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Yesterday was Beltane, and I didn’t have sex once. In fact, I turned it down for physical reasons. Later that day an acquaintance posted how hard Beltane was for those who are single or otherwise unable to have sex, and I realized just how many people miss the point. Yes, the lore of Beltane centers around sex, but like any lore, there are layers and layers of meaning, and no one meaning is correct. I’ve always had issues with events that center around kink and sex in relation to Beltane, because I feel like so much is lost in the need to free the libertine, especially in a group setting.
Let’s step back a moment, and I’ll tell you a story.
Two years ago I started running. My first focus was consistency. Making it happen on a regular basis was a struggle, but last year I began to focus on theat first mile. How was it improving as i went? How was I feeling after each new time landmark? Was I keeping that time and endurance consistent? Last week I hit a pretty big deviation in my mile. It wanted more. Not just faster, but it wanted more….something. Today I threw it all off course. Instead of the straight timed distance run, and int he spirit of the season, I chose a multilevel course on the elliptical that mimics a run through a state park. Despite the extra complexity, it shaved a noticeable chunk of time off my first mile, and an internal check begged me to keep going. By the time i was done with the second mile I was ready for more. Unfortunately I had more to accomplish today, but the energy raised by that second mile was powerful.
So, back to Beltane. Yesterday I recognized the energy of the season manifesting differently. There were primal urges, yes, but there was so much more beneath it. You see, Beltane isn’t about what fuels us, it’s about the spark that ignites us to push to heights we didn’t know we were capable of. It takes us out of a comfort zone and tell us to quit limiting ourselves to what we think we’re ready for. It reminds us we are beings of powerful energy and awe inspiring abilities. That we can make change and manifest our lives in ways even we can’t imagine yet. Yes, many people find that inspiration and raw power in sex, because it’s one of the most primal ways we have of letting go and letting our real power surge inside us. Sex makes us, for an instant, a different being all together. It allows us to step outside of our physical existence and experience the world around us, the universe, and yes, other humans, in ways the body cannot.
So no, this Beltane I didn’t have sex once…..but the spark of Beltane was very much alive inside me.
Go now, feel the spark.
A partner recently told me “you need to be confident to be with me”. My first reaction was to wonder why he was with me in the first place. My next was a dissection of exactly what “confidence” means. As little girls we are conditioned to believe that confidence is expressed in catty competitions with other little girls. As confident women we are called conceited, bitchy, and shrewish. As a woman who has had to suck it up and be all of these things at one point in my life, I hate the word “confident”. I haven’t survived the worst parts of my life because I was confident. I don’t keep pushing forward, growing, learning because I’m confident. Strong, sometimes. Stubborn, undoubtedly. But confident? Where does it come into any of this?
I first had to ask myself this: What is confidence, and where does it become hubris? Am I confident for wearing a two-piece bathing suit with an extra forty pounds on me? Was I confident when I quit a stable job to chase a career in hopes it was the best move for my family? Was I confident when I stepped out on a stage and shared some of the most vulnerable moments in my life? Or was it stupid? When we talk about risk and the unknown, what’s the difference?
The answer was simply: The difference is knowing it might fail, accepting that, and not givingup so easily.
You see, confidence does not mean I’m not also scared shitless, that I don’t sometimes feel like I’m a mess just faking it well enough to get through the day, that I don’t have moments where I am an intricately and inexorably flawed human. Confidence is not the absence of weakness or doubt, but the willingness to meet it head on and give it a decent fight. It means knowing that sometimes I’m not going to be good enough, and that’s okay. It’s knowing I’m going to fail and trusting myself to heal from it and learn something from the experience. It’s continuing to give all of myself in good faith that I’m contributing something to the world, to my family, to just one person. It’s getting up and telling my story over and over again no matter how rote it may feel because it might help someone find their own strength.
So, back to the matter at hand. Am I confident? I honestly have no idea.
I don’t strive for confidence. That’s a superficial battle. What I strive for is courage, compassion, and a little adventure on this journey. The rest will come.
