn’t mean that much to me, I thought perhaps there was an underlying cause.

Well, I was stressed the fuck out, which is probably a pretty normal cause in not doing self-care related things.

Instead of paper balls, envision me with a flag under telephone lines and phone systems. (Source unknown.)

Instead of paper balls, envision me with a flag under telephone lines and phone systems. (Source unknown.)

I thought about the main cause in that stress – work – and wondered how I could diminish my stress levels while still achieving the ultimate goal of having a roof over my head. You see, I was beginning to notice that because I was stressing out about work related things, it wasn’t just impacting my self-care. Oh, no; it couldn’t just impact a small facet of my life like making myself better in some form or another, but had to effect all facets of my fucking life. Everything that could go wrong was going wrong and things were burning down around my ears and the even transient thought about trying to work on shadow work was laughable while I was so busy barely able to focus on breathing properly.

I’ve been down this road before and it didn’t end well for me.

As a probably not very quick backstory…

I worked for a job that I was really good at as a manager of a convenience store. I got moved to a store where managers went to get fired. Every manager who was ever put in that store was told to “clean it up,” which mostly meant there were personnel problems. Well, and that was fine because I had managed to clean up (mostly) the store I had been in before moving there, except that the personnel I needed to get rid of her been hand-picked by the owner of the company. So, it was kind of a catch-22. And knowing that, I got stressed the hell out.

Things were falling down around my ears and everyone said that it would be okay. So I began looking for other jobs, but not seriously enough, I suppose. Within three months of being sent to that store, I got fired. I didn’t even get fired for anything that I had actually done or said but because they wanted to fire my star employee. I got caught in the crossfire of all that and ended up with a serious dose of anxiety about working and jobs.

I remember how stressed out I was before, almost magically, it all stopped the moment that the security officer entered my store to inform me that my services were no longer required. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. When I did sleep, I was dreaming about work. My interpersonal relationships were failing because I couldn’t focus on a damn thing. I spent most of my time away from work either thinking about work or watching really bad horror movies in an effort to not think about work. (Bad horror movies are a passion of mine and I really can’t tell you how much they’ve helped me over the years when things get bad.)

I can feel the stress levels rising with work, but I also know that I’m pretty much set for a job. I could probably get away with a lot of not-working before anyone realized that I was too apathetic and pitched me out the door. Not that it matters because, as much time as I stare blankly at the computer screen in front of me at work, having a silent panic attack about something, I still manage to do a lot of shit in between the staring. But the stress levels are impacting me again, across the board, and I find myself coming home, more often than not, thinking about hiding in a corner and crying.

None of this seems very in tune with self-care, at all, does it?

This past weekend, I realized that I needed to do something for myself in this situation. I was so focused on what I may or may not be failing at for my boss, for my co-workers, for my clients and forgetting that I have a say in all of this, too. And as important as making sure that everyone that my work-related actions impact are seen to, I am the more important person because, if I’m not functioning properly, then I can’t do anything else properly. And as part of a quote by Parker Palmer attests, “Self-care is never a selfish act.”

Perhaps, if I tell myself that often enough, I won’t feel so bad?

How do you actually relax? And how do you just cross stress off the to-do list? Isn't it always, like, there? (Source unknown.)

How do you actually relax? And how do you just cross stress off the to-do list? Isn’t it always, like, there? (Source unknown.)

But what is the easiest way in order for me to relieve the burden of stress? I can’t just cross out stress. No matter how many memes are made about how you can just cancel out stress, it’s really just not that simple. Even if you know the root cause of the problem, treatment isn’t necessarily easy or painless.

Of course, the simplest answer is to leave the job. Unfortunately, as much as my instincts are screaming at me to run as far away as humanly possible, I don’t think swapping out one form of stress for another form of stress is really the way to go here. It seems very much as though self-care would be really thrown out the window by doing that.

The next available option is to bide my time while I job hunt.

I’m not sure if this is really the best answer, but I do know it’s an affirmative action towards removing stress and heading back towards self-care. I can’t do anything about the client that is causing me the most stress acting like an asshole and unable to take responsibility for themselves. I can’t do anything about reminding my co-workers that I am fallible and make mistakes (they seem to think that I don’t?) and I can’t do anything about reminding them any more emphatically that I am one person with about a trillion projects and can’t fine tune everything all at once. What I can do is look to myself and my desires. And my desires are saying: get the fuck out, homeslice.

So, I’ve been job hunting. I have found three jobs that I have applied for this week. According to the unemployment class I had to take when I was unemployed, in order to find a new job, one has to search between 5 – 8 hours a day in this economy. I don’t have the time or the ability to do that. Even though I spend a bit of my time staring blankly at the computer screen, it’s mostly because I am mentally incapacitated, semi-frozen, and barely able to register anything. So, I have to job hunt when I can, which is after work.

Unfortunately, I’ve noticed that the jobs in my area are kind of scarce. Well, the jobs in my area that I am qualified for and willing to take. I’ve had to cross off a bunch of prospective jobs because they are part-time or the pay inducement isn’t enough or because I just can’t with retail any longer. But this is one of those instances, where I have to decide how much of these stress levels that I can handle before I flip my shit. (When I flip my shit, it can be pretty epic and I usually end up fucking myself over, honestly.) The thing is that, too, I feel that I am worth so much monetary value, I would like to have very good benefits (my current job has PTO and that’s it), and I would like to feel like I am doing something beneficial instead of babysitting a bunch of IT departments who haven’t had the time and wherewithal to accurately learn about their telecommunications service.

When I started thinking about self-care, I didn’t really consider it beyond my body. I didn’t even consider the physical body, at all, at first and it was only after serious thought that I began to encompass that into what I realized that self-care should be. I thought of it as a strict physical, mental, and emotional fashion after my initial post on the subject. There was nothing else. And while stress can impact all three forms that humanity has about them, it still didn’t occur to me that work and having a stress-free work environment could be considered a form of self-care.

Let this be a lesson to anyone – self-care is anything and everything at this point.

And while I have plans and ideas about how to take care of myself on a physical, mental, and emotional level, I have to recognize that the biggest hurdle at the moment isn’t my bad eating habits, my bad sleeping habits, the smoking, the laziness, or anything else. Right now, it’s the stress levels at work and I need to get those down to management levels or get them gone before something drastic happens.

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  1. Self-Care

Remembered Moments

As though to ensure that I was getting the most bang out of my shadow working buck, I started remembering things last night that I had long since forgotten. What startled me about this was that it related to the ex-boyfriend who, fortunately or otherwise, set the blueprint for my future relationships. While I was very busy attempting to fall asleep after a very long day, my mind had other ideas in mind and so, I went back to my sixteen-year-old self and got to relive things I had never thought of.

This started because I was irritated by the horror movie stereotype of their being an odd number of high school friends (who invariably end up mostly dead). The movie I fell asleep watching had seven friends: four guys and three girls. I was irritated by this because, for half of my high school career, there were six of my friends. And while there was inter-dating amongst the six of us, it was mostly A and her boyfriend, J and her boyfriend, and then myself and P, platonically (though everyone thought we had been dating since freshman year). I had dated P, I remembered, but briefly…

…and then in that sort of shadow lit haze my mind takes up before falling asleep, I went back to that sixteen-year-old girl who was desperately attracted to the blond-haired bad boy. The one who would help to mold me into the woman I would become, for better or worse, and he seemed very much attracted to my best friend, J.

I don’t know if I reached out to P in an effort to be not-alone while all of my friends were with someone and/or were desired by someone. I know that he and I dated very briefly that year. I think it was about a two week, all told, relationship. And it was before I even knew what date rape was, so my mindset was relatively okay. (I say relatively because I was acting out in ways that weren’t like me at all so subconsciously, I knew and understood that something bad had happened.)

P changed for me, which scared the absolute crap out of me. He was the kind of guy who wouldn’t demand compromise or force you to change, which was good. However, he was the kind of guy who would change for you. He was also the first boyfriend I had with a full on beard and mustache combination and it was very strange kissing him. What made it even weirder was that it was very much like kissing my brother. No dice.

But just because I wasn’t interested didn’t mean that he wasn’t interested. Even though he kind of, but definitely knew that I was very attracted to his best friend, the long-term relationship guy, he was still very interested in getting me into a relationship. I honestly don’t know if it was me that he liked or if it was something about me that he liked or if he was just a guy who wanted a girlfriend. I honestly don’t know and probably never will – P and I haven’t spoken in nearly ten years now for reasons – but while he was willing to let me break up with him, he wasn’t exactly not-willing to not try to get back with me.

If that sentence makes any fucking sense.

SO WHAT I MEAN is that P wanted to get back with me, even though I was more interested in getting with his best friend.

The thing is that I don’t think I ever said, emphatically, why I was breaking up with him. If I had said, “You frightened me because you shaved off all of your facial hair because it tickled me,” or if I had said, “you’re like my brother and this is borderline incest to me even though we’re not related at all,” things probably would have been okay? And I think that we could have had a decent friendship still. But I was worried about preserving that friendship so I didn’t say anything about that at all, but merely said I wasn’t ready to be in a relationship.

So, I kind of left it open a little that we would maybe get back together even though I was OBVIOUSLY MAKING EYES at his best friend.

I knew how to be subtle after having done the unrequited love thing for a year. (I thought I loved the guy and my mother was pretty sure I did, too, and maybe I did, but things and stuff.) And I knew that I had to play it weirdly subtle with P’s best friend, AKA long-term relationship guy, because he and I had been not enemies but not even remotely friendly for the previous two years, so I had to be like subtle and moody about all of that.

It was very weird, for me, to discover that someone who I didn’t seem to like was actually a really likeable guy. We had a lot in common. We were kindred spirits with outcast like mentalities, obsessions for dark poetry and prose, and as Goth as you could get without actually being Goth (I think.) So, I was already freaked out by the fact that I liked him as a person and I was even more freaked out when I realized how fucking jealous I was when he confided in me that he wanted to get into a relationship with my best friend. That was, actually, my first clue that I liked him in that more than friends way. And it was even stranger because I felt that tinge of jealousy when I was dating his best friend.

I’ll tell you what, now that I’m looking back. Having a really close knit pack of friends is okay and whatnot for high school but it can also be REALLY complicated. My group of friends was really complicated. It was my junior year that we began bringing in more friends, so it got a little less complicated, but at the start of my junior year, it was really just that core six of us with outliers, such as long term relationship guy and a few others, but mostly it was just the six of us. And it was really fucking complicated…

Anyway.

Perhaps I dumped P with the knowledge that I wanted to pursue his best friend and didn’t want to hurt him, but I’m not completely sure if that’s legitimate. What I do know is that he freaked me out when he shaved his face for me and it was like kissing my brother when we kissed. He was like the backup guy to take me out to a dance if I really wanted to go to one, and we actually did end up going to the semi-formal together that year. He was my friend more than he would ever be anything else, to me, and that, I think, is the main reason why I broke up with him even if I couldn’t have explained that to anyone way back then.

So, in November, I spent a lot of time with long-term relationship guy, moodily trying to figure out how to make it obvious that I was interested. It was only around then that I realized that I had been raped because someone else told me, so I had to contend with the ramifications of that (which I kept to myself for about a month or more) as well as dealing with hormonal surges from being a teenager as well as dealing with jealousy of my best friend, worry about hurting P if anything happened between his best friend and I, and everything else in between. Like, now that I am writing it out, it’s really a wonder how teenagers don’t end up going insane with all of these emotions and hormones. And it’s really a wonder that I, myself, didn’t end up losing my fucking shit while going through those emotions and hormones while also trying to assimilate the idea that I had been date raped.

