I love Brene Brown…even when she is throwing out some hard truths.
So you can gather what I am talking about, you might want to watch the video.
Y’see, I , too, am a ‘blamer.’
It’s true of me that when something bad happens, my first thought is often whose fault is this? – and, more often than not, I twist it in my head until I’ve found a reason for whatever happened.
I need to know why. I am a person that needs to know why.
Even if -more often than not – I end up blaming myself for whatever it is that happened in some way.
Yeah. I know that that’s unhealthy.
Yep, I thought that that was holding myself accountable.*
This mindfulness and this desire to hold myself accountable for myself and my reactions to bad things happening is often the way that my thoughts go. And I’ve had enough therapy to know that I’m only doing half the work, too, when I stop and actually think about it.
Why is it only half the work?
Because the full work would be the realization and implementation of the fact that some bad things happen because they are random. Sometimes there is no reason.
Yes, it’s true that sometimes bad things happen because someone wasn’t mindful of themselves or others – and I include myself in that – and rash decisions get made. Things get broken, or feelings get hurt, or what have you, and often emotions fuel those decisions.
But the key is – the process of thinking that there has to be reason somewhere. That there has to be a reason, there has to be a fault. And that there has to be this endless overthinking and wasting of time and resources trying to figure out why something is, why something happened, or what led to this or that result.
As Brown points out, the fault-finding and blame is a discharge of discomfort and a desire for control of the situation, including getting control of one’s emotions and reactions.
And that gets me to thinking about my zen Buddhist therapist who speaks a continuous refrain of how I need to work on letting shit go, learning that the only person one can control is oneself and one’s reactions to the world, and the constant reminder that the only moment is the present moment. He talks endlessly of the fact that the present is the only moment in which we can live, and how when one has realized this, and one focuses on mindfulness and control of oneself in the present moment, only then can one create inner peace and happiness.
Oh yes, it gives me a headache sometimes…this zen business. The letting go, the reactive vs. proactive paradigm, the mindfulness — so much jargon. I cannot deny that this all feels exhausting sometimes, and I’ll admit that I fall back upon ingrained reactive habits and value judgments, and and and….*sigh*
I wallow in self-blame, another waste of time.
I seek control.
But the only control I seek in the end is self-control.
*This video opens my eyes to the mistake I’ve made concerning what accountability is.
Then, everything’s *not* fine.
2016 has been a rollercoaster..and I don’t think that it has just been a rollercoaster for me.
Look at the rest of the world, I suppose.
It would seem that everyone is struggling with something…not just me.
Not just my struggles.
I haven’t been posting, mainly because I’ve been keeping to the relative safety of writing in my notebooks, because 2016 has brought so many changes to my life that when I look back upon where I was, emotionally and spiritually, on this day in 2015, I am agog at how much has changed in my relationships, my attitudes, my writing….hell, even my devotional/spiritual practices.
As a matter of fact, so much has changed in my devotional practice that my head is sort of… spinning.
It’s been an interesting year, to say the least.
At the end of 2015, I was coming out of a major depressive episode.
Certain aspects of my life were either stagnant or evolving in a direction that I didn’t want to travel. I felt stuck and sad and angry.
I had decided to end relationships with several persons whom I’d come to over-value so much that I’d thought of these folks as the basis of my spiritual community….so deciding to cut ties with those friends felt like cutting ties with my sense of community.
As well, I felt stagnant in my spiritual relationships. I needed something to change but I didn’t know what or how
Though I had hope for 2016, I’d never in a million years expected the changes that were in store for me regarding my marriage, my circle of friends (or whom I would have considered my circle of friends), how I’d come to spend my free time,the people, places and things I would come to value, the skills that I would develop or the way that my devotional/spiritual practices would be completely overhauled.
Yes, my spiritual practices would suffer a complete overhaul in 2016.
And that is why I have chosen WorldBreaker as the title of this post.