Go now, cultivate.
This past weekend was a hard lesson for me in healing. I let anxiety win, and it was……quite the spectacle. What happened behind the scenes was even worse. I convinced myself I was a fraud. I convinced myself I was worthless. I convinced myself there never had been hope for me. I looked back at the work I’ve done over the past two years and felt like I’d been lying to myself. Then I removed myself from the situation and remembered what it felt like standing on that stage by myself without anyone there to help me. The power I felt in telling a part of my story. The shift I felt inside me when I stopped fearing the unforeseeable and took hold of what’s mine. My life. That was not a lie. That could not have been false.
I’ve written a lot about healing and the way my life has changed since my experience with Good Girl. What I have not written about is the backsliding. What I haven’t written about is the doubt and the fear that the healing was some delusional fantasy that anything has changed. What I haven’t written about are the mistakes we make, because after decades of making the same ones over and over again, these are new, terrifying mistakes. It’s so easy to wonder if the change was worth it, because the demons we’re accustomed too are much easier to quell than new ones that might try to manifest in our lives. The answer is yes, it’s worth it. All of it, and the mistakes don’t unravel a single bit of it.
We’re told healing is hard. We’re told it’s a process. We’re told it’s painful. We’re never told how much maintenance it requires and how much of an adjustment it is to our daily lives. We have this idea that healing makes everything better, filling our lives with sunshine and rainbows and cute little kittens. What we don’t realize is that healing is NOT a panacea. It doesn’t make anything go away, it just gives us the resources to deal with it and to navigate new challenges that arise in a healthy manner. It doesn’t change learned behaviours. It doesn’t erase anxiety, depression, PTSD, or physical illness. It merely gives us better moves with which to fight and an understanding of how to fix what we break. Healing is not curing. Healing is taking something we once let run our lives into the ground and use it instead to fuel us to keep thriving.
The reality is that while healing is an internal process it requires external maintenance in ways we never experience when the stakes are low. My lesson wasn’t just painful for me; I hurt someone I love. It’s up to me to face that, do what I can to repair it, and do the internal work to ensure it doesn’t happen again. In the past it either wouldn’t have been healthy enough to matter or I would have just logged it with the other good things I let myself ruin. In the past few months it’s become more apparent where the healing could not help me because the problems I have are biological, so I’ve had to bite the bullet and admit there are things I can’t fix without medical help…then actually seek it. These things are no longer buried under me. They’re out in the open, they’re manageable, and they’re in the way of the life I want to live. Lastly, I have recognized things in my life that I was once passionate about but no longer serve that quick fix need in my life. There’s been a twinge of nostalgic panic as I begin to let those things go to focus on what’s really important in my life, but I’m decluttering and setting new goals.
You see, healing is a battle cry that screams “you no longer have power over me”. You won’t win the battle just because you’ve healed, but it will give you a fighting chance.
My husband has a new girlfriend. She’s young, she’s cute, she’s skinny, she’s bendy, and she has a pretty high pain threshold. She has the long hair he always tells me he wishes I could grow, and they click like kin. I’m happy he’s happy, but as I’ve mentioned before, poly will draw every insecurity, every self-doubt, every self conceived blight you have ever had, and I am not known for my high self-esteem. This is not the reason we have issues, honest. Really that’s because she lied to me, and I hold grudges, which is something else I’m working on. It’s something I’m constantly working on, but occasionally old habits rear their bitter heads.
Feelings of physical inadequacy can tear down any relationship if you let them, but this has the potential to be detrimental to a poly relationship. It would be easy for me to think this girl is Hubby’s trophy girl, but it’d be all my own internal baggage. He has not stopped looking at me or telling me he thinks I’m beautiful. Our intimacy has not waned or changed in any way.