Just… for fuck’s sake, the first semester of junior year was some fucked up shit all the way around, no matter how I look at it.

I remember that I skipped school on the half day before Thanksgiving. And I remember that I had been hanging out with long-term relationship guy and we had a really cool idea about meeting up with P at his bus stop. So, we went to his bus stop and we went over to P’s house because there was no one there and we all wanted to just hang out and be friends together.

And that’s not what happened at fucking all.

I don’t know if anyone, outside of myself, realizes how really fucking intense it can be when you’re hanging out with two guys. One of whom is interested in you and the other of whom is interested in your best friend but appears to maybe also be interested in you as well now that you had hung out enough times to establish that there was a baseline of attraction. IT’S REALLY FUCKING INTENSE. And what makes this even more fucking ridiculous is that the three of us had all hung out before as friends and it was fine, but for some reason, shit was fucking real that day.

P made a move.

I neither consented nor voiced my non-consent.

This is the key moment here and this, I think, is the point behind this shadow work. It wasn’t, specifically, long-term relationship guy that ended up making my consent button not-work anymore. It was an issue before him, but I had just forgotten this moment in time because everything that came after it was even more intense than my fucked up and shitty and asshole-filled first semester of junior year.

The three of us went upstairs and watched TV or something. And I was lying across the bed, falling the fuck asleep because I think more happened that day that made my emotional roller coaster of fucked up shit even worse than normal – I think I know what incident it was but I’m not 100%. In either case, I was fucking exhausted at that point and I just wanted to fucking nap. So, I was lying full across the bed on my stomach and I was blearily looking out P’s window and he was lying beside me, but partially over my back and his best friend was lying right next to me on his stomach, too.

And P kissed the back of my neck.

I remember his kisses – they were very cautious, but they were also very not-cautious if that makes any fucking sense.

And alarm bells were going off in my head.

Source unknown.

Source unknown.

I closed my eyes and turned my head away and reached out with my hand and clasped his best friend’s hand in mine, squeezing as much as I could. I don’t think he realized why I was holding his hand at all at first and I don’t think he fully realized what the hell was going on behind him because he wasn’t looking in my direction. I had my eyes closed so tightly and I was thinking, stop, stop, stop, stop, no, no, no, don’t do that. Say something but how do I say no without making it clear I’m not interested and I will ruin our friendship and no no no no no no. I remember enough to remember worrying about our friendship and how this would impact us as friends.

I don’t know if my worrying about his emotional state if I rejected him is normal when it comes to people in similar situations? I just know that I was absolutely fucking worried about how this would impact him. I guess, in one way, that’s really selfless and amazing, or something. But on the other hand, it goes to show what I was usually thinking when it came to failing to give consent or to reject the advances: I was too busy worrying about what they would think or feel if rejected. My emotional state in the aftermath of said occurrences didn’t merit, but theirs did.

Is that rape culture at work or is it just a really fucked up self-esteem problem?

In either case, now that I think about it, this moment crystallizes and clarifies, I think, the underlying issue when it comes to consent. I’m too worried about others to actively take care of myself in any meaningful way. Again, let me reiterate: in my head, my own emotional state of that moment and after that moment doesn’t merit a fucking second thought, but the boys who did things I didn’t consent to did merit a lot of fucking thoughts on the topic. So maybe fucking thoughts that I fucking never even voiced a yea or a nay; I just closed my eyes and silently wished it would stop.

Well, now, that’s some fucked up shit.

In this instance, I didn’t have to do much more. When I squeezed his hand hard enough to rub bones together, the long-term relationship guy turned over and saw what was happening. I may have looked at him, begging with my eyes, but I honestly can’t remember. He saw what happened and managed to firmly put a stop to it. (He ended up shoving his best friend off and lying on top of me so that I was completely covered head to foot and commenting about how that was how you cuddled a chick to make her feel safe. So, he cock blocked his best friend for me – at my silent request – and also crushed the ever loving shit out of me, which made me happy as hell because, you know, hormones and emotions.)

It was at this moment, maybe, that I fell in love with long-term relationship guy. At that moment in time, he was in tune enough with me to recognize what I needed without my having to say it. And that, to me, meant a lot more than anything else. Later, when we were in a relationship, he would often check in with me to be assured that what was happening was okay. For all intents and purposes, he did a really good fucking job checking in with someone as emotional frazzled as I was.

It just didn’t stick.

Or maybe he got complacent.

Or maybe I got even worse about consent.

Or maybe we were both really fucking young and fucked in the head.

In either case, long-term relationship guy wasn’t exactly the reason I had an issue with consent. He compounded the problem when he stopped checking in and stopped verifying that I had given permission to move forward. No, clearly, it’s something that I had an issue with before that, as evidenced by his best friend and the one-off guy before that and the kid when we were both nine-years-old.

In the instance with P, it was for fear of what our friendship would end up like if I said something. (Which was dumb as shit of me because it got a little strained when I did start dating his best friend.) In the instance of that one-off dude, it was fear of being unwanted that stayed my tongue. In that moment when I was nine, I think, it was fear of what he would do to me if I didn’t just do the thing. The point being that I’ve (A) had this issue for a long time and (B) reasons varied from individual scenario to individual scenario.

The lesson I should have learned with P was that I mattered enough to have a say in what was happening to me. The lesson I learned was, instead, that if I reached out long enough, something magical would happen and I would be saved.

Self-Care.

I’ve seen a lot of posts going around lately, my own included, regarding self-care. This got me thinking this morning about what exactly self-care entails. I did a very quick mock up regarding myself this morning and found that I was tired, listless, and feeling generally without spoons. This was hearkened on last night when I mentioned that I had been ignoring about 98% of what has been happening within in the great pagan community because I tend to ignore myself in the face of whatever issues are going on and forego whatever work I may be doing in the name of “self-care.” But as I did a quick look over myself and realized that my spoons are low, I began to wonder what the fuck self-care really is because, well, maybe I’m doing it wrong.

I looked around, first, at my friends list on Facebook. Perhaps it was people within that had the answer to what this question. I saw a lot of memes and philosophical type statuses about what people think the world should be like. But that didn’t really answer the question. I searched through the self-care tag on Tumblr and found that, well, there are a lot of different definitions for it, depending on people and their circumstances. It didn’t seem like I was going to find anything that was specifically, “this is what self-care is so go and do the thing.” And that’s kind of what I was hoping for since, you know, I think I may be doing it wrong.

I started thinking about the people who I know who think about self-care, though perhaps not in those words. My supervisor is very unhappy – to her, self-care, is sitting at home and doing nothing because she is an introvert. And to an extent, I can see why that would be the case since, as an introvert, it can be very difficult to socialize at work, either with co-workers or with clients, day in and day out. But she doesn’t seem particularly happy and she often complains about how dissatisfied she is with her life. So maybe not doing anything after work and on the weekends is part of her self-care, but I think there may be an integral part to it that she may not be doing.

In same vein, looking at her circumstances, I find myself. I do a few things that I would deem as self-care: spending time at home when my spoons have been eaten up by constant people-ing; working on issues that the gods or my own psyche point out that need to be addressed through shadow work; pulling back heavily from community related exercises in a better attempt to get a handle on myself, my wants, and my religious life; attempting to eat healthier and exercise more; and spending any private time on pursuits that I would prefer, such as reading fiction books in every spare moment, re-reading historical biographies, and/or boning up on historical time periods that I have a preference for. These are all things that I tend to think of as self-care and things that I have been attempting to do, with moderate success in some areas and extreme success in other areas. But I still find myself having issues in various arenas and finding that, well, I don’t feel like I’m doing things properly.

So, I kept looking for answers.

I polished off my Google-fu and began looking around for some answers.

Wiki, of course, was the first thing that popped up. The first paragraph from Wiki says, “Self-care refers to actions and attitudes which contribute to the maintenance of well-being and personal health and promote human development. In terms of health maintenance, self-care is any activity of an individual, family or community, with the intention of improving or restoring health, or treating or preventing disease. A holistic health approach is common in self-care.” However, as I kept reading, the page seemed to be specifically referring to “physical well-being” and “physical health” as opposed to the all-encompassing health forms that I was looking for.

I kept looking.

And then I think I hit the jack pot when I found this PDF file. The first sentence was pretty much exactly what I was looking for. I went through the suggested strategies and saw that there were things, according to the PDF, that I was missing out on. I haven’t been doing well with the whole eating properly thing lately (since we’ve been so social in the last two weeks, I’ve found my eating habits returning to “bad” instead of “moderately okay” like they have been) and I haven’t been able to meet my step goal in days and days. (Some of my step goals are a little difficult to meet anyway because I sit at a desk all day but I do try to make up the steps in some form or another after work.) I had been ignoring my physical well-being.

What else had I been ignoring?

Some of the emotional self-care comments didn’t seem to apply to me. While I understand the requirement, for some people, when it comes to counseling, I haven’t had very many good experiences with counseling and have since decided that due to trust issues, it’s not a good idea for me. I’ve already cut out many of the friends that I have felt used me and wouldn’t let me discuss my own issues. I screen my calls regularly (mostly because I don’t get many and the ones that I do get are those stupid auto-dialer calls from toll-free numbers).

So what else?

“Be aware of things you may be doing that take up a lot of your time but don’t support your self-care such as too much time on the internet, watching TV, even sleeping. These can all be relaxing, enjoyable activities in moderation but can become a way of retreating and isolating yourself.” Hm. And of course, this one, “Make a date night and stick with it, either with a partner, a friend or a group of friends.” Hmmmm.

I can definitely say that I don’t set limits on much of anything. I watch as much television as I want; I don’t spend as much time on the Internet as I used to but I still do it to excess (I feel); I certainly can’t remember the last time I had a date night with either of my boys (mostly because of money); and well, yeah, I do things to excess much of the time. So maybe the issue is that I don’t have enough limits or remember how to limit myself or even think about what limits should be?

I think, perhaps, the limit thing may be the issue.

Devo wrote about knowing thyself and setting limits at the beginning of this year. In this entry, she discusses how she knew where her limits were based on what she’s been dealing with lately and when she knew she had to put some things up in order to maintain herself.

This quote, in particular, is the portion of her post that resonates with me the most currently: “Many people seem to lack this ability – the ability to say no, or to drop something that is important to them. However, it’s my firm belief that all of us really need to sit down, look at ourselves in the mirror and learn what our limits are, and the effect that sticking our head in the sand could be having on the gods and ourselves. How not saying no can be of detriment to the things we really care about.”

I have set limits in some contexts previously. Many of the friends I have had over the years, I have since come to learn that it was not a two-way partnership. I am very much a people pleaser and I found that they were not aiding me at all. It became more important during my unemployment and shortly thereafter to remove such people from my life. While I currently only have maybe two people to whom I can speak with about various things, I’ve also come to set limits within those friendships, knowing that certain aspects of my life shouldn’t meet. (As discussed in this entry.)

In Devo’s entry, she discusses that the best way to set limits is to know yourself. But how do you get to know yourself well enough to know what limits you need to set for yourself? When is enough, well, enough? When can you finally decide what you do want and what you don’t want? And when are the limits too strict and when are the limits too lax?

My limits, currently, are very much in the lax category regarding many things. And I need to tighten things up a bit, I thinks. But how do I know what needs to be tightened up and what doesn’t? I remarked on where, as based on the PDF I linked to, my limits are too stretchy to be effective. But are those the only areas that I need to work on? Maybe there are other areas that need to be addressed and I just haven’t discovered them yet?

