Most days - I'm okay. Most days, I can avoid being paralysed by anxiety and fear.
But it is never far - I only need to think of my parents and my world shatters. All my carefully constructed walls come tumbling down, and the little girl that I keep locked away safely inside is suddenly exposed and raw.
Childhood abuse is often described as "the long shadow" and it is easy to see why. Like a comic book hero, I have a pair of looming villains in my backstory, casting their shadows over the trajectory of my life. Yes, I have two living parents - yet I nurse the feeling of being an orphan. I can never stop grieving the loving childhood that I was owed - that all children deserve - and nothing fills the space that it left behind. Sometimes I think about how witches are expected to be either these perfectly balanced rainbows and unicorns types, or wicked maelstroms, ready to snap at you in a moments notice. We don't really get an in-between as far as the public consciousness is concerned. The thing is though, we're all just people, and everyone makes mistakes. Everyone has difficulties. We all have hurdles to overcome. Sometimes - we're painfully mundane.
My crucible is my abandonment, my scars, the little girl that never got to be.
"It's so hard to forget pain, but it's even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace." - Chuck Palahniuk
And it's so hard, even now, and even in this safe space, to say that.
I'm ashamed. I'm afraid. I feel guilt. Even though I know she planted those seeds in me. Nurtured that need to hide what she is.
It affects me even now. I'm anxious. Social situations often unhinge me. I judge harshly and quickly those in my life and draw boundaries that some will never cross, simply because they triggered some primal survival programming in me. I can look at your face and know if you mean me ill, if you lie or speak the truth, if you are quick to anger... it's how I stay safe.
A few people out there have written about what it's like to be a witch struggling with mental health issues, and much better than I will. (Check out a couple of posts by Thorn, Here and Here.) But some things have been going on in my own life, and the lives of a few people dear to me, that have made me want to address mental disorders and what that means to me as a witch.
Going out on a limb, I will share with you that I suffer from CPTSD, and am an adult survivor of childhood abuse. I've been going to talk therapy for about two years now (I highly recommend it), take antidepressants/anxiety medication, and can (usually) get through the night without screaming nightmares these days. It's not easy. It's one of those things that no matter how long you've lived with it, or how much you've tried to explain it to the people you love, or how much you normalize it when you're feeling "okay" - never goes away.
I self harm.
There. I said it. I got it out.
I don't really like using that term for myself and apparently (according to my therapist) it's important that I own it so that I can move on from it - get better" - whatever that means.
It's never something that you mean to do, it just happens. It happens in the dark moments. It happens when you're lonely, or afraid, or even just bored because that's when the memories start creeping in. Right now, I'm evolving as a witch, growing, changing. And I know in my heart that this is something I have to overcome now. It's time to stop.
A couple of things I'd like to get off my chest:
- Having difficulties in your life doesn't make you bad at being a witch.
- Having difficult feelings about things in your life, even mundane things - God, especially the mundane things - doesn't mean that you don't love the people around you, and doesn't mean any of it is their fault or something they can fix.
Maybe I just needed to say those things to myself.
Being a witch (to me) is about bending, changing, responding to the needs of those around you. It's a life of transformation. Always growing and learning. Stagnating is something you should never allow yourself. But you know what? Bending to your own needs is okay to. Being your own healer is just fine. Being your own advisor - counselor. Why is it that we're so good at helping others, and fail so miserably when it comes to helping ourselves?
So. I've put these thoughts out there.
Here I am, raw, honest. Terrified.
You've learned a little about me today, and I hope you'll hold me accountable. Because even if it's in baby steps, I will get better. I will make myself a better me for all of you.