I have no reason to let these fears creep back up inside me, but I admit I sometimes when new partners enter the equation. When Hubby met his first girlfriend, Emmy, I had just started to be sick with what would later be diagnosed as fibromyalgia. I was sick, I was weak, and it hurt just to be touched. For a very long time sex was out of the question. Emmy, on the other hand, was just starting to explore herself and was loving the new experiences Hubby was able to offer. Hubby never told me he was disappointed, but it was palpable every time he tried to touch me and my body just couldn’t take the pain. I felt like a failure as a wife and lover, and while I was happy he was taking this new step in our poly life I also felt a tinge of inadequacy. It was a very trying time in our marriage, and there were times I listened to the voice that told me he could only stand to stay with his invalid of a wife because he could still get his rocks off somewhere else. It was an extremely negative thought process that only lead to more negativity. I grew bitter, resentful, and depressed, and eventually I took it out on him.
The further decline and eventual improvement of my health forced a huge change in attitude and perspective. I decided that if my marriage was going to survive I needed to stop looking at it as a need for him to find something more desirable. Instead I learned to celebrate my strengths and experience and know that I am just as desirable to him as I always have been. He may have someone young and sexy to have fun with, but he still comes home to me with the same heated fervor. While there is the new shiny factor that comes with all NRE we have a passionate bond that only time and knowing each other’s ins and outs can bring. I still see the want and need in his eyes, and he lets me know all the time that he thinks I’m beautiful.
In my head I accepted his love and admiration long ago, but I try to keep this perspective in mind whenever the voices of doubt and insecurity, and sometimes a little envy, creep into my heart. All that comes from negativity is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If I act on the venomous emotions and thoughts I become ugly and undesirable, somebody no one wants to be around. This is when I lose him. This is when he seeks others not because of his own love and freedom but to be away from me. It’s not my physical baggage that pushes him away, it’s the mental and emotional. Luckily that’s something I can fix.
I feel thankful every day that I have someone who joins me in ogling men and women when we’re out, who is overjoyed when he feels he’s snagged a looker and never minds sharing, and who is proud of me when I manage a fine catch myself. Hubby lets me know constantly that I am his dream woman. Even on my worst days he reminds me that I’m beautiful, capable, sexy, and smart. I still catch his eyes watching me, and he is just as playful and romantic as the day we met. Through ups and downs, problems with other partners, and bad experiences, he has never let me feel ugly or worthless.
So, yes, my husband has a new girlfriend. She’s young, she’s cute, she’s skinny, she’s bendy, and she has a pretty high pain threshold. She has the long hair he always tells me he wishes I could grow, and they click like kin. I am happy he’s happy, and I am learning to forgive and let go of past indiscretions. I also hear she’s quite fond of me and my body, and I am determined not to let my tainted self-esteem close that door to me. After all, she’s young, she’s cute, she’s skinny, she’s bendy, and she has a pretty high pain tolerance.
So, in 2012 I wrote this, and wasn’t I cute. Go ahead. Read it. It’s still valuable information, but it merely skimmed the juvenile surface of a much more mature problem. Also, note my almost defiant optimism that what we now know as The Vanishing Act would not, in fact, be a disaster. Ok, so Hubby may have been right on that one, but now this is the evidence he needs every time he thinks a new relationship is a bad idea. I’m surprised there’s not a commemorative plaque on the wall to mark the day in history.
This started out as a post about the balance between having compassion for the growing pains my existing partners experience when a new partner is added without letting it completely destroy my NRE. Then it morphed, as I began to have more and more conversations about compersion, not only with my partners but with friends. Here’s the Quick Guide to Compersion. Or at least what I understand of it.
Compersion is unconditional. It can’t only exist when you’re being doted on just as much as the new partner. It can’t only exist if my NRE is exactly like it was with you. It can’t only exist if you’re in some other way occupied. It compersion isn’t there even when you’re having a hard time processing the new relationship you’re lying to everyone, including yourself.
Compersion doesn’t mean not questioning. If you have concerns you still have to voice them rationally. If you have disagreements you still have to work through them. You’re allowed to ask for compromise or whatever you need to process, but compersion requires you to handle it like two adults who love each other. Isn’t this what it’s all about? Aren’t you together because you love each other?