Art and words by Michael Leunig. X

Art and words by Michael Leunig. X

During my search through the Tumblr “self-care” tag, I found an image that kind of resonated with me. This image is from a cartoonist in Melbourne, Australia. It took me a while to find the original artwork, which can be seen here at his website. I went through the gallery a few times until I found the image in question, as seen to the right. I think that it is this cartoon, more than anything, that heralds how best to “know thyself” and how best to establish one’s own limits. If we don’t know who we are and get to know who we are then any limits we may set for ourselves are completely useless.

At this time, I need to sit on the fence and get to know myself again. I need to find a clear time in which I can do more than just a quick mock up of what I’m feeling and where I think need to head. I need to do an in-depth, I think, re-introduction to myself. I am not the same person I was last year or the year before. Things have changed in large ways and small ways. And I need to remind myself who I want to be versus who I am now in order to set my limits.

Once I get to know myself, hopefully, I’ll be able to set some limits and know what to cut out and where so that I can get back on track because, honestly, having no spoons really fucking sucks.

 

Poking and Prodding.

When I first realized the type of shadow work Sekhmet was pushing me towards, I pulled a card to see what I could expect from all of this. It’s always good, I think, to be forewarned about what you can expect. That way, maybe, you can allocate resources to what you need to work on. The card I pulled when I asked her was from the Book of Doors deck and it was the “Satis” card. From my own interpretation (I eschew the book on this), it means, more or less, “inundation.” I laughed so hard after pulling that card that I cried. I can’t really say if what I’ve been dealing with for the last few weeks can really be interpreted from an outsider’s perspective as “inundation” but it certain feels that way to me. At the gist of the matter, I feel very much as though I’ve been stretched to the breaking point, given a wee reprieve, and then I have to get back to it again. I’m always waiting for that moment when I will actually break, but apparently, I know what I’m doing, or at least partially, because I haven’t broken… Yet.

When S told me that I needed to look into this, I think anyone who knows me can imagine the look I gave her. I wasn’t best pleased with how she pulled the rug out from beneath my feet to get me to admit that I had a problem regarding consent and I wasn’t particularly pleased at the prospect of yet more shadow work on any subject. But I also understood that everything is a work-in-progress, so to speak, including the souls of people under the care of the gods. I am, of course, no exception. Part of the reason I gave S such a nasty look about it was because, well, how the fuck do you assess where your issues lie? How in the world, once you admit you have a problem, do you progress to the next step in which you figure it all out? And how the fuck do you finally get to the end of all of this?

I had a basic rubric to follow – one that I’ve created myself – but I had a feeling that wasn’t really going to work here. I had to reform how I had dealt with other shadow work situations and work at it from a different angle. I couldn’t help but, almost affectionately wish that Hekate was back around to show me the ropes. Then, I snapped myself awake and reminded myself that all shadow work attempts are going to be different from one another and for all I knew, Hekate would drown me in a pool of my own blood in an attempt to “make better” the issues I was facing. Hell… that was probably something S herself could and would do, if the need arose, so I figured I should stop trying to figure how to do it and just throw myself into it. I ended up jumping into the river that is my soul and finding that I’ve always had an issue here.

Well, that kind of sucked to learn. I figured I could come to a single culminating moment in my life in which I found a neon, blazing sign with arrows pointing to it. That would, of course, be the earmarked moment in which I began having issues with consent. So, this leads me in other arenas as to why I may possibly have the problem in question (which will be discussed in another entry). But what it comes down to is that I have to, not only discern what happened and where, but I also have to discern how this has impacted my views on myself, my behavior in relationships, and how I can correct things, in future, so that I’m not an idiot for the rest of my life. This kind of feels like a really fucking tall order to fill, especially considering the fact that I don’t even know if this consent issue has impacted my across relationships.

I assume that it has, but of course, the only way to be really sure is, of course, to look through them all.

I wanted to enter this phase as logically as I could. It seemed prudent to go through all of the relationships I’ve had, since puberty, and attempt to discern where the issues were in said relationships. But as I started poking at the relationships I had early on in my high school career, I came to the conscious realization that it wasn’t going to be quite as easy as all of that.

Aside from the one-off moment when I was fifteen with a local boy, most of the boyfriends I had when I was fourteen and fifteen were in that “nice guys” kind of category, but not in that “I’m a nice guy and I finish last” jerk face category. They wouldn’t have even have moved forward with a kiss without verifying with me that it was okay. They were conscientious in a way that later boyfriends were not. In looking back, it appeared that I had discovered a certain category of boys that were aware that they needed to verify with me that permission was given or that it was merely that I had a really good radar for guys that paid close attention to my desires or that they were as fucking terrified of the prospect of having a girlfriend as I was of having a boyfriend that they wanted to be SUPER SURE that everything was okay.

These guys… the first two years in which I really started to date were the kind of guys that, I think, everyone should have dated at least once. They checked in. They verified. And in many cases, there was little more than a kiss or two. It’s possible that we were all just so unsure of what to do and how to behave and were conscientious of not being aware of where things were heading or what we wanted. Or, maybe it was just, like I said, that they were good people who verified with me. Whatever the case may be, most of my early relationships seemed to fall within what I think consent should look like. While I understand that my desires for what consent should like – the constant checking in and verifying with me and my doing likewise with them – isn’t the case for everyone, it’s what I want from my significant others.

For some reason, I went astray from these types of guys and ended up in a whole new category of other, which is probably where my present day issues stem. Or, again, maybe it was just the fact that things were so new and frightening to both parties that checking in with one another was a normal thing. In either case, things kind of went downhill when I started getting into that phase where “long term” relationships were in. Or maybe it was simply because those first relationships were just all short term. None of them lasted longer than two months. I had a thing for relationships that lasted at two something: days, weeks, months. I began to wonder if I had the ability to even maintain a long term relationship at all. Everyone else was doing it but me. Now that I think on it, if it was because we were so new and frightened and those relationships were only supposed to be pit stops on the road to a longer relationship status, then maybe I should have dated around instead of trying to be like everyone else.

My first long term relationship was that kind of relationship that, upon looking back, you’re just like, “what the fuck was wrong with me.” Don’t get me wrong; the relationship was okay in the grand scheme of things but there was so much fucking up on both sides that it’s amazing we lasted together as long as we did. I’ve thought long and hard about this relationship because it has defined me a lot in my sexual tastes and desires, but also aided me in growing exponentially at a stage in my life when I was very close to shriveling up and dying. I think that it was because I was able to screw up so badly and he was able to screw up so badly, but we stayed through it all anyway that allowed me to grow exponentially and define what I wanted out of a significant other. Then again, I could just be trying to put some positive spin on it because, well, it was my first love-love. As much as I hate to admit that he is my first love; he’s my first love. He was my first, this-is-for-real love. He defined what loving others would be like for the rest of my life and defined a lot of things.

He also let me grow, experiment, and make decisions on my own. All in all, I don’t think consent was an issue for us. He didn’t necessarily check in with me like my previous boyfriends had, but he let me make up my own mind about things. However, what I found in myself was that because I was so worried about him leaving, I would often give in to things that left me feeling uncomfortable or nervous. I think it is because of this deep set fear that I would be left in the dust by someone whom I cared for more than my hormonally charged heart could handle that I felt I needed to let things progress to various levels that weren’t something I would have considered on my own. But, since he was more interested in experimenting in things, I was able to make definitive decisions about: whether or not I could handle being in a polyamorous relationship (the answer was no); what sort of kinks I could or would not tolerate (don’t ask; it’s none of your business); and how much I really like cuddling like spoons (seriously, it’s the best fucking thing ever and I could live my whole life cuddled against someone like that).

But I also lost my voice after a while to make conscientious decisions about what I did or did not consent to. I did not consent to a threesome when I was very drunk and stoned out of my gourd; it took someone else to point that out to the boyfriend. I did not consent to having a third party enter our relationship (not in a polyamorous way) and side-seat drive the relationship boat. Part of the reason why I lost my voice was fear of his leaving and, I believe, it partially stems from my putting my foot down and saying, “I won’t be in a polyamorous relationship. You are with me and me alone or you are not with me at all.” I think, too, it was the knowledge that his feelings for me were strong enough to break up with a long distance girlfriend (they lived hours away but saw each other regularly, I guess) and also the fact that I took second place in his affections when it came to my best friend (whom he wanted to date prior to realizing I was girlfriend material). I was so worried he would leave me that I submitted to things that I never consciously consented to. And because of that, he tended to believe that I consented to things, such as the threesome, without thinking to check in with me about it.

As it was, I did consent to breaking up with him when he decided his best friend hadn’t molested me. Clearly, his friend did this as his friend admitted it to both of us on separate occasions. “Yes,” he said, “I did this thing. I was hoping to take X’s place.” (I did not have a chance to consent or not to that as I was high as fuck on muscle relaxers and drunk as hell on blackberry brandy.) I continued to remain broken up with him even though I often went back to him for affection and sex afterwards because he was still friends with this man and wouldn’t discuss it with me, either rationally or irrationally (of which I was quite capable of being at the time). Part of the reason I went back was out of fear of being alone and fear of never finding someone who loved me, even a little bit, like he did. But mostly it was something comfortable and obvious to me.

He was my defining moment in terms of relationships and it is through that relationship that, I feel, many of my later bad habits were formed.

I pushed integral parts to my personality down as low as I could so as not to rock the boat, metaphorically speaking. This is hilarious considering how completely up and down I was emotionally and mentally during our relationship. Much of that was not his fault; I was still attempting to handle the emotional and mental fall out from having been raped by a fairly popular jock in school. Not only was I trying to get a handle on the ramifications of all of that, I was still just trying to comprehend that I had been raped. I took out that emotional upheaval on my boyfriend and he handled it as appropriately as he could. Perhaps in consequence to the emotional issues my rape and its aftermath had caused, I subverted bits of myself in an attempt to keep him with me, to help me through the hardship of going to court (and that failure) as well as a reminder that I wasn’t alone.

I think, though, it was the fear of being alone to deal with the aftermath of my rape that made me stop worrying so much about consent, checking in, and had me agreeing to things that I never would have done on my own. It was a few months in to our relationship in which many, if not all things, became a sort of “inferred consent.” It was almost as though he thought that since we were in a relationship, it was okay to do whatever it was he had in mind. And in some cases, I was all right with this. In other cases, I was not. But instead of saying anything, I wanted for him to check in with me. And when that didn’t happen, I just went along with it.

I don’t know if this really means that I have a problem with consent, though. Doesn’t a sort of implied consent happen in long term relationships? According to Wiki, “Implied consent is consent which is not expressly granted by a person, but rather inferred from a person’s actions and the facts and circumstances of a particular situation (or in some cases, by a person’s silence or inaction).” This is, of course, incredibly dicey ground I’m treading. Technically, everything we undertook together could be viewed under the “implied consent” definition. I was silent about things that made me uncomfortable, submerging my emotional reactions to those things in an effort to appease him. So, based on that, doesn’t that mean that technically I always gave consent, in some form?

I honestly don’t think so.

Based on the poking and prodding of my remembered emotional reactions to things, I have to think that just because I didn’t say “no” doesn’t necessarily mean that I don’t have an issue with consent. Clearly, I have an issue voicing my feelings in regards to things and clearly, this pattern goes back to my first long term relationship. I understand the basis in why I have that issue – I had the deep set belief that if I voiced a differing opinion about much of anything, then I would be left to be own devices. My fear of being alone made me willing to submerge my own desires into someone else’s so that it seemed, almost, as though we were in tune with one another’s wants and desires. This was a myth, though. That wasn’t the case in our relationship, as is clearly the case when I look back at the stormy fights we had fairly frequently (partially caused by hormones and teenager hood, partially caused by emotional and mental hurts, and partially caused by two stubborn people – I’m a Leo and he is an Ares – getting together).

