Saturday, September 24, 2011

Paralyzed by fear

Dark Mother brought up something in the comments about putting things off instead of just doing them so instead of writing a book in the comment section, I thought I would address it here. 

I have had a fear of failure all my life.  Not a normal fear that I might fail.  A debilitating fear that has left me paralyzed at times and unable to move forward.  I did manage to overcome it at times, like when I joined the Navy or when I moved across country to live with a boyfriend who turned out to be a real jerk.  Or several years ago when I sang solos in church or was part of the drama team...mostly behind the scenes though.

But I have had intervals when I just couldn't move forward.  Like now.  I was in therapy for a while for a variety of reasons and we touched on this but nothing much came of any kind of treatment.  Now I seem to be in paralysis again, unable to leave the house except for my safe places and safe people.  For some reason, the people at Wendy's make me comfortable and I'll drop in there frequently for a soda or a salad or a cup of chili, just to have someone to talk to or a safe place to read a book. 

I can shop, go to the doctor, library and several other places, but the thought of going to the Pagan Pride Day picnic fills me with abject terror at the notion of driving there and walking into a group of people I don't know.  Several years ago I went to a knitting night at a nearby town's yarn store and ended up leaving sick to my stomach because no one spoke to me.  It's been one of the problems I've had ever since I left the Navy and became a stay at home mom.  Finding friends has been a horrendous experience.  Moreso now that I no longer have a church to attend.

Not that I found friends there.  I was talking to Zach last night and told him that I knew I had to leave our fundie church when I stopped "greeting" people and discovered that no one came to "greet" me.  In 5+ years at that church, I walked away without a single phone call from anyone.  I would run into some people from time to time and they would be friendly, but no one called to find out what was wrong or why we left.  It was as if we had never existed.

This adds to my difficulties in finding friends because I expect that kind of treatment from everyone.  When I talk of not being able to make friends, I don't mean that I'm just shy.  I mean that I become physically ill at the thought of opening my mouth and introducing myself or beginning a conversation.  Abject terror.  Irrational fears.

I don't know why it's gotten worse as I've gotten older but I'm nearly a recluse now.  Even maintaining relationships online is a struggle for me, as Tana will attest.  I disappear from time to time, withdrawing from everyone because I just can't cope with the intensity of being in a friendship.

So it's not just that I can't move forward and get things done.  I am paralyzed at times and can't even live life. I thought last night what a shame it's been that I lost the last 10 years of my life hiding inside myself.  I wish I knew the answer to solving this problem.

The bright light in this dark period of my life has been the path my spirituality has taken.  I have found refuge in the arms of Danu and the strength of Cernnunos and the creativity of Lugh.  Now it is up to me to lean on that strength and not just allow myself to move forward but to push myself outside my comfort zone.  I still have that abject terror but it's easier knowing I'm not alone.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Happy Mabon, Autumn Equinox, Alban Elfed, etc...

I really just call it the Autumn Equinox, because I'm not comfortable calling it Mabon for a variety of reasons.  I'm far from following a reconstructionist path, but I do like to base my way of doing things on how they might have been done in times past.  Not having that information, I try to be intuitive instead of trying to decide it was done this way or that way.  I like to think that the ancestors would have expected us to make our celebrations and rituals our own instead of doing things the way they had always been done.  I got enough of that attitude as a Baptist.  It was the Baptist mantra, in fact.

I probably won't do anything elaborate tonight.  I'm tired, achy from the change in weather that is affecting both my arthritis and my fibromyalgia.  And there are some allergy issues with my nose going on as well.  Still, I plan on lots of candles, lots of silence and plenty of prayer and talking to the gods.  I tend to babble if I'm just left on my own so I like that I have prayers and rituals I can follow and adapt to my purpose.  I love, love, love being eclectic and going where I'm led to go.  Very liberating.

I hope to get some pictures of various altars and outside areas and such in the future.  Zach and I are addressing our eating habits and trying to feed ourselves spiritually as well, thinking that we can't address one area where we're overindulging and the other where we're starving.  Zach doesn't follow any deities but has a great reverence for Nature herself.  I would like to take Nature walks at least once a week.  We tend to hide away indoors, both of us being introverts, and the world goes on without us.

Not far from here are Indian Mounds and I would like to use that place as a spiritual retreat of sorts.  There is a path, information about the Mounds and the marsh not far from there.  It's beautiful and really gives off a spiritual essence.  I would like to connect with the ancestors, having some Native American ancestors myself, although they are from the Southwest, being Chiricahua Apache, but ancestors are ancestors.

Plus I've been noticing that I'm developing a connection with the land spirits on our property and I'd like to get to know the land spirits on sacred land as well.  I think the marsh has a great deal of spiritual energy that I would also like to explore.  Living less than a half mile from the marsh has its advantages.  Mosquitoes not being one of them.

