It was well after midnight and I was hungry.
While I don’t know what it was that I wanted, I went to the refrigerator anyway.
When I opened the drawer beneath the produce drawer, I caught a whiff of the musky scent of….old blood.
That’s all I could think of – blood – meaty, dark, metallic.
Rummaging through the contents of the drawer I found the source of the smell beneath the poly bag of oranges, a few applesauce snack cups, and a half-eaten Hershey’s chocolate bar.
That scent was coming from a bag containing a cold loose lump of something…meat?
I peered into the bag to see a double Ziploc bag, with a date scrawled in black Sharpie marker.
Chicken hearts, to be exact, wrapped in beige butcher’s paper.
I held the bag in my hands, looking at the date in disbelief.
Two weeks ago, possibly three – had it been that long ago?
While the expiration date hadn’t passed, I realized I had forgotten.
Those hearts were meant to be an offering to Them.
I thought back to the day that I had written out the ritual that was to include them as an offering….but judging by the scent of them, I doubted that they would be acceptable offering now.
I stood at the counter, feeling the slow pang of remorse joining the insistent rumble of my stomach.
Empty. You must be empty…
I felt empty.
Half-heartedly, I peeled an orange, meticulously removing the pith as I considered the packet of hearts laying on the counter.
The orange was ripe and sweet, a delicious leftover from Yule.
As I stood at the counter, eating the orange, I thought about my father.
I thought about how, when I was a child, he’d told me that at one time, to be able to eat an orange at Yuletide was an especial treat – it was a gift and a luxury in itself to be able to enjoy an orange in the winter-time.
‘Oranges were expensive in December. Even from Florida,’ he’d said.
To eat an orange in December was a big deal.
I smile inwardly at the fact that I live in Florida nowadays…where, as one might imagine, oranges are plentiful and pretty much available year-round.
However, it occurs to me how often certain things can be taken for granted, especially when they are always available.
But the fact that oranges are always available doesn’t make them any less sweet.
Then, with the taste of oranges still on my tongue, my mind wandered back towards Them, and thoughts on gifts and offerings to Them.
I looked at the packet of chicken hearts, recalling the special trip I’d made to get them, and the particular ritual I’d written to offer them.
To give what is special and what’s best is all well and good, yes…
…and yet, I’d put off too long in the offering them, hadn’t I?
What good are they now that I waited too long?
What was I waiting for?
I don’t know.
The chicken hearts were for a special occasion ritual for late December…that, unfortunately, I hadn’t followed through on actually doing.
And indeed, what good is a ritual that one doesn’t do?
What good are intentions without follow through?
It occurred to me that I could have given Them a ritual in December and offered Them something else.
Anything else given with mindful intent would have served in the place of…not doing and not offering anything at all.
Heck, I could have offered Them oranges in December.
I reflected upon what I have offered and what I have taken for granted the past year, every year, any year.
I learn. I forget.
I noticed the sharp aroma of orange peel lingered on my fingers, as I dropped the handful of peels and the hearts into the garbage disposal.
I shall do better.
I resolve to be more mindful of myself and the gifts given to me
And I resolve to become more mindful of Them and in my offerings to Them.
As it is with most people, I thought this song was about a romantic relationship.
But when this acoustic version of ‘3am’ came across my suggested YouTube feed today, I actually assumed it was going to be ‘3am (Breathe)’ by Ana Nalick.
Instead, I was surprised to see Rob Thomas at the piano, informing his audience that it was actually meant to be a song about his mother. And he continued on about how when he was 12 years old, his mother was dying of cancer.
Upon hearing that, I suddenly burst into tears.
Not that my mother is dying of cancer, mind you, but I am estranged from her (for reasons which many of my longtime readers may be aware –but I don’t feel like repeating the long and sordid story of our toxic relationship right now….)
Though suffice to say, I sometimes find myself uselessly mourning for the relationship we did not have.
Related to this, I have been dreaming of my father – who did die of cancer – 10 years ago as of last month.
I have been dreaming of him a lot lately…and in every dream, he has come to me asking for me to make amends with my mother.
And of course, sometimes I cry about that too. As much as I would like to oblige my father, I am a stubborn bastard just as much as my mother is. As well, while I know that what is wrong between us could likely have been fixed long ago if one of us could relent, I am tired of being the only one who relents …over and over.