So, yes, I definitely think I have an issue with consent. And clearly, it’s an old one. The question, of course, comes down to “why,” but I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever know that. However, now that I can see the start of the pattern, now it’s time to see it in action elsewhere…

Black and Red Snakes.

I think I read a lot more than people realize. There are people who, knowing me, make fun of me when they see that books of 1500 pages or more haven’t been finished in a few days’ time. Everyone else, when they see me reading a very large book like that, they always stop to ask me how long it takes me to finish a book that size. I always overestimate, not wanting to let people know that I read very fast and that I can finish a book that size, if left to me own devices, in a matter of days. I tell them, “a week,” usually and go back to my reading, partially amused at whatever comments they make about it (usually, “I would fall asleep to read something that big,” or “It would take me a year to finish that”) or irritated that they feel the need to interrupt my reading.

I read a lot.

Most of the books on my bookshelves are books that I’ve read about a hundred times. Some books, I don’t read that often because they are so big. Nothing against the books themselves, but it can be a bit dicey, wandering around with a book of over a thousand pages in my purse for a spare moment to catch a few pages in. My purse is made of cotton and liable to break with sharp edged books residing within, so I don’t read the really big books as often as the others. Occasionally, I don’t re-read them because the next book takes years to finish (*cough* A Song of Ice and Fire *cough*) and I don’t want to be too irritated with having to wait so long, though I understand that the length of the books themselves causes a bit of lengthy time delay.

Whatever the case may be, I’ve read and re-read most of the books in my library a million times, but some, not so much as the others.

I’ve been re-reading a particular series that I have read from the first book, years ago. It’s historical fiction and it’s a love story. Well and good, I supposed, but sometimes, the books are a bit too graphic and the things that happen to the characters… well, anyone can guess what I’m alluding to. (And if you can’t, all I can tell you is that’s a particular relief that some people won’t understand.) Mostly, I read these sections with pinched face, in a sort of waiting for the other shoe to fall and end up getting through the section with a sigh of relief when nothing happens.

Something happened this time.

I knew it was coming because, well, I’ve re-read this particular series often enough to know when the “bad parts” can be. But I re-read them sometimes as a test, too. Sometimes I test myself with the triggers that I have, which are never the same – they’re all different and all weird and they come at me from different directions and of course, they’re never the fucking same one day, one year, one decade to the fucking next. Maybe I failed the test this time, but I don’t think I do. I think it was still a test, but it was… a different kind of test.

In the book, the main character is kidnapped and… well. She is married to a Highlander, a Scotsman who is a product from before the destruction of the clans at Culloden. And it is with his honor in his hands that he, and all the men of his new homestead, kill the vile cretins in an attempt to win back now only his honor but his wife’s honor. As the book continues, she has flashbacks but it’s not quite like I thought most post-traumatic stress disorder victims would go through. They’re kind of rare, all said and done, and I identify with her the most, not just because she is the main character, but because in this book, she has the moments so rarely… like me.

Even before getting to the part, the part where I would have a pinched face and rush through in an effort to test myself, I felt the snakes forming in my head. I tend to see them, picturesquely, like of red and black. They’re poison, of course, because that’s what a head full of snakes leads to. It leads to poison within your soul, eking out into the ethers that binds your soul to your body, and making everything ache in all planes. The red and black snakes hissed and snapped, looking a bit like the wild mane of snakes on a gorgon’s head. Only instead of turning people to stone, they turned me into a distant thing, unable to really string words together.

Periodically, TH would ask me if I was okay. I don’t remember if I was or not. The snakes didn’t lead me to a shame spiral. They have in the past. I am grateful they didn’t. I had other spirals to attend to, though, and I found this particular episode led me to look down at my body. I saw it all, clearly, the pouch left over from my son, and the spread hips, and the point of my nipples and all the other little imperfections that make me hide beneath oversized shirts and the pale hint of my skin – it’s so pale, it’s rather yellow in tone – and the sallow look of my face. The half-moon bruises are darker than usual and I’ve broken out, of course, because what thirty year old doesn’t deserve to have a fucking acne break out?

I wanted to climb out of my skin and slither away, a bit like the snakes in my head. It just seemed like I needed to climb out of it and set it aside for use when I felt well enough to use it. It wasn’t even, I don’t think, that I wasn’t fit to wear the skin, but that it needed to crack open and let me out; it was suffocating me. I know, literally, it wasn’t actually doing that. So, I worked on not feeling that way and was probably not a very good bit of company and ended up lost in my head.

I thought about that character and what her husband did to win back both their honors. He destroyed the guilty. He wasn’t alone; he had help. They were killed, every last one of them. I thought about that for a bit, turning it over in my head. I thought about it in relation to myself, really, and I turned that bit over in my head again. And I had to admit that, all things considered, it seemed like, possibly, it could alleviate all the stress of having PTSD because of bullshit.

I’ve had to deal with all of the ramifications of my own actions regarding what happened. I’ve had to contend with the fact that I will always felt just a little bit shameful and just a little bit guilty, even though technically, I shouldn’t. I’ve had to contend with the voice in my head that reminds me often enough, this will always be a part of you and you will live with it or you will not. I hate that voice; I don’t hate the person who said it to me, but I could wish that they had never said something to a young and impressionable seventeen-year-old, trying to contend with PTSD in an era where it wasn’t seriously thought of outside of what soldiers maybe dealt with.

I wonder if, maybe, the knowledge that he was dead would have helped. Maybe.

I don’t know if it’s really his death I want, ever. I should have liked him to go to prison, of course, and to have it on his record, but of course, state law had other things in mind. And then, of course, so too did the jury of twelve adults (allegedly my peers, but as we were in juvenile court, were they either of our peers? No.) came back and effectively said, “Well, you’re a big fat liar.” I’ve had to deal with that, of course, too, and I have to say that I don’t think his death, even after all of that, would have really helped me at all.

I should hope he bleeds in ways far more painful than my own. I should hope that his soul leaks out from his eyes, leaving nothing but a dried husk of a creature before everyone. And I could wish that upon his forehead was a scarlet letter R, carved deep into the flesh and filled with soot so that it scarred heavily, letting everyone know just what he was about. I could hope and wish for all of those things, but I don’t really see where any of that will lead either of us. I try to be a good person, on the face of it, and studiously not pray to the gods to unleash their chaotic Arrows upon him and let him feel their wrath. I feel, maybe, that is not quite in line with ma’at.

Then again, just to offer a second voice here, I recognize that magical protection and rites against people is absolutely indicated in just such a circumstance. But fourteen years later? It seems a bit late to unleash plague and pestilence upon him, right? Besides, I always have to come back to the idea that while justice, in my opinion, was not served, perhaps it was in his case. Two sides of a single story and I have what my side is and he has what his side is. However, I can remember the looks from that one girl… the one who he turned to all the time when he was bored and the look of understanding that passed between us when it hit the gossip mill of our high school… I remember her and I remember what she was like and I have to wonder how much of what she was like was because of him and how much of it was because of her own special brand of PTSD.

My heart quickens as I write that. I think it’s probably supposed to because these are things I don’t discuss often, willingly, either with myself or with anyone else.

Don’t fucking talk about it.

I can remember, and this has nothing to do with this entry per se, but just a single memory. I remember when I was in high school, I was in a very difficult phase, obsessed with serial killers. I spent a lot of time on the website, Crime Library, and read as much as I could find that interested me. I remember turning to my mother one day and asking her how she felt about Manson or Bundy and she looked at me in horror and said, “We don’t talk about that.” Well, she wasn’t talking about what happened to me – she was and is a big believer in therapy. But I think it always stuck with me a little bit?

Maybe it’s because it didn’t get discussed in family circles.

Okay, I have to stop and give some background.

We told my grandparents what happened to me, but only when we started going to trial. (The trial was continued three times and then some adults told me I was full of shit. It was a great thing to deal with at seventeen, I can assure you.) But we didn’t talk about it at all with anyone else. But when it happened, relatively recently (last few years; and you’ll be glad to know that he did go to jail for what he did), to TH’s cousin from a stranger who broke into her apartment, it was discussed. And the whole family was there for her, metaphorically and physically if needed. And the drastic difference between my family and his family was apparent.

I don’t think I would have liked to talk about it at all with my maternal or paternal family.

But sometimes, I think about what my mom said when I asked her about whatever serial killer and the shocked look on her face and the comment she made. I think about that and I think that I am definitely a product of that outmoded and outdated mindset, in some ways. I don’t talk about any of this with anyone.

So when the snakes come into my head, which is rare but does happen, I don’t know how to tell anyone that I am living with a rat’s nest filled with black and red streaks, scything through my brain like a farmer reaping what he has sewn. But have I really sewn anything? Not really. The snakes come in with their red and their black and push through the very center of my brain until I am left shaky and quiet, unable to voice a fucking thing that is happening in my head at all and I want to cry so very badly, but I don’t dare because I don’t want people to know what’s going on because it doesn’t even matter I won’t even be able to tell them anyway because we don’t talk about that. Yes, I suppose I very much am a product of that very outdated and outmoded mindset.

By the way, I don’t really blame my mother for that because she was also a product of that time, as if her family. I’ve done what I could to explain to my son that we can talk about anything at any time (unless I’m writing because, for real, that kid needs to respect that boundary as fucking sacred – kidding, by the way) because I don’t want him to become a hangover byproduct of a time when people didn’t talk about things. I want him to be comfortable enough to ask what he wants to ask and say what he needs to say. Sometimes, though, I would very much wish that I could have that ability.

I felt very much like jumping out of my skin all day. I thought maybe I could try it once or twice, but there’s something sneaky about skin. It’s all around you. And there doesn’t actually appear to be a way to get out of it. I know, I’ve tried before with any means necessary. It never really worked because I always woke up right the fuck back inside of it. I used other means than the horrifying ones I used to use. I tried to read some more, get through the bad part and into the better parts. That really didn’t help. I did dishes. Nope, didn’t help. I sat outside and felt the sun on my face, but I was too dazed to really notice.

I came alive a bit when the thunder rumbled in the distance, but it didn’t really do much for me, in all honesty, because it wasn’t a proper thunderstorm. It was just some thunder and then a fair bit of rain. It was lovely with the wind cool against my hot flesh and the gentle susurrus of the rain. It helped me to ground a bit when I cleaned the altar, I touched the prayer beads, and I felt a bit more relaxed in my skin again.

But then it came back later and I thought about crying, maybe. I hear that crying is supposed to be cathartic and sometimes, I force myself to cry under the principle that it is cathartic. Well, I wasn’t alone to cry. And I couldn’t think of words about the snakes and the skin and the shakes should TH or my son ask what was wrong. So, I didn’t cry, but I let Mother Nature kind of do that for me when it began to rain. A bargain, I suppose, but maybe I didn’t fully live up to my half, whatever it would have been, because it all came back and I was uncomfortable again.

It’s been a few years since I’ve had to deal with those fucking snakes. I thought I was doing better. Perhaps, it’s not that I was doing better but that I was just really that much better at keeping it under lock and key.

I don’t know if that’s really the way of all of this – to keep it under lock and key. I remember that voice telling me, across the dining room table in dim light. She had her usual diet Coke beside her in a goblet and she was earnest in her comment, “It will always be a part of you.” I had tried, at that moment in time, to look forward into the future and attempt to find bits of myself that were a part of that horrific rending of my soul when something I clearly did not consent to – at least I said no that time – ended up happening anyway. I didn’t want to be a part of me, but I think she’s right.

I am like the main character in my book in that the snakes don’t come so often. And I don’t really have flashbacks anymore, not of that single moment but of other things related to, I do. But not of that moment, at least. Maybe now it’s time to curl around myself and remind my soul that I am not rendered in shards of glass, easily broken or already broken, but rendered in steel and concrete, even if there are little dents in that steel and possibly some cracks in the concrete.