I just have to actually stop thinking about doing things and do them.  My biggest failing in life is being a dreamer and not a doer.  I live with possibilities and never try to realize them.  The cards told me about this a couple of weeks ago and I have yet to heed their advice.  But I am getting closer.  I look at the Equinox as a beginning place.  In fact I look at all the Sabbats as beginning places for me.  It's so nice to have so many do-overs in a year.

Well, time to finish up supper and go light the candles.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Autumn is coming!

Now that the prayer cootie drama is behind me, I'm looking forward to the Autumnal Equinox for more reasons than it's the evening of my birthday.  Although I will admit that adds to the excitement.  I haven't heeded the message the cards gave me a couple of weeks ago but it's ever on my mind.  This weekend will go toward cleaning house in preparation, setting up my Autumn altar and lots of study and knitting.  This is how I plan on getting through this cold I'm doing my best to catch.  Once the house is clean, I'll park myself on the couch and do nothing more...aside from some healthy cooking.  Zach and I have both reached that moment when you're ready to start something new.  We've never reached it at the same time before so we decided we'd better strike while the iron is hot.

He's going to help me set up the altar outdoors since there will most likely be no more mowing for the season.  Or at least only one more at the most.  And he's going to do hard labor getting the second garden turned and cultivated before winter sets in.  And next weekend we'll harvest the tobacco for Tom.  I'm saving some of the leaves...the best an offering both for the land spirits and for the Indian Mounds outside of town when we celebrate Samhain. 

I'm also determined to spend more time in crafts.  The cards have long been telling me to do that and I really must heed their advice.  Photography should be something I include in that group of crafting.  I got a new camera for Beltane and haven't used it yet.  Zach has but I haven't.

I've also been picking up a few Halloween decorations.  We never celebrated it while Zach was growing up because I had been taught that it was an "evil" occasion but I'm more excited about it than Christmas.  I can't afford everything but I picked up a lantern, a spider for Zach's room and a battery-operated candle for the window sill.  I plan on using that for my Samhain vigil as well.  I keep a candle lit in the window sill from Samhain until Yule.  Just something that came to me...nothing I read or heard that was something that was done.  I think of it as a vigil for the ancestors.  It also is good discipline for me and helps me set up good habits for ritual.  The candle I used last year was vanilla scented and I had headaches the whole time.

ANd so it's time for me to go lie down while supper is cooking and the laundry is finishing.  I'll call it a night pretty soon so my body can heal from this cold.  I need to learn to stop pushing myself and let myself rest when I need to.  It's prejudices from long ago that if I give in to this fatigue, I'm being weak and I need to re-set my thinking and be more aware of what my body is telling me.

So much to learn.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Out of the comfort zone is a good place to be

As I mentioned in the comment section previously, I have left the group I was in, but oddly not over religion.  The bottom line for me was that I had changed too much and time was too short to sit in a room with people I didn't like.  The ones I liked, I was already "friends" with on facebook so it wasn't like I wasn't going to be seeing them again.  Some I just didn't have an opinion on...good to see them, not sure I had enough in common with them to develop a relationship but if they friend me, we'll have a go at it.  The rest are still the hard-ass fundamentalist bitches they always were.  Bowing to the altar of Ayn Rand and J.C. as if they were compatible.  Besides they were afraid of catching prayer cooties from me so fuck 'em.  Not spending one more moment in their company.

I do still have some fundamentalist friends who are dear to me but they love me for who I am, not in spite of who I am.  I love that about them.  And they don't stick their noses in the air and ask me not to pray for them, even though I know their beliefs are just as strong as the fundies who like to remind everyone how holy they are.  And we just don't talk about politics because...what's the point?

One thing did happen that I had to think about before posting again.  A really good friend, pretty liberal, and to be honest, the driving force in me seeing what a terrible person I was regarding the poor and non-Christians and without an unkind word said to me about it, said that this blog made her uncomfortable.  One thing I decided when I started this blog that it would be painfully honest.  Honest about my faults, problems and honest about how I felt about things.  One of those things happens to be Christianity, and I do try to be honest and not just vent in bitterness and anger.  So I felt a bit uncomfortable knowing that people I did care about were upset that I was attacking their belief system.

And yet, there are parts of that system that damaged me, my son and others I know beyond repair.  It's fortunate that the parts my son and I have that are damaged aren't debilitating, but others I know have lost everything, including their lives due to the thing Christianity has become.  So as much as I love them, I won't stop.  That would be dishonest.  Yet I don't intend this to be nothing but a Christian-bashing blog either.  I have had my share of concerns about aspects of Paganism as well, and I've tried to be honest about that, too.