You see, my mother is one of those people who can never admit to the wrongness of her behavior, and so it is unfortunate that she has continued to insist that she has ‘never done anything wrong.’
(Warning: heavily cross-referenced, possible TL;DR)
I woke up with “Kiss This” by the Struts stuck in my head this morning.
As it seems to be a song about a breakup (especially the chorus), I was concerned.
I went to bed last night feeling both sorry and jealous; I know I was not in a good mindset upon falling asleep. I tell myself that it is just that. (I hadn’t meant to go to bed, but I must have dozed off while I was meditating, as I dimly recall repeating ‘I’m sorry’ like a mantra…but what’s rather odd is that I remember feeling guilty and ashamed but I don’t know exactly what had happened to trigger those feelings.)
At any rate, here I am.
It is Wednesday.
And as it is with a lot of Wednesdays lately, I’ve been feeling disconnected from Odin, and so I think about what I could do today to connect with Him. And so begins that weekly process of self-examination of whether or not Odin is blocking me or if I am (somehow still) blocking Him.
Therefore I search myself inwardly for feelings of anger and denial, for distrust and skepticism. It’s as if I am opening up a box of feelings and I am obsessively running my fingers over what I find inside.
Perhaps this is the source of last night’s apologies as I ruminate over the past and over all of the ways in which I had insisted I wanted no part of Odin.
I wanted no part of Him.
There it is.
You see, several months ago, it occurred to me: Loki is ‘a part’ of Him, whether literally or figuratively, as Loki is His blood-brother:
Loki spake: 9. Remember, Othin, | in olden days That we both our blood have mixed; Then didst thou promise | no ale to pour, Unless it were brought for us both.
Therefore, to deny Odin is to deny Loki, isn’t it?
To offer to Loki and not offer to Odin makes the offering incomplete.
And yet, for years, I did just that.
During those meditations wherein I’d first attempted to connect to Loki, often, I would sense another presence along with Loki… and I’d send it away.
As well, a few times in dream-space, Loki would ask me:
Do you like Odin?
Would you work with Him?
But, in response to that question, like a child, I would shut down, sometimes almost to the point of throwing a tantrum.
I’d flatly refuse the suggestion – sometimes becoming angry and dismissive:
No. I don’t want to work with Odin.
I won’t work with Odin.
Tell Him to go away.
(Perhaps this is yet another thing that I need to let go of, more shadow work for me to do.)
Hel, I’ll admit that there was a time when I would become angry with Loki for even suggesting such a thing… insisting that I didn’t want to hear Him even say Odin’s name.
Now how ironic is that?
Considering how there are many Asatru who refuse to say Loki’s name – much less hail Him along with their much-beloved All-father – and yet there I was, doing the exact same thing, saying:
You are welcome; He is not.
Can one honor Loki without honoring Odin?
Well, I certainly thought I could.
What a hypocrite I had been!
But I suppose that it wasn’t always that way:
In 2010 or so, in the beginnings of my devotional practice, I did make tentative offerings to Odin… and yet I remember sensing His refusal.
Even back in those early days, I had vivid repetitive dreams wherein Loki would visit me, and more often than not, He was accompanied by Odin.
Several years later on, Loki suggested that Odin and I should talk, but then Loki would leave, as if it had been His intent all along…and yet, upon being left behind, Odin spoke very little to me. As well, He would refuse all of my offers of hospitality – which left me feeling awkward and socially anxious.
As well, during that time, I was prone to terrifying nightmares, where I found myself feeling forced to interact with Odin anyway (such as detailed here, here, and here) and yet whenever I would show fear or emotionally shut down, only then would Loki come forward to ‘rescue’ me (such as in this shapeshifting guided meditation here.)
But now I look at these past experiences, and I can’t help but wonder: Why are Loki and Odin always together? Are Odin and Loki one and the same God?
While I know that They are not interchangeable, perhaps in my denial towards Odin, I have denied Loki.
So, in a show of good faith and trust, I recently made space on my altar for both of Them:
Ich liebe euch beide
Now the work becomes to live that belief.
To accept both of Them, to love both of Them.