Compersion doesn’t invalidate growing pains. You can still have your process, you just can’t use it to be a shyte to everyone else. You’re more likely, in fact, to get the extra attention and compassion you need if you’re not. Compersion means understanding and putting the happiness of your partner in the forefront, but it does not mean sacrificing your own well-being. It’s your responsibility to address it before it becomes a big scary issue, a fight, or resentment, not your partner’s.
What this all boils down to is love, respect, compassion, and balance. In a relationship, shouldn’t those things exist already?
Go now. Demand your balance.
This year I got a rainbow tattoo. It has other things on it, but I decided on a rainbow to represent my pansexuality in a tattoo about freedom. I know, I know, there are debates about whether or not those of us who are bi, pansexual, and all other kinds of ridiculous queer nomenclature are allowed to use the rainbow, but I do. Why? I like rainbows, and I hate pink.
I give this disclaimer because I have been repeatedly told that I am not allowed to be in the queer club because of my lifestyle, which makes me cringe every time I have to defend myself in a community that preaches acceptance and diversity. I have had women walk out of dates when they find out I not only continue to sleep with men, but am married to one and not opposed to others. As a pansexual male who by appearance is very masculine and seemingly heterosexual until you get to know him, my husband gets it worse. Most people simply don’t believe bi men exist, and he has been lectured by gay men, lesbians, and even bi women. This has made both our dating lives a little more complicated than I feel they need to be despite it being the reason we chose polyamory in the first place.
When we first opened our marriage it was just for same-sex partners as a way of being able to express our sexuality honestly and completely. Let me start by saying that this was never a requirement. I am perfectly capable and happy having monogamous relationships no matter how my partner identifies. This was simply a way I had never considered or tried before. My husband’s first girlfriend, as I’ve mentioned before, was supposed to be part of a triad situation. However, after our first sexual experience she decided she was not actually bisexual, so I was no longer a part of the equation. This made a lot of our decisions hard, fast, and undefined. Had we opened as two heterosexual adults things may not have gotten such a rocky start…then again, it could have been much worse.
My entire life I’ve had to field the assumption that as a bi woman I should just be ok with the man I’m seeing watching every encounter with a female partner, like my sex life exists purely for his fantasies. Let me tell you right off the bat that I’m not a huge fan of threesomes or being a spectacle. I may be game for the occasional diversion in that direction, but not as standard protocol. I cannot count how many times ex-boyfriends told me “of course you can see girls! As long as I can watch!” This has been a common thread even now that we’re poly. Many times people seem shocked that I don’t sleep with Hubby’s girlfriend or that once I have a girlfriend of my own I don’t just lend her out to the rest of my household. Apparently, nobody’s personal taste or chemistry matters in this scenario as long as the plumbing fits. Hubby and I have shared partners, but that was because we loved the same person not because we wanted to share women.
I really enjoy the fact that I have the freedom to have my marriage and the freedom to put together the family I want to have, regardless of gender or sexuality. Not all of our partners are queer, and I have never viewed any of my same-sex relationships in a different light than any others. What really matters is how we interact and love one another and that there is respect and acceptance for everyone.
It really IS that simple.
I have stressed many times the idea of the group identity of a poly household. Today I’m going to flip that at focus on exactly the opposite. With so much focus on the family unit as a whole sometimes we can forget to focus on what should be our top priority: Ourselves. Recently I planned to go to a poetry reading that I attend monthly, and I mentioned it to my sister-in-law, who I thought would enjoy the event as a fellow writer. I have invited other people in the past, but I intended to go either alone as I usually do or on a date with a woman I’ve been pursuing for some time now. After the event, which I never even went to, it was brought to my attention that A felt left out. Hubby suggested I invite her next time. I had not intended to exclude her from the reading, it’s just something I generally attend on my own time as a personal interest.
