The March of Time.

Every year, my mind starts hyper focusing on various dates coming up. In July or August, I’ll note that one of those dates is fast approaching: October 13. It will sit there at the forefront of my mind as I go through my calendar for one reason or another. Sometimes, I’ll scroll over to October and take a look, then I’ll move on. But as each month passes, the date starts building up in the back of my mind, overtaking my present thoughts for a moment, until I’m soaked with the knowledge that it is coming.

This all culminates in September. About a month out from October 13, I putter around a bit and let the knowledge soak through that, like all things regarding time, it is going to come upon me whether I want it to or not. Sometimes, I want to get the day over and done with. Sometimes, I just want the calendar to sit still for a minute while I get my bearings as it inexorably marches on towards the month of October. Once October hits, the pending doom in my chest lessens and some years, I’m able to forget about it. Other years, I’m not.

This is one of those days that will always kind of sit with me.

You know how after a few years of living, you have a few scars that seem irrevocably tied to dates and times? Maybe it’s the way the leaves look in the early spring or maybe it’s a particular date on a calendar, eternally circled in the back of your mind. Whatever the case may be, there will always be parts of yourself left behind at strategic stopping points throughout the year. Sometimes, maybe, you can reconcile yourself to the loss and maybe other times you can’t.

I think October 13 is one of those days that I’ll always just have a love-hate relationship with.

Death is a Bridge - teleidoscope 06

sometimes the loss of you is like an ache
other times, i hate you for it

Twenty-five years ago, my father died.

I remember listening to his death. I was seven. I can remember it. I’m grateful that my memories have faded. I can recall getting zings and pings, overwhelming emotional trauma that I couldn’t process as a child and only processed years after my mom stopped sending us to our child psychologist to deal with the trauma of losing a parent at such a young age. I can remember sometimes sitting, paralyzed with it, playing that night out like a faded movie on the theater screen in my head.

I’m older now and I think I’ve managed to handle most of it okay. I mean, I don’t get paralyzed with it anymore. The memory has faded enough where the grasp it held over me is not so tight. I’m able to breathe through it. And as I stated above, sometimes I even forget the date. My world is mired in dates but sometimes I can divorce myself enough from the battlefield embedded in October 13 that I can get by enough without feeling it in my bones.

Today was one of those days. I was fine for a while. I had work to do and errands to run and I was doing fine. I was perfectly okay until I turned the radio on after work this evening. As the sun played peekaboo with the gray clouds rolling through, lighting fire to the leaves that have changed color, the radio station I happened to turn on played Father of Mine by Everclear. This is a song that I have purposely eschewed as much as I love Everclear since high school. Consider it a trigger, I guess; I just can’t stand it anymore.

It hurts.

So as the pain of the day faded and I began to focus on the errands I had to run, the opening chords began to play and I just kind of got stuck for a while. I could feel it like shades of gray. It was kind of this shimmery background image as I drove and I kept my eyes covered with my dark glasses, trying to just breathe for a few minutes while I tried to drive through the 5 o’clock traffic.

Sometimes, I forget that it hurts still. And other times, it doesn’t hurt at all.

Father of Mine by Everclear

Tell me where have you been
You know I just closed my eyes
My whole world disappeared

I had the idea to do something when I got home. Since I had errands to run anyway, I just added a couple of other items to go with the flow. I didn’t know what kind of flowers to buy. I normally get him roses, but nothing looked good. I finally found a harvest looking bunch of flowers, but I couldn’t settle on which bunch looked the best. I finally made my son tell me which one he liked best and inevitably chose a different bouquet.

I putzed around the in the kitchen after cutting down the flowers, trying to figure out what I could offer. I’ve never gotten the impression that my father liked the Kemetic trappings. I can understand the point-of-view, but I’m not going to trim back just because he has an issue. It wouldn’t really be an issue if… well, I don’t need to finish that sentence probably. I’m trying not to be angry today, even if I probably still have the wherewithal to be.

I stood in my kitchen, feeling lost and a little weird. I couldn’t figure out what I needed to do. How did I akhu? Didn’t I have an idea or three about all of this? I had gone grave-tending across three different cities for years and I had done a spread or six before now. Why was it so hard? Was it just because of my dad? Yes, of course. Nothing seemed appropriate. I wanted perfection and all I got was a few fixings, hoping that I could get through the rest of my night.

As I tried to figure out what would work out best, I felt like I had lost something I never knew I had: I don’t know him. I never really got the chance to know him. I was seven when he died. The things I’ve heard aren’t all stellar. In fact, there are some things that I don’t know how to process at all so I leave them at the back corner of my mind like little shit balls waiting to fuck me up another day. The rest of the things I know I could probably count on one hand: he liked Moxie (my mother says it tastes like Listerine) and he had a thing for spinach.

Well, he got bread and a chocolate cupcake and some diet Coke. Sure, I could have given him beer, but since he was an alcoholic, I’m pretty stubborn about not providing him with alcohol. If he wants to imbibe, he can go elsewhere.

I don’t have any pictures of my dad, not really. I have 2 on my laptop. I have 1 in real life that’s wrapped in 5 layers of bubble wrap in a box in the closet. It’s cracked and the picture is stuck to the glass. I always kind of thought I’d like to be buried with it. That’s it for pictures of my dad and they’re pictures with people. He wasn’t the kind of guy who got his picture taken; he liked to be on the other side of the camera… kind of like me.

sadness

at the end of the day i always miss you
no matter how angry i have become

Today I remembered that my dad died.

I remembered that the sum total of my knowledge could fill a thimble. I remembered that he made bad choices and paid for them. I remembered how small and concave he got towards the end. I remembered playing in the hall of the veteran’s hospital once and the walls were mint green.

I remembered that he killed a bee in the very back of the station wagon, pulling over on the side of the road to do so. I remembered that he and I stayed up all night watching My Little Pony movies because that’s what I wanted to do. I remembered the time my mom let me watch him sleep with his eyes open. Gods, that was so weird.

Today, it hurt.

Tomorrow, it probably won’t.

I don’t know about next year.

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.

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.

When Soul Mates Meet (Shadow Work).

This perfectly describes us, back then and now. (X)

This perfectly describes us, back then and now. (X)

I met my soul mate when we were eleven years old. I always thought, up until recently, that the term soul mate was either over used or was to denote someone who you are supposed to spend the rest of your life with. I think a lot of people have either of these two reactions when you utilize that term. It’s something that’s supposed to be grandiose or extra special. It’s supposed to denote a love on a scale that is beyond all use of descriptors. However, sometimes, it just means that there are two souls that have been bonded so much over the years that you are just kind of stuck with each other throughout the numerous lives you’ve gone through before. The funniest part about this is that my first impression of her was: immature, silly, no one I would like to be friends with.

We were in the sixth grade and we would not actually meet for another year. It was lunch time. At the school that we both attended, everyone had lunch at the same time. And you ate your lunch in the cafeteria and then were able to mill around out back on the black top or in the [unused] yard. She was in one group and I was in the other. For whatever reason, I was alone. I had friends – I had a group of four that I would spend all my time with. We were inseparable when we were in school. The rest of the time, we shot off into two separate groups. There was myself and the girl who lived next door to me and then the other two who lived closer to each other. I don’t remember how the four of us became friends, but I do remember that day when I first met my soul mate. The four of us were fighting because, you know, that’s what pre-pubescent girls do, I guess. And I was by myself and doing my haughty best not to be upset that no one would talk to me. And there she was, running around with her friends from her group.

They were all laughing together while she, literally, ran around the tallest one in the group. And I remember seeing her and thinking, I would never want a friend like that. What an embarrassment!

I was already beginning to think of myself as better than everyone else while systematically being ostracized by other people my age. I liked to read – dork. I was rather introverted – nerd. I did well in school – geek. I had all of these aspects to my personality that I was doing my utmost best in ignoring or attempting to keep hidden from the other kids my age. But I’ve always been an old soul. What the other kids found fun and exciting didn’t really interest me, even the stuff my friends and I were supposed to be bonding over. The books they read were years behind me. The music they listened to was stupid or vulgar. The clothes and make up was beyond me. I wasn’t any of the things that I was supposed to be in order to be a popular girl, so I was isolated and alone by everyone making fun of me. I can remember a kid that I’m relatively nice to currently (twenty years later) used to make fun of me because my last name sounded an awful lot like barrel and the girls who were my “friends” laughing along with all the other kids in the class.

Here’s the thing: I was basing everything off of thought processes that wouldn’t become solidified for another ten to fifteen years. I was thinking of things not as the eleven-year-old I was supposed to be emulating, but the young adult I was going to be. I’ve mentioned before, in various arenas, that I strongly suspect that I am “an old soul.” Other aspects to my life molded me into the haughty isolationist I still am to this day: the death of my father, for example. But I’ve come back and back to this moment when I first met my soul mate. And in each instance, I can’t help but think that it was some stray thought that ran into my head based on a previous life, or something along those lines. What I saw as childish and immature was fun to all of the other people around her and to the friends she had made before we knew one another. I tend to think of this moment as a kind of disconnect: I was living my life, but I was really going through the motions until the interests I held would become more socially acceptable.

So meanwhile, I began to pull away drastically from everyone around me. Sure, I had friends. I mentioned the three girls who were my friends. One of whom lived right next door. We had been friendly since I moved in and she was okay. She wasn’t as smart as the other two girls we met that first day in middle school, so she didn’t get to be a part of the “advanced group” that we were. We didn’t have classes together and we saw each other in passing. But, we were still friendly and I would like to think that she would have stuck up for me with all the other kids, including the two other friends of ours, making fun of me. But I know better. She was just as obsessed with image as the girl next to her. I was too weird because I was friendly with everyone in the beginning, which was wrong (apparently). There were no cliques in elementary school: how was I supposed to know some people would be my friends and others weren’t? And then, to top it all off, my interests were so far above my age bracket that I had to dumb myself down to have conversations with the kids I went to school with every day.

So, while I was watching that soul mate of mine be an “embarrassment” that day in the courtyard, what I was really secretly thinking in my subconscious was that there was someone I wanted to know. What was her secret? How could she be having fun in such a hellhole? How could she have things in common with the people beside her? And what was that made it okay for her to go yelling and screaming, running and cavorting with her friends? How could I do that? My initial thoughts regarding her were based on jealousy and nothing more. I was being an asshat because I was angry and upset and disillusioned and disconnected. This, I think, more than anything is why she is my soul mate. She is the half of me that I want to be. Whether I am the half that she wants to be remains to be seen…

We never spoke on that day or any of the subsequent days. I forgot about her. How’s that for a memorable “I met my soul mate” story? I literally forgot about her.

Life was difficult enough without thinking about what it was that I lacked and she didn’t seem to. I spent the rest of that year slowly but surely bottling up. I’ve thought about that, the bottling up part, and I really think that the reason has more to do with disconnect than anything else. I’ve looked back the years immediately preceding the sixth grade and the changes that overtook me during that year. My mom would tell anyone that listens that the changes were because of “hormones.” We can’t quite discount the change a girl goes through when she gets her first period, I guess, but I have to say that I’ve always been different, just a little, in a way. I’ve always felt far older than my years and maybe the growing up part stems from having a father die of “the gay disease” only a few years before the triple cocktail came out and would have prolonged his life (maybe). We can’t discount any of that, but you know, I still think the big issue was more disconnect due to age from my soul versus from my physical trappings.

The next year, the soul mate and I got saddled up together anyway because that’s how fate works.

I know now that the initial meeting was a kind of test. I failed that test, I think. The test was initially supposed to be whether or not I took the bait and met her then and there. I didn’t. I stayed in my snide corner and thought snide thoughts instead of moving forward. So the timeline, I think, of what was supposed to happen ended up being pushed back.

We were tossed together anyway in the seventh grade by being put in the same team and then put in the same group* within that team. We were both incredibly intelligent, I suppose, which is how we ended up together in the same grouping at least. The reason we became friends was because she was outgoing and friendly and I was lonely and morose. Whatever friends I had made the previous year were separated from me in some context or another. The friend I had because we lived next door to each other was place in another team in the school and she stopped associating with me almost entirely. She had found other girls like her and while I try not to feel like it was because I was white and she was Hispanic, so our tastes differed drastically due to cultural differences, I strongly suspect this was the case. The other two girls I was friendly with in the sixth grade were also a part of our “intellectually superior” group but they became popular. We were distanced entirely by their desire to fit in with the cool kids club. And I was not interested.

*A quick note regarding team. I don’t know how anyone else’s middle schools are set up, but each grade is carefully sifted into teams. There are teams of ninety to over a hundred kids sorted together. They are then sorted, further, into groups based on academic sophistication.

Some days, I wonder if I wasn’t interested in the cool stuff is because I’m just wired differently or if it was because of who the soul mate was going to be to me later. In any case, we ended up becoming fast friends.

I honestly don’t remember much of that year together. There were so many things that we had in common, it was ridiculous. We both had little brothers that were in the same age group. We both had fathers who had abandoned us (though her situation was much more painful than mine). We both had single mothers who worked their fingers to the bone to provide. And in some weird way, we both looked alike. We both had long brown hair. We both had buck teeth. Our faces were shaped similarly. We broke out at the same time. It’s not surprising, at all, that periods synced up pretty quickly, either.

It was like, we had found one another after being separated for so long. But the thing is that as a twelve-year-old, you don’t see it that way. There is no way to adequately describe a bond you develop at such a young age other than “friends.” That’s all it was to us. We were friends. We were close to each other. We would talk on the phone all the time. And we would chat to each other in school together. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t popular anymore because I had a friend – I had her. Sure, I was nice to her two friends, but they weren’t her. It was this other person, this soul mate of mine, which really made me want to go to school. I wasn’t in love with her, but it was like by being near her, I could get through the next day the day after that and the day after that.