They are not interchangeable…
And yet, one of my greatest fears was that feeling of being seen as and being treated as ‘interchangeable.’
I suppose that I still do, as it is one of the things that hurt me the most when I think back upon what happened with Local Other Lokean (LOL), or whenever I consider myself in reference to my experiences with her.
Especially when Loki seemed to begin to make requests of me that mirrored specific requests that LOL often claimed that He’d made of her, regarding
serving the community through seidhr
writing a book of personal experience and practices.
Why, I had whinged, Was this all just because we share the same name?
And again, I will admit that I reacted to Him with a ridiculously self-righteous tantrum:
She and I might have the same name but we are not interchangeable.
But just as I had once refused to consider working with Odin, I refused His requests and ignored any suggestions of working in any role remotely resembling a role that I’d come to associate with LOL…
Meanwhile, He went responded by reminding me of how
Separation is an illusion. It is the creation of useless categories. Window-dressing. Manufactured restrictions.
The only thing you are doing now is making excuses.
(Well I will admit I did make excuses, refusing to listen and to do.)
This was yet another situation that showcased my obvious hypocrisy.
I was allowing myself to be triggered by all the same concepts with which He’d allegedly hounded LOL.
Well, it’s not even the concepts as much as how discussing these concepts brought up associations to LOL’s presence in my mind.
I was triggered that Loki always seemed to be surreptitiously referencing LOL in Our conversations. I was offended that He’d treat me as interchangeable with LOL, and so I reacted from that place of offense rather than to look more intently at His actual request, which highlights a sort of inevitable parallel too:
Welcome Odin as you would welcome Me.
And yet, there I was also being offended by Odin’s presence in Our conversations, and though I didn’t realize what was going on….
But it was that exact feeling of angry offense.
Perhaps these two things are not connected, but I sit here feeling horrified that it would appear that I had spent years denying ‘a part’ of Loki by denying Odin….
This song is evocative of some of my first interactions with L as an adult:
While I was familiar with the original Depeche Mode version from 1989, I preferred Marilyn Manson’s cover version (released in 2004), as Manson’s voice felt closer to the weary tone and cracked pitch of L’s voice, especially considering it had been several months’ post-breakdown*
*Another personal Ragnarök had just occurred in my life in late February 2008- so when He came to me with that particular face and aspect, I found it to be more comforting than disturbing at the time.
Even though I am over a month late in posting my thoughts, I could not wait to read National Geographic’s most recent article on the Vikings, which appeared in their March 2017 issue.
While much of the article concerned recent discoveries made about Viking culture of which I was already familiar, an intriguing theory concerning Ragnarok was mentioned on pages 38-9:
In the nearly three centuries before the raids on foreign shores began around AD 750, Scandinavia was wracked by turmoil, [Neil] Price [of Uppsala University, Sweden] says. More than three dozen petty kingdoms arose during this period, throwing up chains of hill forts and vying for power and territory. In the midst of these troubled times, catastrophe struck. A vast cloud of dust, likely blasted into the atmosphere by a combination of cataclysms – comets or meteorites smashing into the Earth, as well as the eruption of least one large volcano–darkened the sun beginning in AD 536, lowering summer temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere for the next 14 years. The extended cold and darkness brought death and ruin to Scandinavia, lying as it did along the northern edge of medieval agriculture. In Sweden’s Uppland region, for example, nearly 75 percent of villages were abandoned, as residents succumbed to starvation and fighting.
So dire was this disaster that it seems to have given birth to one of the darkest of all world myths –the Nordic legend of Ragnarok, the end of creation and the final battle, in which all gods, all supernatural beings, and all human beings and other living creatures die. Ragnarok was said to begin with Fimbulwinter, a deadly time when the sun turns black and the weather turns bitter and treacherous–events that eerily parallel the dust veil that began in 536, Price says.*
I had never considered that there could have been an actual historical event upon which Ragnarok was based.
Vikings: What You Don’t Know About the Toughest Warriors Ever, by Heather Pringle, National Geographic, March 2017, pp 38-9)
I’ve always felt a profound connection with this song – Bittersweet Symphony, by the Verve.
As I’ve been hearing this song a lot in the past month, the resulting thoughts and feelings that this song generates for me have been rolling about my brain for some time.