Because, oddly enough, in retrospect, one of the only constants I see in the pattern of 2015 to 2016 was …Loki
And yes, that is true…I am working with Loki now.*
Though in late December 2015, I’d even gone as far as to pack up all of my altars -including His – because I was feeling disconnected from all of Them.
I was throwing what was essentially a tantrum of enormous spiritual proportions.
I was trying so hard to feel and to do, and yet all I could feel was an immense sense of frustration and disconnection.
I was feeling what I thought that I was supposed to feel and I was doing what I thought was the ‘work’ that I needed to do…
And yet I was ….not.
Though I will admit what I did feel was this:
“ I wish you all had one neck and I had my hands around it.”
(Those, by the way, are the second to last words of convicted murderer Carl Panzram, just before he was executed at Leavenworth Penitentiary in 1930)
(Do you see the WorldBreaker yet?)
Because that, my friends, is how I felt (inwardly, of course) about the whole business of not just the day to day functionings of my mundane life, but my spiritual life as well.
In late 2015, I definitely felt that if Life were a person, I wanted to choke that motherfucker out…and hard.
But I am not a violent person, so I could not even begin to guess where those feelings of rage were coming from at the time.
But I do…now.
(Yep. That was me…being upset. And oh…not working on my shit. But boy, did I think I was!)
So, what changed?
Well, I can’t exactly write a recipe book now, can I?
It was my journey from 2015 on and through all of 2016 that required a change in attitude towards a lot of situations that I didn’t particularly like that involved people that I didn’t particularly like.
I was entrenched in a battle of control and blame in my mundane life, and I was believing that these situations were somehow within my realm of control… but they were not.
I was the face of acceptance on the surface, but underneath all of that, I was angry and withholding.
I kept telling myself that I had let go of the past, but I had not….not entirely.
I was full of assumptions and waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I was waiting and hiding and grumbling to myself.
I had expectations based upon assumptions, and I was feeding an ugly vicious cycle of blame and insecurity.
In short, I was living in the past, but thinking that I was moving on.
I thought I was open. I thought I was being accepting and fair and loving and generous. I thought that I was letting go. I told myself constantly that I was holding myself accountable. I was convinced that it was I who was fair and open and honest…and others were not.
It wasn’t me who refused to be, it was them.
And in my spiritual life – well, there’s a mirror. I was insecure, tentative…also angry.
I had so much stuff on my altars. I was meditating every day. I felt like I was constantly giving Them time, giving Them energy, giving Them thought.
So why was I having the dark night of the soul? Why was I feeling a fallow time? Why did I feel so disconnected?
You refuse to be open.
You refuse to be generous.
You do not allow….
You do not permit….
It will begin…when you begin.
And so, in 2016, I began without even being aware of what I was beginning.
(Enter the WorldBreaker, stage left.)
Looking back upon the year, I realize that there were many occasions wherein I was thrust into many uncomfortable situations.
I look back upon these uncomfortable moments and I recall feeling forced to explain myself in many ways.
A lot of these moments featured me being forced to examine myself – my social anxieties, my prejudices, my decisions, my beliefs.**
But 2016 also rewarded me – the year even brought me a lot of growth, and even some new friends – or rather, I re-connected with myself in re-connecting with several ‘old’ friends – which led to my social circle increasing exponentially and unexpectedly at the same time.
As well, 2016 brought me joy in unexpected places (Arizona) and heartache in others (Washington DC)…but in the end, the slow change toward actually letting go of my need to control/create a specific outcome led to unexpected and entirely unforeseen outcomes.
While I do not have a lot of the same people in my life that I had had in 2015, I do have people in 2016.
As well, in 2016, I have done things that I never thought that I would do, I experienced things that I’d never dreamed of experiencing before, and craziest of all, I am actually working with yet another God that I had once insisted that I would *never* work with.
(Hel, as recently as two months ago, I would have refused to even look at Him, let alone work with Him in any way.)
Funny, how things can change so completely and so abruptly, eh?
But that, my friends, is the story of a decision for another day entirely. 😉
So that was the trajectory of my 2016.