So, it just figured that she would go to a different school in the eighth grade.

How To Shadow Work: A Guide.

Before I left for work, I received a text from a friend of mine’s ex-girlfriend. I’ve been in not-so-constant contact with her since they broke up. She had added me on to Facebook because I bequeath my friends with free Tarot readings periodically and she kept me around for that purpose. I had never met her and never intended to. So, color me shocked when she started texting me after they broke up. I had already reached out to my friend to talk with him about things because I knew he was having a bad time of things prior to that. (We meet up periodically when I have “the feel” that he needs to talk, which usually means he winds up in my dreams on a nightly basis until I give into the urge to call him.) She reached out to me for a Tarot reading, but also because she knew that we were “birthday buddies.” Since we were born twelve hours, or less, apart, we tend to just kind of “know” things about one another that is absolutely true. Anyway, we talked until I found out she was (A) a Scorpio (and he a Leo!) and (B) she was the crazy girlfriend type.

She sent me a new text this morning about how, after two months of being broken up, she was “so sure” she was “over it.” And that she had dreamed about him the night before and now, was a “pathetic mess.” While I won’t comment on how pathetic she may or may not have been after dreaming about someone she thought she was going to marry, my advice to her was that even though she may consciously believe she had dealt with the issues of the break up, she really hadn’t. And her subconscious mind was going to continue to poke at her at random moments until she did so. I recommended some “basic shadow work” techniques to her: relive the relationship so that you can pinpoint your faults and his, as well as try to relive it as an outsider so that you can look at all events subjectively. And she was like, “I did that, but it still hurts.” I emphatically explained that she had obviously not done that since her brain was still picking at the wound, but she wouldn’t listen to what I had to say. (Ain’t that the way?) I gave up.

This got me mulling in my [few and far between] off moments at work. It came down to the fact that I was the kind of person who “knew the things” and so people would come to me for advice. But, just because I give them the advice that they actually should pay attention to that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are actually going to listen. It also made me realize that just because I say, “do this,” that doesn’t mean people really understand what in the world I was talking about. I can say a thing and I can say it in another way, but that still doesn’t mean that people who aren’t “woo inclined” will understand how one does this. This led me to think about how, maybe, the bits and pieces that I’ve learned from Dusken aren’t quite enough for the people I know who are not woo-inclined. Point in fact, the person I was speaking with this morning has admitted to excessive amounts of atheism. She’s highly skeptical of readings I do for the dead on her behalf, but fully believes every Tarot reading I’ve ever done. (How’s that for double standard?) Another example is a friend of mine’s daughter who needs to do some deep healing after a severe trauma. I’m almost positive my explanations of what I needed her to do were lost on the sixteen-year-old, who also has a deep skepticism and deep atheism. (Do I collect these people or something?)

How in the world do you get someone who doesn’t understand what you need to do to, well, do it?

I began pondering how else I may explain this to outsiders. It’s one thing when you can speak, pagan to pagan or polytheist to polytheist. There are certain connections that you can formulate with people of like-minded or similar spiritual paths. After using a few key words, the two of you can sit, head to head, and start working out what to do. In same vein, there are other bloggers of polytheistic or pagan persuasions who have blogged about these things before for those particular communities. If you don’t have the time or the energy to discuss it with someone new, then you pop over some links and tell them to “go for it!” However, while everyone knows my religious background isn’t exactly a secret, I’m not comfortable sharing links with people who aren’t of the same religious persuasion as me. The links of shadow work, and how to shadow work, entries tend to belong to bloggers who are, well, rather “woo” in their practice. And there’s nothing wrong with that! I fully endorse having (or not having) woo in your life. But, I’m slightly uncomfortable tossing those types of links to people who are, de facto, atheists.

So where is the middle ground here?

I started perusing through a lot of my related entries on my ex-husband. And minus the items that were woo related, I felt that it was a good jumping off point. But hadn’t I mentioned that to the girl this morning? Hadn’t I explained to her that you had to relive the whole experience? Hadn’t I said that you had to at least try to be as neutral as possible while going through it? Personally, while it takes a lot (especially in a years’ long relationship) out of you to be able to do this, it’s incredibly important to try to be impartial while going through the experiences in question. It’s not just a matter of trying to pinpoint where the other person screwed the pooch, but also where you screwed up, as well. And as far as we are concerned about ourselves, we are perfect and can do no wrong. This isn’t the case at all because, well, we’re human. So, it doesn’t matter what we say or do, but in some form or another, we may have caused some serious stress in our partner’s life, which later manifested as the endings of all endings.

The real question here isn’t a matter of whether or not you are capable of doing this, but whether or not you have the gumption to look yourself in the face and admit all your fuck-ups.

There are a lot of people who simply cannot admit that they were complicit in the downfall of a relationship. I know that, for the longest time, I couldn’t see myself as anything more than someone who had been wronged. As the years past, I began to harbor the belief that I was a victim. As evidenced by some outsiders’ comments regarding, a lot of it was victimization (at least towards the end of our relationship). But, I can look back and say, “I screwed up really bad here, here, and here,” and also tell you what I learned from having fucked that shit up. That is absolutely something that’s really damn important. But, as I said, I didn’t first start off that way. As I said, I started off seeing only the fact that I was wronged all across the board. So, how do you get to the point where you can start working on this shit and not have it eat you up inside? I don’t always think waiting around years to start the process (as I did) is a good idea, especially if you need to do the healing now (as in the case of my friend’s daughter).

While discussing this, with myself, I thought about the suggestions I had offered to my friend’s daughter. I was throwing out random suggestions on how best “to heal” and how best to start her round of shadow work. She has a lot more open doors to practice this stuff with. And I think a lot of the ideas I threw out there are pretty damn sound.

1. Write Really Bad Poetry

I thought back over the years, as a teenager, when I would always carry a notebook around with me so that I could write down whatever overly emotive poetry came to mind. Years later, I still have every single one of those notebooks and I can tell you that, while they kind of have a beat or something to them, they are pretty bad. I’m not just talking in that, “Gah, I can’t believe I wrote that,” kind of way, either. They are also bad because they discuss every messed up and screwed up thought that popped into my head at some point or another. There are poems about (TW) suicide, eating disorders, rape, and everything in between. (/TW) The items you choose to write about aren’t just to convey to people without saying, “I suffer from these things,” but it’s also a way to get the pain from those items out and into the open. Even though you may be the only person who actually reads the items and maybe you are the only person who gives a fig, but that notebook/blog/tablet app may just be the quintessential shadow work you need to get to the next step(s). I think that the reason I was able to deal with high school and all the crazy shit that went down for me back then was because of the ability to write those types of poems. Another reason, I think, why it helped so much was because it didn’t matter if I kept the prose or if I followed iambic pentameter (or whatever the fuck it was). It was just a bunch of words strung together in vaguely poetic fashion. In same vein, take that and use it to your advantage. And who cares what the fuck it sounds like so long as it makes you feel better?

2. Write Short Stories

I wrote a lot of novella length items regarding my ex-husband because I finally had the gumption to write the shadow work entries related. I also had a lot of time on my hands to write other types of short stories. While the shorts, themselves, didn’t necessarily mirror the relationship exactly, it focused on key points in the relationship that I had always wanted to make changes to. So, with the red pen of an editor, I went back through my life and red-penned the fuck out of things I had always wanted to change. There is a certain amount of power in being able to change items you want to change. And it doesn’t even have to be characters based on real people, either. If you do the fanfiction thing, then write your life experiences into a fanfic starring your favorite actor, anime character, etc. It’s not as though you need to do a monkeys writing Shakespeare thing here. You are taking an aspect of your life that has hurt you beyond repair and fixing it, just a smidge, at a time. Grammar, spelling, punctuation: nothing matters beyond what you think needs to matter because this isn’t about what others think (if you letter others read it) but about what makes you feel better.

3. Scream A Lot to Loud Music.

The reason I’m saying “to loud music” is because maybe you don’t have the ability to just scream your head off. It’s possible that you don’t have a car to run to and start screaming to. It’s also possible that you may still live with your parents and they might be very concerned over finding their child screaming for apparently no reason (especially if you haven’t told them what your trauma is). Or, maybe you just don’t feel comfortable screaming for no reason whatsoever. Whatever the reason, I recommend doing this to really loud, bass-infested music. And in so doing, you may not realize how much it makes you feel better, but it does. One of the problems, I think, that causes the traumas to fester is an inability to let out all of the pent-up emotions. Writing, to me, helps in that regard. But sometimes, those things aren’t the be-all, end-all for the needs of the trauma. So, as a teenager, I would put on some Tool (favorite band) and I would scream until I was hoarse or I would scream the lyrics. I highly recommend if that if you do decide to scream to music, you choose something that is appropriate for the mood that you are needing to create. Screaming is great on its own, but if you’re going to listen to music while doing so, then something that epitomizes either the trauma that’s caused the harm or your emotions concerning it are an excellent addition.

4. Cry A Lot [to Loud Music].

The music part on this one is pretty fucking optional. If you want to be depressed as all get out, then sure, cry to some Celine Dion over a break up (or whatever). But, really, the crying part is probably the most important aspect to this. A lot of people (like me) do this really unhealthy thing where you bottle up your emotions. It’s really not recommended by anybody and as someone who has done this for long enough, I can attest that it causes more problems in the long run. What I can say is that crying is something that we need to do. I’m not really sure on the science of it all, but we have the ability to make tears for a reason. And we have those tears during high emotional moments for a reason. So, by not letting those high emotional moments cause an ending-in-gagging crying jag, then you’re doing yourself a severe disservice. So, seriously, I think it’s something you really need to do when it comes to working on shadow work.

5. Therapy.

I’m not a fan of therapists. I’ve had quite a few in my life and I have found one that I actually trusted enough to tell everything to. I had one that told me that I feel too much – exactly what you should say to an emotional twelve-year-old – and another who made me feel like my date rape was my fault – and she was a rape counselor! So, I’m not overly thrilled with the whole idea behind going to see someone you pay to listen to you for an hour a week or however many times you actually go. However, I also know that it has helped me to have impromptu therapy sessions. I’m not just talking about the person you pay, but since you pay them and they have to listen to you, it’s kind of a bonus, but I’m also talking about the ones you have with your friends. Or, if you don’t feel like you can mention your real emotions to your friends, then that means therapy in any and all means that you think will pay off. If that means eating an entire gallon of ice cream, then you do it. If that means taking a lot hot baths, then do so. If that means losing yourself, almost literally, in a book or twelve, then do so. If that means talking to your pets, then do so. If that means talking to strangers on the Internet, then do so. If that means talking to trees, the ocean, a river, a bird, your car, to yourself, then do so. Whatever the word “therapy” means to you, then follow through with it. Just talk. Just blather. Just go on and on and on to yourself or whatever or whomever and don’t stop for anything. Let every little thing come pouring out in a complete rush and don’t stop until you’ve shot out every aspect of the pain imaginable.

While these items aren’t the entire list of things I did as a teenager to get through some pretty hellacious times in my life, they are the items that I think are the best and fastest recommendations. While not all of these items will prepare the person for the next step of reliving the past, it will definitely help in getting the pain out of you. It will also help to get the whole thing moving. By allowing the pain of the trauma to stagnate, you’re pretty much condemning yourself to that much more work for that much longer. By being able to at least partially address the trauma in minor ways, you’re preparing yourself for the next steps.

Related Posts

The Shadow Work Series by Duskenpath

The Act of Saying Goodbye.

As tomorrow begins the start of the intercalary days prior to my Kemetic New Year, I knew I had to get this entry written tonight or leave the story without an ending. As someone who always thought of themselves as an author, leaving something so open-ended was tantamount to failure.

There are a lot of things I haven’t mentioned in this year-long work with my ex-husband and all that I have put myself through in an attempt to prevent our traveling this road again. While my writing down every ounce of what happened between us in this current life was important, it was only a small part to the overall work that I had to go through. Much of the work that I put myself through had to do with astral shenanigans as well as reliving our past lives together. A lot of the work was such intense healing work that there are no words to describe what I had to put myself through in order to destroy the tether that bound our two souls. I’m going to finally describe what I did on the astral, minus the past life stuff, so that others who read this will know what NOT to do if they ever end up like me.

After Hekate made it abundantly clear that my ex-husband and I have been bound together, soul to soul, for numerous lives, I began to feel like I had a black, oozing cancer manifesting itself in my soul. This cancer would begin to eat away at every ounce of who I am and destroyed a lot of the connections I had been building over the years. It tended to come out in a physical way with self-destructive impulses, as well as depression, anxiety, and anger. These emotions, while I do experience them on my own, seemed to be multiplied and exacerbated no matter what sort of motions I went through in order to stem the tide. It was almost as if this cancer was trying to destroy me because I was attempting to remove it.

Much of the ooze – there really is no descriptor besides that for what his soul facet within mine was like – had become so integrated into my core soul components that a simple surgery like we would get at the astral doctor was out. I had to do a form of chemotherapy to remove it. With each dose of this form of astral chemo – usually in the form of watching a past life over and over again, trying to see it from clinical eyes instead of emotional eyes – would shrink the cancer a little bit at a time. And with each time I came back from that adventure, I would find myself more disconnected, more disillusioned, more depressed, and questioning my sanity all the more. While the last bit may not have anything to do with the connection I have with my ex-husband, it is something that I began to take note of right along with everything else as I fought back against the cancer eating away at my soul.