I hemmed and hawed about posting these thoughts, as I am aware the subject matter can be quite triggering for some.
And yet, in the spirit of my ‘Keeping It 100’ project – I decided that I might as well share those thoughts today, the intent being that if I come clean about this particular part of my personal history, perhaps someone out there might feel a little less…alone.
***So please be advised: In this post, I discuss my mental illness, including some details/references to episodes of personal self-injury.***
I was once diagnosed with bipolar axis 2, and I thought that I was – for many years.
I even took medication for about 5 years– which I hated doing – because that’s what I was told would help me get a handle on myself and my negative thought patterns, behaviors, and emotions.
(It’s one of my personality traits: I’m pretty much a strict follower of prescribed rules regarding certain aspects of my life. )
Though the high level of prescribed medications actually didn’t help – for obvious reasons I’ll touch upon in a minute – I took my meds as prescribed, without fail.
And yet, I still found myself with a distinct inability to feel happy.
In therapy, I was told to embrace change, to meditate, to talk about my feelings, and to reject negativity.
And this song – Bittersweet Symphony – signified all of these aspects to me:this song resonated deeply with me because it gave me the words to describe my personal struggle with being bipolar.
Because bipolarwas the blanket mood disorder that was ascribed to me.
My being bipolar was the explanation and the reason that I displayed all those ‘negative’ personality traits: moodiness, a penchant for melodrama, emotional instability, anger management issues – even the personal quirks that I talk too fast and too much was ascribed to be further proof that I must be bipolar.(The speed of my delivery must indicate the speed of my thoughts!)
And oddly enough, as much as I hated it, the diagnosis of bipolar was a relief too.
Because being bipolar explained everything.
Even if it didn’t.
When I went off medications in late 2001, my psychiatrist at the time insisted that I shouldn’t because he claimed that possibility that I would self-injure again or attempt suicide.
But my stubbornness er, determination to prove him wrong was a powerful force.
Thus, it is a point of pride for me when I admit that I did not even think of self-injury nor suicide for 12, almost 13 years.
And I admit that I entertained some dark thoughts while I was staying with LOL.
While I am certain that she felt that she was helping me, I realized within that month, that I had simply traded one form of mindfuckery for an even more insidious form of manipulation.
I felt as if my world was falling apart – and I was simply existing between that rock and hard place, and while I should be ashamed of this, I suppose, thoughts of self-injury came rushing forward like an equally manipulative but familiar friend.
(Trigger warning: discussion/reference to self-injury follows)
Now, allow me to point out that the desire to self-injure is not the same as suicidal ideation.
This is a concept that has only recently been recognized by the psychiatric community.
An act of self-injury is not, and should not be conflated as a suicide attempt, and yet I have been in therapy long enough that I can recall when it was difficult to find a therapist/psychiatrist that subscribed to the idea that self-injury event did not equal a suicide attempt.
And yes, I have a ‘helpful’ but essentially misguided Massachusetts social worker to thank for a three day stay in a state mental ward in 1998 to show for that.*
But if you have never self-injured but have always wondered why the fuck self-injuryshould not equalsuicide attempt, allow me to explain my personal take:
When I have self-injured, it has always arisen from my being in an intensely overwhelming emotional state.
Usually my self-injury arises out of a combination of anxiety coupled with despair, as well as – and this is the most important part – a desperate need in me to have control of something. Anything.The levels of my anxiety and despair have reached critical mass and I am not just emotionally overwhelmed – I feel like I have lost control of everything.
Emotionally, my thought-patterns and self-image have swiftly become stuck in an endless dark loop of hopelessness and negativity.
I have likely hurt someone’s feelings with what I’ve said and done.
It is likely that my words and behavior have concerned (if not terrified) someone I love.
I start thinking in absolutes:
Nothing is good.
Everything is wrong.
It is all my fault.
I cannot fix it.
I feel I have lost control of my thoughts and emotions in response to the situation.
Then, that emotional situation might be coupled with the physical symptoms of what is most likely a panic/anxiety attack:
My heart, blood and breath rates are going through the roof. I am bathed in a cold sweat, and all major muscle groups ache and twitch with tension.
My neck is tight, my chest feels constricted.
