So, down I had fallen/passed — in 35 years of slippery slope. I loved roses, ever my favorite flower and scent; and yet my life no longer had a scent. I greeted my 35th wedding anniversary living apart from my husband, unsure where I was taking my life. My life was upside down, all looked hopeless and black. Sure, I had known he had PTSD and had tried many times to address the issue with him. He was in denial, as so many veterans are and his self-loathing was finally poisoning every close relationship.
I’d lost friendships, women I’d known for years called me “co-dependent” because I did not want to do as Innana did — I would not sacrifice my Thomas as she did her Damuzi- Tammuz. I would stay hung in “hell” before I threw him, battered and emotionally bleeding, under the bus.
But I did feel broken, shattered. I didn’t feel like a wife, I felt like a scapegoat. I reminded myself not to take it personally, but I was so tired I DID take it personally at last. I spent three months in self-distraction to defuse my own hurt and rage. I needed the rest. I fell asleep in front of television shows whose dialogue drowned out my inner screaming.
As a Feri friend of mine would say, my iron pentacle had certainly rusted. And so had my wounded warrior husband’s. I tried sex almost at once as a restorative. He was surprised and delighted, fearing he would never have sex again — but it was not sufficient healing. After three months of self-indulgent wallowing to acknowledge the level of my pain and loss, I finally got to work figuring out how to fix myself, my household, and then how to get help for my husband.
I began exercising almost every day. I aligned the “triple soul”; for though I am not a Feri initiate, that clear humane tradition laid out by T. Thorn Coyle in “Evolutionary Witchcraft” was the closest thing to my own mix and match manner of working through life. Immanent divinity and personal responsibility were ever my watchwords. I recited a famous (if fictional) “litany against fear” — sometimes several times a day. In dire need I used a quote from another version of Innana’s story — Finnan/ “Prometheus” defiant proclamation from “Vellum“: “I’ll bear my fate without a care,
But I will neither tell you what you want to hear,
Nor hold my tongue about my state.”
I ran the iron and pearl pentacles to restore myself. I walked and cared for my Labyrinth although large parts of the yard withered around me. I kept the roses alive, even moving them from the windswept road-side. It was not easy, but it got easier. He found a good counselor, after a year wasted with a very bad one who thought he needed Jesus, not a wife.
I was strong enough by the time this bad counseling came to light that I didn’t despair, though I did weep. To realize my marriage had been put on the block by a stranger because I was obviously not a Christian shocked me with the venom and hatred of someone whose faith claims to be made of love.
I rebuilt parts of my marital home. I stripped furniture and antiques — conceptualizing the damaged old finishes as the blasts my marriage had taken. I made everything again clean, clear, and bright and moved back into my home after three years of nigh ritual solitude.
My “lost” runaway son came home that same autumn, my heart rejoiced even while startled by another household shake-up. I felt my heart re-bounding, color began to bleed back INTO my life. My husband retired from his stressful job. We began seeing a marriage counselor, while he continued with another for his PTSD issues.
It is still difficult and painful, but realization filtered through as we argued one day. I was demanding to know how he “really” felt about me, because I did not feel loved – I felt “necessary”. He was hurt and insulted, although that was not my point or aim at all. What had often occurred to me was that while I loved him, he didn’t seem capable of the same emotional commitment.
The sickening feeling that he might truly not love me, but might desperately need me very nearly turned my life black and withered again. I listened, once morning in the garden, to a small hawk screaming over-head. I thought it had been a while since I aligned my Feri three part soul — the “uppermost” that is the connection to the divine world; Coyle calls it a Sacred Dove. I call mine my “Hawk on High” — around here, doves are for dinner!
In the next days of turmoil, I became very silent in between necessary interactions. That feeling of “something coming” rang like klaxons of alarm in my head. I took myself to the tattoo parlour to exteriorize the pain and to mark a friendship. A sliver of white waning moon now adorns my right wrist — a sliver of barely waxing moon adorns a sweet Texan’s wrist. In the mirror, I see her waxing moon and feel her friendship; in her mirror she sees my darkening moon and hears my smart-assed sass!
I sat in silence in the night and asked myself: “What if he loves you as well as he is currently able, but needs you as well. What if, all along, you have been only a part-time wife and lover? What if the full time job has been something else?” I recoiled. I did not want to be his mother, his care-taker, his nay-sayer, his nag!
Memories came filtering through the night as the moon waned just like the one on my wrist. Other men. Other women’s husbands. Coming to me, by phone, or sitting at my table, standing on my porch — running into me in a store and talking and talking and talking. About things they could not say to their wives. Questions they could never ask aloud in their households. Matters they could not bring up in their church. The air felt alive around me. A chill ran over my skin on a hot night. Was my “Shining One” trying to tell me something?
The next morning, as we read together about healing; I suddenly had to stop to tell him something. I had to ask him to not freak out, but to seriously listen and consider that if I was in fact NOT what he wanted, but merely needed because of his wounding; then he deserved to find healing and then find love. Even if it was elsewhere. He looked like he might cry and said that I was too willing to sacrifice myself for his health and joy.
And then, Innana Risen, I had to tell him — it is not a simple wifely sacrifice, it is my job. My job as what I’ve known I have been for many years now – a shamanistic priestess whose job (aside from psychopomp to the dead of war) is apparently to speak to men alienated and lost from their own lives. They came to me, they found me against all odds! And it only so recently dawned on me that he had also so “found” me, before I even knew who or what I was to be. That before I could be wife, I must be priestess to him.
I do believe he loves me. I fell into lust at once on seeing him, my Minotaur — my bull to leap and love. But if it has been only necessity to find healing and wholeness? Well, then, we will deal with that, too. Perhaps, someday, not only will I be his priestess – but his true wife? And someday, perhaps he will be my priest, and not my “sacrificed” husband/lover.
Ereshkigal shall have to find someone else to hang upon her wall, she won’t have me just yet — nor my “Tammuz” in my stead! I have descended, seen shades of death and despair around me. And I have ascended again – in peace, to pick red roses again.
(For full definition of Feri practices like the iron, pearl, or rust pentacles and alignment of the triple soul, I do recommend you find “Evolutionary Witchcraft” or a Feri Initiate! My own explanations would be cumbersome if not likely to be inexact!)