Around the time that Hekate began to make motions about leaving, I grew tired of waiting on the chemotherapy. A lot of the tired of waiting was my own fault. I put a lot of this off for longer and longer periods of time. This was, also, I’ve come to diagnose, a side effect of that soul cancer. With each entry I wrote here and each trip into the astral, I ended up coming back from it with less and less desire to work on the problem. I began to truly despair that I would get this done in a timely manner. And with Hekate leaving me in the good hands of Sekhmet to continue the healing process, I really knew that I had a choice here. I could continue down the tried and true path, taking my doses of chemotherapy each night or I could do something drastic.

Here’s a little known fact about me: I am the most impatient sonofabitch you ever did meet.

So, without any anesthetic or any warning, I reached into my soul and yanked the cancer out. I flung the dirty, the vile, the horrific thing away from me. And I fell to the ground.

Don’t worry, this is not recommended and I got my ass handed to me. Hekate decided that I was an idiot and that’s, actually, why she left when she did. Sekhmet cooed over me and yelled at me. I got a lot of yelling as I lay curled on my side for days in the astral. I didn’t go anywhere. I didn’t do anything. For large parts of it, I wasn’t even aware of what was going on in the astral because I hadn’t just ripped out the cancerous ooze that was my ex-husband’s binding to my soul, but I had also managed to rip out a large portion of my soul with it. And of course, since nothing was ever easy either because of myself or because this is my life, those soul pieces were now missing. With three-quarters of a soul, I began to slowly come back to myself. Most of the next few days were entirely devoted to Sekhmet yelling at me, Aset cooing over me and clicking her tongue, and Mut doing her motherly affectation.

I was pretty much in a daze.

I spent the next few months slowly going around and trying to find the piece of my soul that I had ripped out along with the cancer. Aset would send me places and I would begin to find what I needed in order to start piecing the puzzle of my soul back together. I don’t know how or why, but very much like the crystal from InuYasha, my soul pieces ended up all over the fucking place. I managed to gather up many of those pieces and brought them back to Sekhmet to have her bind them up and shove them back into place. The problem here is that not all the pieces were found – the cancer was still attached to some of the soul bits and I couldn’t figure out how to clean it off so I figured it was better to do without – and so that fit wasn’t complete. Sekhmet did… something… and the soul bits have managed to reform with one another. The fit isn’t total; it’s definitely not complete.

I don’t recommend doing this for a lot of reasons – the yelling, the pain, the daze, the stupidity – but above all, the problem is that when you are trying to re-grow soul bits to fit with one another, you end up kind of insane for a while. It’s very much like a broken mosaic that has to be refit together. Sekhmet used bits of herself to fortify what she was doing and got some other bits from some helpful other spirits we know. There were days where I didn’t know who or what I was and what I was supposed to be doing on the astral. Other days, I couldn’t remember how to get back to the astral at all. And in still other days, half of me was in the astral while the other half was living here, doing things and being alive.

Another reason why this was can be so difficult is because you end up with various personalities more at the surface than with other personalities. This is how you get to meet how many soul facets you have within you, but it’s not really a good idea if you have to, you know, like live a life or anything. I found two major personalities in my soul who are polar fucking opposites and there were days where I wanted to rip my head off of my shoulders because I was rapidly cycling from personality to personality. This was pretty much when I was given absolute fucking obvious testimony that I am (A) Sekhmet’s daughter and (B) not as crazy as I always just assumed.

While all of this insanity was going on with my woo life, I ended up doing some very cathartic in-this-life magix to assist in my moving on.

Sometimes, literally cutting cords is the most cathartic thing a person can do.

Sometimes, literally cutting cords is the most cathartic thing a person can do.

I went out and bought one of those shitty little rope toys you can purchase for your dog. I was hoping for a pure white one, but ended up with this kind of multicolored ribbon type for $1. I pinned my name to one end and my ex-husband’s to the other. I placed it as an offering upon Sekhmet’s shrine and over three days, I literally cut the cords.

It was during this time that I began to seriously consider what the step for these halves were. I knew that I needed to do something nurturing towards my half, but I wasn’t quite sure what I needed to do with the ex-husband’s half. It was then that I wrote my entry regarding the etiquette of saying goodbye. After a lot of back and forth with myself, I decided that as much as I still want to make him feel badly for what he did to me, it wasn’t worth it. Sometimes, the fact that we can say, “I really dislike what you have done to me and I would very much like you to acknowledge that you screwed me over, I am an adult and I can walk away.” As an adult, I decided I would be kinder to he than he has ever been to me.

This is what my half looked like when I was finished.

This is what my half looked like when I was finished.

With both of our halves in hand, I began to sing to myself as I braided charms into the ends. I placed little amulets for dreams, hope, success, spoons, and other type things on my end. I fed my half with all of the things I was hoping to find in my life without my ex-husband and his soul being bound to mine. Instead of searing the ends as I knew that would hurt terribly, I ended up tying off the ends so that they would “atrophy” and drop off, making it impossible for my half to adequately forge with his again. I added four jingle bells to it so that he would know I was coming if we meet again in the astral or if we meet in another life.

I did the same for his half because, again, I am the adult here.

I buried my half in a pleasant place beside a birch tree. The place that I chose was really no contest. I knew that I wanted to finish my half of the rite in a place where I was comfortable and where I could watch over that portion of myself over the years. Not only did I finish the rite in a place where I am happy and at peace – and honestly, whenever I go there, I feel like I am ‘home’ – but I also had TH assist me with the burial part. This was a symbolic way of showing that not only did TH help me completely in getting away from my ex-husband in this life, but that he has continued, over the years, to help me in contending with the horror and trauma from that time of my life. So, with hands held, we buried my portion of my soul in a pleasant, happy place.

I threw the ex-husband’s half in the trash.

It went to the dump yesterday.

And now, I can say that I am completely free.

The Etiquette of Saying Goodbye.

There is something about goodbyes, no matter how necessary that they may be, that are incredibly painful. I have had a whole host of goodbyes in my life, not many of them at my own behest, and none of them went over very well with my psyche or with my emotional health. There is something about removing someone who you have known for years from your life that is incredibly difficult. Even though you know that what you are doing could very well save your life and the lives of your friends and family, you still think that a goodbye – a final goodbye – is too much to bear. So, you don’t bother doing it and you live on in fear, hatred, anger, and pain until the final end comes or you finally have a single moment, a single second, to run screaming into the night.

Even knowing what life was like towards the end of my marriage, I am still finding it difficult to say goodbye.

I thought I should write a letter, at first, to explain that I forgave him for everything he had put me through. Knowing full well what he had done to me, to my personal growth, to the growth of my soul on the astral, and everything in between, I knew that I had to at least let him know that in some way. While I’ve said that bit here and there on the astral to that soul that once bound with mine, I no longer need to say it. And honestly, that’s not how I wanted to say farewell to a man who had been in my life for years and who had been in previous lives over and over and over again. While I am usually very good at writing and letters and the perfect wording of the point that I want to convey, I found myself still a little angry and still, perhaps, a little unable to forgive the binding of our souls.

I knew a letter wasn’t a good idea.

The thing that I have repeatedly come up against, knowing all that he has done to my in this life, has been the fact that it’s the binding of our souls for so many years that causes me the most heartache. While I cannot remember the exact life or the exact place when our souls united in a very unhealthy way, I do remember the emotions of that person and that aspect of my soul. I can remember the hope. I can remember the joy. And I can even remember the love that my soul—no. I can even remember the love that each of our souls had for one another. And I can remember holding hands while we were bound together with words that I have long forgotten. And I can remember that moment and the surety that if things didn’t work out in this life then they would clearly work out in the next.

I remember the innocence of that moment and not understanding the gravity of the situation.

And I can remember the hope, the joy, the excitement, and the love that we both turned to one another. And in that moment of those beautiful, wonderful emotions, we were bound together. And things didn’t work out in that life, so with hope and joy, we moved on to the next. And the next. And the next. And the next. And the next. There really are too many to count now. I have had to relive them all over and over again. And I can remember each moment when my soul searched humanity, scanning each person in front of me for that soul aspect that it needed for completion, for that one person they needed above all others. In some lives, we never met. In other lives, we started over again. And as time went by and each life did not end as we had hoped, as we had wanted, we went back to it again.

And over time, we both became disillusioned.

And over time, I began to want to get away and never return because each life was successively worse than the one that preceded it. It should tell anyone who has read that statement how much hell we both put ourselves through and we both put each other through over the years. We’ve killed one another. We’ve raped one another. We’ve beaten one another. We have done every untoward and awful thing to each other – both the physical shell of our souls and to our souls themselves – over the years and no resolution has ever come.

I understand now, I think, why certain other astral related things happened in this life. And I also understand now why certain people were brought to my life. And now, I understand what I must do. I must sever the tie completely. For all intents and purposes, that tie is actually severed. I feel peaceful and dreamy, sometimes, when I go to the place where that soul facet once rested. It’s a facet that I ripped out of myself and kept hidden in a safe place for the day when I could destroy the knots that bound our two souls together. That day has come and gone; the separation has completed. And now, it is finally time to say goodbye.

And I find myself horribly unable to do so.

I’ve gone back through many things in the last few weeks, preparing myself for this moment. While the letter writing thing failed, I looked in other avenues for a proper goodbye.

My issue here is that you can’t just kick someone to the curb after so many lifetimes together – there must be proper etiquette here, hm? However, I can assure anyone else who may have this issue in future that there is not. And I have to create that etiquette all my own. And with the words of Sekhmet in my ears – you’re too nice for your own damn good – I go searching for that etiquette. A simple goodbye, an easy farewell seems like such an anticlimactic end to so many years together, so many hurts together, and so many deaths at one another’s hands. Even with the very real right to just run the fuck away, even now, I find myself unable to do something so simple and so brave.

There must be a proper way to say goodbye.

I keep coming back to the day when our hands were bound together in a rite that neither one of us really understood. He understood it, his astral self anyway, far quicker than my simple little soul facet could. That soul piece is very kind and very nice and has always looked for that knight in shining armor. That very soul facet has always looked for the good in everyone. And it has been her downfall many a time, but not so much more than this particular time. With very real regret and sadness she is willing to say goodbye to a soul that shared her life with her so many times, but she still hopes that there is goodness in that soul and that love will find him one day.

Maybe not in this life and definitely not with her, but maybe in the next and with someone better suited.

I keep coming back to that day when our hands were bound together in a rite that neither of us could really understand. And I keep coming back to that because that was the ultimate moment of betrayal to me, the soul piece that did not willingly bind myself to a man who would kill me over and over again. This soul facet – me – looks back on that moment with pity and horror, knowing what will eventually happen and knowing that there was never anyone around who could have or would have stopped it. The person who I am today is partly because of that kind, sweet, simple girl soul facet who has always wanted a knight in shining arm, riding in on a unicorn with a defeated evil wizard’s head on his shield. But a smaller part of the person who I am today did not agree to that binding. And that smaller part is in control now, demanding that we say goodbye.

But she keeps reminding me that there must be some etiquette, something more than just a simple “va te faire foutre, trouduc” as I am wont to do, and this is why. That moment with hands bound. That moment with tears in their eyes. That moment of heart flutters. That moment of love swelling. That moment in the green grass of unknown time, surrounded by nothing but the flutter of wind, the smell of flowers, and hope on the horizon. She keeps bringing me back there and reminding me that we can’t just kick him to the curb. We can’t just toss him out without a single regret. We can’t just say “fuck the fuck off and die already” to someone who once loved us very much.

To run away from the heaviness that other soul keeps forcing on me, I have gone back through old stories and poems I wrote when I was living with that man. I’ve re-read old blog entries. I’ve gone through our relationship over and over again. I’ve found some very telling pointers in the last few hours that convey that I was fully aware, in a subconscious way, of what was going to happen. With chilling words, I’ve written about this very moment of bittersweet finality over and over again in various made up universes. And with each minute that I have read and re-read what once I wrote about us, I find myself very angry indeed because the soul facet who is stronger now – me – has had enough of this binding, of this connection and wants it all to fucking stop.

And now, I am supposed to say goodbye.

A part of me that is still a little angry and a little bitter wants to curse him still. He had known earlier than my soul facet what the hell had been done to our souls. He had known far sooner than this sweet, little facet and had done nothing to remove the binding. His soul learned faster than mine what was needed or could be done and what had been done between the two of us. Sometimes, I wonder if he knew even back then but that sweet, innocent soul facet assures me that is not the case. I’m more cynical than she is, though, and I have to wonder. Considering all the things he has done to me, astrally speaking, since the day he walked out of our home and said we could get a divorce, I have to think that he knows a hell of a lot more than I do about all of this shit. And that he’s known for far longer. But that sweet part of my soul that is loud, sometimes, and still colors my life in the realm of love and soul mates, swears that my cynical views are not all true and not always the way it is.

I would take her word for it, but I am cynical for good reason.

I have to say goodbye to a man who I have both loved and hated. I will be honest, I have never truly had to say goodbye-goodbye to anyone before. I have never been able to look at a situation and know that I will never, ever see them again in this life or the next or the next or even on the astral. I’m imbedding specific telltale signs in our souls – both his and mine – so that we won’t meet up again without knowing that the other one is bad news and walking the fuck away. I’ve also learned a thing or two, both in this life and in the astral, and I know what needs to be done now to make sure that things never happen like this to my sweet soul facet and to my cynical soul facet ever again.

This is all a novel experience for me, but I will be honest, I hope I never have to do this again.