If I’ve been on a crying and/or screaming jag, it’s likely that I’m become so congested from crying that I am having trouble breathing, my stomach muscles ache from all the clenching/sobbing, and my throat has probably gone raw from screaming/crying.
My head and teeth ache from clenching my jaw, and I cannot seem to regulate my body temperature.
I am shaking.
I feel nauseous.
If I’ve lashed out physically, I might have gone and broken something.
I have likely terrified or upset others with my physical response.
I may feel like I’ve physically lost control of my body and its responses to the situation.
The loss of control – in the combined mental and physical responses –is terrifying.I feel disconnected from myself.I need to get control of something.
I want to get control back.I want to connect again to my body and mind.
And so then, I might focus on the repetitive actions of scratching/picking at my skin.
In extreme cases, I might move to using other implements – usually something with a point or with a sharp edge – and I might proceed in cutting or scraping until I reach the desired level of pain which brings me relief.
It’s the pain, you know.I need to focus on the pain.
It is my attempt to create a little physical pain as a distraction –to distract myself from my mental pain.
The pain is nothing more than a coping strategy – the effort to create a controlled distraction for myself, from myself.
Self-injury is a coping mechanism some people develop to deal with emotional pain.
But self-injury was, in my case, an unhealthy avoidance maneuver/coping mechanism.
But self-injury, in my case, was never a suicide attempt.
I didn’t want to die; I just wanted to have control of something– and in the case of self-injury, it was a cause/effect paradigm that was much easier to control.
When my levels of emotional pain and the anxiety/panic attack sensations were overwhelming (out of control), this was a pain I could handle, something I could control.
Though honestly, I do understand now how my anxious attempts to create sensation-situation I can control could easily lead to damage – anywhere from permanent scarring to accidental death.
(And yes, I do have scars as reminders of several episodes of self-injury.)
So.There’s the background on the memory of my feelings that led to most of my self-injury attempts, which includes that last major self-injury attempt in 1998.
But back to June 2014 – when my husband and I seemed definitively headed for divorce, I left my husband and I was living with Local Other Lokean.
I was, as you may imagine, feeling an overwhelming level of despair.
(And as I had mentioned before, it was the first time in 12 years that I’d even allowed myself to entertain thoughts of self-injury.That alone was a sign that I was in way over my head indealing with my emotional pain in a healthy way.)
So I checked myself into the closest mental health facility that took my insurance which happened to be in Bartow, FL.
While there, I began therapy, and again, I was put back on bipolar medications, also for the first time in 13 years.
I thought about what my psychiatrist had said to me in 2001, and I had to chuckle: if his understanding of the unmedicated bipolar patient were to be trusted, why did it take me 12 years unmedicated to get to this moment?
The assigned therapist couldn’t answer that question.
As well, she couldn’t answer why the bipolar medications that I had been recently been given (and took as scheduled without fail) for the last 3 months did not seem to have any of the desired effects.
I still couldn’t sleep more than a few hours a night.I felt just as anxious, just as ‘manic’ as ever, though the meds did affect my memory skills and I did have trouble concentrating most of the time.
If calmer meant feeling as if I was uncomfortably drunk to the point of nausea, then I wanted no part of this version of calm.
But I am a follower of rules in regards to my mental health, so when the doctor suggested I try another medication, I did.
So I tried another medication.
And yet, it was not until relatively recently that any psychiatrist, social worker or therapist thought to question my bipolar diagnosis.
I would explain what my symptoms were, and they would ask if I ever had a diagnosis.I’d tell them that I was diagnosed with bipolar axis 2 in 1997, and then, they would write me a prescription for another bipolar medication.
And it didn’t seem to matter if the medications didn’t work – I was bipolar, wasn’t I?
I started to wonder.
Well, finally in April 2016, I started going to another therapist who also had a degree inpsychiatry.
Oddly enough, my bipolar diagnosis was the first thing that he questioned, mostly because I’d begin to question it myself.
So I laboriously described both my past and present symptoms in great detail over the next two months.
As well, we talked about my meditation practice, negative self talk,behavior modifications and mindful choices.
Also, to ease my mind – and satisfy the insurance company – we sat down with the latest DSM of psychiatric disorders and methodically went through the symptom lists of bipolar axis 1 and 2, schizophrenia, OCD, ADHD, borderline personality disorder, and several anxiety disorders.
