The “Skies Are Crying” Fall of the Old Year

samhain-walkAs I wrote, to almost nobody last week, I began my new year at the New Moon. Sure, the family had a good meal — one of the rare red meat meals for me and the Minotaur — and lit a fire in the outside drizzle. We passed around a horn and “toasted, boasted, and vowed” in sumbel style.  There were serious conversations and light hearted joking as well.  We farewell’d what we wanted gone and greeted what we wanted to carry forward.  It was merry and bright around the fire.

But I didn’t feel merry or bright. I drank a bit too heavily of the passed horn filled with mead we brewed two years ago….meaning more than one single slim glassful in my booze-lightweight age. Earlier in the afternoon before the utter failing of daylight, you see, I had gone to the Labyrinth for year’s end rites there. No names, merely a tolling of the brass bell – once for every year of the current ongoing, never-ending wars and then a silent walk to the center. And then a walk back out, slowly — the intent being that as many old pagan traditions say — tis the day they dead can come back to join the living for a night and I would lead them back on that pathway wherein I walked them inwards.

Usually, this is a neutral walk — even on the years when I occasionally gruelingly read the entire list of names of Us and Coalition dead in both the Afghan and Iraqi wars.  But this year, every step back outward felt like I was walking from a place of peace into a sort of hell.  I felt laden with grief and despair, my mood blackened as the astrologically “black” moon invisible in its orbit.  That dreadful sense of “something dire coming” possessed me and the helplessness of it made my chest hurt.  “Death inbound” is how I characterize this feeling and I hate it so much.  And in less than a week — yes, five Americans dead in our ongoing foreign adventures.

Attachment-1Do I believe in prescience?  Lets say my experience makes comfortable disbelief impossible.  It is somewhat typical at the end of the year — whether in October or December — to question, to formally doubt, to make new choices and discard what baggage one can leave in the dust.  I’d like to leave this grief, this fear, this dread behind me.  But it follows me like a shadow, a vampiric shadow that feeds on the anxieties and miseries of this election.  It is not just fear of a President who reminds me of Beast Rabban (Harkonnen); it is the utter cruelty of his followers in being perfectly ok with his denigration and diminishment of women, immigrants, people of color, gays, lesbians, disabled people, poor people.  One would think that those people have never met real people in their lives!

I cast about for newness, for purpose, for connections as I feel more hermitic than ever.  The German ladies I left over the casual white privileged callousness of one of them want me back — well, five of them want me back.  Can I go back?  It dawns on me that the majority wants me back because I told off the domineering one; but is that the role I want in a circle I had considered friends?  I tell myself it wouldn’t be my only role, but I still fear just becoming a “novelty” of some sort to women I wanted to be friends with on common basis of work, family, and so forth.  I was too under the weather this year to go on the 2 1/2 hour drive a Day of the Dead party; and stricken to realize how few friends I have and all of them very far away.

And yet I find myself considering cutting more connections even in online life.  I am so angrily sick of the Apple i-Phone nonsense of touch-pad failure and no word on Apple acknowledging or fixing it in ever more impossibly expensive phones, for instance.  Thus, as my phone begins to give me grief, I consider shutting off the account entirely and “bundling” in a old school house phone with the equally hated Comcast/Xfinity.  This means I’d be largely disconnected from all online associations – my aging Mac Mini stutters when I use it, and if/when it fails I may not even replace it.  A whole group of semi-connected associations will fall away like autumnal leaves then, too.  I have found that nobody wants to write old style letters…nobody at all.  For years, I’ve sent fifty or more holiday cards on various holidays and got back fewer than a dozen.  Connection apparently is not allowed to take longer than five seconds or cost even forty five cents?

It troubles me that we have the promises of technology about never being disconnected, but it feels as if as humans, we are more disconnected from each other, more isolated than ever before.  Recent reading has told me I am not the only one to notice this with a sense of despair — Sebastian Junger’s book Tribe attributes this biology/psychology skewing trend with facilitating lasting PTSD, depression, and suicide.  We seem to be forgetting how to be people for each other!  So my end of year does feel very dark as the cold rain falls daily now and colored leaves fall to leave monotone firs looming like wraiths in the gray sky.  I remind myself that gray days mean I must try harder to find something light.

But I feel like embracing the darkness, exploring every shadow and misery is what I really will be doing this month before I put up the lights and decorations for Yule.  I’m not looking for a sunshine enema.  I’m looking for the cause of the darkness, I think.  Just typing that makes me want to slap myself for grandiosity.  But there it is, I just can’t get around the feeling and sensation that, to coin off of Tolkien, one must go through the dark mines of Moria to find light on the other side.