In the meantime, we have to come up with proper etiquette on how to formally say goodbye before Wep-Ronpet this year. That is the time line we have both established with Sekhmet nodding grandly in the background at our choice. Why would we want to start another twelve month cycle with that ex of ours even slightly in it? We have other projects to work on, other shadow work to get done with, and it will probably take just as long and probably be just as difficult as this one person, this single soul, has turned out to be. We have work to do and that work mostly has to do with what “proper etiquette” of such a permanent goodbye is likely to be.

Sekhmet recommends a final goodbye with fire.

The sweet part of me thinks that we should wish him well and bury him so that “the soul will flourish and grow; the soul will find love again; the soul will learn to maintain its spoons; and it will do so without me.”

The cynical part of me is fond of the fire idea.

But the sweet one wins the day.

She wants to see him grow apart from her even as she grows apart from him and we’ll see it done.

We still need to figure out what a proper goodbye is, though.

And the clock is ticking…

“One Day This World is Going to End As Your Lies Crumble Down.” (TW)

Note: All lyrics for Face Down by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus can be found here.

The month of December went out quietly, thankfully. We had no further incidents together. I managed to pass my classes, as did the Sister, and we both made the Dean’s List. This was an achievement to me, at least, and I know it was for the Sister. I don’t recall if the ex-husband fully commented on my being on the Dean’s List, but I know he was pretty proud of the Sister. There she was, a girl who hadn’t gone back to school since high school, achieving the Dean’s List at her local community college. I think he felt that it wasn’t really a good achievement of mine, honestly, and that hurts. I was pretty proud of myself and after I told him and didn’t receive the reaction I wanted, I shut the fuck up about it. In fact, this is the first time I’ve mentioned it since then, so obviously, his lack of reaction did not do me any good.

The Sister and I were effectively housebound for January. We didn’t have any jobs. I had stopped going to my call center job the night of TH’s party. I had to work the next morning, but I just didn’t bother showing up. I told everyone I formally quit, but I just couldn’t do it anymore. It was too much with school and all of the stress from my ex-husband and our relationship. The Sister was able to procure me a job as super secretary at the Mentor Center in our school, though, because that was where she worked. I was effectively the right-hand man of the woman who ran the center. I would also be assisting with mentoring students and assisting the program in putting on events, but my official title was secretary. I enjoyed the job, overall.

TH spent a lot of time at our house, on the phone with us, or chatting online with us. He knew how we felt about being stuck in a house. And while I may or may not have told him exactly how my relationship with my ex was going – though he wasn’t dumb enough to not see how I was degenerating – he knew things weren’t going well. It was that month that, one night, a friend of mine asked if I could drive her to work at Big Y. And on a whim, after dropping her off three towns over, I called TH to meet me in a public place because I wasn’t ready to go home yet. And we sat in a Wal-Greens parking lot and just talked. I told him how things were pretty bad. I told him how I felt. And he just listened, with my car running and music on low, to everything I had to say. He was good like that.

This became a ritual for us. After the house was quiet, I would sneak off to Wal-Greens and just sit with TH, talking. I was gone for hours sometimes. Other times, since he would meet me at a halfway point with a Walgreen, I was gone for less time. It was a form of cheating, I think, on my ex-husband because I felt exceptionally guilty afterward. It was the emotional kind of cheating, but it was also giving me a base. I was able to recover, a bit, from the feeling of hopelessness and depression that was overwhelming me. And even though I had a therapist in whom I could trust with everything going on, I still held back. I was worried she would judge me for emotionally cheating on my husband, I think, but above all, I couldn’t help but wonder if she would tell him what I said. He found her through his insurance program at work.

As though the ex-husband was aware that I had long since grown unwilling to do anything with our marriage, he began to start harping on the two of us buying a house. His belief about that being what “married couples do,” was not the actual reason. I think this was his attempt at solidifying his hold on me further. If we owned our own home, then the Sister would no longer live with us and his hold on me would be complete. While I hate to ascribe the notion that he wanted to “do as adults do” and “grow up completely,” considering his behaviors prior to his suggesting this, I can’t help (now, as I did then) believe that he was doing this as a final attempt to fully push me completely under his sway. No longer would I be able to sneak out as capably to spend time with people who reminded me that I was a human being, too, and no longer would I have the assistance of the Sister to defuse the mounting tension and stress in my life.

I was terrified of the thought and dragged my heels accordingly.

My emotional state became very, very tenuous as the month of January went by. I began to worry that the reason things were so horrible with my marriage was because of things I had done as a youth. I was not a pious, virginal, sweet teenager. I did many things that I am, to this day, rather ashamed of. I said many, many things that came back to bite me in the ass in some form or another. As I tried to figure out why things were happening the way that they were, I began to believe in a Westernized [and incorrect] version of karma. I began to think of things as “you did this, so this is why this is happening.” It was not a very good frame of mind – never mind the fact that it didn’t even remotely convey what karma actually is. This should show that my frame of mind was more in line with blaming me, the victim, for what was going on in the house between my ex-husband and myself.

In a misguided effort to explain away my karma, I turned heavily towards divination.

I’m not saying that my turning towards divination was the wrong idea. It gave me solace in a mentally healthy way. However, the questions I was asking my Egyptian Pyramid Oracle were not the questions I should have been asking. I was worrying too much about the past and how it was intruding on my present and future. I should have paid more attention to the little things – the reading I gave to TH denoting that if and when he broke up with his girlfriend, he would sleep with her again; the reading I gave to the Sister in which I showed her that the world she was crafting would end; the readings that showed that the card I had once initiated as being that of my ex-husband (Djehuty) had changed dramatically (Sutekh).

Depression works in mysterious ways on everyone. To stave off her own round, the Sister spent nights with her ex Demon Boy. To stave off mine, as best I could, I played with my divination cards and spent an extraordinary amount of time with TH. To stave of his, the ex-husband stopped paying our bills, minus the car and the insurance, and bought useless things. We were all having a hard time of things.

Hey, girl, you know you drive me crazy
one look puts the rhythm in my hand.
Still I’ll never understand why you hang around
I see what’s going down.

TW: Alcohol/Alcoholism
Since TH, the Sister, and I were all having excessive amounts of issues to deal with and no one to coherently do so, we all turned to alcoholism. I have had massive amounts of drinking related issues previously, of which is slightly documented in these entries. But every night, I turned to a drink or six to make it so that I could get through another day. I know this isn’t healthy and I also know that I was incorrect in doing so. There are days, now, where the thought of drinking puts me off entirely. I drink still, but not nearly as often. I’ll have a drink here and there, responsibly, but back then? It didn’t matter. While the three of us were sitting in the kitchen or watching a movie in the living room, we all had drinks. The Sister’s were huge, half-and-half drinks; TH’s were usually about the same. I don’t remember if I poured massive amounts of alcohol into my mixers.

It doesn’t matter.

We all had demons that we couldn’t face for whatever reason and we chose childish behavior to deal with those demons.

There are days where I wonder if my ex-husband was even aware of how much drinking any of us did. He had to have been aware that I had begun drinking again. I didn’t exactly keep it hidden. But, I honestly can’t remember a time in which he said he was worried about it. Maybe he thought that by pushing us to buy our own house, it would go away? I honestly don’t know. If I had begun drinking again in Texas, without anyone around to diffuse the situation, he would have said something and it would have become another epic argument. However, while we were waiting for school to get started, he didn’t say anything to me. He made snide remarks about being immature but he never explicitly said what those remarks were about, so while I could chalk it up to some weird way of acknowledging my problem was back again, it probably had more to do with the general situation as opposed to this particular one.

One night, while the three of us were sitting at the kitchen table, my ex-husband was upstairs, but the Sister’s boyfriend was over. He had bought himself a fifth of whiskey because that’s what “men drink.” I made a joke about how I wasn’t allowed to have any whiskey – my high school friends had banned me from it. It’s a long story and it will probably be discussed in future shadow work entries, but I tend to be more of a tactless ass after drinking whiskey than usual. So, as a kind of dare, the Lumberjack gave me some whiskey. And that was really his big mistake.

That was the night I made a Lumberjack cry.

As I said, we were all sitting around the kitchen table. I had my Pyramid Oracle out, but I don’t think any of us were paying attention to the cards I was pulling. TH, the Sister, and I had been drinking vodka and diet Coke for a while by then. I would shuffle and pull out a card. Almost on a dare, the Lumberjack shared his whiskey with me. Considering the fact that I had a black out previously because of mixing types of alcohol together, it shows, to me, how very far gone I was at that point. I didn’t care if I had to be rushed to the hospital. I didn’t care if I didn’t remember huge chunks of my life. I didn’t care at all. And that, really, is what makes it so much worse when I drink whiskey. If I’m at that low of an ebb in my life where I will consciously drink some, then whatever bits of me still care will just magically dry up. And I stop caring.

It takes a while for whatever inner preservation or inner voice that prevents me from saying things to stop working. It takes a while for whiskey to do as it should. It doesn’t really matter if I’m excusing my behavior because of what I was drinking or if, as I strongly suspect, whiskey just lowers my fucks to the magic number 0. Either way, I’m not nice. And the Lumberjack was completely forewarned. As my mom always said, “Forewarned is forearmed.” However, not in his case because I don’t think he took my warnings seriously.

During all of this time, the Sister had been letting little things that irritated her about him drop between us. She’d mention a little thing here – “he breathes through his nose so loudly; why?” – and we’d laugh about it later. Then, she’d drop another hint – “our sex life is so boring” – and it was with this fuel. Under no uncertain terms did I explain to him that showering daily was good, that wearing plaid flannel shirts had gone out in the 80s, that missionary was not the only position in bed, that video gaming was a passion, not a lifestyle, and that breathing was a privilege and he should do it more quietly. I was… cruel. I was nasty. With all of the pent-up emotions regarding my ex-husband that I didn’t dare let out deep inside of me, I used that fuel to make a man cry for all the true items no one had ever said.

I think, at one point, my ex-husband finally came downstairs to protect the Lumberjack. The two of them were very buddy-buddy at that time. I shut down then. I went back to my cards and lost interest in making a man cry. Instead, I went back to trying to divine shit like why this was happening to me and where it was all coming from. I know now, of course, that everything that happened then was unavoidable. As with the loss of my job in August of 2011, it was fated. And that’s all the cards ever told me.

This was fated.
/TW

Cover up with makeup in the mirror
tell yourself, it’s never gonna happen again
You cry alone and then he swears he loves you.

One of the things that I’ve tried to figure out the most was why I did half the shit I did during those hellish three months in 2007. I’ve sat around and pondered them to myself, often, and thought, Why did I do this? I’ve looked back often, and not just because of these entries, trying to ascertain what was going through my head at the time that I made X unchangeable decision and went with it. I’ve come to a few conclusions here. I don’t think I ever consciously made a decision to do a damn thing back then. I just went off gut instinct and survival. That’s all I was really trying to do – survive a really shitty fucking life – in the best way I knew how. Drinking offered solace because when the ex-husband wanted to fight, I was too fucked up to care anymore. It didn’t hurt so badly if I was numb, right? The next steps that I made to preserve a modicum of myself are less savory and possibly, I will be judged harshly for them. But there are things a person will do to stop the pain, to stop the horror that you don’t realize you would willingly do until you’re doing them.

It’s not an excuse; it’s just the truth.

Periodically, during that month where the Sister and I were housebound, I was able to take our car to do things. They were extremely rare moments, honestly. I wasn’t really allowed to touch the car that was in both of our names unless I had permission, which was why my midnight Wal-Greens outings with TH tended to not be announced in any form. We ignored the reality – the missing gas, the missing time, the fact that I was not home – on all ends. I’m sure the Sister deflected questions on my behalf, but she didn’t know a damn thing about what was going on between TH and I. She didn’t know that I was retaining a bit of my emotional self with my midnight chats with TH because I didn’t tell her where I was going or who I was with. The Sister can’t lie for shit. And knowing this, I sacrificed a bit of our friendship to save myself. I don’t blame her and I don’t hate her for it. She didn’t exactly tell me she was cheating on her boyfriend with ex Demon Boy (never mind because I would have reacted badly). We both harbored secrets from the other that neither one of us have harbored again or since.

We tell each other everything now.

I went up to New Hampshire and I took TH with me. It was nice. We were away from both of our terrible situations. We were away from everything. We spent the day singing songs and talking about things and enjoying a peace-filled day. We ended our day together with tentative kisses. I was the provocateur. I knew TH would never make the first move and I knew that I wanted to know what that was all about. I had come to terms with the idea of only ever kissing my ex-husband for the rest of my life, but I couldn’t let another second go without kissing him. I think we were listening to Metallica and we were in a Wal-Greens parking lot. (It’s a joke now.) And then I dropped him off at home and drove around for a while before going home.

I came home to the Sister screaming, “OH MY GOD,” in the computer alcove. I went running upstairs, dropping off my packages and my good humor in the kitchen. I ran upstairs – it was night – and demanded to know what the hell was going on. “He broke up with [name redacted] and now she’s threatening to commit suicide!” She was screaming. We had both advised he break up with his girlfriend for months and he had always politely listened to our advice without following it. My good mood was definitely gone. I felt guilty. I hadn’t taken into consideration what sort of effect our kissing would have on anyone. I had thought I could go home with a boost – someone else cared about me and not in a possessive, scary way – but I hadn’t realized what sort of thing I was causing in his life. I felt guilty. I fell to the floor, shocked. The Sister gave me a play-by-play of his conversation with [name redacted]. I was in shock all night and into the next morning.

Guilt swirled around me like a cloak. I was wearing it for cheating, emotionally and now physically, on my ex-husband. And I was wearing it because I broke up a couple that should have broken up a long time ago. Really, in either of those instances, I don’t think guilt should have played into anything.