Turns out, according to his professional opinion, while I am melodramatic, talk fast, and I definitely have my moments of rage and depression, I don’t fit the diagnostic criteria of bipolar either axis one or two.
As well, I am not schizophrenic.
Nor do I have borderline personality disorder.
And I do not have ADHD.
But I do have an anxiety disorder with some rather definite overtones of OCD.
And that, my friends, is all I needed to know.
It’s nice to finally be heard and understood.
As well, it is good to finally be working with a therapist and a correct diagnosis. It’s good to finally be able to function.
While the path to this point was not easy – I am grateful that I am making headway on treating my life-long issues with anxiety and depression.
* By the way: Thank *you*, Claire! Sending three policemen to meet me at my home directly after our appointment on that miserable January day was an especial treat…and your suggestion/threat to the intake staff that I might require a straitjacket to ‘calm’ me when I arrived at the hospital for intake was a lovely though unnecessary touch.Thank you ever so much for giving me and my powers of self-control the benefit of the doubt!)
The visualization today requires one to look in the mirror and ask oneself:
What is being hidden? What is holding you back?
When I looked into the bowl – I saw myself, at approximately age 10 or so. I was crying, I was cutting – words into my skin.
And then I saw myself (at age 6 or 7) sitting at a table, deep in concentration.
I am making things out of clay.
My mother is there, but she is cleaning the kitchen.
(I am remembering, I am hearing snippets of my mother’s commentary: Stupid little junky things and making such a mess.
These were things my mother hated: messes and ‘junky things.’
And I am making a mess.
According to her, I am sitting there, always making ‘stupid little junky things.’ My mother hated them; but my father collected them. I see them lined up on the top of his bureau, these things I’ve made.
I watch myself trying not to cry, trying not to listen or to care about what is being said.
I feel defeated.
Suddenly, the words
run through my head as I consider my younger self in this vision.
It is difficult to see her. I want to push this away.
I want her to be someone who is not afraid to say ‘No’
I want her to be the sort of child who is not afraid to stand up and tell her mother:
You are wrong.
That is not true.
I am more than you know.
I am more than you think.
Where is she? The one who can do – the one who is unashamed – to create, to be, to shine?
She is crying. I am crying.
Suddenly I remember those words, said just a few nights ago:
How dare you dull yourself for others….
I saw a girl who stopped trying.
The girl who gave up, who accepted their words
feeling like she deserved this treatment.
The quiet girl who simply tried harder to be perfect.
I wanted to show you…the one who decided to accept their opinions rather than creating herself.
This is the one who hid.
This is the one you hid.
And then, I saw a ten-year old girl pinned to the wall of a well-lighted bathroom – disassociating from the humiliation of what her mother is doing.
‘Come here, will you? Stay still! Just let me…goddamnit, I am trying to help you!….’
Feeling ashamed. Trying to disassociate from the pain of fingernails digging into skin; face feeling hot and swollen…. and crying.
‘You know, you’d be so pretty if you would just let me fix…let me get this….’
I feel ANGRY.
This is the girl who holds it all in.
This is the girl who doesn’t complain.
This is the girl who didn’t think that she could win, so she didn’t fight.
This is the girl who acquiesced.
I wish that I could tell that girl that she did not deserve that — she did not have to accept that treatment – she didn’t have to allow her mother to do that.
I realize that this is why I have always inwardly cringed a little bit at those words Accept and Allow.
This is why I Can’t.
Because I realize when I accepted that – I accepted the unacceptable along with the acceptable and I allowed behavior that should not have ever been allowed.
And why? Because I thought that if I was ‘good,’ I would be loved…but I was never good enough.
‘Here. Step into the light. Look at your face…let me fix that….’
Crying didn’t help. Anger didn’t help. Physical resistance only led to escalating altercations that just exacerbated things between my mother and I.
Like my mother, I compulsively examine my face in the mirror. I pluck my eyebrows and pick and scratch at the skin of my face, trying to fix.
I am wrecking my skin. I routinely over-pluck my eyebrows.
And she ‘taught’ me how, because at some point, she stopped pinning me against the wall – because I learned to do these things to myself – to fix.