It may take some time.


Slammed – Reality Bites (the Cookie?)

mirror,mirror,mirrorMirrors are a terrible start to most days, don’t you think?  Similarly, epiphanies are tricky things. Not every “Eureka!” denotes celebratory champagne.  At first, like most folks facing an issue, it does seem like a great thing to have identified the precise issue.  If most of my marriage had been a sort of ministry to my PTSD wounded husband and I had not known it?  Just what else had I been similarly unaware of; ignorance certainly was anything but bliss by about ten minutes after completion of my last “triumphant” post.  The optimism of my last paragraphs died ugly.

I had already been fighting depression as our marital counseling seemed stuck on a plateau of going nowhere.  Thinking how my nurturing of the man I knew to be wounded had been dismissed/diagnosed as codependency by friends, and realizing it certainly was outside the realm of mere romantic love hedged me in self-doubt.  I never lied for him (nor to him) about any of his issues.  Nor did I lie to  myself about the constantly embattled state of my marriage and life.  I checked my actions against my ethical code and usually found them in accord aside from the occasional screaming battle involving name calling and door slamming.

LoveSo why was I suddenly so deeply down and depressed?  All I crave is sleep and sweets.  No amount of either seems sufficient.  Suddenly diagnosing my years of (mostly) solicitude as service instead of love left me feeling emotionally naked.  It didn’t necessarily do him any favors either.  I’ve always known I am one of those people who almost reflexively tries to fix things I find in busted up condition.  I had generally held the opinion that people were the exception to this because (a) who did I think I was to feel in a position to so label another human, (b) nobody can be “fixed” if they don’t want to do it for themselves, anyway, and (c) I had observed those efforts ended badly.

So, how did I fall down that rabbit hole after all?  Youthful arrogance and the unspoken “dare” –  my husbands fearful defiant statement as he feared he was falling for me, telling me I was not the one for him?  Good chance that did it, my own “I’ll show him!” hackles rose and into the fray I went.  Oh, I hate to say it, but sometimes pride does go before a fall!  Well, really, hubris.  I have no issue with ordinary pride of accomplishment – but pride before the accomplishment?  Yes, that was an issue.

And it surely didn’t turn me aside that the sex was amazing. I can hear an old astrology buff acquaintance intoning, “Stupid Scorpios.”  I will never stop contending that there ARE worse reasons for relationship, ok?  That does NOT mean my astrology crazed pal had a point.  It means my “black heart of innocence” was NEVER convinced that sex was bad!  I remember, even as a young teen, hearing the sermons and lectures about lust/lechery/sex and modesty/virginity/purity and thinking “What a crock of crap!”  Anything as vital as the cause for continuance of the species cannot be a bad thing – now, making half that species into chattel by telling them if/when/how/with whom they can have sex?  That is a bad thing.

But what now?  With both of us calling a pack of Pecan Sandies and a quart of milk a meal?  Both of us are exhausted and depressed.  He is most depressed IN counseling sessions as I decry my invisibility to him as real person vs. a projection in his mind.  I am most depressed OUT of counseling when feeling that we may suck as a couple, but feel far worse alone.

Or do we?  This morning the house was silent after my initial rising.  One son off to work, the other sound asleep, the husband off to his veterans’ group.  I got up and cooked food instead of searching out cookies. (OK, it was mac and cheese, but with a tin of tuna!  I can’t fight the radioactive blues with salad, alright?  Cheap carbs and cheap protein from a tin is my go-to.  Bite me.)  Does this mean we ARE better off without each other?  It might be hubris to say that — I think it felt better not to look at each other in our current suffering condition, a restful break from sorrow.

Perhaps that is the clue.  That we need to see more in each other than our suffering condition.  How to do that?  ::::sigh:::  You know, I think our climate-battered garden might suffer even more this summer?  I think both of us need to step outside “ordinary time”.  He has been doing auto-pilot grown up things like dishes and vacuuming, I’ve been bathing and napping, reading and weeping.  Him doing all the scut work makes me feel worse, while he feels nurturing.  But then some of his rather passive-agressive control bits (that he needs to feel secure) slide in and I go ballistic.  And the gears of marital battle turn faster.

That particular bomb needs defusing.  How, oh how?  We can’t live in a ritual circle/sphere, now can we?  One rather toxic pagan couple I knew did fine in a circle with each other and a nice audience, but outside of that they lived bitterly separate lives fueled by food and alcohol alone.  Not the pattern I want to follow.  But I do want a new “pattern” because the current one is useless to us both.