School started up again, which gave the Sister and I a welcome reprieve from being housebound. We both enjoyed our schooling, truth be told. I guess we’re exceedingly odd people who are interested in what we wanted to major in. However, non-school problems kept cropping up. One night, while I was getting ready to go into our night class (History of Witchcraft) that TH, the Sister, and I were all taking together, I saw TW my rapist /TW walking by. And I froze. Internally, I froze but physically, I was off like a fucking shot. I went outside and ran around the building and I just about wanted to run all the way back to Texas and say fuck everything. There was a message here, of course, and the message people told me it was, well, that wasn’t right. The real message was “foreshadowing.”

I was going insane. I couldn’t think or feel properly at all unless I was near TH. The Sister helped to offset what my emotional responses to what they should have been. I had every right to freak out about the situation above, but I should have paid more attention.

The first time I slept with TH, I was happy. It was nice. It was different. It was like I could feel something and like, I wasn’t really an unwanted dishrag anymore. I felt… I didn’t feel whole. That’s not quite right. It was like things were smoothing out all of my rough edges. The pain that had been accompanying me for months was gone. I was all right for a while at least. It wasn’t like other moments where you first have sex with a significant other where you’re nervous about fucking up and then, after, you’re all embarrassed. It was just… it was nice. And I felt better for a while.

TW: Rape
That very same night, the ex-husband did to me what he said he would never do to me. He had made joking comments of which I disapproved of. “Wifely duties,” was what he called it, but he had never traveled far enough outside of who he was as a person to do something like that to me. He knew how screwed up, still, I was because of the experiences I suffered in high school. And he knew that I was not a whole human being because of those experiences. He knew that Octobers were the worst. He knew that I still grew depressed about it. However, due to other experiences with rape victims, he seemed under this mistaken impression that my sexual anorexia was due to not having orgasms. What a laugh. It had nothing to do with the orgasm. It really didn’t have anything to do with flash backs, really. It was just… not something I cared to do.

So, he wheedled me. And he bothered me. I don’t know if he knew, somewhere deep inside, what had happened earlier that day. But, I told him no. I said I wasn’t in the mood. And he said that was always the case. I want to say that he held me down and I fought him valiantly. I want to tell people that I was able to scratch his face and hiss in anger at him as I fought him away from me, inevitably failing. But, I saw his face. I saw his face and the look on his face brooked no arguments. I never told him it was all right. I never agreed. I never said anything. I just lay there with tears in my eyes while emotions of what happened to me in high school swirled around me. “Wifely duties,” was exactly how he was seeing it in that moment. It wasn’t an act of forcing someone to do something they weren’t willing to do, to him. It was him just doing as a man in a married relationship is supposed to do in order to procreate and feel better about the world.

Afterward, I waited until he fell asleep, frozen on inside and on the outside. In a weird freak of emotion, I felt like I had cheated on TH somehow. What a laugh. But, that should explain how fucked up my world was then. My relationship, according to my insides, was actually with TH and I had to stomach a horrific situation in the mean time. When I knew he was asleep, I slipped downstairs and the Sister was on the computer. I had half a mind to tell her what the ex-husband had just done. I had half a mind to tell the world, but the words caught in my throat and I locked myself in the bathroom. I wouldn’t go to school the next day.

I took a shower very carefully. I know how it can be, after you’ve been raped, and the feeling of dirt being overwhelming. I remember those days where I would scrub myself with a stiff-bristled brush after I was raped in high school and I was careful not to follow that example. I locked the experience in a vault in my mind and wasn’t very surprised when I saw all the blood seeping from between my legs. It wasn’t that he had been rough, aside from the initial entering with no lubrication. He had torn me a bit because my body had resisted even while my mind shut down. Carefully, carefully, I took a warm shower – not super hot because that may have exacerbated my feelings – and I dressed in warm, bulky clothes to hide myself.

I slept on the couch that night.

I bled for a week.
/TW

A pebble in the water makes a ripple effect
every action in this world will bear a consequence
If you wade around forever, you will surely drown
I see what’s going down.

I stopped sleeping, after a while. In a twist of fate that I cannot even convey, I began to have the worst possible dreams about my ex-husband. It was like my waking life wasn’t nightmare enough, so my mind had to make my sleeping life just as awful. In fact, the nightmares were worse. Without fail, the ex-husband would find out about my cheating or about some minor infarction or not know anything at all and he would kill me. He was always choking me to death. I think my mind chose this because he had a weird fascination with erotic asphyxiation that had been brought about because of a previous relationship (the “one who got away”). Even as I write this, I can still remember those dreams and the feeling of being unable to breathe when I woke up, clawing at my neck to get his hands off of me. What made it worse was the night he dreamed the exact same thing.

He woke up, crying and clutching at me. And I woke from another spate of choking nightmares to that. I flinched as he was trying to cuddle me to him, crying into my hair. I remember looking at the ceiling, not sure if I should say anything to him because I was sure that this was it. Instead, I asked him why he was crying and he told me back the dream I had just been having, verbatim. “And I killed you,” I remember him sobbing at me and that’s when I knew that this wasn’t some fucked up emotional response. This was real. There was a part of him that wanted to kill me and choke me to death.

On my old blog, I wrote about this. A very old friend who is extremely Christian said, “Symptomatic of occult involvement I’m afraid. I’ve seen it happen to a workmate.” At first, most rational people who scoff at such a statement, but I didn’t. I was long since far from rational at that point. But, while the Sister and I were very busy trying to figure out why my ex-husband had changed so dramatically since we moved in together in September, demons had come up. We had watched one work on her ex Demon Boy before. And while I wondered if it was possible if the demon in Demon Boy had brought reinforcements to infect my ex-husband, I don’t think so. I honestly don’t. I think the ex-husband invited something in at some point, knowing or otherwise, and this was what we had to deal with: the aftermath. This explained, clearly, why the Pyramid Oracle deck had gone from his card being the card of wisdom and guidance and positive male influence to chaos and the bringing of death.

It was around that time that the ex-husband changed completely for the worse. I guess I was the catalyst.

I was out, on one of our midnight chat sessions, with TH. I was in his car and he was telling me to run away. Both the Sister and TH, by this time, had only ever told me to get out, get out, run away, go back to Texas. But, I was honestly frightened of what he would do when he found out that I was gone. I knew he would attack the Sister. She had told him, previously, that she had back up in the form of her dad, her grandfather, her uncles, and her brother, but I was so frightened of my ex-husband that I didn’t think they’d be able to hold out against him. And I was worried what he would do to TH. I didn’t know his family or what they were like. I didn’t know anything about them except that they were people who lived in the same house with him. They had guns, I guess, but I didn’t think it was enough to stop him from doing something crazy to TH.

And he was a firefighter – part of the boy’s club. It was yet another problem that runs rampant in small towns with police, fire, and EMS. They get together and they can do no wrong. They all bleed the blood of men and women who are first responders. What I would have said, had I gone to the police, would have sounded crazy. And I think the ex-husband may have done that on purpose.

“Take money and stash it,” they said. My mom told me to get a duffel bag to bring my “essentials” with. I was told to get a throwaway cell phone so I wouldn’t have to rely on the ex-husband’s largesse to communicate with people he didn’t want me to. But, he would have found all those things if I had tried to hide it. Even if I had hidden it in the basement where I would never go, he would have found it. If he had the smallest inkling of what was going on, he would have found all the things I was hiding and it would have been worse for me, I think. If he really was possessed by a demon, it didn’t matter how good at lying and hiding I was – it would have found all my plans.

It was then that the ex-husband began to say, “I would let you divorce me, but then I’d have to kill you.” All in one breath. If he wasn’t saying that, then he was telling me what he would do to my friends, my dogs, my family if I went missing. I knew better than to run away.

So, anyway, that night I was with TH and he was telling me what I should do. Or what I could do. And that’s when the ex-husband called. I shook and started to cry. I flung my phone. It would stop ringing only to ring again. You know how in horror movies the phone will ring constantly? And if it goes to voicemail, the caller will hang up and try again? He did that to my phone something like 17 times before I turned it off. And I cried and cried to TH about how I didn’t want to go home. He tried to persuade me to go to his house, to hide the night there, and then we would go back in the morning with reinforcements and get my things and get me out. And I was even more scared of that. I was terrified of bringing more people to get hurt into the situation.

Invariably, I went home because my dogs were there and I was honestly scared he would kill them.

I should have been more frightened of what he would do to me.

The entire time I was gone, the Sister was attempting to force rationality down his throat. It wasn’t working. The thing about being rational is that you have to want to be rational and while she was being calm, explaining reality to him, he wasn’t having any of it. When I came home, he immediately pounced on me. In no moment was I left alone with him, however. The Sister knew better than that. She was worried about what he would do to me – we both were – but she was in more of her head to know how awful things could be. He screamed and yelled and bellowed. I cried and ran away, literally. I ran up to our room, unable to face the insanity that was on his face or maybe just the fear that he was pushing in my heart. I locked myself in our bedroom, which was too much. He got out a screw driver and began pulling the door of its hinges.

I remember listening through the door, crying quietly in a heap on the stairs. And I remember the Sister trying to get the screw driver away from him, telling him that he was being crazy and ridiculous. At one point, he threatened to stab her, just like he had in the kitchen. And I remember her saying something like, “Oh, we’re going to go through this again? Do I have to remind you of who will kill you if you touch me?” And maybe that was the glass of cold water he needed. He stopped trying to take the door off the hinges, at least. I think, too, the Sister told him things that night that put him on high alert. I don’t know what she said when I wasn’t there and we never talked about it, really, until years later.

I was at my wit’s end but the fear of leaving made me stay.

I see the way you go and say you’re right again,
say you’re right again
Heed my lecture.

The night TH went out to the club with his ex-girlfriend (and can you guess what happened then?), the ex-husband and I got into a fight. We were coolly ignoring one another. I decided to go out and take a chance. I was going to buy a duffel bag and I was going to get a cheap cell phone. I was going to squirrel money away. I had to get out. I went to tell him good-bye and I did something that irritated me. He pushed my face away with his fist. I can’t quite tell if he meant to do it that way, or if I just pissed him off enough to not quite know what he was doing. He used too much force to get me away and pushed my jaw (which isn’t at its best after seven years of braces) out of alignment. I went upstairs, trying to get a hold of TH on AIM but he was gone. I blogged about it and then went to Wal-Mart. I didn’t get anything I had intended.

TW: Cutting, Razors
I bought razor blades instead.

I had been a cutter all throughout high school. I have the scars on my left forearm and my biceps to prove it. Most of my other scars have disappeared and faded with time, but those ones will probably always be around. There are days when I look down at the scars and I am disgusted with myself for what I did. There are days where I look at them and I am relieved that I didn’t intend suicide, but just a release. I vary. In this case, I was looking for a release. My emotional well-being had long since frayed and drinking heavily every night wasn’t enough anymore. I had quit cutting, cold turkey, in 2002, but it was easy to go right back to it. The same patterns can be… relieving when you’re in a situation that there’s no guidebook to.

The Sister was also a cutter, although she had never actually quit. If she was faced with a situation that is beyond her scope to handle, she will cut. Mostly she hasn’t lately but she has had her moments. Back then, that night when I bought the razor blades, I assured myself that I would not let the Sister know. It would be my dirty little secret, like everything else.

The next day was both bad and good because I had my coping mechanism all ready to go. It was bad because I had to listen to TH’s ex-girlfriend tell me about how they were back together, which they were not. I also had vivid flashbacks of all of those stupid divination readings I had given him in which I explained that it was pretty normal for people to sleep with their exes after the break up. I decided it wasn’t going to hurt – though it did, oddly enough – and cut myself a lot. I told the Sister about it later when I cajoled her into accompanying me to the liquor store for a fifth of vodka to add to my soda. She jumped on the cutting bandwagon. It didn’t dawn on me until much later that she had her demons hanging around that she wasn’t able to exorcise. And I didn’t know what they were.

TH found out pretty quickly what I was up to and he took my razor blade away. I don’t know what he thought he was going to achieve with that. It didn’t matter. He was wallowing in his own well of hate and self-pity. I’ve thought a lot in the years since that time about what it was that could have drawn him into my and the Sister’s web of horror and depression. I don’t really know if it was the relationship he had just ended or things he’s never told me. He did a lot more fucked up shit than me – who was abusing prescription meds, drinking heavily, and cutting – back then. He said once that he “wanted to try some new things.” And yeah, he was 18 and ready to explore the world. But, some of the things he’s done remind me of someone with a death wish. I usually end up blaming my fucked up life and situation for his depression. It makes sense. He falls for a girl with the shittiest luck and the shittiest home. It’s bound to drag anyone down.
/TW

Face down in the dirt, she said,
“This doesn’t hurt”, she said,
“I finally had enough.”
One day she will tell you that she has had enough
It’s coming round again.

One night, TH came over to drop off a book. The ex-husband, the Sister, and I were all watching TV. At this point, my ex-husband became obsessed with people calling before they would come over. It was yet another thing he wanted to have control over. Mostly, no one ever came over except for TH and mostly, I asked his permission. But TH surprised me by coming over to return one of my ex-husband’s books. Later, he would tell me that he was planning on TW: Suicide committing suicide that night and wanted to say good-bye to me. /TW He came over and he hung out for a bit, upsetting his plans. The Sister went upstairs and I walked TH to the door. The ex-husband went about turning off lights and getting the house ready to be locked up for the night.

