One woman's journey and dawning realization of the slow destruction of her spirit while trapped in the jaws of disability.

Disability is at first an affliction of the body, then a state of mind and finally a shackle upon the spirit.

Lydia M N Crabtree, 2012

Saturday, January 21, 2012

C**T, Self Esteem, Nightmares, Sleepless Nights, Ritual and Finding Lost Faith

Whew, that was a mouth full, huh? I have a lot on my mind today, or night, rather. I am not clear where to start. I suppose we’ll go with C**T.

See, I have been called a lot of things. I was once told to sleep with the dogs in their bed because I was only good enough to sleep there or at the feet of the man I was living with. I have been called all the other things: Bitch, Whore, Idiot, Stupid, Fat as a Whale (I was pregnant at the time and probably did looked moderately like a beached whale), Flighty, Irresponsible, More Man than Woman (it was a psychological profile that turned out I was more masculine than feminine. Odd that I would turn then to a Goddess oriented religion.), Shithead, Lazy, Ugly (Boys are mean sometimes). I have even been accused of being a bad witch. Some have sad that I was just literally sucked at being a witch. Some have suggested I did bad things because I was a witch. I have been called insensitive and obtuse, both of which I will own. I can be insensitive, no purposefully so. I am certainly obtuse at times.
Through my forty years though, I had never been called C**T.

For days now, I have had that word and the words that went with them running around in my head. Oddly enough, I am not outraged. Tony is. Mention the incident and his face contorts into that of a man ready for an all out brawl. No I hear the word in my head and then I hear what I said directly after.

“You are not permitted to talk to me that way. We can have discussions. You can have opinions. And we will not have either when you choose to talk to me that way. You are not permitted to talk to me that way.”

I hung up the phone.

What stuns me about this entire episode is that even now as I reflect, I am calm. Something in me has shifted and as that word was hurdled through space at me, I easily recognized the emotions behind them. None of them were about me. I was just there in a place open enough to be the brunt of anger, frustration, fear and longing.

Even more shocking is this. I was calm because I am NOT a C**T.  The surety of that knowledge is completed suffused in me. Talking this over with Tony, I realized maybe I had gained some self-confidence somewhere. Tony suggested I was growing up, and not in some condescending way. In that way that adults grow through experience being backed by other humans who love you unconditionally.

I think I continue to ponder this situation because I am not very clear about where all this self-confidence came from. I honestly don’t have a clue. Is this really the woman who railed against society and Divinity a week or two ago? Is that me in the mirror?

I think, perhaps, I have struck upon a secret that tie into Shame and being able to name a thing. In my last blog, I spoke about naming Shame and in doing so beginning to confront Shame. I found some acceptance with myself and that acceptance was born upon a public declaration. In Christianity, there are rituals where a declaration of faith is made. In Wicca and Paganism, there is no such thing. It is a quieter, more personal spiritual path, that some hide for a myriad of valid reasons.
However, there is power in not only naming an enemy or a faith or a belief, but standing in the town square, figuratively or literally, and screaming out, “I know who you are and I will not cower any longer. I am who/what I am, so bring it on.”
Within this simple rite, you find that you are building a self-confidence that doesn’t rely upon the opinions of others and surety can descend upon your spirit and psyche like chocolate pouring over a strawberry at a chocolate fountain.

That being said, I think I can talk about nightmares and sleepless nights. If you have been sexually abused by a person who was in your immediate family, then nights are bad. When the moon is high, so is the danger. When I first went to the battered women’s shelter, I dreamed about being chased down a long corridor with a light at the end that was ever out of my reach. All the while the largest, hairiest monster was chasing me and always just about to capture me.
I was meeting with a psychiatrist provided by the shelter and he began to teach me how to lucid dream. He taught me the standard techniques: writing your dreams the minute you wake, waking yourself at odd times of the night and forcing yourself to remember whatever you were dreaming, visualizations when you are awake of the reoccurring night terror where you are able to take control of the dream and change its outcome.

I seemed most adept at waking myself from nightmares by talking to myself. Later I learned how to have a dream and then meditated after waking, walling that dream up so that I wasn’t bothered by it again. Despite all this work, my monster kept chasing me toward the light. Desperate for a peaceful night’s sleep, I caved to the suggestion that I turn and face the monster. When I did the monster transformed into my abuser and the light burst around me. I was gathered up by one hand of a giant being. He looked like Zeus and with a flash of light from his palm, my abuser screamed and was no more. I was cradled and loved by this Divine being and told I wouldn’t have to have that dream again. I slept that night and well into the next day and woke with the knowledge that I wouldn’t have reoccurring night terrors again.

I haven’t. What has happened though is almost more disturbing. I am now relegated to vivid dreams that involve a reliving of past abuses or as I have mentioned before some play off the theme of being trapped with my abusers and not allowed to leave their tender mercies. These dreams making going to sleep anxiety ridden, I am trying to find a solution that isn’t reliant upon medication and have yet to strike upon the right solution.