I lived with the snakes all day in some form or another. They’ve receded, at least. I can feel them a little, writhing in the recesses. They can retake me at any time and I have to admit that I am, at least, grateful that they didn’t overwhelm me on a work day. At least it was a weekend where I could give in to such things a little and be content with my own silence, even if I couldn’t quite remember what my day entailed fully because I was so overwhelmed with the snakes and their habits.

I remember those words about how it will always be a part of me. I hope that one day, it isn’t snakes that are a part of me, but something a little easier to manage. Snakes are things that slither around, poking and prodding at recesses better left locked. They can find ways into those recesses that destroy everything or at least make it harder to connect with the world in which we live. I fear that it will always be snakes, though, and I will never be able to tell anyone who it is that I go through; what it is like to have them writhe against me and want my skin to pull apart, my soul’s attempts to freedom.

I can see the cuts in my soul where I bled from other things as well as this one particular item that affected me so much this weekend. I can see the blood of my soul, welled up in its slash marks. I think about how the main character’s husband was able to buy back her honor with the killing of the people who hurt her so. And I could think that it may be an interesting experience or experiment to have something similar happen with someone who cared about me.

I don’t think there’s a way to get back whatever honor I may have had, though? I don’t even think there is a really way to re-forge my own soul into a working approximation of what it once was. I think it’s more than a bit battered and more than a bit shattered and quite possibly, it’s really just done for good. But I have the idea that I have been wounded thus in previous lives and I was relatively okay, I think, before all the horror came about and before I realized that I didn’t know how to consent or what consent was, really.

Even if I can’t find a way, in this life, to re-forge my soul, maybe I can do it much better in the next one.

Sekhmet laughs at me when I say this to her, sometimes, because it is truly she who takes the forge and rebuilds me to her specifications. I have no say in the matter and I don’t think I want to have one. She says to me in this life that I am stronger than I give myself credit for and I can do what I need to do in order to recreate the soul I wanted to be as a child. I don’t really believe her, not with the rending of those traumas I’ve been through, but other people have said as much as well.

I don’t think there’s a way to buy back my honor, either in blood or in pain or in any other way. But maybe, I can at least fit the bits of my soul back together again in a way that works. And maybe if I figure out a way to do that, I won’t have to deal with the red and black snakes that slither free and roam where I don’t want them to.

Stillness and Thoughts.

Some days, I go outside to simper in the sunlight, streaming down over my head. I sit down on the back stoop with book or phone in hand, originally intending on getting something going. Instead, I sit back on the stoop and close my eyes against the bright rays that pierce my eyes with deepened shadowing than they are used to and feel the very fingertips of Re upon my face. On days like that, the thoughts roll around my head like a wayward rubber ball, rolling around the circle for a game of jacks. On those days, I’ll pick up that wayward ball and bounce it down, picking up one of the jacks and flipping it over my hand, end to end, in an effort to puzzle out where it is my mind has gone.

Lately, this particular game of Re-touches-and-I-puzzle has been heading to the same place. It feels, now, less like a game and more like a terrorizing moment of heart-rending capabilities. I’ve been thinking too much about this now to leave it alone and it’s where I’m meant to head with these thoughts; I know that. That doesn’t mean I have to fucking like it.

It started with a dream.

I’m beginning to suspect that I’m so stubborn, the only way I can get through to what I need to pick at is through dreams. I think every major undertaking I’ve done, either religious or healing, has come about because I had a dream. This dream started off okay. It was about my ex. It started off like all the other ones I’ve had since I severed our bonds. But the end of that dream was not okay. He wore me down and down and down some more until I was crying and he was over me, grunting, and I was thinking, TH is going to be so mad at me that I didn’t fight him.

Just re-writing that leaves tingles of anxiety and panic in my arms and my heart races.

I didn’t understand the dream, not at first. It felt like I had missed something and I was worried. I turned to a bunch of friends and said, “Here is the dream and I don’t understand.” I thought that maybe there was still some shadow work to do there – perhaps the ball of anger at returned. But when I looked for it, it wasn’t there. I thought that maybe I hadn’t severed all the bonds between us – perhaps there was something that had found its way beyond the magic and the hard work I had completed last year. But when I looked at all the other bonds I have, I didn’t see that snaky ribbon of his bond and realized that wasn’t it.

I didn’t understand it.

Then I saw something else, something about consent, which has been a very, very, very weird and strange thing that has popped up everywhere for me two weeks before hand. My mind went, “Oh, well that’s it.” And I understood. This wasn’t really shadow work, per se, but this was about me and about how I’ve always behaved when it’s come to things. I realized, honestly, that I wasn’t very good with consent at least as it is discussed by modern day people. “Consent is giving permission,” more or less, and as I thought back to that, I realized that, well, I was never really good with giving anyone consent. Before now, before TH and our relationship, I didn’t really understand what consent was. And I still have issues with it.

I stopped thinking about this. There was no point in moving forward because the thoughts that would come would, of course, hurt. I didn’t want hurt, so I ignored it. I’ve been ignoring this for weeks now. Sekhmet has been incredibly patient, of course, but I knew it was only a matter of time. Either she sent me another dream or my subconscious had enough of my frail attempts at poking at the internal bees’ nest, only to hunch back and run away from it at the first sign of pain to come. Whatever the case may be, I had another dream, which left me less confused and more willing to move forward with the overall process.

I was at TH’s parents’ house and there was something in my hair. I could feel it on the right side of my head, plucking and pulling at the snarled strands. TH was there, beside me, and very gently removed whatever it was. The thing in his hand was a 10 pound black widow spider. I stared at its carapace as it glinted off the streaming sunlight. TH, thoughtfully, put the thing on a bit of spider webbing above the pool. The spider went shuttling back and forth across the strands, not with its oversized legs but like one of those little rabbits on the side of a dog race. It maneuvered back and forth as I watched it stop above a child’s body, swimming in the pool and taunting it to come for it. The child ducked beneath the water as the spider came down and that’s about when my mind had enough because I woke the fuck up.

I’m not a fan of spiders.

I lay there, heart pounding, trying to make sense of what it was I had just dreamed. My head still hurt where the spider had been tangled in my hair. I reached up and touched it, frightened that I would actually find a fucking spider in my hair. There was nothing there. I think, in my consternation, my hand got caught in my hair and, I think, pulled some strands loose. At four in the morning, I sat up and watched television for a while. When I felt calm enough, I checked out my favorite dream interpretation site since I was running blank on interpretations, “To see a black widow in your dream suggests fear or uncertainty regarding a relationship. You may feel confined, trapped, or suffocated in this relationship. You may even have some hostility toward your mate. Because the female black widow has the reputation of devouring its mate, it thus also symbolizes feminine power and domination over men.”

Well, whether it meant I was uncertain in my relationship or not, it certainly seemed to go hand-in-hand, in a fashion, with all the thoughts I had been having and running away from. I supposed that I should get to it and so, I began writing this entry then. I began thinking of what it is was that I had been hoping to ignore. I felt pain and sorrow. Sometimes, as I sat up in the morning, waking up long before the sun rose, to contemplate what it was going on in my life and what it was that had happened, I would feel my heart palpitate, my palms sweat, and my breathing become irregular. All that mattered was that I had to get through this in some form or another, but I realized that I couldn’t run through the gamut in too quick a time. I had to take my time.

I decided to start off with Sekhmet, turning over the reason she wanted this in my face now, right now, over and over again. Of course, this all started with Sekhmet.

It’s because of her, and her uncomfortable ability to make me face the things I don’t want to face, that I have to face this. I’ve been looking back and back down the halls of memory, trying so hard to see where I consented to anything in my relationships with the men I’ve been with. And I don’t see a single instance where I said, specifically, “Yes, I want to do this,” except maybe once or twice. I can only see that I gave in. It wasn’t, “Yes, I want to be here with this person,” but always, “I don’t want this person to leave me so I’m going to do whatever it is they ask of me, from the small things to the large things, and they will be happy and take care of me and everything will be okay.”

The problem with living in relationships that way is that, well, there is a bit of a stubborn streak inside of me. For some reason, I grew up to become a sort of rag doll that people could do with what they wanted, but there was a hint of strength underneath that façade. And that hint would come out now and again, causing major arguments because the people I was in those relationships with didn’t expect me to stand up for myself about anything. And something would set off that hidden steel and I would argue and stubborn my way through something, and they would leave.

This only reinforced the, “I have to give in because otherwise they’ll leave me.”

I was thinking the other day about the first boy who kissed me. He was a boy in my neighborhood and I think we were nine. We were supposed to be playing hide-and-seek with his little brother. And instead of hiding on his own, the boy found me hiding in the spare bedroom. And I remember him coming over to me, hiding in a darkened corner and trying to kiss me. I can remember turning my head away – a clear indication of no, I supposed – but he went on with it anyway. And I can remember thinking, “No, I don’t want this,” but I never said anything.

I stopped hanging out with them after that. It bothered me that he would continue to attempt to kiss me. Even though I hadn’t said, “No, we shouldn’t do this,” or “No, I don’t think I’m ready for this stuff,” or “No, I don’t want to do this,” I just turned away and hoped for the best. This seems to have been my basic philosophy with just about everything, though, from that time forward. It wasn’t ever a “No, please stop,” or “No, let’s not,” it was always just hints and signals, some obvious and some not, and hoping someone could read my fucking mind.

I moved forward in time and looked at other relationships, too. I can remember in middle school and the first real boyfriend I had. He was okay. He was nice and he didn’t make me do anything I didn’t want to do. If I wanted to hold his hand, then we held hands. If I wanted to kiss, then we kissed. He was nice to me. He treated me very well, though I didn’t return the favor. I treated him very badly and ended up not even really breaking up, but just stopped returning his calls. (I was in a deep depression by that point, so it’s really I was a jerk but also I was unable to speak to people by that point.) He was good and nice and I stopped speaking to him.

But other boys were not so nice and not so good and I continued to talk to them. I let them do many things that I wasn’t comfortable with. I let them say things about me, to me, or about others that I was uncomfortable with and just let it go. I can’t remember a single person ever stopping to say, “Do you want to do this?” Or asking me, “Is it okay if I said this thing?” I don’t remember anyone every making sure I was comfortable with anything because I was too busy hoping someone would just magically see that I was not and make a decision for me.

For a long time, I assumed that my lack of consent in these relationships, or well maybe not lack of consent but lack of actually make any fucking decision whatsoever about anything, was because I thought of sex and the stuff related as dirty. It was wrong. It didn’t get done. It was something gross and icky, but other people didn’t see it that way, so I went along with it, knowing that my viewpoints on the matter were rather unorthodox. Oh, sure, having an orgasm is pretty nice and all, but the unbearable guilt and disgust that happens after said orgasm? Well, that was a bit much and I think, partially at least, that’s where the whole, “please read my mind,” thing comes from. I knew my viewpoints would be seen as incorrect and kept them to myself.

But where the fuck did that even come from? I can’t think of it, honestly. And with certain boys, when things would happen, it wasn’t always some form of guilt complex that happened after the fact. Some of the guilt and dirtiness, I know where it stems. But the stuff from before I was raped and before I was molested? Where on earth did that come from anyway?

In an effort to keep people beside me, I kept my trap fucking shut. I never said word one to anyone about how I felt about things. And that’s the gist of all of this, isn’t it? I was so busy keeping my mouth shut because people would be upset with whatever that came out of it that I kept my mouth shut when I probably should have fucking said something. And ended up opening it up and being the stubborn little fuck that I actually am over the most asinine and ridiculous things you can imagine.