I said good-bye to TH outside, joking about how my ex-husband was probably watching us. Of course, my ex-husband actually was watching us. He had suspected since October or November that I had been having an affair with TH. It was kind of amusing because it was only true at that time and not before. Anyway, we joked for a bit and I watched TH pull out into the swirling snow.

When I came back inside, my ex-husband was standing in the living room, surrounded by the darkness. I remember freezing in the kitchen doorway, staring. As Scully, in the episode Irresistible of The X Files, saw Donald PFaster much like this demon after he kidnaps her, so too did I see my ex-husband in similar guise. I blinked. He was still demonesque but his shape resumed that of the man I had married. It was then, really, that I knew I was not married to that man who wooed me with fixing his truck and a leather bomber jacket. The man standing in my living room was comfortable with the darkness deep within himself and that scared me more than anything.

I hadn’t married a paragon of virtue or of lightness, but I hadn’t married a demon either.

On the 3rd of March, I made the decision to run away and I was going to take TH with me. I told him that on the 1st of April, I was going to move away. I was going to run way, more accurately, and I wanted him to come with me as well. He decided he would. It was better than having him stay up north and die slowly without me around. When put that way, really? How can you say no to helping a woman run away from her mentally and emotionally controlling soon-to-be ex-husband? Aside from deciding that I was running away, I put no real thought into it. I didn’t even think about filing for divorce until after I was in the vicinity of my mother and the constables who loved me best. (I worked with them all at my condo job in Texas so while they knew my ex-husband, they preferred me to him unlike every other civil servant down there.)

The ex-husband was still friends with Demon Boy, who I had refused to allow near me. I had broken off our friendship after his doing something out-of-hand after the Sister, my ex-husband, and I moved in. He wasn’t allowed in the house and for the most part, everyone accepted that. I think he came over once after I told him to take a long walk off of a short pier. It just wasn’t worth it, at that point, to maintain a friendship with someone who was, probably, literally a demon in human disguise. And quite frankly, our friendship had been just about over for years. It had just been the time to get rid of him easily. I’m actually surprised the ex-husband never tried to force me into remaining friends with him. Maybe if the Sister wasn’t around, and her sensibilities regarding him, he would have.

Now, I’m not quite sure what Demon Boy said to the ex-husband to cause him to be suspicious. I don’t know and frankly, I don’t care. But something caused my ex-husband to get incredibly worried and install a key-logger program onto the computer. It caught snippets of my conversation with TH, but we were careful. TH reminded me that key-logger programs were something my ex-husband would know about so we rarely discussed our actual relationship online. But, anyway, the ex-husband came to me and demanded to know something – I forget what. And what bothered me the most was he was asking me all of this while I was in the bath, the cuts on my body as obvious as the sun rising in the east, and I turned the tables. A moment of self-preservation kicked in and I went on the offensive.

I showed him my cuts. I told him I was depressed. I didn’t tell him how he made me feel. I was careful to dance around the truth of how he had been treating me. I was careful to dance around every little hint of how I felt, what he had done, and everything in between. And I’m grateful I never said anything to him about it because things wouldn’t have gone “as smoothly” as they could have. The ex-husband offered to go into counseling with me and I refused. I told him it was over and he… he actually believed me. Instead of attacking me, instead of doing all the things he said he was going to do in previous moments, he said he would let me go.

That night, TH came over without fear of what my ex-husband would say. And the Sister rejoiced silently beside us. The Sister, TH, and I watched movies and laughed off the emotional roller coaster we had all been riding on for months. The ex-husband left the house to “spend time with friends,” but when he came home at five in the morning, he hopped directly in the shower. The Sister and I cast knowing looks at one another. It wasn’t hard to figure out he had been to see one of his lovers. I don’t think he went to see the wife he has now – but they were engaged within months of my leaving and before our separation was finalized – but we’re pretty sure he spent those few hours with the “one who got away.” We laughed at how “circumspect” he was trying to be and failing.

Getting a divorce is difficult in normal circumstances, but it’s harder when your ex-husband tries to flirt with you to keep you around or attempts to sleep with you one final time. It’s even harder when your ex-husband screws you over on how much money you can pull from the joint account you share. It’s even worse when he has a lawyer on standby and you don’t, thereby screwing over your debts report when filing for divorce. I think, honestly, if I had stuck around, I could have gotten a lot from our divorce, but I was too intent on getting back to Texas where I could recover and be safe. Divorce sucks for everyone involved, but it doesn’t help when the actual victim keeps her trap shut and the non-victim portrays himself to be one. “She’s taking the car. She’s taking my dogs. She’s still living in our house together and won’t leave.” Wah. I told TH we had until April 1st to prepare things to leave and that’s when I was leaving… no matter how much he whined at me to leave early.

Even though I got the shit end of the stick, the Sister got it worse. She had a deal with my ex-husband that if we broke up, then she would still have a home with my ex-husband. But he renegged. And that was around the time I told the Sister where the money she gave him went – not to bills she owed on, which was why our electric and gas was behind. To help her out, I ordered some oil without paying, putting it under my ex-husband’s name. Turn about was fair play.

I had to leave a lot of things behind. And the things I left behind, my ex-husband trashed. There are things that I miss. A cross-stitch my grandmother did for me when I was a child of the Last Unicorn. The Sister tried to salvage some of my things from the cleaning spree he and “the one who got away” did after I left, but a lot of things got thrown out or destroyed. There are days where those things hurt me, wound me, beyond all measure. That cross-stitch was a part of my childhood that I lost because of my ex-husband, first because I forgot to try to shove it in my Neon, and second because he destroyed it and threw it away like it was nothing special.

After moving to Texas, our separation paperwork was finalized about his birthday. He called to tell me and said that his birthday was “simply awful.” He was trying to play the victim, but I was 2,000 miles away then. I had my mother and TH. I had people who cared about me. And while a lot of the firefighters ignored me and didn’t so much as breathe in my direction, the EMS people knew my ex-husband for what he really was – a lying, charismatic jerk – and were friendly. The cops were nice to me, too, and I didn’t have to worry about telling them anything, at least. I could live in peace. So, while he whined about how his birthday was terrible because our separation was finalized a day or two before, I told him to go to hell because my birthday would always be awful since he had married me on it.

Our conversations were less civil after that.

The last time I spoke with him while in Texas, I told him I was pregnant and it wasn’t his. I wanted him to know from me so that it would be completely clear he really was infertile. I also didn’t want the rumor mill to go hog-wild up there without me there to deflect it. The child, my son, is definitely TH’s child. TW: RapeThere is no question unless women’s bodies can carry rape children around for nearly twelve months. /TW

My relationship with my ex-husband was hell on earth for a while.

But, I came out and I survived.

“I Wear This Crown of Thorns Upon My Liar’s Chair, Full of Broken Thoughts.” (TW)

Note: The lyrics for Hurt by Nine Inch Nails can be found here. You will notice a discrepancy in my title and the lyrics, as I chose to utilize the lyric from the video I posted.

Note: I will attempt to place specific trigger warnings prior to a triggerable incident. However, I cannot make promises if I’m in the thick of this, as I assume I will be.

This is the entry I’ve been dreading since I began to do this shadow working. It’s this particular aspect of my past with my ex-husband that makes it supremely difficult for me to move on in any context. This is where I get to show everyone that not only is he at fault in the downfall of what we were together, but I also get to show you how I managed to survive. I did not do good things in order to survive. I was not a nice person to other people in order to survive. There are days where I look back in my grief and pain, in my terror and horror to those moments where I knew what I was doing was not about living in ma’at but about survival. I am not a hero in this. No one came out of this situation as a hero. We all did what we needed to in order to survive.

The Doorbell Demon incident was a turning point. Prior to this, it was easy to shrug things off. It was easy to assume that my ex-husband was just having a bad day or he was having a bad week. Working for the company that he did wasn’t exactly a cake walk. He saw a lot of things that ate him in a place that I had no ability to heal. However, he’s always been a control freak. Whether that is a quirk of personality or a quirk of how he was raised, I honestly cannot say. All I can say is that he began to try to influence both myself and the Sister in what we thought, what we wore, and what we believed. At one point, he accused the two of us of the Doorbell Demon incident with our very occasional, far-between rituals together. As he had allowed us to have a ritual at Samhain in the house, then that meant we had asked for something to enter our house. We made it worse by practicing divination.

Odd thoughts for a supposed Taoist, if you ask me.

I’ve said before, rather nastily, that he proclaimed his religious affiliation with Taoism. I don’t know a damn thing about Taoists or Taoism to be honest, but from the bits and pieces I’ve gleaned over the years, he was not a Taoist. After the incident with the Doorbell Demon, his beliefs were intrinsically tied with his childhood religion of Christianity. He professed otherwise, but how often he was to denigrate both the Sister and I for our divination practices, our rituals, and our beliefs say otherwise. I don’t think he ever went so far as to quote that stupid, incorrectly translated Bible passage about not suffering witches to live or anything at us, but it was pretty obvious that’s how he felt about it. It was easy to place blame on an outmoded Christian belief – that by seeking alternative forms of religious practices is to “invite the devil” in your home – but it was really and probably just attached to his conflicting, angry roil of emotions.

Whatever the case may be – demon, monster, abusive – we all suffered for it.

I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that’s real

The Sister really integrated well with the friends she made in college. I’m more of an outsider, wallflower persona so I didn’t mesh nearly as well. She was quite fundamental, from my perspective, in that group. She has this knack to bring people together that don’t necessarily belong. It’s weird. I don’t know who suggested that we all go to the Goth club on Fetish Night, but this sounds like something the Sister would suggest. The ex-husband, the Lumberjack, the Sister, and I were all going to go, meeting up with the college friends we had made. Plans are all fine and dandy, but they end up breaking all the time. That wasn’t going to necessary prevent the Sister from going to Fetish Night, though.

I believe it was just prior to this group date that the Lumberjack broke up with the Sister. She was inconsolable for the first few days after the break up, but I think the ex-husband’s “on high” proclamation that she must have fucked something up there that made her get over it. She wanted him back because she didn’t want to be alone – not because she loved him, not because he was the best sex of her life, not because of anything other than the fact that she wanted to be in a relationship that was not with ex Demon Boy. I feel this so hard it’s amazing. That’s probably why the ex-husband and I were together as long as we were, honestly. It doesn’t matter. The first part of the group date plan got a little fucked up because the Lumberjack. The other was because of my ex-husband.

His best friend, who we had lived with prior to our move to Texas and his best friend’s move to join the air force, came up for his first visit to Massachusetts since joining the air force. He had one night to hang out with his best friend and that night was Fetish Night. The plan was that the ex husband, his best friend, and someone else would all meet up with us at the club a little later. The ex husband and best friend decided they wanted to stay at home and play chess or maybe they were going to do their roll-playing online game thing together. I don’t remember. But, it became that the Sister was my date and we were going out in style.

Here’s the weird thing about this. The ex-husband was nominally okay with this. I think it’s because his best friend was there, so he couldn’t quite fly off the deep end in front of him. I honestly do not know. However, the really weird part was how much the ex-husband freaked out over the Sister’s outfit. I was wearing a long slinky skirt, boots, and a tube top that barely covered my tits. She was wearing a pink-and-white corset with a pink skirt that was kind of see-through. Technically, we were both wearing the same amount of cloth on our bodies, but it was the Sister’s outfit that made him flip out. “You can’t go out in that,” I believe he said at one point. This illustrates a few things to me.

He had realized that he needed to begin controlling and manipulating the Sister. I think he decided this because he had begun to realize how much influence she had over me, possibly in regards to our tacit agreement about how ridiculous his Doorbell Demon shtick was. He thought he would start with innocuous things first. He apparently had not actually met the Sister in any way prior to this. If there was one thing that she would never budge on, it was going to be how she deemed fit to dress up when going to a club. He had realized that he had fucked up in letting her live with us. This point is dependent on his being aware, even in the remotest of his consciousness, of his controlling behavior. But he realized that he needed to start forcing his opinions on her, possibly because the Lumberjack was no longer around to do so.

Funny story of all funny stories, guess who showed up at Fetish Night.

During the month of November, our computer stopped working. I don’t remember what was wrong with it, honestly. It could have been a virus. It could have been the Internet. It could have been a lot of things that caused the Sister and I to be unable to use the Internet. In my more Machiavellian moments, I wonder if the computer was broken at all and this was just another attempt of my ex-husband to control the two of us. To me, it is sad and depressing to even remotely be able to think that about someone who you used to profess love for. However, it would be one more act that he committed in an effort to get whatever he wanted.

The computer was down for about a month. And in that time, I began to very quickly become the introvert I used to be. I had an online blog that the ex-husband had complete access to. He was able to read it at any time he chose and he could easily, easily find out what the password was. I never kept anything hidden in that blog, but I think he thought I did. I did not create certain categories that he would be unable to see. I did not create a new blog to bitch about him in. The blog, however, was yet another way in which he could not control me. I could write and say whatever I wanted, when I wanted, on that blog. So, really, it would not surprise me to learn that the computer was “broken” for that long on purpose.

So, in that time as I became more and more introverted, more and more quiet, more and more lost in a world of fantasy that I created in my own mind, I finally broke. I had to speak with someone outside of my home. I began to talk, at this time, with TH on a more friendly basis. He was, you see, part of that group of college friends. The Sister had other people she reached out to, but I chose TH. I don’t know why or how or when, really, but he became pretty fucking important.