This may sound selfish, but it’s a lesson that many have learned the hard way, especially care takers and parents. I must take care of myself before I worry about the others in my family, with my children coming a very close second. If I am sick, stressed, exhausted, or emotionally burnt out I cannot begin to give anyone proper attention or care. If I refuse to take any time for myself and my development it can breed resentment and negativity directed at those I love. Not every minute of my life needs to be spent on my children. Not every minute without my children needs to be spent with one of my partners. Not every waking moment of my life needs company. I need the time and space to continue my personal growth and development. I cannot allow the Google calendar to consume me. Otherwise I would become a useless partner, an absentee wife, and a jaded parent, as well as a stunted human being.
I really enjoy my alone time sometimes. In the case of the aforementioned poetry reading it’s something I really like to go to with no distractions or expectations. I can show up, read if I want, and feel no pressure to leave at a certain time nor stay until the end. Especially on weekdays when I am on my own for work, I have my routines and my regular activities that do not include anyone outside that particular “circle”. It’s not that I’m ashamed of them or my family, and I’d never intentionally separate the two, but I do enjoy having time just for me and my whimsy.
I feel the same way sometimes with activities as a couple. If there’s something Hubby and I enjoy doing together on a regular basis I don’t see any reason to always invite the whole family. It’s our routine, and I feel our relationship needs things once in a while to remind us of a very important thing. While it’s fine that our lives revolve around our family unit we cannot allow our entire lives to become the family unit. Just as the household needs maintenance and bonding time, so does each couple, and so do we as individuals. It doesn’t make us bad parents or spouses to not include everyone in everything we do.
Not taking this personal development time will lead to stagnation. Hubby fell in love with me, and I with him, because of our respective personalities. We took this journey together, and decided to add to it others whose character and interests complimented ours. We did not set out in search of clones. Nor do we expect anyone in our family to give up any hobbies or interests that we don’t all share. What brought us together is who we are as individuals and what we bring to the table to share and teach. We are a unique blend, but if all the components look the same we will never reach our full potential as a family let alone as people. If we do not take the time and opportunity to nurture ourselves we become fallow and colourless.
It is not the point of life to be absorbed by a family, to have our free spirits grounded, or to have our hungry minds starved. A household should support each other’s personal endeavors and encourage growth, whether or not why share the interest or understand the motives behind it. I do not exist solely in the hearts and minds of my partners. I also live within my own heart and soul, and I cannot be true to myself nor my family if all those components are not happy and healthy. I cannot give my whole self and my whole heart to something that doesn’t see who I am and love me for it, and I cannot put energy into something that puts none into me. The whole should enrich the one as the one enriches the whole, otherwise both will shrivel up and die.
There’s a picture we have of healing as this serene moment of white light and wholeness of body and soul. It’s completely benign, and the one being healed walks away and life is great. It’s beautiful. It’s painless. It’s….it’s bullshit.
Let me take a step back.
In February I attended a healing ritual. We moved and danced and raised energy to communicate with the spirits we’d called into the circle, and it was the strongest energy I’ve ever felt from a healing ritual. At each altar I was keenly aware of the changes in my movement and what parts of the healing I’d achieved over the last year. Messages flooded through me. Then I got to the center, and my insides shifted. I began to laugh.
When I started rehearsing parts of Good Girl my nervous coping mechanisms not only intensified exponentially, but they laughed in my face. Quite literally. When I’m nervous or anxious I smile. I laugh, I make jokes. I entertain. One of the hardest parts of this process for me was learning to stop entertaining when I’m unhappy with a situation.
So here I am, in the middle of a healing ritual, with people around me having their intensely poignant experience, and I’m laughing. I’m belly laughing. I’m cackling, I’m laughing so hard I’m crying. It’s the first genuine laugh that’s passed through my lips without some other prompting in decades, and this is the moment I feel healed. This is the moment I feel the entire community around me giving and taking and healing each other.
Then the spirits talk through one of the priestesses running the ritual. She laughs, and suddenly I am no longer laughing. I’m at once eager and terrified of what’s about to come out of her mouth, because it’s exactly what I’ve felt written on my soul since December.