This morning, I sat outside and ruminated over the nightmare I had last night. This one was more painful, in some ways, than the one that started all of this. While I contemplated the dream, I watched as a blue jay swallowed some tasty morsel it had picked up from the yard. I watched that blue jay hop up the tree, trying to keep my emotions in check before I lost it in full view of my neighbors, who were getting up and greeting the new day. I thought about that dream and wondered how much things may have actually changed.

It started with a beautiful girl. She was small and lithe with curly brown hair and hazel eyes. And she was looking for TH. TH found her with me by his side and she held her hand to her womb and smiled at him. And then it came out: he had cheated on me with this girl and evidently, on the first try, he had knocked her up. As the dream progressed, the girl’s belly swelled with new life and more came out: it was three separate times within as many weeks; he had enjoyed himself immensely; he was going to leave our son and me to be with her and have a “real” relationship; and he thought I wasn’t really asexual but jumping on the Tumblr bandwagon of such things.

And I lay there, in the dream, crying until I could barely breathe, clawing at his legs and saying, “What do I have to do? Please don’t leave me; please don’t leave me. What do I have to do in order to keep you here with me? I forgive you; I forgive you. Please stay.”

I woke up crying.

And I wondered, as I lay there swiping the tears from my cheeks, how much change I’ve actually gone through. Do I truly stand my ground with TH? Am I truly willing to do many things in order to keep him with me, as it has always been with the men before? I lay there, my heart pounding in tune with the anxiety gnawing away at my insides, trying to decide if maybe I hadn’t changed as much as I thought I had. Maybe I am still really bad with consent and maybe I am still really bad about making my viewpoint heard and maybe I am still really bad with not doing everything in my power to bend to the unforeseen will of others, changing everything I can about myself, just so that they will love me and stay by my side.

According to the website I use, having your significant other cheat on you in a dream means that “your fears of being abandoned. You may feel a lack of attention in the relationship. Alternatively, you may feel that you are not measuring up to the expectations of others. This notion may stem from issues of trust or self-esteem. The dream could also indicate that you are subconsciously picking up hints and cues that your significant other is not being completely truthful or is not fully committed in the relationship.” I don’t know if any of that matters, honestly, but the dream hurt and I have to wonder how much change I ever did…

Later, I cuddled beside TH, letting his gentle touches calm my overwrought mind from the dream. He said nothing as I cried, letting his tender fingertips tell my mind and body the reassurances they needed.

Maybe I have changed. Maybe not. But this journey is far from over.

Empty.

This shit is getting heavy and it appears that no one wrote the manual.

So, in August of last year, I was pretty much told, “get off your ass and finish your shadow work.” I understood the directive. I had kind of been putting it off. There was so much to write about and so much to think about and so much to mull over and I had pretty much just been ignoring it. It wasn’t, really, a conscious decision to put things off in as much as it was one of those subconscious moments where I just really didn’t want to fucking do it. So, in an effort to at least pretend to follow the directive, I got to writing. I started with the soul mate. And then nothing else even remotely worked up to the level where I felt, “okay, it’s time to go to the next level.”

I sat in front of my computer screen for days and days after that entry, thinking about where to go next. I thought about that time that the class bully said my hair looked like “moldy hay” and everyone in the class laughed, including my “friends” and my “boyfriend.” I thought about writing about how lonely and left out I felt without my soul mate around to hold my hand. I thought about writing about everything little thing I could, leading up to and including the hell that was the ninth grade when I was forced to grow up very quickly in a matter of hours when the soul mate told me her very deep, very dark, very trigger-worthy secret. I sat in front of my computer, day after day after day, trying to get that out.

And with each newly written piece, or the start of each newly written piece really, I couldn’t work myself up to actually write about it. It was like, “okay, well these things happened but it was a long time ago and does it really need to be a part of ‘shadow work’ or anything?” And even that moment when I aged from fourteen to, seemingly, thirty in a matter of hours, it didn’t feel like I needed to discuss it. I thought, maybe this isn’t the shadow work we are looking for. And then I ignored it for a while. I figured the really trigger worthy bullshit from high school would get discussed in its course and maybe I had really lived up to the directive, after all, by writing about the soul mate.

After all, she and I have had a lot of issues throughout the years for various reasons. So, maybe the story wasn’t so much about shadow work regarding the hellhole that was my teenaged years in as much as it was the story of us.

No, that didn’t feel correct, either.

For most of September and into early October, I kept feeling like I had to get something out, but every attempt to “just write something” was met with an internal resistance. It all just felt so completely useless. Nothing felt like it used to. Even the comments that I can still remember people making about me didn’t seem nearly as important. And I’ve had self-esteem issues for years and years – wasn’t that kind of the whole point in that shadow work or something? But it seemed that the longer I sat in front of my blank Word document, the less need I had to actually write anything.

Shadow being, heal thyself, indeed.

So, of course, the real issue was that the message was either garbled or incoherent. I misinterpreted what was said. I was told, “Get off your ass and finish your shadow work.” But of course, there are untold different versions of what shadow work entails. Normally, I just think that shadow work is about the traumas in the here and now that one has to work through. However, there are a lot of different traumas that a soul can experience in any place, in any time. And even though my mind instantly goes to the here and now that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s where it should first land upon when thinking about the next phase in shadow work. And of course, that’s not even remotely what the hell the message meant.

Clearly, since I was thrown into a white room shortly thereafter.

According to Dusken, a white room is a safe haven. It’s where people get thrown when they need to get a time out, of sorts. I’m probably doing a really terrible job in explaining it, but my experiences within that white room have since colored my perspective on the subject. I pretty much just associate it with “time out,” just like sending a toddler to their room or to the corner when they misbehave. The difference, of course, is that the safe space – the white room – isn’t so much about being punished, even if it feels that way, but is a place to go when you just need to work on stuff that you’re ignoring. And any being that feels the need can and will toss you in there.

So, I was forced to do a metric shitfuckton of shadow work in a very narrow space of time. It didn’t go well, at first, but there was a lot to hash out. And the underlying point to all of this was that, once it was over, I could advance a few steps. And at the time, I really wanted to advance a few steps. What I didn’t really expect from the overall experience was the disillusionment and cynicism that came along with it. While I’ll attempt to discuss that in future, in a different entry, I can tell you that all at once, things became crystal clear to me and those things hurt.

Is there a name for doing shadow work about the emotional response caused by shadow work?

After that experience, I noticed a lot of changes. And I had to admit that things were really weird. This is about when things started to get heavy.

Not to break away from this, but let’s talk about a fandom of mine for a second. I swear it’s pretty relative to the point of this post, but we just have to get through that first. The fandom I want to discuss is specifically season six of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (So, if you haven’t seen that season and are planning to, you should probably not read the next few paragraphs since SPOILERS.)

The reason that season six is my favorite is because all of the bad guys that the Scooby Gang fought against were nothing against all the shit they had to face in season six. And in every instance, the bad stuff had to do with humans and the emotions they hold. While magic and demons are still a part of the season, the underlying character takes on a darker note as they explored the different actions people took upon themselves based on their emotional responses. And that was it. They all made mistakes, some bigger than others, but they were all based on emotions, or lack thereof.

I mention this mostly because I want to bring us into focus regarding Buffy. When she first came back from wherever she was (the TV show says “heaven,” but I always preferred a pleasant place in the astral explanation myself, and of course that explanation is mine and mine alone), she has little to no emotional reaction. Point of fact, she’s empty for much of the season. And it’s only as she’s rehashing all of this to Tara, in an effort to find out what was wrong with her, that you finally see her emotionless veneer crack into pieces.

Whenever I’ve been so depressed that I am beyond feeling, I’ve felt like Buffy Summers throughout much of that season. I think, above all else, that is why it’s my favorite. I can identify better with her as an emotionless automaton than I can with her as a superhero. Don’t get me wrong – I think Buffy is one of the best fucking superheroes in the history of them. However, season six made me feel closer to her, as a person and less as a character, than all the other seasons combined.

After I left that white room, I felt like Buffy Summers.

I felt empty.

I’ve thought about this a lot. And I have come to a lot of different conclusions on this. I think every single one of them is wrong, but how am I to know? Nobody really has the answers for these types of issues. For the most part, they’re kind of existential. And again, as I said in the beginning, no one fucking wrote the manual on this shit. So, I’m kind of wobbling around in an attempt to figure out what is going on and why I feel this way.

Someone said that maybe the shadow work wasn’t really over.

Someone else told me that maybe that’s the whole point in what I did.

I thought maybe I had bypassed a simple depression and had gotten to the “no longer feeling” phase.

Someone else said that maybe I came back wrong.

All I know is that I’ve felt so damn empty for the last few months. And I have to admit that after waiting for the next emotional outburst or the next overwhelming moment of those fee fees and then it never fucking happening, I had to admit that maybe I really did come back wrong.

Things are a little better, though, I think. I’ve been thinking on this feeling for so long – just about every waking moment, really – that I’ve come to realize a lot of things. The emptiness wasn’t bad. It wasn’t so much that I had been so sad for such a long period of time that I couldn’t feel anything anymore. So, I knew that as much as I could understand the basis of a depressive phase and maybe I could come up with good reasons as to why the ending of the shadow work would cause that depressive phase, I had to admit that it just didn’t fully track.

It just didn’t track at all.

The thing that made me realize why it didn’t track was because I went back to poke and prod, often, at the triggers of all of the fucked up shit that has caused me an ongoing issue in some form or another. I have a lot of triggers, man. And of course, I’ve always felt weird and strange because those triggers aren’t “normal,” as I’ve been assured before, they’re my triggers and they were tried and true, well tested responses that I could go back to and know, “Okay, yes. This still bothers me.” What I haven’t said is that I’ve been poking at those triggers pretty fucking regularly. I wouldn’t say that I’m 100% over those individual triggers, but, you know, I can say that a lot of it doesn’t really bother me anymore.

I went back to the triggers for my self-esteem – nope. I realized a while ago that I just don’t really care. I’m fat. I have bad teeth. My hair is weird and probably looks like moldy hay, or maybe more like a reddish moldy hay now because I’ve dyed it red so often. It dawned on me that there are about two whole people that really matter when it comes to how I look or feel about myself. And none of those people are anyone outside of myself and TH. (Yeah, his opinion matters since it’s him who tells me if the jeans I like make me look funky.) Maybe all that work I did with Hetheru about love was what clinched it or maybe not.

I just realized that I had stopped caring. People were going to like me or they wouldn’t. And there really wasn’t anything I can do about it. So, why bother sitting around and caring about it all the time? Sometimes, I get a twinge. I feel overweight and blob-like, or my hair doesn’t do what I want it to do, or the way I decide to do my makeup doesn’t come out just right. But usually, the reason I have those feelings isn’t because I don’t measure up to others’ perceptions of me but because my hand was shaking when I applied my eyeliner, my favorite shirt shrunk in the wash, or because I don’t know how to do my hair in anything besides a messy bun.

The onus is on me and not anyone else.

In all of the poking and prodding, I realized that I had really relieved myself in a lot of different areas. I wasn’t angry about my dad dying when I was a kid anymore. I wasn’t as upset over the bullshit my first seriously serious boyfriend put me through. Hell, even some of the shit that would have still caused me pain and suffering around July of last year didn’t matter anymore. As I pushed and prodded and poked around at the emptiness I was feeling, I realized that things that used to matter just didn’t anymore.

And I don’t really think that all of this has to do with needing more work or anything. I think it’s because I didn’t realize that with all of this shadow work what I was really, really attempting to do.

Earlier this week, I was talking with a bunch of my Kemetic community about this blog entry by Sat-Maat. During that conversation, my friend, Helms, said something that really crystallized that blog post and what I was working through clearly, “So if you drag the knife backwards through the cut, the wound closes up?” That really epitomized the entry and our discussion, that one question. And that, really, also crystallized the shadow work.

