[Friday] Reflections from Tucson

Journal Entry January 13, 2017

I’m feeling contemplative, as always. What are my goals? Who do I want to be? The question of who I am seems less important. Not unimportant, simply less so. Insomuch as I can know how to get what I want to be, I care.

The clouds cover the Tucson sky this morning, letting brief streams of sunlight through. Beside me, the dishes lay in the sink, ready to be cleaned. A rat, named Ghost, perches on my shoulder. Ghost tries not to let his anxiety get the best of him. He gives my chin and fingers small licks.

His whiskers start twitching awfully fast, and I know it’s time for him to go back home.

Ghost has a pretty mean vertical when he wants to. He can scale our play pen in a single leap, landing on top of the cardboard fence. He’ll perch up there, trying to balance, completely frightened and unsure what to do. Of all our rats (we have three), he’s the most anxious and frightened, even more so than our ‘baby’ rat Oreo.

It’s been a year since we moved into this house. We got our rats a few months after moving in. My spouse and I both wanted animal companions but weren’t ready to adopt a cat. With my husband’s job travel is also an issue, and smaller pets are easier in some ways.

I am just now getting used to the flow and energy of the house itself. Shortly after we moved in last year I began working near our home. That kept me busy most of the time and, because I was on my feet, tired the rest of the time. In 2015, my spouse and I married and had dealt with some severe family issues. Two years out I feel like I’m settling down, perhaps for the first time in my life.

Of course, all that is helped by the health care that I have now. I’ve suffered from depression most of my life, since I was very young. Part of that calmed after I survived puberty. But the rest could only be solved by more robust and more quickly available health care. Even then, it has been its own struggle. Finding medications that work, along with studying how to improve my habits and thinking on my own, has taken a long time.

For the past few years I have attempted to work through Francesca de Grandis’ Be a Goddess (and Goddess Initiation). Consistently, work or my own distaste for the material kept me from continuing study. In my senio year of high school and into my failed attempt at university I worked through Be intensely and had enormous spiritual and religious breakthroughs. Those breakthroughs formed what is now the Otherfaith. Yet my theology – and my arrogance – had grown significantly since I had read the book. I wanted to finish the work I had started with Be, as I had never finished, but always found myself in the foulest of moods when I tried.

This January I sat down, again, with Be. It had become comically routine for me to ‘resolve’ to read and complete these books by de Grandis.

From the start I should have known something had changed. Rather than my piss-poor attitude of before, I could relax into the text. I made space for my reading. And even if I didn’t quite buy what was being sold, I opened my head to listening. I gave my all to the prayers in the book.

Of course, it’s only two weeks into January. I still have plenty of time to fall flat on my face and eat all my words.

But my approach to this learning, and to my broader life, has changed. I can attribute that to medication. Coming to grips with the fact that I will need medication throughout my entire life does hit a weird note in my chest. But to have a clearer mind, to have the desire and passion to do so many things – cook, sew, write, draw, visit family, learn – is worth all those weird notes.

I’ve been hesitant, for the past year or more, to talk as openly about my mental health as I once was. I don’t gain anything by hiding, however. I may be a bit influenced by the latest piece I read in Llewellyn’s 2017 Witches’ Companion, Autumn Damiana’s ‘Pagans and Mental Illness’.

I look forward to learning as much as I can this year. I’m going to reclaim parts of my life that I’ve forgotten or left aside – including the Otherfaith.

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