Healing, complete healing, is something you have to be ready for. It’s not some idyllic scene with rainbows and crystals. Healing hurts, and it’s relative to how deep the wound runs within you that needs to be healed. It tears at you, ripping away the parts of you that are broken, and you feel every cell of it leave you. But that’s not all. Healing isn’t a finite event. It’s a catalyst for the rest of your life, changing every single part of it, and once you’ve become your whole and unhindered self? This is the hardest part of healing to deal with. Once you are whole and unhindered you have no more excuses. You must live up to your potential. You must do what needs to be done to keep moving forward. You must pull yourself together and be a force in this world.
You have no more excuses, and that’s terrifying.
But this is why we heal as community. This is why we tell our stories. This is why we are a web of life and light, because otherwise we would not survive what it is to heal. Otherwise we would be glowing orbs of heavenly light and we would walk back into our lives just as broken as we were before.
Go now, heal each other.
I’ve written a few times now about coming out as poly, but then what? Once we’ve made this disclosure and asserted who we are, whether as a single person exploring or as a couple, how do we proceed in dealing with non-poly family and friends? Do we let it simply fade into obscurity as an abstract fact or do we keep trying to educate and exemplify the life we’ve chosen to live?
The way we’ve dealt with each of our families has been pretty much the same despite the different situations we face. My family lives 3,000 miles away, so it’s easier for them to be newly surprised every time I mention A or someone new I’m seeing. It’s not a conversation I wish to get involved in every time I visit, so I really have just started mentioning our partners as I would anyone else in our lives. Sometimes they ask who I’m talking about, and that’s when we usually have a discussion about my poly life.
We have done very similar things with Hubby’s family with the additional feature of familiarization. Mouse is an employee for Hubby’s mom. She lives with us. Even so, we’ve experienced more resistance from Mom than from my family. In most cases she has accepted this part of who we are and done what she can with it. She’s always been polite, but there is a part of her that still can’t fully grasp that we are happy this way, mostly that I could be happy this way.
A while back we had a family anniversary dinner. When I asked Mom if she was inviting Mouse she told me no, stating it was just for family and she didn’t want to have to explain it to Hubby’s grandfather, who we’ve since come out to. It wasn’t my place to push, so I let it go and let Hubby take it from there, but it felt to me like an excuse. Pop pop had definitely seen Hubby and Mouse interact. She came to our house often at the time and had spent many special occasions with our family.
When confronted about it she reiterated what I’ve heard her say before, that she is only concerned about her daughter-in-law. It’s not like I don’t talk to Mom about the men in my life, she’s even met a couple of them, but as a woman who has been hurt by men in the past she finds it hard to understand why I would consent willingly to live this way. She wonders if I just accept it as a condition of my marriage to Hubby, and if I left him over it she would not blame me one bit. It’s a sentiment I’ve heard from many people when they find out I’m poly, but it’s very quickly detrimental in a family.
We’ve all talked about it, but we don’t ever make a big deal about it. We simply keep doing what we’re doing. We don’t need her approval. We only require her respect when it comes to out chosen family, and she has gone above and beyond in that regard. For a while she tried to hide it from the men she dated, but eventually it came out as he and Hubby became close and began to spend time together outside of her presence. Again, he may not completely understand it, but he has accepted it as fact, and we don’t dwell on it.
My family has been able to accept this as a very abstract idea. My dad was, until recently, the only one who had experienced it first-hand. He is also the only one who asks questions when they arise. I don’t know where his opinions or concerns lie, but I know if they get strong enough he will tell me. So far he has listened, but I have a feeling his concerns are the same as Mom’s. It may be easier for him to believe that I’m happy merely because he has only talked about it with me, whereas she heard it from Hubby first and foremost. He’s also known me all my life and knows I wouldn’t live a certain way just to please a man. I’d do it for me, for both of us, or not at all.