I had been so intent on hoping that my reactions would be the same as they were before the traumas took place that I didn’t expect an entirely different reaction upon being healed. I was expecting the same things that used to make me happy to make me happy. I was expecting the same things that used to make me sad to make me sad. And so on and so forth. As Helms indicated, I was thinking that by going through the shadow work, I was thinking that I would be able to pull the knife back through the wound to close it up.

Instead, I stitched it all up.

Instead, I have scars to prove all that I did.

Instead, I came back through that experience different.

I used to look at this and feel sad because I wasn't like everyone else. Then I realized that's pretty boring. Source: X

I used to look at this and feel sad because I wasn’t like everyone else. Then I realized that’s pretty boring. Source: X

It’s not so much an emptiness, per se, I think that I was going through. I think it was more just an “I can feel again and don’t really know how to do that.” I’ve gone for so long without feeling anything important or overwrought on purpose in an effort to protect myself. I’ve looked around deep inside and found that just about all of the intense emotions I had – which were all pretty much on the “negative spectrum” of emotional responses – are gone. I can fill up with new emotions.

I just have to figure out how to do that because I never really learned how to without having something blocking it. And now, there’s nothing to block it. I can fill the empty hole that is my middle with other things, if I so choose. Or, as the comic indicates, I can just go running around and listen to the weird sounds I can create. At this juncture, I think having fun with these differences is definitely in the stars.

The Tower.

Every day, I do a daily card draw for myself. I have a strange affinity for divination apps and have a slew of them on my phone. Mostly, they are for fun or for show, but occasionally, I pay attention to patterns. I’ve noticed a strange pattern in recent weeks. On a nearly daily basis, I’ve been receiving the Tower card. I thought nothing of it at first. It was just a picture of a card on my app with a really poor interpretation attached. I ignored it but couldn’t help but notice that the days associated with that card – the work days, more specifically – were incredibly awful. And by awful, I mean both emotionally and mentally draining to the point where I came home and hid from the world. I do this a lot, honestly, as an introverted type of person, which is why I didn’t notice the pattern immediately. Whatever the case, I did start to pick up on the pattern soon enough. But the thing is, I’ve been mulling over this odd pattern. I’m beginning to think it belongs not just relegated of huh that’s very interesting but in the realm of huh I should pay attention here.

The thing about the card is that I’ve noticed it beginning to crop up in places it shouldn’t. I’m not surprised by its appearance on my Tumblr dash because, well, I follow people who have a certain penchant for Tarot and the like. However, after having not really seen too many people talking about it or reblogging images of it, and then it showing up around the same time I was getting the card on my app? Well, that… that seemed more than a little fishy. I paid a little closer attention because I had just the feeling, the idea, that it was important enough to merit a bit more than a huh that’s very interesting attitude. I’ve realized that I don’t pay too close attention to the feelings that can, have, and will overwhelm me and that’s always been pretty detrimental before. So, I’ve decided that right now, right this second, this week, this month, this year, I need to pay attention to all of those feelings. And right now, the entire fucking universe is telling me about the Tower and saying that I need to buck up, pony up, pay the fuck attention right the fuck now.

I’m paying attention here.

It got worse.

I started having dreams about the Tower. I’ve never dreamed about Tarot cards before, but what made this so much worse was that the card was alive. It was real. It was moving and glistening in the lightning flashes. I was watching the Tower go down in flames in front of me. It was little like those clay-animation movies from my childhood that I remember enjoying so much. (Now? The animation just makes me shake my head.) But I dreamed about the card more than once and I dreamed about it again last night. The Tower had flames at its base and people I loved, I cared about were screaming for saving. And the lightning was flashing, the thunder was rolling, and I was standing in front of a pile of debris at my feet. I’ve been thinking about those debris today. I’ve been thinking about the bricks I’ve destroyed, ripped from their mortared homes, and what really made me sit up was when my son’s cartoons this morning had broken down towers in them. Not every single one, of course because that would be a good deal more weird than this is already turning out to being, but a good many of them did have that broken down tower and that’s when I really noticed the pattern.

The Tower.

I’ve been mulling over the meaning behind the Tower, of course. A lot of people tend to see it as a pretty bad card and I don’t really blame them. Whenever I receive the card in a reading, I pretty much just go, “oh fuck this shit,” and put my cards away. Once you pull that card, you’re kind of done. You don’t even really need to know about the situation anymore once that card comes out. You know shit is going to get bad and probably in a hurry. You know that irrevocable damage is heading your way and before it comes, it will be heralded by destruction and chaos the likes of which you may not fully recover from. I can safely say that having the Tower pop up in a reading means that you need to vastly reevaluate just about everything going on with the situation you’re asking about because shit is about to get fucking real.

So, I’ve gotten the Tower on my app; I’ve seen it in imagery in both obvious and not-so-obvious places; I’ve dreamed about it.

Well, shit-fuck-damn, what the fuck is going on that is going to get torn the fuck asunder?

I’ve come to the conclusion that, while everything is ready to be torn asunder to make way for the next step, that the real thing that’s going to get ripped to shreds is me.

A lot of things have been happening in my life and in my head that I haven’t mentioned to anybody. I’ve been burned a lot by sharing my burdens with other people. Some of the burning was due to my innate nature, but a lot of it honestly has to be because I trust blindly and stupidly. Things have come back to bite in me in the ass and I’ve learned a lesson on that. I’ve realized that while I have a lot of people who I know care about me – and even people I probably don’t know very well who care about me – that I need to stop doing that. So, I don’t have anyone to vent to and I honestly don’t think I want to have anyone to vent to. I don’t always like being the advice giver and not getting it back in turn from the people who profess to care about me, but I’m also acutely aware that just because I open up to somebody doesn’t mean that I chose the proper person. So, I know that while this isn’t a very healthy thing since “everyone should have someone to trust” or some other tripe like that, I just know that I cannot even remotely open my mouth about things.

And things… well, they’re changing.

More to the point, I’m changing.

I know a large part of the change stems from the agreement I had with Sekhmet a while ago. While I’m nervous and uncertain about what those changes entail and more specifically, what she is asking me to do in her name, I also know that I have no choice and that I don’t want to back down. I plan on meeting the commitment, head on, and knowing that right now, I have to find a lull. I have to go into the lull in order to see the shit through. And the shit that is coming, I know it’s going to be difficult. But I also know that, as with everything else that has been thrown in my path and been forced on me in the last three to six years, I can handle it. I may not handle it all with aplomb or dignity, but I know I can deal with it. I’m at a pretty low point now and I know that things can only go up from here. Besides, right now, the Tower may be talking about other things in my life but mostly, I know it’s talking about me.

Things are changing – I am changing.

I’ve been analyzing myself a lot in the last few days. I was lucky enough to have a four day weekend last week because of the holiday. It’s one of the only nice things my boss will do for her employees – give them Thanksgiving and the next day off. I had been mulling over the card on these days and the changes I’ve noticed in myself. I’ve been staying away from a lot of things. Some of the changes are hard and painful. I’ve been analyzing myself on a level that I haven’t done since the last time I gave serious vent to the shadow work that I have been doing for the last year or more. While I’ve been technically shadow working on the astral and doing things there that hasn’t necessarily translated over here in the same vein. Entries regarding my shadow work have been more flowery and less substance; more fiction-like and less brass tacks. But now with all this time off, coupled with some obvious “ah-ha” moments this past week, I’ve been able to translate it and realize that I have definitely changed and I’m tearing down the old brick and mortar, painfully and slowly, but I’ve been doing it.

I’ve been looking at things that I’ve kept to myself and I’ve been looking at things that I’ve kept buried for a long time.

I’ve also been doing a lot of healing during that time.

I know a lot of this stems from the White Room Incident. I was in that room for a very long time and at first, I hated that place. I didn’t want to be there for any reason whatsoever. I knew that it was a safe place and that the things I was doing within was a good thing. However, just because you consciously know that it’s for a good reason doesn’t necessarily equal to having a desire of being there. But in the end, I have to admit that it really is a good thing. I’m doing better now. I can feel myself on a much more even keel than I have been in years. And I also feel… calmer, more confident, and less like caring about what other people think about me or my practice or anything in between. While, at the time, the white room and the items that happened there were anathema to me, now I can appreciate all the careful planning and the help I received in doing what was needed. And I can also appreciate all of the good that came from.

I did the shadow work that I thought would take me a year to perform – the high school shit and other items – in only a couple of months. I guess all of last year was gearing me up to a heightened timeline once I agreed to Sekhmet’s deal. I’m grateful, honestly, that I haven’t had to go through each moment like I did with my ex-husband. The start was that entry about soul mates and the ending was the White Room. I walked through the fires of the pain I’ve carrier with me for ages and let it wash over my wounds, healing the ones I’ve been poking and prodding for years and years. Some days, I may still wake up with a sore heart or a sore spot, but it’s okay. Shadow work isn’t some magical cure search, as I had been trying to find when I first started doing this shadow work, but it is helpful and important. And as I realize that, I look back at that white room and all the stuff I went through, a lot of which I didn’t detail and won’t, and realize it was all for good.

I’ve come to realize that shadow work is very much the Tower. It is the epitome of the Tower. Each person’s work here is different, of course, and unique. That’s the point in it because it has nothing to do with outsiders and everything to do with what you need to do for yourself. And I did a lot of stuff for myself in the last 18 months that I probably never would have done. I may not necessarily be exactly what I wanted to be when I first started doing the magical cure search, as I called it, and I may not have necessarily ended that search for that cure in the way I had originally thought I would. But, as I looked back at myself and the changes I’ve noticed within, I realized that I am content with how things ended up. I’m pleased that the timeline, honestly, was quickened because I get to spend less time poking at scars that didn’t heal properly and more time feeling better for all of it. I may not be perfect with the destruction I caused myself, but I’m definitely better. And that’s all anyone can hope when it comes to shadow work.

And you know how I did that?

I tore down the bricks, ripped into the mortar of myself, set aflame the bits that needed it, and destroyed everything in the process.

And that destruction was a good thing.

Currently, I am the embodiment of the Tower. I’ve changed. It was chaotic and it was bloody; it was messy and it was intense. But it was exactly what I needed to see through what needed to happen in order to make way for the changes that will begin manifesting in this blog soon enough. Those changes, some people, may have already begun to notice them. And that’s okay. I’ve begun to be more in line with what needs to happen and what will happen versus what was happening. I need to slowly, but surely and inevitably, build up to the new and exciting prospects that 2014 will hold over me and my religious practice. Just as assuredly as I tore myself asunder, it is time to tear down my religious practice and change that as irrevocably as I can as well.

It should be quite an exciting year.

Disgusting.

I disgust myself.

This week has been particularly difficult for me. Each morning, I wake up with tears in my eyes. And throughout the day, the feeling of an overpowering need to cry picks up or dissipates. There is no single event that pushes me to the brink of feeling as though I need to cry. I may have been driving to work and listening to the radio host, discussing the news that morning. I may have been sitting at my desk, attempting to figure out a billing issue that’s been going on for nearly a year now. I may have been laughing with my son as I try to tickle his feet. None of these particular instances – and there are many more of same vein – that do not really make anyone sit down and say, “Why, yes. I am feeling particularly sad about this thing and so I shall cry about it.” It’s not like I cried, either. I’m not one of those “let’s cry” kind of people, though I’ve been known to force the crying issue on purpose just to have a cathartic moment after a particular bad time. Whatever the cause behind these tears, it has led me to some other parts of myself that I have not been too thrilled to look over.