Bottom line is, I have to learn that I can't live my life trying to please everyone, nor can I realistically let friendships overshadow honesty, because that's not honest.  Poor Tana, has had to listen to my rants against her belief system for quite a while now and while I really, really ache that I do this to her, she understands that I'm not criticizing her in all of this, but merely trying to find some healing.

I also decided when I started this blog not to worry about readership.  I would like to have more readers because I would love to have more input and develop relationships with others who either are like-minded or respectful about our differences.  But I have learned that writing this blog for me is more important than writing this blog so I'll get people to read it.  For me, that's a huge leap toward maturity and peace of mind.

So...I love that people read, sorry if anyone is uncomfortable reading but then, I am probably more uncomfortable writing this than you are reading it, and hope that those of you who do drop in from time to time will just share the journey with me in any fashion you choose.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Do I stay or do I go

Another fundie jumped in and said, very sweetly, that she wouldn't pray with us either because according to her bible (so as not to actually say according to her own beliefs), we were praying to Satan and so, of course, she couldn't pray to him. Then she went on to betray her lack of confidence in her own religion by saying she would always be wondering whose prayers got through.  But she said it in love, so what can I say?

Well, a lot actually, but I won't.  Because it's not my intention to dissuade her from her own beliefs or proselytize her to my way of thinking.  Nor is it my place to do either.  The gods call whom they will;  they don't tell me to make the phone calls for them.

But it does get old, the old Satan thing.  Unfortunately I did that when I was a fundie which is another reason I'm not going ape-shit on them.  I was just as obnoxious as they are being.  Even if they smile sweetly and tell me how much they love me because I do remember how we were taught to "tell the truth in love."  Which was christianese for telling people they were sinning big time and to stop the hell doing it.  With a smile.

So...for now they're talking about other stuff.  One woman is struggling with a son who probably has Tourette Syndrome and already knows he has ADHD and OCD, which become the triple run with TS.  It's a package deal.  A...trinity...if you will.  I told her the ADHD drugs will exacerbate the tics of people with TS which is part of her problem because her son's tics are so much worse on the meds.  So that was a good conversation.

I do like most of the women in the group and it's been great being back in touch with them so I probably will stay for now.  But I can't help feeling like I have to participate from the closet because my beliefs are offensive to some of them.  It's not that they're saying I shouldn't share my beliefs, but insinuating that I'm a Satan-worshiper really puts a damper on the conversation.

Being a recluse has kept me from dealing with these issue up until now and while part of me wants to bully through and tell them to shove it, I've got as much right to talk about my spiritual path, the better part of me tells me to just wear my beliefs closer to the vest and maintain a low spiritual path until the time is right.  So I will continue to sit on my hands until I feel welcome.  But if I never feel welcome, then maybe that isn't the group for me.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Wait for it

It didn't take long for the fundies to rear their head in the new group I'm in.  So far only one person has jumped in and it wasn't in response to me.  Another woman had mentioned that she no longer believed in Jesus, didn't believe he existed, let alone died for our sins, and followed the Torah exclusively.  This was in response to someone asking her specifically what she believed...namely the fundy.  So the fundy is "sad" but not pitying that the woman is no longer a Christian but won't pray with those of us who aren't because she believes in the TRINITY and therefore can't pray with anyone who isn't praying to him/them.

Personally I came to the conclusion before I left my fundie church that Christians were polytheists because the whole three in one thing isn't in the Bible at all, not even in concept.  It's another one of those things that we've been taught is in there, but isn't.

So I sat on my hands and didn't respond to her.  I had had problems with her in the past with her holier-than-thou attitudes.  Fortunately some of the others are gently calling her out on it.  I expect a flounce soon if she's like she used to be.

Personally I'm pretty darned happy with my spiritual path...excited, even.  But I'm not going to go out there and insist everyone does it my way or I'm going to throw a hissy and not pray with them.  One other person attempted to tell her that her path was wrong, but she's the one I unfriended before so I just shrugged that off.  I've been chatting online with another friend from there who is super-cool and even stuck with me back when I was an obnoxious fundie.  That's friendship.

I'm not getting ready for Mabon as well as I had hoped.  But wherever I end up in my preparations will be enough because I don't need to raise the bar so high I can't hop over it.

In the meantime, until my brain comes back for a visit, I'm still praying, lighting candles and meditating for seconds on end.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

A surprise visit from the past

I've had an interesting turn of events in my life in the past 24 hours.  Years ago I was in an email loop with some friends I knew from a Christian forum on AOL.  We were probably in the loop for at least 7 years or so before things started falling apart.  People got busy, lost interest, etc.  Well, one of the women on that group, besides being one of the best people in the world, is a friend on facebook and has set up a revival of the group on facebook.  I was added to the group last night.  I had misgivings, especially since I'm no longer Christian but so far things are going very well.  Not everyone is in the same place they were 5 years ago when I left the group so it's a pleasure to see some of their "faces" again.