Mixed in with the Post Traumatic night terrors or the spiritual dreams that are revealing to myself something of great import. Recently I dreamt I had a cat and place in the trunk of a car and then forgot about it. It died of heat stroke and the trunk was bloodied where the cat had harmed itself making a bid for its freedom. Mortified, I took the dream to my Sarah who reminded me cats were often related to witches and their magic. My subconscious was saying the part of my spirit tied into the mystical has been locked in a trunk and dying of heat stroke killing itself to get out. I immediately thought about how I had been stumbling over cats for a few weeks. On the television, in pictures, in writings, the cat, especially the lynx and the snow leopard have been everywhere. I felt Sarah’s observation had merit and I realized I was trying to tell myself that it isn’t healthy to lock up essential parts of you and wall them away. Doing so causes lots of blood and mess that invariably I end up cleaning up.
So my anxiety about sleep is doubled. Will I have a PTSD night terror? Or will I have some significant dream of a spiritual nature?

Then there is the physical aches and pains that come from being disabled and over doing it physically during the day. I usually crawl into bed fighting the urge to down Tylenol, the only pain medication I can take, to ease my aches and pains. While doing that, my brain is going a mile a minute worrying the idea of night terrors and spiritual dreams. It’s enough to keep Tony awake.

 While this is all true, it is also true that since I have started this blog, I tend to end up getting up to write. It is quiet. The doors are locked. Alice is asleep on my feet annoyed that we aren’t in a comfortable bed and occasionally lifting her head to sniff my body or urge me to eat or drink something because my body is telling her something is not right.
Tonight is a perfect example of this. It was a beautiful day. My son turned fourteen. We surprised him by taking him to eat Korean BBQ and then over to his Aunt Sarah’s to have some extended family make a fuss over him. We ate cake and he opened his Turtle gaming headset and got music money to download from ITunes.  During the day today, I started by clearing my altar. I reset its magical signature and took down the clutter that had accumulated. I found Tony and my athame and burned incense.

I found myself casting a circle around the house with my voice and quarter candles. I then made up a tun to evoke the Lord and Lady just singing as I was lead without direction seeing what part of the Divine nature wanted to visit me and spend some time in my home. Smelling the incense was like a spiritual light switch. I was taken back to every circle, every holy place and moment in my life and I quickly found my meditative place. Suddenly I was flying through space and time looking for my sister, Sarah and Crystal. I was hugging them and in their energetic field and it felt like coming home.
Energetically hugging Crystal I felt a tug and say the spiritual tree of my former students tugging on me. I spread out my energy seeking to brush against every single one and trying to whisper reassurances. “I am here. I am still not well, and I am ever a part of you all. We will all find our way and it will all be the way it should. I am still here.”
In my mind it was a tree and it shivered with acknowledgement as if I had given it a drink of water after a long dry spell. It left me thinking there was more than one trapped cat in my spiritual trunk.

After ritual, I was invigorated. I folded clothes, cleaned the kitchen, put away clothes, put on a facial and hair mask to draw out toxins and infuse vitamins, I showered and dressed for my son’s birthday dinner and coordinated the cake getting to Aunt Sarah’s (Thanks again Sarah!) and concentrated on my son. In the cleaning of my alter I found his first birthday cake so Sarah bought the number four and we burned them together, the little boy that had been one and the teenager that was now fourteen.
I even got to talk Sacred Geometry today and those who know me just roll their eyes when it comes up because they know I could talk about it for hours. I found someone who understood my obsession.

Now the day is over, by the time we had eaten cake and given gifts, I was feeling the days activity. Sarah and I curled on a couch watching our boys play some video game and whispering to each other like sisters do and I told her, “I did too much.” She just sighed and said, “You probably did.”
At home I was sore and spiritually invigorated. It is as if my spirit is outpacing my body.  I wanted to write something on the blog that was positive and uplifting and not just glum and dome and poor pitiful me. So I tried to read and then gave it up to write this blog. Sometimes the night draws out the best in us because it is quiet, our children are safely in their beds, healthy, adjusted and sleeping like only those who are truly loved and protected do. Divinity is tugging at your spirit and your brain won’t stop and you have to get up and do what needs doing even if you can barely crawl out of bed.

Mostly what I wanted to write tonight though is this: there is hope. I was on a panel once where a woman in tears was talking about having lost her faith. She kept saying she didn’t know how to get it back or what to do. Unwittingly I have stumbled across some things that just might help. Start a journal. You don’t have to be the type of exhibitionist I am. You could simply write for yourself. Allow yourself to write whenever you feel the need, even if you lose sleep to do it. Don’t write about your loss of faith, or your bad health, or your past trauma. Just write something and let your instincts guide you.
If you are or were a spiritual person, clean out the cobwebs of your practice. Clean your altar or go sit in your sanctuary, synagogue, masque or outside in a quiet wood. Do what you used to do when your spirit was filled with the Divine and things were easy to believe and easier to reach. Sing, drum, eat a sacred offering, smoke the sacred pipe, prostrate yourself before Allay, get on your knees in front of Mary and pray her prayer. Find a way back to your missing faith, by finding your personal place in that faith.
And don’t overdo it. Your answers may not come the first time or the second. You may have to find the perfect way for you to connect to the Divine. Just don’t give up. Sometimes we must act like we are confidently moving in the direction of the Spirit only to suddenly learn one day that not even the foulest of words can shake a hard won faith in oneself which restores the loss of faith in the Divine.

Maybe I can sleep now.
By the air,
This is her breathe,
By the air,
Sweet wind of life,
By the air,
From the first to the last,
A circle is cast, a circle is cast

Lyrics by Starhawk, Tune Original

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