In my opinion, the only way we are going to help them grasp this is to keep living it and to keep representing ourselves as a solid couple and a solid family. The happier and healthier we look the more they will see that this is not something we rushed into and not something we do to fill voids in our lives. We do this because it’s who we are, and in order to gain that acceptance from our families we need to be open with them about all of who we are. I can’t tell my father I’m poly and not that I’m pansexual, because that means hiding my girlfriends. The same goes for Hubby. So far none of that has come up in the questions, but I know it’s only a matter of time, and when it does we will address it as we have everything else to this point. Openly. Honestly. With love.
A priest, as a type of minister, is generally called upon in life to do just that, minister to a congregation. Advice, rites, and in some cultures social services when needed. Leadership is not something that happens naturally, and some of us are called in a variety of ways to lead in our spiritual community. Some of us become teachers, some become counselors, and some become ministers. This is just as true in the pagan community as in any other spiritual community, but in many cases Priest or Priestess is seen merely as a level of practice and nothing more.
It’s been a long time since I’ve considered joining a new community, but I’ve mentioned before my dedicatino this year to my practice and my spirit, and this was a hang up I’ve actively begun to try and move past. Last week the family attended Pantheacon, a pagan spiritual event at which I knew I’d encounter some of the founders of my last community, and they were leading one of my favourite rituals. There was no way I could miss it, so before we even walked ito the hotel I had prepared myself for whatever energy would be between us when I eventually ran into them.
You see, the issues I had in my last coven were never with them, and whether or not they knew the extent of the problems I was having I will never know. For all I know they were told we merely left. I never fought the decision. It just wasn’t in me at the time. With an entire assembly of covens to oversee, people fall through the cracks. I get it. The main issues I had were with my direct High Priest and Priestess, both so immersed in their own lives and the dramatic shifts therein that their focus was drastically affected and their own biased opinions ruled their judgment of us.
We were young, and there were things happening in our lives, our marriage, and our souls that neither of us was equipped or experienced enough to deal with. We both reached out numerous times only to be told we were wrong. The beginning of the end came when I went to my Priestess for solid advice and was told to divorce my husband because there was no hope for us. When I told her it deserved a chance, and I was willing to fight for my marriage, things began to change. Siultanously I was experienceing the onset of what would later be diagnosed as fibromyalgia and some serious adrenaline disorders, ad as we tried to navigate those new and frightening places, facing eviction because of them, and feeling powerless, all we were told was that we’d better make things better immediately or be ejected from the only family we had. So we tried to fix it ourselves, and failed…repeatedly.
Now that I’m older I see where I could have asked for help in other ways, gone to other leaders, tried to do something, but at the time I was more and more lost every time I reached out and was told I was “dark”, “bad”, or “not dedicated enough”. I was chastised for not having a license, for not being peppy and sociable before rituals, and for not being able to commit to roles in meetings because my work schedule was ever changing. Sometimes just getting to them took a lot of sacrifice and paying people money we didn’t have to take shifts from me.
I never expected things to be fixed for me, but this is where I feel my leadership failed me. Not once did anyone ask me what was going on in my life. As I felt I mattered less and less to them I became more and more afraid of losing my community, and I panicked.
Last weekend, after an empowering ritual and a lot of soul searching, I got over that panic.
I greeted my old friends, we shared a hug, and I very calmly asked if after the weekend was over we might have a talk. They agreed, and I don’t know when that talk will happen or what it will look like, but I feel like I’ve already made some progress. I miss my family there, and while I may never be a part of that commuity again, I don’t want to feel cast out anymore, because I didn’t deserve it to begin with. I deserved the leadership I’d been told would be there when I joined the coven, when I put my faith and spirit in their care and trusted them with all the vulnerability that comes with change and growth.
This is what leaders minister to their community. Safety, security, and understanding even when we falter. When we were accepted we opened ourselves knowing it would be an awakening, a painful yet beautiful awakening, and it was, but babies wake up crying for a reason. It can be a scary thing to be born anew, and we rely on our leadership to be there to guide us. Otherwise, we would read a book and do the work on our own.
Our community faces enough judgment, bias, and castignation. We shouldn’t have to worry about it coming from within, from the exact people called to lead us. Think about this before you consider a position in coven leadership. Is it responsibility you can handle?