But I always feel so ugly afterwards.
Each time I tell myself that I won’t do it again.
Until the next time, every time that I feel or see an ingrown hair growing crooked or feel a bump or a flake of dry skin. I always think my ‘fixing’ will make things better.
So I spend a lot of time examining my face in bathroom mirrors, looking for the slightest flaws – lumps, discolorations, hairs.
I also pick and scratch and worry the skin around my fingernails and at the tips of my fingers… and while I do not bite my fingernails, I try to keep them short enough so I can’t.
I convince myself that I’ve gotten better, you know.
Because it has to have been a good 25 years since I had gotten so lost in scratching or picking that the only thing that broke me out of my stress-induced reverie was that my fingers were bleeding.
When I’m stressed, I lightly – though compulsively – scratch my scalp. (I still actually find head-scratching rather soothing. Head-scratching is one of the only OCD things that I still do that doesn’t seem to do too much damage, but I can be obsessive about it, and thus feel ashamed enough to sit on my hands on my particularly ‘bad days.’)
It is OCD.
But the important difference between my mother and I – is that I respect the bodily autonomy of others.
And I have been through enough therapy to realize that what my mother did was abusive and wrong
I have always lived in a home wherein others have wanted noise around them to feel comfortable. Whether it’s the constant drone of the television, or talking, or even music, sometimes I feel that I cannot focus on anything for all the effing noise.
(Though I will admit that music is the least annoying of these, as I’ve always felt that there is so much comfort and connection that can be found in music.)
But sometimes, I just need silence…
and so, through some meditative visualization, I built a cabin in the woods, at the base of a mountain, surrounded by trees.
Whenever I go there in meditation, there aren’t so many distractions to focus upon – and that blessed silence brings me peace.
(And even if Loki is ‘there’ – as He sometimes is – there is very little conversation between us, thankfully.)
This might seem odd to others — as I am usually such a chatterbox — but I guarantee that silence is necessary.
It’s odd to think that I wasn’t always this way.
The sound of the television, the radio, the endless chatter and near-constant buzz of activity that surrounded me as a child (being a member of a family of seven) — all of that noise and activity used to be a source of comfort for me.
And today, it suddenly occurred to me as to the reason why I no longer find comfort in being surrounded in a cocoon of background noise.
It’s strange to admit this now, but I think that I was always an empath well before I knew what that word meant.
As my long-term readers may recall, as a child I was accused of being overly sensitive and easily spooked by damned near everything around me.
To give you an example, my childhood home was in a rather rural area, and I can remember feeling startled and uncomfortable – and sometimes even crying – whenever large trucks would pass by on the road, or planes would fly overhead while I played in the yard. And yet, surprisingly…I could not sleep without some sort of background noise. Whether it be the buzz of a fan, the hum of cars passing on the road, or later, my baby sister’s music box playing in her crib, I could not sleep in a silent room.
Rhythmic, ambient sounds made me irritable by day, but I was anxious and wakeful by the lack of sound at night?
This definitely struck everyone as being a rather strange dichotomy.
But I know the reason why now.
And yes it is related to this (which in turn, is related to this.)
Sound can mask energetic activity, and as an empath, the strongest levels of energetic activity (including but not limited to spiritual activity) often occurred at night.
But this is not to say that I didn’t experience strange things in the daytime, it just that the strength and frequency of occurrences increased exponentially at night.
That is my epiphany for the day: it is quite possible that when I stopped trying to ignore Them, I didn’t need to mask my perceptions of Their presence.
As I was becoming increasingly aware of my unease with my role as a Student, you can be certain that Loki sensed that I was struggling.
It didn’t seem to deter Him from trying to instruct me, however, and His lessons for me increasingly involved transformative rituals.
I began studying runes, at His request, and it was around this time that the rune, Eihwaz first came to me.
I created a prayer to Eihwaz asking for protection, connection and transformation.
My meditations were full of trees – visualizations of an Ancient Tree with gnarled branches that twisted toward the sky – and the points of the Eihwaz rune were sunk deep in its bark, facing out in all directions:
I learned that this strange Tree
with its dark, almost sentient presence
was the Axis of All That Is
and that Eihwaz served as an anchor to my understanding of it.