The Road-sign

Life is a roller-coaster ride, no matter who you are. Hardships, emotional blows and the unexpected are a part of daily life.

But for those of us who grew up in a home where abuse was something to be survived every moment of every day for years on end, daily stresses and hardships can be much more than just the expected routine.

For us and others who have been exposed to long-term helplessness and victimization, the demands of daily life can trigger panic, depression, anger and other overwhelming emotions, or the numbness of shutting down completely. Changes in the brain can cause memory and attention problems. Sleep and eating habits may be affected. The sense of identity may be distorted or lacking. We feel disconnected from the rest of humanity. We may have compulsions. We can have problems making and keeping friendships and other relationships. We may have crippling social anxiety.

It doesn’t matter how others have handled similar situations. What matters is that it was a survival situation and we survived.

The problems arise when our fight-or-flight responses remain on a hair trigger, or when anger or hurt over the unfair treatment just won’t go away. We may not even realize where the feelings are coming from and why we can’t just “be normal.” It has become our normal. But it still interferes with our jobs, relationships and inner peace.

It is often diagnosed as Depression, Generalized Anxiety, Social Anxiety, OCD, Maladaptive Daydreaming, Fantasy Prone Personality, Borderline Personality and a slew of other emotional disorders. But this isn’t an illness. It is how our brains adapted to survive a long-term situation where there was incredible pressure and no way out.

This is Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. When I realized this is what has been going on with me since childhood, it was like a road-sign lit up the night, finally telling me where I’ve been this whole time.

The good news is that it is treatable, and curable. We can build on the strength we found in adversity to have a happy, peaceful life with direction and meaning.

Little did I know that I have been using many of the techniques suggested to aid healing for years before I heard of this “disorder”. Despite attacks of self-loathing and self-pity, hatred for life and resentment of everything in the world, I determined in my 20’s to figure out what was wrong with me and get it under control, for the sake of my family. I focused first on mastering gratitude, then positive thinking, meditation for stress-management and journaling to deal with painful memories. It has all WORKED. Slowly. Some of my most crippling issues are pretty much gone. However, I’m not healed yet. I’m working in my first supervisory position, which has thrown light on a lot of things I still need to deal with, like the focus and memory issues, over-reaction to stress, social awkwardness and general inability to form a clear self-image.

But I know I will reach my goals, with the help of supportive management, loving family, and hopefully soon a competent therapist. I’ve come so far, not even knowing what I was doing battle with!

Talk to a professional or reseach CPTSD to learn more. And never give up. “While there is life, there is hope.” – Cisero

Balance and Goals

The fact that this blog is still finding readers during a “break” in my writing seems to be a sign I should keep at it. 🙂

Things are going pretty well in life for my family and I. We just moved to a house (a real house!) with enough room for the kids and dogs, and though it will mean a lot more monthly expenses, the improvement to everyone’s moods is awesome.

Yesterday at work I dealt with a long call that upset me. Let’s just say I related the subject matter to my own situation with my mom (for those of you who haven’t been following, I informed my mom of what I thought of her “Christian” cult and the fact that I’m heathen now, back in July 2016. She hasn’t responded to my attempts at communication since.) I’ve been working here for almost a year now, and it’s the first call that has caused me this much distress. Maybe because on Mother’s Day I sent her a long email about how I love her and I wish I hadn’t brought any of it up. I never heard a word back. So I tried out one of those counseling phone numbers, and it was very helpful. They try to sort of move your focus from the unfairness/upsetting nature of what you are dealing with to building coping strategies. Which is great. Honestly, I love my job. I want to be the best and keep growing in professionalism, not be the resident trainwreck everyone rolls their eyes at. And I’ve avoided that deftly. But this caused me to realize a few things.

  1. It’s time to put this to rest once and for all. I have to accept that my family are just messed up and since I don’t want to be like them, I should be happy we’ve parted ways. It is probably permanent, but if we ever talk again, we’ll have to have boundaries. As much as we value family in my faith, there were lines that should never have been crossed. I need to remember that.
  2. Burying my feelings in my job and busy-work at home is not dealing with things. There is no reason this emotional crisis should still be lingering in limbo after a year. I need to start journaling again. I’m a mess without my writing time each day.
  3. My magical research has been fascinating and is building grand new ideas for my own practice, but I may be overdoing it lately. It’s been just about all I read about and sometimes, think about. I need to balance my schedule, not just for work, but for family time, my studies, writing and relaxing fiction reading. I’m almost 40 here. I’m far from ready to give up on my dreams, and I still need to feed my imagination if I’m going to write that amazing book series I haven’t told you all about.
  4. I’m strong enough to do this on my own, as long as I have the time to think things through. I’m a daughter of Frigga and Odin. My team at work is the Vikings (no relation to football). So I strive to live up to that name and be tough. All the same, I really wish I had some level-headed, wise friends, heathen or pagan or not, just to talk with once in a while. It’s been almost 14 years since I’ve had a close friend besides my husband, and I used to have so many “sisters” and “mothers” that I never lacked for someone to ask questions about life or faith, or vent to, or comfort or celebrate with. It’s still strange after all these years. So maybe I need to search for kindred spirits.