A year of rapid, dramatic (sometimes even melodramatic) emotional and spiritual change for me.
Courtesy of a relentless Breaker of Worlds.
Hail Loki, indeed ❤
*In retrospect, I realize that up to a point, 2012-2015 was essentially ‘making a good show of working with Loki’ compared to actually ‘working with’ Loki
**I felt ashamed, exposed…and about three months ago, it peaked in that a few folks even vilified me for speaking my mind, for writing what I wrote in this blog. And yes, it stopped me. A lot.
And mind you, I consider myself an aficionado of terrifying stories.
Whether they be urban legends, classic literature, folk tales, modern horror fiction, or creepypasta… I’ve often said that there is nothing better than a good suspense story.
I thrill at reading anything I can get my hands on that could give me a good scare – and I especially love the weeks leading up to Halloween/Samhain for this exact reason.
But about a week or so ago, I came across this story through The Line-Up, one of the many weekly email post-lists to which I’ve subscribed.
And ever since, especially whenever I’m out walking my dogs in the evening, my mind never fails to wander back to this haunting little tale – the 10th and final entry on this list – from blue_tidal:
The Smiling Man
About five years ago I lived downtown in a major city in the US. I’ve always been a night person, so I would often find myself bored after my roommate, who was decidedly not a night person, went to sleep. To pass the time, I used to go for long walks and spend the time thinking.
I spent four years like that, walking alone at night, and never once had a reason to feel afraid. I always used to joke with my roommate that even the drug dealers in the city were polite. But all of that changed in just a few minutes of one evening.
It was a Wednesday, somewhere between one and two in the morning, and I was walking near a police patrolled park quite a ways from my apartment. It was a quiet night, even for a week night, with very little traffic and almost no one on foot. The park, as it was most nights, was completely empty.
I turned down a short side street in order to loop back to my apartment when I first noticed him. At the far end of the street, on my side, was the silhouette of a man, dancing. It was a strange dance, similar to a waltz, but he finished each “box” with an odd forward stride. I guess you could say he was dance-walking, headed straight for me.
Deciding he was probably drunk, I stepped as close as I could to the road to give him the majority of the sidewalk to pass me by. The closer he got, the more I realized how gracefully he was moving. He was very tall and lanky, and wearing an old suit. He danced closer still, until I could make out his face. His eyes were open wide and wild, head tilted back slightly, looking off at the sky. His mouth was formed in a painfully wide cartoon of a smile. Between the eyes and the smile, I decided to cross the street before he danced any closer.
I took my eyes off of him to cross the empty street. As I reached the other side, I glanced back … and then stopped dead in my tracks. He had stopped dancing and was standing with one foot in the street, perfectly parallel to me. He was facing me but still looking skyward. Smile still wide on his lips.
I was completely and utterly unnerved by this. I started walking again, but kept my eyes on the man. He didn’t move.
Once I had put about half a block between us, I turned away from him for a moment to watch the sidewalk in front of me. The street and sidewalk ahead of me were completely empty. Still unnerved, I looked back to where he had been standing to find him gone. For the briefest of moments I felt relieved until I noticed him. He had crossed the street, and was now slightly crouched down. I couldn’t tell for sure due to the distance and the shadows, but I was certain he was facing me. I had looked away from him for no more than 10 seconds, so it was clear that he had moved fast.
I was so shocked that I stood there for some time, staring at him. And then he started moving toward me again. He took giant, exaggerated tip toed steps, as if he were a cartoon character sneaking up on someone. Except he was moving very, very quickly.
I’d like to say at this point I ran away or pulled out my pepper spray or my cellphone or anything at all, but I didn’t. I just stood there, completely frozen as the smiling man crept toward me.
And then he stopped again, about a car length away from me. Still smiling his smile, still looking to the sky.
When I finally found my voice, I blurted out the first thing that came to mind. What I meant to ask was, “What the fuck do you want?!” in an angry, commanding tone. What came out was a whimper, “What the fuu … ?”