The needle tears a hole
The old familiar sting
Try to kill it all away
But I remember everything

As I’ve said, I’ve always had a very wallflower persona. I may have been a core component to some high school groups I belonged to, but I didn’t really say anything. I was just a figurehead, or more appropriately, I was just always there. To not have my presence in that group would have been like walking out of the house without socks. This may have been the case, later on, with numerous groups of friendships I had. In fact, there are days when I think of how much the Sister got along with our group of college friends and how I had one or two I spoke with frequently. It was this intense desire to keep my trap shut about everything, to internalize anything I was feeling at any given moment, that I ended up bottling up a lot of stuff.

The month of December was hell.

The original start date for my depression of that year was October. I know that clearly. I had not prepared myself in any way to contend with working, going to school, a mentally not-all-there husband, and the memory crush of a really awful month. I think I was able to push back the side effects of that time period and all of the non-preparation I did for that month after years of being away from really having to face any of it. (I know I’m being hopelessly vague but my next shadow working series will contend with how much October sucks and why.) However, after the disaster with the Doorbell Demon and the Sister relying heavily on me to fill in the “I don’t want to be alone” gap that the Lumberjack’s leaving created, I had no real-time to at least mourn or at least attempt to confront my pains head-on. And it was easier to put it off in the face of the oddity of my ex-husband’s behavior.

TW: Depression/Suicidal Ideation
I let that depression eat at me in many ways possible. I did very little eating. I did very little speaking. I did very little of anything except to either read or watch television. I did learn how to knit, although I’ve forgotten most of what I learned back then. (Even though the Sister has re-taught me twice since then.) I did a lot of things with my depression except to face it. When I finally began to realize how morbidly and frighteningly depressed I was, I began to experience severe suicidal ideation. As someone who had been a cutter and depressed before, I knew the signs. It would get to the point where I would fantasize about taking the Neon out for a drive and wrapping it around a tree. When I realized what was happening, I knew I needed help.

I don’t know who began the conversation first, myself or the ex-husband. I remember trying to address what was happening to me with him. It wasn’t the first time in our relationship that I had tried to explain my feelings to him and failing utterly. I may be good at writing things, but I am not so good at saying those very items out loud. The worst part is that after confessing that I needed help, that I was scaring myself, and that I needed some fucking help in all of this, he said to me, “You’re behaving like every other section-12 I’ve ever had to transport.” This is a double slap in the face. A section-12 is a mentally ill patient and paramedics do not take any section-12’s comments, concerns, fears, or statements seriously. Maybe this has changed in the last seven years, but back then, that’s how it was for my ex-husband. And that’s how I’ve come to see it in most paramedics.

I bowed my head low and said, “I need help,” in the face of his accusation.

I was reaching out and trying, and he was accusing me of making everything up. I honestly don’t know what caused him to say what he said. And I can only speculate about how he actually meant those words. I can only comment on how I felt when he said that to me, which was that my problems were not real, they were imagined, and that I was not important. He quickly realized he had messed up and reached out to a therapist in our area and got me in to see her a month later. But, the words had been let out. He had said something very, very, very fucked up.

It hurt. /TW

I still had a month until therapy, though, and in that time I tried to use my friendships as a good bouncing off point to ease the ache. I made it abundantly clear to TH that I was morbidly depressed. I honestly don’t know if he was able to figure out what was actually causing the depression – holdovers from past traumas coupled with an unsupportive husband – or if I told him. It doesn’t matter. He didn’t really say anything, which was a boon. He just listened. And he had the best hugs to provide: broad shoulders for crying and snot, gentle hands to relax the tension in one’s back, and the right noises to keep the skittish from bolting. I didn’t have to tell the Sister anything. She lived with us, heard the fights, and invariably I told her about them on our way to school or late at night. Besides, it wasn’t difficult to discern that the deep bags beneath my eyes were simply from lack of sleep.

The Sister had her own stuff at this time that’s important. She got back together with the Lumberjack. This was a bad idea all around. She’ll admit to everyone that this guy was a mistake, not the capital M kind, but it was just not a good idea. I’ve stated before that this was an act to get away from her ex as much as possible and the Lumberjack was his total opposite. She succeeded in that regard. However, the Sister is a very passionate person in all things and the Lumberjack was not. I think his passions went to Naruto and the Dresden Files. Part of me believes that some of the aches and pains she began to suffer during this time was due to the fact that she was forcing herself into a situation that she had no business forcing herself into.

One night, she just fell the fuck over in the middle of our kitchen. The paramedic didn’t react. Her boyfriend didn’t react. I rushed over and started flipping the fuck out. I wasn’t the one who was supposed to know what to do in a situation like this. My ex husband was supposed to be jumping up and doing his paramedic thing. However, I think at this point he had decided that everything and anything that the Sister said was a lie or a made up story. I think he also felt that whatever she did was a lie. This is a recurring theme, I think, with him. It’s possible he was aware that she was already cheating on the Lumberjack with ex Demon Boy and maybe he thought her guilt was forcing this on her. I don’t think that; I think she was in some damn pain.

We took her to the hospital – as I said, she was in a lot of pain. Neither the paramedic nor her boyfriend stayed with her. I did. I read Timeline by Michael Crichton to her, I think. Or maybe it was another book about time travel. She still had a lot of kind of wacky ideas in her head placed their by ex Demon Boy and time travel was something she was still very interested in then. I don’t think she is now, or not nearly as much as she was. I held her hand as they made her loopy on drugs. I did my best to get the nurses to listen to me when they tried to give her 4cc’s of morphine. Drugs react fast in her and I wanted them to give her a half dosage. The mean nurse wrote down 4cc’s after I told her not to do that. The nice nurse who administered it gave her a half dose, which was even better because we found out that the Sister was allergic to it. It was also really great that the nice nurse was carrying around some anti-morphine shit in her pocket because she had had 2 people experience allergic reactions to it that night. Later, we made jokes about how she would never be a heroin addict.

That was the first real time we told official people we were sisters.

The next week, I barely passed through anything. I was in my own little world. The Sister did not bother telling me about her reopening of her relationship with the ex-Demon Boy. Later, I would get incredibly suspicious. But at that time, I was very much lost in my own head. I wasn’t paying attention to anything but my own misery. It was around this time that I was asked not to use my cell phone so much because we “didn’t have the minutes.” It meant that the two out-of-state resources I had – my ex-Christian friend and my mother – had suddenly become off limits. TW: Suicidal Ideation I began to feel extremely isolated and more depressed than before. The thought of wrapping my car around a tree was looking very very very appealing. /TW

I was invited to a party, actually, by TH. His girlfriend-of-the-time had decided on a huge, huge party for their six-month anniversary. Never mind the actual feels of what TH wanted – something quiet and romantic – but she decided, “His house will be empty of parents and little brother. Yes, we need to have another excuse to behave like children.” It’s one thing to behave that way when you were TH and most of the people we hung out with were 18. She had a kid and was only a year or so younger than me. She had no right to behave like some moron who was going spring breaking for the first time. But, I had been invited. I said “no” because I had to work and then because the Sister wasn’t going to go for whatever her reason was and then because I was sure the ex-husband wouldn’t like it.

But, I had to do things for myself, sometimes. There were moments when I could stand up and say, “I am a human being and I will do things like human beings.” As TH pointed out to me at one of his last minute, “please please please come to my party because everyone is friends with [girlfriend’s name] and I want someone who is my friend there for me.” And I was one of his friends… so I went.

It was nice. It was that night that I realized why I had always felt like I knew [girlfriend’s name] before that. She was a year or two younger than me. She had gone to the high school down the street. And she had slept with my boyfriend-not-boyfriend in my bed. It’s more complicated than that, obviously, but that did not predispose me to liking her. The fact that she treated TH like complete shit after taking away his virginity (yes, he’s slept with two people – me and her) and using him like everyone else in her life? That really didn’t predispose me to liking her any more. It would only get worse with time.

So, I went to the party for a little bit. I wasn’t there long because I had to drive back to my own house. I had a while to be free and quiet and without anyone else around. I was looking forward to the drive home when TH walked me to my car. We both talked a little bit in the ice cold of winter, snow on the ground and sparkling under a very lively moon. We hugged and pulled back and there was a moment where time froze. You know those moments? Time freezes because you will it to or just because it forgets how to move forward. And in that moment, I could have kissed him with his girlfriend inside and my husband at home and it would have been much too insane. The moment passed and we ignored the awkwardness of our final goodbye. We didn’t say anything about that almost-kiss.

Stress is a funny thing. It makes people do insane and crazy things. I began to get severe nervous stomach issues. I’ve always had a nervous stomach. Even though TH and I had not kissed and even though my ex-husband was completely unaware, it made me nervous. Coupled with the fact that finals were coming up, I was often feeling incredibly nauseated and generally nervous. The Sister was having her own issues with nerves since, you know, she was busy cheating on the Lumberjack under our noses. We all had our problems. None of us would have known what the ex-husband’s were since he didn’t confide in us. It doesn’t matter what we were all feeling at this point. There’s still no excuse.

The ex-husband and I were arguing about the dishes. I believe the Sister was making dinner at this moment. I think we had requested that he do a load of dishes because she needed something to cook in. I don’t remember. He told us that all we did was go to school, so we could do the damn dishes “once in a while.” This is hilarious – I did the dishes a lot. The Sister did a lot of our cooking, so she was mostly exempt. This left dish duty to the ex-husband and myself. None of us were good housekeepers (though I would like to think that the Sister and I are better at it now) and we knew that going in. The ex-husband and I had volunteered for most of the dish duty and I had promised I would clean the bathroom. (I like cleaning the bathroom, I guess?) So, at this point, I felt that the ex-husband was pretty fucking obligated to the do the dishes especially after telling us we were lazy layabouts, more or less.

TW: Threat to Personal Safety
We started fighting about it. The Sister was behind me at first, I think, and he turned with a sharp knife in his hand. I think I had started maneuvering myself out of his way or I had been leaving the kitchen because the argument wasn’t doing anyone any good. I don’t remember. I just remember turning around for a final snotty remark when I saw him holding a knife towards the Sister’s midriff. I know I didn’t realize that he was threatening her with it right away. And I know for a fact it didn’t dawn on me until much later that he had started the threat at me. I don’t remember what she said to him about it, but she does. “What are you going to do with that? Do you know how many people will kill you if you so much as touch me?” I think he may have said something snide about her having no one in her life. I blocked out the rest, I know, but the Sister says that it continued along the lines of, “I am not under your thumb. I will scream to high Heaven and tell everyone what you did. And my father, my grandfather, my uncles, and my brother will kick your ass from here to the equator.”

Or something.

I don’t remember.

I don’t remember him threatening me.

I don’t remember him as anything but holding the knife while the Sister stood in front of me. I was back towards the door to the hallway and she was between the stove and the kitchen table. I don’t remember… it’s a theme. I block it all out. And I know it’s for my safety because I’ll wake up one night, screaming as my mind goes over the edge. The man who swore to love and protect me was threatening me. And when my best friend got in his way, he threatened her, too.

He played it off, of course. “It was a joke.” But is threatening to stab someone ever a joke?
/TW

At the end of the month, TH confessed he had feelings for me. I know I openly reciprocated. I remember writing a very cryptic blog entry about it in my old blog, in which I mention that I wouldn’t say a damn word in case the ex-husband was monitoring me. I do know that I internalized the fear and anxiety of someone who was cheating… even though I wasn’t cheating. It felt that way, in a way, that I was doing wrong. And after his threatening our safety, I began to really fear the ex-husband. I internalized this with more nervous stomach. Everyone thought I was pregnant, at school, and I laughed at them. I laughed like a hyena in all of their concerned faces. “I can’t get pregnant; the ex-husband said so.” I’m not sure if I told anyone that, specifically, but that’s how it was.

I can remember running to the bathroom one day in between finals. And I can remember trying to throw up. And I can remember TH’s [girlfriend’s name] coming in to check on me. And I knew she wasn’t there because she wanted to be there, checking up on me, but that she had been ordered to check on me by TH. And I was grateful that someone cared as to why I was throwing up bile in the toilet.

“You’re Killing Me, Killing Me; All I Wanted Was You.”

Note: All lyrics for The Kill by 30 Seconds To Mars can be found here.

One of the issues I have found in finishing this project up is that, as I grow closer to the end of my time with the ex-husband, I find it harder and harder to be as neutral as I think I should be. This, I feel, is borne out in my last post on the subject (linked below) in which I feel that I was more accusatory and victimized than I had hoped the entry would convey. To me, part of the point in shadow work is to be able to look at the whole experience objectively. I’ve spent the last six years ignoring the victim I had become and being angry at the whole of it. By entering the realm of shadow work, I should be able to see it all from each perspective, I think. In not being able to do so, I worry that I’ve failed at the work in question.

A few weeks ago, my co-worker and I were discussing one of the telltale traits of an emotional abuser. This trait is that, invariably, they will separate you, whether you know it or not, from your friends and loved ones. As I thought about my and my co-worker’s conversation later, it really hit me that, if nothing else, my ex-husband is supremely guilty of this. I’ve said it before, in various arenas, that there would never have been any evidence of his abuse because it was all the mental and emotional variety. However, after this conversation, it was really brought home to me that I really am an abuse victim and that I survived, magically. What makes it ten times worse, as I’ve mentioned to the Sister about this particular blog entry arc, is that I have to come to grips with the fact that I was a victim. Me. A victim. I was victimized. I let it continue on and on, well past the time when I should have said, “hey, I’m done now,” and that really irritates me.

By not being made to remember what an emotionally abusive person will do to you, I was able to shrug the whole thing off easily. I can’t shrug it off anymore. I have to face the facts: I was a victim.