Thanks for reading, and have a magical day!

Growing in Power

It has been almost three months since I’ve written. They have been busy months, mostly due to switching to a full-time schedule at work, but they have been far from boring!

After my last post, I realized I needed to get my head on straight and work through my issue without regaling everyone with my emotional conflict. The fact is, I did the right thing, and all signs point to that I am gaining momentum and growing in power. Even my job is proof. I decided that our situation needs to change, my family deserves better. Financially, mentally, and materially. Everything I’ve gone after has seemed to come easily since then, despite any minor setbacks. I am in no way taking this for granted! I view this as reward from the Gods for strengthening my backbone and pragmatism.

Aside from the details of daily life, there are other signs my abilities and Will are increasing. Though I’ve studied magical theory and various practices for about 12 years, I’ve never really set out for myself a course of study. I’ve never totally agreed with any of the published books or online courses that claim to be all you need. My path is winding and different, and I mix ideas freely, not because I’m “eclectic” and don’t dig deep enough into my research, but because, though I’m first and foremost Northern Tradition and Odin’s girl, I don’t believe that we should ignore the fact that we live in the modern world and there is freedom of information. Magicians throughout time have borrowed and adapted. Nothing passed down to us is “pure,” so why pretend we are back in the days when there was limited access to knowledge? I have worked with galdrstaves, bindrunes, British folk magic and thoughtforms. There doesn’t seem to be any kind of barrier. The more things I try, the more I realize that there are a lot of things I’m good at, and some artificial culture isn’t going to replace the one that is all around me – modern, fluid and varied. So I’ll take what I need, strengthening with practice, and continue on the path that I am creating – not alone, but with many teachers and the overall guidance of my beloved Odin, who leads me along the winding path to personal and magical competence.

Farewell to the Past

I will only write about this one more time. It’s not good form to whine. But it’s been a rough month. And I’m sick right now. And grieving.

So, I still haven’t heard back from my mom. My last post explained the situation further. I’ve been vacillating between “righteous indignation” and frantically trying to find a way to apologize and fix things between us without retracting anything I’ve said. It’s impossible. Can I just say, “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings, but my stance isn’t going to change?” or, “I shouldn’t blame you for what happened, even though you don’t seem to give a damn that I was abused and you left me with him”? Nothing is right. And reading our easy-going older emails and looking at all the gifts she gave the kids and me, and thinking about how she’s helped me out time and again, I just don’t know what to do. I am not ungrateful. But she will think I am until I return to her religion. I won’t! Ever! I told her Odin will make sure my abuser gets what he deserves. I don’t know if that’s true, but at least my deities don’t care more about covering up things that might look bad than law and honesty.

No matter how much I sleep, I still feel exhausted. I keep bursting into tears while driving alone. I can’t stop thinking about this, but I have to end it. My journals, my whole childhood, is gone. I have only 3 or 4 childhood friends who occasionally reply to my comments on Facebook. I have no family left except the family I chose. In a way, I’ve driven away everyone who ever seemed to care about me, or helped me. But how can I not, when their requirement for “gratitude” is obedience?

Well, there is much to do. Days are too brief for all the stresses packed into them. One day, all this will be over. Meantime, I guess the only thing to do is try to illustrate my ideals by loving my children and teaching them to be strong, be careful and pursue their own paths. I think the day is coming when a code of honor won’t be so rare. Right now, our leaders are the worst kind of killers and crushers of souls. Religions are more invested in how many donations they get than actual spiritual matters. One day, maybe someone will stand up for the weak again, give a voice to the downtrodden. One can only hope.

Odin, if you are listening, and if you care, help me to become stronger. Help me to see clearly with a  wider sight. I know that most people are deserving of some empathy, but that also we all have our faults, often major ones. Does it make sense, and does it do any good in the world, to mend my family relationships at the price of sacrificing principles? Should I really want a relationship with someone who allowed abuse, who “forgave” the abuser and is still with him to this day? Who judges my open-hearted spiritual life and personal power as “demonic”? I guess the answer is clear.

On Silence and Honesty

It’s been a crazy month, since I started my new job. I love it. I am high on the energy of just enjoying what I do and the relief of catching up on bills. But some of my frenetic energy is manifesting itself in other ways.