Regardless of whether or not humans can smell fear, they can certainly hear it. I heard it in my own voice, and that only made me more afraid. But he didn’t react to it at all. He just stood there, smiling.
And then, after what felt like forever, he turned around, very slowly, and started dance-walking away. Just like that. Not wanting to turn my back to him again, I just watched him go, until he was far enough away to almost be out of sight. And then I realized something. He wasn’t moving away anymore, nor was he dancing. I watched in horror as the distant shape of him grew larger and larger. He was coming back my way. And this time he was running.
I ran too.
I ran until I was off of the side road and back onto a better lit road with sparse traffic. Looking behind me then, he was nowhere to be found. The rest of the way home, I kept glancing over my shoulder, always expecting to see his stupid smile, but he was never there.
I lived in that city for six months after that night, and I never went out for another walk. There was something about his face that always haunted me. He didn’t look drunk, he didn’t look high. He looked completely and utterly insane. And that’s a very, very scary thing to see.*
– from user blue_tidal on Occult Museum
Perhaps I felt haunted by this, as I have the same habit as blue_tidal: I’ve long been known for my habit of going for long walks at night – whether out of boredom or sheer restlessness – and despite the enduring nature of this quirk of mine, I’d completely lost my desire to go out walking alone after dark.
* However, after sharing this piece with a close friend of mine, she asked if it would help any if I reframed my fear by thinking of the Smiling Man as Loki.
I had to laugh.
Hence that is where the Mindfuck portion of this post’s title comes from – because I can definitely see Loki as having an aspect to Him wherein He might mess with someone’s head in a hauntingly similar and relentless manner.
You know — just because He can.
This post has been knocking around in my head all day.
The other day, someone – whom I would have considered a friend, unfortunately – made some rather pointed commentary about ‘the feminist struggle’ as it concerned her daughter’s experience with men. And in her comments, she relied on a rather tired joke about marriage that concerned how men -including her own husband – were hopeless and/or helpless to perform certain household chores without assistance or intervention from the women in their lives.
She considers herself a feminist, she says.
She believes in gender equality, she insists.
She loves and respects her husband, she claims.
And yet, she doesn’t see how this belief that she holds about men’s ‘inherent incompetence’ could be seen as an unhealthy, if not disrespectful belief about men.
This is not to say that I have never found myself engaging in thoughts and behavior that play into traditional marital stereotypes – hell, I’m living what is essentially a marital stereotype – but I felt a bit dismayed to consider that she believed that her husband needed her in ways that she didn’t need him, and that, she believed, was the essence that made their relationship such a healthy, stable marriage.
Her husband was emotionally dependent on her, she said, and that was the secret to their happy marriage. She wants him in her life, but he needs her in his, and she prefers him that way. Dependent. Terrified to be without her. Checking in constantly to make sure that he’d done something right.
And then to encourage her daughter to seek such a man for a husband.
I find that a bit disturbing.
I wondered if she’d ever considered that feminism might be a belief that both genders deserve respectful treatment. That we – as a society of human beings – need to recognize that there are imbalances in the current society that are reinforced by attitudes regarding gender, and that both genders will benefit from any changes made to those attitudes. That a change in society begins with a change in attitude. Change the attitude, change the belief, change the world.
But her attitude – that men are essentially helpless or hopeless – is exactly the sort of limiting attitude that, if turned about, would likely be deemed misogyny.
Meanwhile, I found her encouragement to her daughter to find a ‘needy’ man disturbing in that the very qualities that she valued in her ‘happy marriage’ could also be applied to a dysfunctional, if not emotionally abusive marriage.
Misandry. It’s a thing.
Perhaps this bothers me so much because I am the mother of two sons.
Or even more so, I am fighting against my own upbringing and my own issues with being emotionally abused that I cannot stomach someone glorifying such unhealthy qualities in a marriage as ‘happy’, when if the roles were reversed, those same ‘feminist’ friends of hers would be moving heaven and earth to convince her to get the fsck out.