I do still have misgivings, especially in light of having to unfriend one of them a while back because of her nasty comments about gays in regards to my son.  But for the most part, I did love these women like sisters even though we are no longer "Sisters in Christ" (the name of our email loop.)

Times have changed all of us, I hope.  I know not all of them are still Christians, some have stayed within Christianity but have opted for a more liberal version of it and some are still very much fundamentalists.  I'm going to give it a go and try my best.  Maybe this is the way for me to overcome the bitterness I have toward Christianity.  I admit it's been softening up for the most part, only to flare up when something from my past association enters the picture.  I do still have a great deal of fondness for St. Mark's and still think from time to time of visiting there again.  Until I remember how early in the morning their services are.  LOL!

But it's time I moved on and left the pains of the past behind me and allow myself to enjoy the path I'm on now.  As long as I'm captive to the past, I'm not as free as I need to be to enjoy the present.

I did find out that one of them, another friend on fb, has been reading this blog as well as my mundane one.  She's always been one of the special ones who has never been obnoxious about her own beliefs so I wondered if she was bothered by the things I've said here about Christianity.  I'm not going to ask her because everything I said here was from my heart and as honest as I could be for myself, but I would still regret if I caused any one of my Christian friends pain.

Still, I'm not going to go back and change a word of anything I've said.  Because I did mean it and probably still mean most of it.  It's hard sometimes to distinguish between the various kinds of Christians out there and while I still do have issues with any religious system (and we're talking more than just Christianity here) which insists they and they alone have all truth, I have to acknowledge that not everyone who believes that is obnoxious or arrogant.  And we certainly have our share of those elements within Paganism.  Just sayin'.

So I will participate with these women, ignore those who want to preach and enjoy those who love me for who I am, and not love me in spite of who I am.  Which is an issue I wish I could resolve on the family level as well, but that's another story.  Because those who love you in spite of who you are have a tendency to want to fix you so you are more in line with who they want you to be.  Again...just sayin'.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Learning about prayer

I'm having a hard time making progress with my studies. Once again I wish for a door that locked.  And maybe soundproofing.  Today I was studying prayer and was interrupted at least 13 times in the space of an hour.  It's a toss up between the dog and the husband which one did it more.  I know I could study when he's gone but since I can't work on the house while he's home, I use that time to get things done.  I might have to change that around though.  Maybe I should just stop cleaning the house.  That would free up some time.

I have learned a lot about prayer in spite of the frequent interruptions.  Very useful things, in fact.  I admit that I never "got" prayer as a fundamentalist/evangelical, mostly because the whole notion of "praying without ceasing" and "asking in faith" never made any sense to me.  I could never pray for hours at a time like the really holy people did.  In fact, I never really knew what to say to "God" at all.  I mean, if he was omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, why did he need me to tell him anything anyway?  And as for asking...just how many times was I supposed to ask?  It seemed to me that the incessant intercessory prayer thing was merely piling on God until he cried "uncle!"

I never ever felt connected to God through prayer at all.  Ever.  And of course, I thought it was all my fault, that I was deficient somehow.  So it's odd how, even though I didn't really have any sense of how or what to pray about to the deities who have called me to them, I felt a connection anyway.  And that connection seems even stronger and clearer as I learn more about how to do it.  I love that I can use pre-written prayers instead of mumbling and bumbling, trying to think of something wise and witty to say.  I love that I can pre-write those prayers, too.  That was one thing I did love about the Episcopal Church.  The prayers already written down for me.  Sadly they didn't form the connection I desired though.

I love forming this relationship with my gods in a steadily growing way.  I finally feel like I'm taking the right steps on my path.  And while I still pray occasionally to the Greeks, I find that connection is strongest with the Celtic gods, even though I don't know them as well.  I got a book in from the library today about Celtic mythology and plan on delving into it tonight.  I'm hoping to set aside time each night for study as well as morning.  I do have the time if I will just schedule it better.

As Mabon races toward us (and with it my birthday) I'm hoping to actually celebrate a festival on the wheel instead of just planning it.  My cards today, which were asked of the gods what they want to tell me, were a bit tough but necessary, about how I do a lot of planning and dreaming but very little action to go along with it.  How I need to use my intuition more and rely on my talents instead of letting myself lapse into a coma instead.  Even my animal oracle cards confirmed it.  Harsh, but necessary.

Off to try to get some things done before bedtime.