Perhaps finding something to do daily that allows us both to see beyond our shared dysfunction?  Meditation instead of morning news?  Yoga together after coffee?  Haiku to express the inexpressible?  Blowing off dishes, bed-making, and all that to go on ahead and eat cookies and milk while watching a movie?  Finding reasons to laugh together instead of crying alone?

There was a quote in my current reading today, a non-fiction book about the absolutely most dire circumstances ever experienced by humans.  It lit a candle in my brain when a dying man told his last surviving child:  “Live for the benefit of others, thus all will benefit.”  Ah, I thought, take that all you codependency-labelers!  (No, it was not some book of monotheistic schlock, thank you very much.)  We had fallen so far apart in the last five years that perhaps for the only prolonged time in our 40 years together, we were living only for ourselves.  That stops.  Today, now — an hour ago.  I have been ruled by fear of loss of self.  That fear lost me my most significant self – the self that lived by “the light of my heart… regardless of consequences.”


A Lull, A Lag, A Darkness, A Lingering

FullSizeRenderI’m not blogging much. I find my exercise program lagging. My current goal of yoga three times a week with days of aerobic something in between for a total of six days of work outs a week is difficult to keep. Aerobics, either on my new and still despised Nordic Track Elliptical or my old Health Rider is SO boring only something exciting on my iPad can make me stay there sufficiently to get a work out.  But cabin fever after a long winter makes me want to walk out of doors; that was the plan for yesterday.  But then as I finished a counseling appointment and coffee with one-time co-workers?  The sky opened with rain and hail.  My will failed me.

My garden awaits tilling; the Minotaur has not yet got the tiller running.  We broke the bank with our runaway to Oregon earlier and are so broke presently that I can’t do anything until payday.  The last bit in the bankbook will go this afternoon to buying a load of good soil so we can transplant an ill-thought out tree to a better location.  Everything is alright, nothing is really wrong.  We lack for nothing needful.  But nothing feels really right, either.

FullSizeRender 2I linger in bed longer every morning, sipping coffee and wishing I was still asleep.  I wake in the wee morning hours from dreams of ferrets – over a year from burying my last ferret (Helen), the grief still reduces me to weeping disconsolately in the darkness.  I dream of finding a boxful of ferret kits, for pity’s sake!  There is simply no wisdom in this; ferrets are costly pets and on retirement income, I simply cannot have them anymore.  For twenty years, though, I did and rescued them wherever they were found.  They were the pets of my heart, my “woozles” to the “heffalump” of several dogs we had in that long interim.  The woozles were my anti-depressants.  They kept me alive when my teenaged youngest son ran away.  They got me out of bed when he did tours in Afghanistan as an adult.  They sustained me and gave me reason to live when my marriage took the nuclear detonation of my husband’s long-deferred PTSD crisis in 2011.

I tell myself that soon yard and garden work will make me move and shake myself out of the curious inertia that grips me.  I remind myself there is more sunlight each day, but a darkness follows me – my personal storm cloud.  Depression has been life-long thing, low level for the most part.  I have always fought it with work, exercise and good habits of eating carefully.  But as periodically happens, it is insufficient to move me just now.

I linger, listlessly reading news and wondering what on earth is the matter with people.  The hatred it must take to be a politician telling towns they will be defunded if they legislate paid sick time, for instance.  The open bigotry of making it legal to discriminate against gays, lesbians, and transgendered people.  I emphasize “people” because — yes, these are PEOPLE being treated worse than animals.  The misogyny of several states where unborn (and even damaged and unviable) fetal tissue is held more valuable than the living pregnant woman trying to keep her life (and possibly her entire family’s lives) from being derailed by an undesired and unsustainable pregnancy.  The racism so blatant in the reaction to “Black Lives Matter” protesters and to Muslims make me fearful for my nation.  I have coffee once a week with five German women; they are horrified to see America reminding them of the Germany that led to World War II.  Donald Trump horrifies them.  It all is shockingly awful.

I make sure a set of lights is on a timer to light up daily — bright red heart shapes.  Seeing them insists I must not shut down and quit; that I must keep my bitter, battered heart in play or I cannot win through to some better other side.  But I often feel like those hearts are just a tease and that my own heart’s Will is failing.

In my youth, all my best friends were very aged women for whom I shopped, cleaned, and cooked as they needed.  I often wondered at their seeming calm that seemed to mingle with a subdued sorrow as they watched the then news.  Now, I completely understand the sense that there are so many good things happening that it makes the horrible things happening feel like a bad dream you cannot awaken from at all.

Saturday we go to caucus for Bernie Sanders.  My heart not only will go on, but will go on fighting.  I simply haven’t the energy to talk, write, argue about how, where, and why any more.  But my semi-silence is certainly not consent!