At this moment, I am having doubts that I have done the right thing. I wrote a long email to my Mom yesterday, and I don’t know if I will ever hear from her again. Maybe I was too harsh. Maybe I should have done it a long time ago. I feel free, and yet I am mourning the loss of our tenuous relationship and the relationship she could have with my kids. Let me explain.

I was raised Jehovah’s Witness, as I have said before, and they shun those who leave. After I got married to an unbeliever, I began to research the organization, and found not truth and light, but lies and a sordid past. I couldn’t believe it was the truth any longer, and went my own way. But I didn’t formally leave, so have had the privilege of continuing a long-distance relationship with my mom for almost 13 years. Frankly, it has been difficult, as my husband knows that I was abused by my stepdad as a child and my mom is still with him. My mom has tried to get me to go back to the meetings, even sending Witnesses to my door. I’ve held in a lot of resentment and rarely shared any of my true beliefs, which have long been pagan, and now lean Norse/Germanic polytheist.

However, after briefly  mentioning to my mom that we are going through a rough spot financially but will pull through on our own, she later called me and offered money – but only if I go back to meetings. Or just one. It was my step-dad’s requirement. I told her I am not comfortable with that, that I haven’t believed in a long time but didn’t want to bring it up because I don’t want to lose our relationship. When I told my husband, he was furious at them, and asked me why I haven’t cut them off a long time ago. He said that if she was any kind of mother she would have left him, pressed charges and put me first. I guess it’s true. I would for my kids! But it’s hard to see things in a different way than I did growing up. My mom was in a tight spot, with 4 kids and working on commission only. She is a cheerful person, not particularly emotional, and the religion frowns on divorce, though she had “grounds.” So I’m sure it was easy to believe she was being generous by forgiving him. But I never forgave him, and it hurts that she did.

Hubby suggested that instead of being angry and just playing along with their perception that they were being generous, I should just write the truth about how I feel. So I did. I said that trying to bribe me was dishonorable and a slap in the face, that I don’t believe their religion is true, and why. I said that I honor Odin and his family now and that my ethics include defending the weak and punishing bullies, and that my step-dad will get what he deserves in the end. I said that I don’t care if I get disfellowshipped, because I can’t share with her any of my thoughts or feelings for fear of just being told I’m wrong. And I told her I love her still, and will be happy to stay in touch if we don’t talk religion anymore. It’s been two days, and no reply. I doubt there will be one.

So, did I just vent too much steam, or was this a long time coming? Honestly, I can’t regret coming clean. Courage and honesty are part of my ethos, and it feels strangely liberating. But I can’t help also feeling gut-punched sorrow and loss, because though her acceptance was conditional all along, she’s still my mommy. This is so messed up.

In the end, all I can say is that I might have spared us both some pain if I had stayed honest and not given her false hope by staying silent. Now that I’m following a path that puts high value on honor and integrity, it would be hypocritical to hide who I am and what I study. I told her some of my beliefs once before and we didn’t talk for 4 months, but we gradually started texting and stuff and then I just kept my mouth shut so it didn’t happen again. Well, if she ever contacts me again, I’ll just have to set the boundaries. I don’t have to talk about my beliefs or judge her religion anymore, and I expect the same courtesy. I don’t want my kids preached at either. But, regrets and resentment will fix nothing for either of us. I’ve said my piece, I can only hope she comes to respect my stance and we can move on. I guess I’ll find out.

 

The Internet and My Path

I first got on Facebook when I was on leave after my son was born. I was already a regular on Myspace (very different back then), WritersCafe, Writing.com and some forums. One thing I’ve found to be true again and again is that I need regular time away from the computer. The good that has come of my interaction is real – I’ve kept in touch with family, reunited with old friends, gotten feedback on my fiction and helped support those who’ve escaped cults or survived abuse. And a big one has been research. I don’t have a lot of money for books, so much of my research into heathenry, spellcraft, divination and ancient beliefs has been online. I find PDF’s of vital texts and videos showing how-to. I know there is a lot of misinformation, so I take what feels right and useful, and discard the rest. The internet has been vital to developing both my craft and my pagan path. But there is a limit.

I am a personality type INFJ. I rely on my intuition a lot. One thing I’ve noticed in recent years is that I can’t bear to take a spell I found and copy it wholesale. My own associations are so strong that everything I do is adapted, sometimes torn apart, just using the original as inspiration. This is where time away from the internet is really important. All the information I’ve gathered percolates and with quiet time, the time when I’m cleaning or at work or talking to loved ones, it all becomes strangely clear. One online group has been stressing the validity of hexing. I’m listening, I see what they mean, but I’d really rather do shadow work to explore my dark side. Hexing feels as wrong to me as if I were to literally punch someone. Even if they deserve it, that’s not me. I respect the right of others to do as they choose. But it was in my quiet time that the reasons for my reluctance became clear. Other times a symbolic association or an aspect of a deity flashes into my mind. This never happens when I’m absorbed in the info-glut of internet exploration.