My mundane life has been very hard this week, which isn’t surprising. I have about $15 to my name right now. There are things that we need in this house. I’m nearly out of deodorant and I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to steal some of TH’s to see me through before I can get to the store and purchase some. We have one roll of toilet paper, which needs to last until next weekend. (I’m thinking about asking TH to steal some from his mom’s house.) I noticed my front driver side tire is beginning to crack – similar to how the passenger side was cracking, but this time it’s near the rim and not near the tread. We’re nearly out of food since food stamps has decided to give me money each month, but has also decided that everyone needs a new card with their DMV photo on it and so, I have no card with which to use those benefits which started last month. (Since my last card was canceled in July and they decided on this picture-on-the-card thing, they won’t reactivate it so that I can feed my family.) I have about a half tank of gas, which has to last me until we get paid on Friday. So, I can’t go anywhere this weekend – such as to TH’s mother’s house to steal toilet paper – just to be on the safe side. It takes me about a quarter tank of gas to get to and from work each day, so I am going to have to borrow money, I think.

This has all added up – amid other things that I haven’t quite been stewing about in the last twenty four hours on the financial front – to some pretty depressing times.

Work has been particularly difficult this week, too. I’m not really surprised. My job sounds like it may be easy when I make random comments about it, but it takes a lot of out of you. I am a problem solver and a project manager. The problem solving is what takes up most of my time since the projects I work are usually months’ long affairs that don’t necessarily need my attention every day. Since we work repair situations for every single one of our clients – a unique service that only our telecommunications consulting company offers – it can get pretty crazy with the amount of repairs each one of us has going at any particular moment. I’ve been shunting most of my repairs to our newest team member who is… not cut out for this position. She’s getting it, but only after eight weeks of constant training and monitoring. We also suffer from severe personality conflicts and since I’m the one who has had to spend the most time with her during training, this is also pretty fucking draining. What makes it worse is that I have told my supervisor under no uncertain terms that she is not cut out for this job in any capacity and I keep getting overruled. When I brought this up to the other supervisor on staff – twice – I was given push back. I’ve stopped voice my opinions.

The worst part is that a lot of these repair situations should be fairly easy and they are. However, since I am having this new person do them all while I work on higher level project work and billing issues, I constantly have to take time out of my day to explain to her, again and again, why we do the things we do the way that we do them. She tells me that it’s “not logical” and that we have to “follow the truth.” Well, just because I know what the problem is – and nine times out of ten, when a repair comes in and I get a specific response from the site, I can tell you what the issue is – that doesn’t mean that she can’t follow the trail that we have to follow. She thinks that she understands how to do the job, but it’s a lot harder than what she thinks it is. We have to work within the framework that the carriers provide for us, which is usually convoluted and asinine. (I’m pretty sure the telephone carriers do this on purpose so that people won’t complain about issues with their phone lines or file billing disputes… thus why we all have jobs.) She is constantly coming back to me after I make her do something that she thinks is “stupid or ridiculous” and says that I’m right about X, Y, and Z. I know I’m correct. I’ve been working here for nearly a year now and I do know what I’m talking about.

I stopped complaining about her or the arguments she gives me. It’s like my voice isn’t being heard, so why bother?

No wonder why I often want to cry [while there].

My astral life has been very difficult this week, as well. To anyone who has been talking to me about this or has read my last two astral posts here, then you know I’ve been “white room’d.” I haven’t been able to leave the room since the 27th of October and it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to leave any time soon. This really wouldn’t be so bad except that the astral self that I am is very active and is always journeying. Literally, I do not stay in any particular place for more than a few hours. I do not make relationships with anyone or anything outside of the gods and spirits I have relationships with in this realm. I am a wonderer in the likes of which amazes me because, in this place I am very much the introvert. (Sometimes, I wonder if the personality types of our astral selves speak to the bits of ourselves, in this realm, that we wish we were like and can’t bring ourselves to be.) While I’m not alone in this white room, it’s been filled with a lot of hard truths and aching pronouncements from a certain lwa in my life.

I don’t mind that he’s able to explain things to me – and not lie about it – but it’s incredibly difficult to cage up a wild animal. Honestly, I’m not sure if it’s so terrible because they’ve all conspired to cage the wild animal that I can be in that life or if it’s because, as a caged animal, I have to listen to all the horrors that I’ve been ignoring. The white room isn’t just about what’s going on over there and the integral health issues that I’ve been ignoring over there, but it’s also very much about who I am and what I’m doing over here. The bits I may not necessarily discuss, and I admit to not discussing much with anyone about this, are very painful. They aren’t quite a reliving of the traumas I’ve faced in this life as that will come later, but they are very painful anyway. Papa Legba is very much no holds barred here, but he’s kind enough to let me have the breaks I need in between each terrible truth to recover. I honestly don’t think any of the netjeru I have relationships with, even Sekhmet, would be nearly as kind about it. No, scratch that. I know that they wouldn’t. And that’s caused problems in and of themselves…

The white room is a terrible place for the animal that I am. In the few brief moments I give myself to think about this situation, I tend to envision a tiger in a very small cage, pacing back and forth and being unable to go anywhere. The cage for that tiger is the metaphor for the white room and of course, I am like the tiger. It feels very much like that. I have a difficulty with small and enclosed places, which can translate over into having hard times in large crowds. There are nights where I will wake up from doing something in that white room with a panic attack because I’ve been in that room for so long. It’s also difficult to explain how things over there can and will translate over here, but they do. The panic attacks at being stuck in a tiny place, even though it’s not really a tiny place, is enough to make me want out that much more.

But I’m at a staging point with the progress. I want to get on the next ship and do the next leg of our journey, but the rest of my soul isn’t ready yet.

And so, I wait.

And I cry.

And I whine.

And Papa Legba just lets me.

While everything is difficult, I find it harder and harder to term to the netjeru here. I’ve asked for time off from them, so this prohibits me from going to them with my anguish. I’m one of those assholes who will get what they want, realize it may not exactly be what they wanted, and then continue going with what I had asked for just out of sheer stubbornness. But, with each week since I’ve asked for that quiet time, the lwa grow louder. This is partially because the gods are missing, of course, but also because it is their time right now. My religion is very much two fold – in the spring and summer, it is the netjeru; in the fall and winter, it is the lwa. This has always been the case. But even during the winter of last year, when things were pretty fucking bad and I was growing desperate because my unemployment was getting ready to lapse, I could still pray to them and ask them for help. With each new conversation with Papa Legba, about the nature of souls and the nature of Bondye and the nature of voodoo and the nature of my faith, I’ve become more and more disenfranchised with my gods.

I find myself incredibly torn.

I disgust myself.

One of the things I never considered when I started walking down the road Papa Legba opened up for my two-plus years ago was how difficult it could or would make my relationships with the gods. I’ve gone from being a simple devotee with a myriad of relationships to several of the netjeru (and occasional other gods who straggle on by for a bit) to being a full-fledged sévité of the lwa. Well, full-fledged to some of them, anyway, and only depending on when they feel like answering that particular question. Suffice to say, my beliefs have changed just in the two years. I don’t doubt the gods. I don’t doubt that they are real. I don’t doubt that I have relationships with them and will, again, when they come back in the spring/summer. However, I find myself having a very difficult time with them because of how completely awesome Papa Legba is. He tells me the truth – there isn’t any subterfuge. He will answer my questions, within reason – without telling me something like “it’s for your own good.” (Though he does use this phrase, it’s usually at the tail end of explaining why something is happening.) Since he is so willing to hold my hand as I come back and back again to this great crossroads that is life, I find it harder and harder to continue my blind faith.

I disgust myself.

I am disenfranchised with my gods because they are not what I was always hoping for.

They’ve shown what they are, their true colors, and it makes me sad and angry.

I know that they are doing what they are doing for “good reason” but it doesn’t make anything any easier. I often ask Papa Legba why there is so much suffering going on in my life and the lives of my friends and the lives of everyone across the world. He always gets a sad look on his face and tells me that is what was created along with everything else, but that even the suffering can be a beautiful thing because it teaches us how to be strong in the face of adversity. These words make sense to me on a fundamental level, whether as an astral being or as a human being. However, what aggravates me beyond belief about this is that I’ve asked these questions of the netjeru time and time again, but never gotten so poetic a response. I’ve usually received something incredibly vague like, “it just is.” Well, why the fuck does it have to be that way? Sometimes, after responses like that from my gods, I would begin to think that maybe the Christians didn’t have it right and that we were being punished by some omniscient, omnipotent deity because someone fucked up once. It’s the way of the world to punish everyone for someone’s fuck up, so it stands to reason. However, I know that my gods are as real as die-hard Christians know that their deity is real.

Color me confused, but that’s an entry for another day.

All of this has culminated to a point where I find myself incredibly angry with everything.

One of the things about myself that I find interesting is that when I am really, really, really sad about everything is that I get angry. It’s almost as if the very idea of being sad about something just pisses me the hell off and I end up turning it into some extreme anger. This usually will come out in unintended (or possibly intended) ways like ranting about people, things, places, screaming in my car, listening to loud music, being spiteful, etc. I can’t say that any of this is a healthy reaction to sadness, but I can at least admit that this is a fucking issue.

On Saturday, I did a lave tet for myself, but not relating to any of this. I don’t doubt that everything that’s been going on this week is a part of that, and if I actually write that entry, I will explain why. (Note to self: maybe I should write that entry one day.) But considering what I did for the lave tet and the goal I had in mind when I created the wash, I have to admit that this really, really wasn’t what I was expecting. In a weak moment, I reached out to someone who was doing oracle services for free on Tumblr last night. And she… well, the oracle was pretty much spot on. I was told that I need to take care of myself because I just don’t. And this week has culminated in an ongoing feeling that I keep putting off everything that I need to do, with my shadow work and the astral stuff and my mundane life, for myself. I always have a really good reason why caring for myself isn’t nearly as important as caring about everything going on in the world.

But while suffering may be beautiful because it teaches us how to be strong, I’m not really learning how to be strong. All I’m learning is about how angry I can get because shit really fucking sucks.

Last night, I realized that I’m important. I haven’t really internalized this lesson, at all yet. But I’m hopeful that I can internalize it in the upcoming weeks as I begin to explore just how important I am, as a human being, as a devotee of the gods whom I’m angry with, as a servant of the lwa who bring my peace, but also and most importantly, as a fucking human being. I put off everything for everybody, which may not always be obvious in my actions or my comments, but it really fucking is the case. And as someone really fucking special to me – my little bit – reminded me that I am important. And as her words passed across the screen on my tablet, I realized that she was right and that the oracular session was quite right. I need to take care of myself. I need to stop caring about all of the stuff that’s going on and just come to grips with the fact that I am suffering and that shit is hard. I need to figure out how I am important in all of this and how best to get through it.

And I haven’t been able to, focusing on everybody else but me.

So, fuck it.

Changes are happening. Changes for the better, I hope. But I’m not going to sit around and play Fix It Felix for everybody. I’m too important for that. And I’m tired of letting pieces of myself go while I worry, rant, or doing magical workings for other people.

I hope this sounds selfish, I really do.

‘Cause, you know, I need to be so that I don’t burn out and destroy myself. That kind of goes against everything I’ve been going through and dealing with this week, this month, this year, these last few years. And I’d like to learn the fucking lesson, for fuck’s sake. I’d like to be able to look up one day and see that the suffering and hardships are in the past. I want to be comfortable, both in my skin and in my life. I want to be able to look at a sad patch in my life and say, “Well, this really sucks, but it was worse and I managed to get through that.” I want to learn the motherfucking lesson. And the lesson here is that I need to be a selfish twat for a while.

Sorry, but…

No fucks given.