If I ever had to legitimately guess as to where my ex-husband made the mistake, it would have to be with the Sister. For months and months after moving up north, he had been on me to become friendly with her. While I’ve outlined some of the funner highlights of what an emotional abusive person will do, I’m left with the evidence of his failure based solely on the Sister. He pushed me to be friendly with her. He allowed her to move into the apartment we lived in. This leads me to believe that he was not consciously aware of the emotional abuse, which is possible. You don’t just wake up one day, I would assume, and say, “I’m going to emotionally abuse my long-term girlfriend/wife today!” If not for her living in our house, I honestly have to wonder if I would have ended up dead, either by my own hand or his.

Really, the Sister saved my life.

What if I wanted to fight
Beg for the rest of my life
What would you do?
You say you wanted more
What are you waiting for?
I’m not running from you

We moved into the new apartment together, the three of us. It was a matter of days before the Sister and I went back to school. We were both going for our liberal arts degrees with a focus on history since we’re both humongous geeks. My passion is Russia, Medieval England, and ancient Egypt; her passion is the Civil War and Victorian England. It is through her that I’ve come to realize that as much as I want my history degree, I never knew what I wanted to use it for. But, she gave me the idea about fact-checking and I can get behind that. I could look up random facts. In a way, that is exactly what I do at my job now, but that’s a different tale for a different time. Both the Sister and I began matriculating at our local community college (local being a completely relative term as the school we were going to was a 30 minute drive through ridiculous amounts of traffic) with a new lease on life. We were both pretty excited and positive about things.

One of the ways that the Sister has saved me is by going to school with the intent of making new friends. That was not my intent, at all. I wanted to go to school, get my damn degree, and leave. I didn’t want to be nice to anyone. I didn’t want to do anything with anyone new. I didn’t want to have discussions, hang out after classes, or anything. I just wanted to be that asshole with the heavy backpack, a frown perpetually on her face as she walked from one building to another. The Sister was under this weird impression that she needed more friends – I believe this was a holdover hang up from her ex Demon Boy – and so, she made new friends. She demanded that I meet them and it was through that initial meeting that my life changed irrevocably in numerous ways.

School and my job took up my life, which didn’t go over very well with my ex-husband. He was needy in a way that I can’t even begin to describe. The weirdest part is that he really wasn’t needy before as all of that. He may have required that I be the center of his universe, and vice versa, when we were in Texas, but “needy” isn’t really how I would describe him. However, there were people and places that I was a part of that he was not a part of, for once. Even our jobs, in Texas, were nominally tied to one another – and he would often regale me with how I got the job at my condo’s front desk “because of him” – so we were one functional unit, not just on the island and with the people, but even so far as the condominiums we each worked for. With me going back to school and having a job that took me off to it on weekends, I had no time for him to be the center of my world. And frankly, as much as I hated the job thing, it was kind of nice to be on my own for the weekends… even if it meant I never had a day off and that 90% of the calls were ridiculous.

That first month of us all living together – September of 2006 – was a honeymoon period. The three of us were getting to know one another in ways that we hadn’t had to get to know one another. I had been living with the ex-husband for almost the entirety of our relationship at that point, but I had never seen him as a paramedic before. This was new. As we got used to our new schedules, living with a new person, and generally trying to survive what we were putting ourselves through, the ex-husband’s job was already beginning to take its toll. He would come home from the job and just stare some nights. Other nights, he’d hop into the shower with his boots, pants, and shirt on. And still other nights, he would come home and smoke my entire pack of cigarettes after claiming to have quit. It was eating him alive.

The thing about paramedics is that they will only ever meet you on a really bad day. You may be able to meet a firefighter or a police officer on someone else’s bad day and not yours, but that’s not the case with paramedics. You will only ever meet them when you or someone you love is hurting, was hurt, and are having a very bad, no good kind of day. I believe it was that month that he came home, staring blankly at the walls. He said, “I had to transport a vegetable today to Boston. The boy… he was twelve and his mother beat him so badly that his brain barely works. And all because the system thought a mother was a better care provider than a father.” I remember the haunted look on his face as he told me in paramedic language – using words and acronyms to distance himself from the situation, like “vegetable,” that he had to see – of all the horrors he could. No names. No specifics. Just generalizations. And it ate at him. I don’t know if the Sister saw this eating at him as much as I did, but it did.

And I honestly believe that’s part of the reason he was the way he was at the end.

With new friends came a whole rash of jealousy the likes of which I cannot even begin to convey. Both the ex-husband and I had been insanely jealous towards one another and towards opposite sex friends in previous years. However, I had rapidly revised my stance on jealousy over the years. I used to be, before I was with the ex-husband and his constant cheating on me, a rashly jealous person. If you so much as looked at someone, then that meant you were thinking of leaving me and I didn’t have the tact to shut my trap about it. However, one of the positives of his cheating on me, as if there could be any, was the fact that I managed to learn how to temper my jealousy. However, one of the side effects of being a chronic cheater is a sudden and intense belief that your significant other is cheating on you. I wasn’t, but it was a conversation that happened often. With the addition of new names in my and the Sister’s vocabulary, it became commonplace for him to demand if I found anyone good-looking or if I was looking for My Ex-Husband Number 2.

There comes a point where, when constantly accused of cheating, you begin to think about it.

The thing is that I was in a nasty, nasty, and deep sex-depression at this point. I think this, more than the fact that we had new friends, was why he became so jealous and would lash out with it. As someone who had been raped and molested, I have severe issues with sex. As in, I don’t have it. It will have been a year in July since the last time TH and I had a sexual encounter. As the Sister has often said, I was “in a sex-camel phase.” Yes, well, this phase had long-lasting consequences. I’m still reaping the benefits of that, but that’s for later.

Now, let’s talk about the changes. At the end of September, all of our college friends hung out together at a party. The Sister and I took our significant others of the time – she was with the Lumberjack – and everyone got along. The ex-husband brought a friend for one of our single college ladies and they hit it off. (Considering how that relationship ended and what I know of that person now, I wonder if their relationship was as bad as she made it out to be. But, there were times where the stories I got from the Sister about that girl’s relationship with the ex-husband’s work buddy could mirror shit the ex-husband had done to me. And if there’s any truth in that, then I wonder if it is just a paramedic thing or if my ex-husband was only friendly with people like him. I don’t know.) The ex-husband was slightly mollified that nothing would happen between me and any of these new people. He also seemed pleased that I had friends and we went off with the understanding that no one but him meant anything to me, minus whatever the Sister’s and my relationship happened to be.

The month of October is a bad month for me and it was no different being back in places where memories are stronger. That was part of the reason I was such a sex-camel. But there’s so much more to October… and I’ll get into it one day with these entries, when I get that far. But suffice it to say, I flew very deeply into myself and prevented myself from caring. The ex-husband’s jealousy rants began to take off about then, I believe. And I think it had to do with the affair he was having with his paramedic partner. I’ve met her and as with all the other girls he was with “behind my back,” she was tall and reminded me a bit of “the one who got away.” He also began talking to “the one who got away” around that time.

November was when the shit hit the fan, though.

On November 2nd of that year, the Sister and I attended a haunted tour of our college with John Zaffis. During that tour, while on the grounds of the college and in one of the basement areas students are not allowed to go, I saw a little old man who I dubbed, “Father Time.” I think the Sister saw him, but I’m uncertain. He followed me home and I was frightened. Dead people, astral people, whomever or whatever this old man was… I didn’t know him and prior to this any “cracking out” I may have done was fantasy living only. Nothing had ever followed me home and I was at the point where I was never, ever going to see the dead as much as I may have wanted to. (My father was dead so, you know, wanting to see the dead was kind of important.) I admitted to the ex-husband about this man following me home and he flipped his shit. The argument we had about it later was of epic proportions.

I don’t really remember the start of the argument, but at one point, he said to me, “This is why I shut down every fucking house I’ve ever lived in from spirit fucking contact. But our house was pure and I didn’t have to do it. And now? Now I have to do it, thanks to you.” The ramifications of this statement hit me like a slap in the face. I can remember crying in the entry way with him on the stairs and screaming, “Thanks to you, I’ve never fucking felt or seen my father in all the time we’ve been together when before, he was a constant presence in my life. I hate you.” It was as though he was taking my father away from me all over again.

As a child, and as a teenager, I had been able to sense my father’s presence. My mother and my little brother, to some extent, had similar experiences with him after his death. But in all the time I had been with the ex-husband, I had never felt him around me unless I was alone on the beach or with my mother. I just thought our relationship was changing or something, but to learn that the man I had tied my life to was the reason he had stopped coming around? It really and honestly felt just like he had stolen away my life in that moment.

In a kind of repentance for being with the ex-husband for so long and being without contact with my dead father for so long, I think this is why akhu veneration is as important to me as it is now. The psychology behind it holds, as well as the fact that I do enjoy venerating some akhu. But, now as I think back on it, I think the reason it’s so important is because of those six years where my father’s ghostly influence was incredibly minimal.

The argument could have, and probably would have, escalated but the Sister diffused this argument, as she would in future with the rest. I hate it when mommy and daddy fight. She had told us this was what she would do whenever we fought. She had wanted to do it when living with a [previous] married couple, but I don’t believe she had ever had the ability. All I know is that it was what she was going to do with us, as she had forewarned. And for a while, it worked. It stopped the rages in the two of us for a while. There’s something ridiculous about a 24-year-old woman whining this at two other adults.

Come break me down
Bury me, bury me
I am finished with you
Look in my eyes
You’re killing me, killing me
All I wanted was you

For a minute, let’s break while I talk to you about the Sister at this time frame. Her story is intensely tied to my story and it’s tantamount that some things are known before I move on.

The Sister, as anyone who has been reading my blog for any length of time knows, was diagnosed as bipolar disorder, type two in 2007. We were living together prior to her official diagnosis and she was not on any medications for depression. She did have Ritalin because she is also ADHD. It is because of this living together pre-diagnosis that I am incredibly able to handle her disorder and be her buddy. If I could survive her deep depressions and her insane manic episodes prior to medicating them, then I can survive anything she throws at me.

One of the joys of her diagnoses is that she also suffers from extreme paranoia. This started due to her ADHD and people being unable to follow her conversations. Quite often, she would stop in our conversations – as she does less so now – to ask me if I understood how we went from discussing window treatments to a philosophical religious conversation. I have almost always been able to follow the pathways of the conversations, as someone who has lived with ADHD people all my life, and as “a buddy.”

Since she was undiagnosed as bipolar for so long, quite often, she will have days where she thinks she is “crazy.” The diagnosis is a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, we have evidence as to why she would hand over her bank card to me, periodically, and say, “Stop me. I want to buy a tuba.” And we also have evidence as to why the next day, she would lie in bed as little more than a blob and hate the world. However, the diagnosis is public knowledge and now, most people are less likely to listen to her about anything real. They tend to equate bipolar disorder with “liar,” “manipulator,” and “story teller.” While previous doctors, prior to diagnosis, probably just thought she was psychosomatic with her aches and pains or possible a hypochondriac, now everyone chalks it up to her bipolar diagnosis.

In one instance, she was never listened to because she was a hypochondriac. In the next instance, she is never listened to because she is bipolar. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

I tried to be someone else
But nothing seemed to change
I know now, this is who I really am inside.
Finally found myself
Fighting for a chance.
I know now, this is who I really am.

In November, the Lumberjack was a constant feature at our home. If the Sister wasn’t going to the boonies where he lived, then he was spending the weekend at our home. The Lumberjack is exactly as he sounds. He was a very tall, meaty guy who favored jeans and flannel shirts. He was incredibly simple in his wants and desires, but he was also incredibly complicated as an individual. He and the ex-husband became very close, very tight friends during those weekends. They would talk and giggle and just generally have the manly version of pillow fights and scary story-telling whenever the Lumberjack was over. It was around this time, not long after our haunted tour at the college, that the doorbell started ringing for absolutely no reason.

I have to assume that the ex-husband had “spiritually shut down” the house by this point. I know he didn’t ask either of our opinions on it, but neither the Sister nor I were pleased. I’ve already illustrated why I was not happy about this above. The Sister disliked this idea because she has had her own ghostly happenings with her grandmother. She liked feeling her close by and I don’t really fucking blame her. It was these little visits the Sister had with her grandmother that could bring her out of some of her deepest funks. But, the ex-husband had his own ideas on the matter and we were not asked our opinions on this. So, anyway, the doorbell began to ring after this and I laughed heartily. At one point, I believe I said it was my father since he had a habit of ringing the doorbell at the house I grew up in whenever his cat wanted in.

My ex-husband wasn’t particularly pleased with this. Whenever the doorbell would ring, he would run to the door to see who was there. At first, he went the rational route. He thought some kids were playing around or someone was mistakenly at our door. However, no one was there. This happened a few times during one of the Lumberjack’s weekend visits. It got to the point where my ex-husband completely, and with back up from the Lumberjack, decided that it was a “demon” who was ringing the bell. Looking back at it now, I often wonder if he wasn’t correct in this summation.

Earlier, while thinking of some of the other bits I need to discuss with this entry arc, I have had to wonder if a demon didn’t actually end up taking over the ex-husband at some point. Maybe he was correct in his [possibly mistaken] belief that it was a demon at the doorbell. It didn’t matter. Both the Sister and I made copious amounts of fun at the two of them. “What?” I believe I said at one point. “It’s the fucking Doorbell Demon?” I went to the door and looked outside, opening the door. I called out to the alleged “Doorbell Demon” and found nothing going on, felt nothing outside.

Life would go back as normal, I suppose, but the Sister and I would remember this moment years later and giggle uproariously. It was either that, or I scream in horror at the pain and terror of the next few months.

To be continued…