From the not-quite latin, "We Gladly Feast on Those Who Would Subdue Us"
Addams Family Motto
In January 2016, I left home without telling anyone my plans. I drove a thousand miles, through blizzard, to make it to where I am now - western Washington. There are a lot of other things that have happened since then.
At 24, I had already spent several years with the knowledge I had been set up to fail in every one of my biggest life goals, and my mental health was intentionally being manipulated to keep me in my biological family's home and jurisdiction. The religion around me was being used as excuse to lie, cheat, and steal, and make the different submit. A cult never acknowledges it's a cult.
I was made to doubt my own existence, and every attempt was made to teach me to hate myself, and think of myself as a liar, regardless of what I said or if I thought I was telling the truth. There was nothing allowed to contradict the culture around me, because it claimed to be something bigger than it was, and questioning it was a sin. Several years after the fact, I also found out that my parents had been telling people in their church that I was a diagnosed psychotic, to make sure nothing I said about them was ever investigated.
But this isn't about them.
Like I was told for years, I'm making this about me. Yet, that gets a bad reputation, doesn't it?
Making something about yourself?
Just like that pseudo-positive affirmation that goes around the internet, "Don't waste energy on anything that doesn't truly make you happy."
Well, what unpleasant things are you willing to go through for your happiness, or do you expect it to simply show up one day? Are you avoiding challenges you could grow from or people with different perspectives that could help you do the same, because you view them as useless if they're not constantly affirming you? Are you passing up negativity because you refuse to allow it to contribute to something more positive in the long run?
Can you tell the difference between adaptation and lack of agency?
"We Gladly Feast on Those Who Would Subdue Us"
I unfortunately possess a cocktail of several mental health difficulties that overlap with things such as clinical depression, adult ADHD, generalized anxiety but, recently, confirmed as at least mostly PTSD. The most common things these have in common is Executive Dysfunction.
It means I have little to no time perception. Remembering where I put specific things is exceptionally difficult. Organization and cleaning is hellish, and sustained focus on a single task through to 100% completion is a hit-and-miss. I forget or lose track of things that are genuinely important, and important to me. But wait, how do you have a shop? How have you finished books? you may be saying.
I realized a long time ago, and periodically go through re-realization that I don't have to do anything exactly the same way as someone else. Particularly when someone tells me that things must be done a certain way, that's when I look closer to see if they're telling the truth or merely echoing someone else who told them that's the only way. It's a useless cycle that only serves to boost the ego of whoever's telling others they know the correct way to do things.
Sometimes, what people call selfish is really someone refusing to indulge someone else being selfish.
A parent calling a child selfish should take care to separate their personal interests from what helps that child grow while retaining their agency as a person. Children are people. Crazy, I know.
You may have heard of something called "the law of attraction." As with anything else that's meant to be inspirational, it can still be used in the wrong way. Too often in metaphysical, philosophical (not just pagan) circles, "the law of attraction" is used to justify a thinking that if you want something badly enough, it will eventually come to you. And stopping there.
Too many people forego the work, then wonder why they don't have what they want.
Too many times, people go the complete opposite direction, and tell people to skip their medication, think happy thoughts, just work harder for what they want without "relying" on help. The school of "think happy thoughts, experience happy things."
The solution really isn't a solution at all, in that there's no magic bullet, or person, force, or deity to invoke that will give you what you want. You have to give something in return. No energy can be created or destroyed. It can only be changed.
In the Norse mythos, the god Odin hangs himself from Yggdrasil as a sacrifice... to himself, in order to gain knowledge from the runes. He circumvented the assumption that one could only obtain this wisdom after death, by him being selfish, as many would consider it.
I'm not here to convert anyone to paganism, and honestly I'm not even here to revere Odin in any way. However, I'm here to illustrate that not everything is black and white, obviously. But also, not everything is selfish or selfless.
Sometimes, to make the world a better place, you have to refuse to be told what to do. Pay your rent, keep your promises, take care of those around you - particularly when someone has told you not to, and you truly believe otherwise.
Do what you need to do.
If you have difficulties in certain areas, start with one thing. If you forget, or it doesn't work, step it down even further. Pick one thing that helps you remember, or something that motivates you, or rewards you.
Just the one thing.
This isn't a post about habits, and this isn't about religion. It's about what I've experienced over the last five years -- I don't have to do anything that anyone else says, and neither do you. But, if you're going to meet your goals, you have to decide what you're willing to go through, and what you don't feel like doing but you're going to do anyway. Because it's good for you, or because it will help you later.
And then once you find what works, find something to add.
Take your medication, eat when you're hungry, and own up to when you're wrong.
But don't let anyone take away your agency under the excuse it's how you become a good person. Don't associate yourself to any group, community, or category unless the association furthers what you believe in. This includes family.
You were put on this planet in the form you're in now because there's something that the world needs that nothing else can provide. So, why would you do everything the way someone else does it, just because that's what you're told?
Growing up correctly is learning how to make things about yourself in a constructive way, and how to tell the difference between people who want you to do something their way, or the "right" way out of genuine care, and those who want the satisfaction of your concession. It's knowing how to tell when someone defines respect as reverence, versus letting you exist peacefully.
Authority often tells us that if we don't revere them, they will not let us exist in peace, claiming both to be respect. We're taught in the USA that reverence is necessary for respect, and declining this idea is tantamount to insurrection.
And we're in the middle of quite a lot of that right now.
"Revere us, or you're not allowed peace."
This isn't true. Here, or anywhere else.
As a pagan, I celebrate Samhain, which most people know as synonymous with Halloween. It's similar and overlapping, but a different holiday. Typically, pagans use it to connect with ancestors in some way, because it's also known as a type of New Year's Eve.
I don't have a reverence for my family. At all. Due to the way the living members have acted toward me, I don't even know who most of my ancestors are at this point, nor do I have the energy to look until a point in the future.
Samhain is still a holiday of threshhold for me. It's about my place in the world, and acknowledging my own abilities and how I affect myself and others with my actions. Samhain is a holiday about me, and what I decide to reach out and touch, and take.
"Reach out and take it" is a selfish sounding phrase, isn't it? In this culture, it typically speaks to arrogance, greed, and lack of concern for others. From childhood, most of us are taught that sharing and generosity makes you a good person. As we grow older, it becomes a trigger for authority to make demands, and an easy way to call someone selfish if they have decided to take care of themselves, no matter what that entails.
With PTSD, it's easy to tip the balance one way or the other - to hoard and withdraw, or give all your time and energy away to others out of fear of being called bad.
Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc
"We Gladly Feast on Those Who Would Subdue Us"
As a pagan and as a creator, in celebration of Samhain, I pledge to decline all attempts to obtain my blind adherence. In line with the path that was presented to me, I promise to do everything I can to respect the agency of others, and any argument will be to convince rather than coerce. I will strive toward self-sufficiency both in material resources as well as knowledge and wisdom, but accept help from others when necessary or to allow others to develop on their own path. I will use this self-sufficiency toward my own goals in working for myself, but also to help others both in resources and inspiration.
And when I'm told that I cannot have something because it's non-traditional, unusual, makes me appear a way I shouldn't want, or helps someone who shouldn't be helped, particularly if the argument is meant to coerce rather than convince,
I will reach out and take it.
Blessed Samhain 2020
From my family to yours