[ Trigger Warning – This post touches on a lot of potential triggers – including miscarriage, death of a beloved, sacrifice, bullying, rape, and self-acceptance. I’ve intentionally avoided being graphic or emotional in talking about these things, but there is a whole lot of potentially painful subjects mentioned in fairly quick succession, mostly, but not always, just in passing.
General note: This post, in case you didn’t guess from the above, talks about some very personal and intense experiences. Much of this is a culmination of things I’ve touched on in my last few posts. If you’re not interested in reading about personal experience and some associated unpleasantness, skip reading this post.
I’d ask, too, that if you feel the need to belittle, ridicule, or otherwise criticize the events and decisions described below, that you refrain from doing so in the comments. Thoughtful comments are, as always, welcome.]
I’m still kicking around ideas for this month’s addition to my annual ritual calendar, after my original idea was tossed to the wind by my deity. Since I have slight issues with both authority and being told “you have to do this”, the universe has been dropping subtle hints about the direction that I need to go for a while. Subtle is easy to ignore and I’ve been doing an excellent job at doing so.
Now the hints are getting less subtle and more pointed. About three weeks ago, I had a dream in which the stand of trees where Andy and I were handfasted burned to ashes with not even a charred stump to show what had once been there (my initial post about Andy is here if you want the back story: On Doing Nothing). The night of that dream, the silver ring that I’d given him at the handfasting and subsequently worn on my thumb since his death, disappeared. It was there when I went to bed – and simply nowhere to be seen upon waking. It has not resurfaced since. Hint taken, thank you, universe.
Shortly before Andy resurfaced in my life, I experienced something that could be described as a waking dream, as religious ecstasy, as psychotic delusion (take your pick… I won’t be offended because I’ve called it all of these things myself). In that experience, my deity laid a hand on mine and in an instant, She burned me down to ash. There was nothing but a me-shaped pile of ash. Into that pile, she placed, with the help of a guardian of mine, certain objects and symbols of who I had been. She made it clear that those were the things that I would need to carry forward with me and that the rest was to be left behind. It was an intense and profoundly spiritual experience, one that I cannot describe in emotional terms without copious tears and a deep ache in my chest.
I was still reeling from that experience when She indicated that there was work that She like me to do and dropped Andy squarely back into my life again. What I’m about to say is done without self-pity and with an acceptance that I knowingly and willingly walked into a situation that would be painful: The period of my life around Andy’s death brutally stripped away a lot of my illusions about my path and about the direction that my life would be going. The burning that began with the vision above continued as Andy walked in and back out of my life one final time.
There were painful truths that came out during and after that process – that I am not built for romantic partnership (intense love, profound compassion, altruism, a sense of duty, and fierce loyalty, yes to all of those things, but romantic love is beyond my ken), that I will never have children (something I’d assumed prior to this but confirmed by the third and final miscarriage of my life), that to find any peace in my life I would need to accept myself unconditionally including the bits that I’d tried for years to ignore or deny, that in embracing who I am I would sacrifice a lot of the things that most people take for granted as normal life experiences. I can say these things without self-pity because I take responsibility for the choices that I made during this period. I had the option to walk away but choose to face the challenge that She’d laid at my feet instead. I will also say that I know that I’m an ass for lying to Andy about the nature of my feelings for him, for letting him believe that the love I felt was a romantic one, for letting myself repeat that lie to anyone who asked. I take responsibility for that as well.
In stripping away the illusions I held, I find that I have been more settled in my life and more willing to accept who I am without constant inner critiques. I find that I can look in the mirror and accept the imperfections. I understand now that my attempts to be the ‘perfect’ person as a young adult (and right up through the time of the handfasting) stemmed from being told, more than once, that if I’d tried harder to fit into my social environment, I could have avoided a lot of difficulties in my life (including but not limited to being bullied and being sexually assaulted). I am now much more willing and able to do the things that need to be done, rather doing the ‘nice’ or socially acceptable thing. I’ve learned that sometimes the ends really do justify the means and there are times when being a devious liar is the kindest thing that one can be. That’s right, I’m saying that it took me this long to accept that I don’t always need to be nice or perfect and that I too can be a righteous lying asshole when required.
So much, then, for times past. We come back to where we began- the hints that the universe has been dropping. The message is clear: It’s time for the phoenix to burn away and rise again. What this is going to mean for me, I don’t really know, to be honest. I only know that there is a push, a hard tough-love kind of push, to let myself be consumed again, to let go of where I’ve been, and to once again, serve Her in that intense, life-altering sort of way. I’m feeling an appropriate mix of terror and excitement about the prospect. Because of all the realizations that occurred in the wake of Andy’s death, the biggest is this: I’ve realized that I want, more than anything, to do Her work, even though, and perhaps because, fire burns.