With that in mind, I’m going to take a break for a few days. Maybe organize my binder, copy down some powerful quotes I saved last week. I think it’s time for a breather, to follow that silent wooded path a little ways, alone.

Night Litany

Reconciling with Inner Tension

This will be a brief post, since there’s a lot going on right now and I need to keep my momentum going. I just feel the need to write.

I did something spontaneous again. Maybe it was a bad move, but I (mostly) feel confident things will get better. I quit a job that I felt was damaging my family. So much overtime was required, and was only available on my days off, that I felt I never saw my husband and kids anymore. My ten-year-old son was acting out at school. I was BAD at the job, which required a certain level of pushy and rude, and my pay had dropped because I was expected to start earning commissions, which wasn’t likely. Maybe I should have waited it out until I got a better job. My family is in a rough spot while I go to interviews every couple of days and hope this is resolved quickly. But I can’t really regret quitting. It felt right.

So meanwhile, I’m home with a husband who isn’t looking for work and isn’t very attentive to our kids when he’s caring for them. He’s hoping to get on disability. And I’m once again looking for full-time work, maybe something that doesn’t run such late hours as my last job. I love him. I’m angry. I’m scared because he’s 35 and can’t sleep at night due to pain. There’s a lot going on here, and the picture isn’t clear.

I wish I could magic it all away, but that’s not logical. I have to reconcile myself with it all, on the inside. Resentment will solve nothing, and will just ruin our relationship.

The fact is, we’ve been in these tough spots before. We’ve moved a lot, started over a lot, and every time there have been losses. Fear is natural, but I can’t let it become paralyzing. I have strong, marketable skills and lots of experience. I know I can find better work. And as for my husband, he’ll find his own way. I’m not here to nag or demand things from him. That’s something we agreed to before marriage. We don’t boss each other around.

Tarot has always been a strong natural talent with me. I did a reading the other day, when in a relaxed, happy mood. It was dead-on, and positive about the future and my husband. I choose to put some faith in my skill and sight, and keep pushing forward with optimism. The tension won’t magically go away, but I can handle it, just like I always have, by diving in to the issues and not running from it. We’ll be ok, maybe even better than ok soon.

 

 

 

Toughing it Out

I haven’t posted in a while, and it will be slow for a while…I’ve been working long hours, 11-14 hours away from home, sometimes 7 days a week. Hubby and I are looking for better work that will allow me to see my kids more and be home sometimes.

In the meantime, it’s a trial, and I’m learning lessons. I’m no salesperson, definitely not on the phone, but maybe I can glean some knowledge out of the effort. I always feel that asking Odin for help results in both help and teaching opportunities. This is necessary for growth, so I’m not bitter. Onward and upward!

 

Still Shy (After All These Years)

Well, I’ve gone back to work, and I’m actually enjoying it. The strange thing is that though I’ve met a couple of people who seem to be open-minded and might even share some of my interests, I just can’t bring myself to talk to live people about my pagan/heathen beliefs. It’s not really fear of being judged – I don’t care about acceptance enough to lie or change who I am. Maybe it is  avoidant – I don’t want to have to explain or defend myself and I don’t feel I’m in any position to speak for others with similar faiths. Some of it, too, is just distrust. Except for a couple of people (my husband included), everyone I’ve had strong interests in common with has ended up being kinda psycho and turning on me. Not sure I want to analyze this too deeply. Friendships aren’t really a strong need at this time in my life, anyway, since I’ve got two young kids and no time to go out and do anything, anyway. Someday, I may wish I had cultivated lasting friendships. But for now…how would I even go about it? Writing is a direct connection to my brain. You read this, you know what I’m thinking about, how deeply, and why. But face-to-face, I’m a mess. I feel like I’m translating my thoughts into some other language, and what comes out is over-simplified, Captain Obvious, misworded crap. It is so difficult to portray any level of real personality to someone I don’t know well. How I ended up married, I’ll never know. He’s as much a loner as I am, I guess. I’m sure there are kindred spirits out there somewhere. I’ll continue to trust my gut when it comes to people. I always sense the reality beneath the mask, and sometimes even sharp flashes of thoughts and emotion. Nothing like realizing someone you are starting to like just got pissed off at something you said! It’s a double-edged gift. But someday…someday when I’m old, I’m going to find some old ladies like me who do magick and bake and love fiction, costumes and corny puns.