Rewriting the Story

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Yesterday as I was doing my normal trek through friends postings on Facebook,  I came across a posting that literally left me breathless.  Why this thought had never occurred to me, left me dumbfounded.  The passage below was written by Jeff Leavell.  He is a writer in Los Angeles, CA and you can find his blog at Jeffleavell.com

I was talking to a friend today. Telling him about some things that are going on in my life. He told me a story and then gave me some advice: “When I was 43 I was sleeping in my car, high on meth, kicked out of Slammer and Melrose Spa for being that fucked up. I was nobody. But I had this idea: all this, it’s just a story I’m telling myself. About being a meth addict, about being homeless, about having AIDS. It’s just a story. And I can decide to change that story. The next day I went to AA. I stayed homeless for a while, but I went to the doctor and within a few months my HIV was undetectable. About a month after that I got a job at a grocery store. I got an apartment. And then, at 44 I had to figure out what I wanted to be. The grocery store, the tiny studio, the beat up car about to die, were just stories I was telling myself: even though I had changed my whole life I was still telling the story of failure: I was a failure.

So I stopped. And I told myself: you’ve succeeded. You are an amazing success. And if you can do this you can do anything. I’d always wanted to be a writer. So I started writing again. Something I hadn’t done in years. And I wrote a lot of really bad shit. And I went to meetings. And the story I told myself was I was a writer. Seven years later I sold my first book. Three years after that I sold my first script. I bought a house. I got a dog. Two years after that I started dating a guy too young for me: but it was okay. I was happy. I wrote another script and then another and then I won some awards. That guy I had been dating, he moved in with me. We were in love. And then I found out he was cheating. And the story I told myself was about betrayal. And lies. And how I can’t trust anyone. We fought for months.

And then one day I thought: I can tell myself a different story, where he’s a just a human being and I’m just a human being and we have been so in love for so long, that maybe we could still be in love. We still struggled, he didn’t buy into my idea of just changing the story line: he needed to work things through, go to couples therapy: but that was okay. That fell into my story: it just showed how in love we were. We got better. We sold my house and bought a house together high up in hills. The kind of house where you could see the ocean on a clear day.

And then he got cancer and my story changed. And I showed up and took care of him. And I was lying next to him, fully aware, holding his hand, the day he died. And my story became sorrow and loss and fear. Until one morning I decided I am going for a hike. And I took our two dogs and I went for a hike and I talked to my dead lover and told him I am ready to change the story.

You, you need to change the story you are telling yourself. That is all. Just change it. It won’t cure you of HIV, it won’t make you instantly rich, it won’t solve all your problems: but it will suddenly make clear things that weren’t even visible the day before. It will change how you relate to the world: and the world will change how it relates to you.”

This reminded me of something that I remember hearing when I was a part of the Assemblies of God church.  My pastor at the time was a very kind and gentle man.  I would have to say that he was probably teaching me spellwork long before I had ventured into the Craft.  He was one, that when you were feeling depressed, didn’t want to hear you talk about how despondent you were…or to hear you say, “I will be ok.”  He was one that coaxed you into professing what you wanted to feel like.  He didn’t like to hear people talk about how much of a failure they were, he wanted them to look toward what they wanted to see themselves as.

This wasn’t a ‘Name it and Claim it’ gospel for him.  He wanted us to be able to look past circumstances and feelings and mentally put ourselves in a place that would offer hope.  He never chastised us for having the feelings or being in the circumstances, but he always offered the hope and motivation for moving beyond those things that kept us bound up.

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Just after Christmas, I began entertaining an old friend…a friend that I hate and thought that I had left behind 20 or more years ago.  This is the friend that always told me that I could never be good enough, that I would always fail, that life just wasn’t worth living.  As I would go to sleep at night, I would hear him whisper in my ear that even though my partner would hurt at first, that soon I would be forgotten…only a wisp of a memory.  This friend was the master of secrets.  I remember feeling that secrets were all I had left.  As long as no one knew that I was having suicidal thoughts, then they wouldn’t have to blame themselves when something did happen.

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This time around, I decided to talk…no more secrets.  I called on my closest friends and told them what was going on…what I was feeling.  I forced myself to do things that I felt too ‘tired’to do.  This time would be different.  This time I was older, had more fight, more resolve.   This time the reflection in the mirror couldn’t just be cracked, it had to be shattered.

And then, last week happened.  On Monday, I was taken to the hospital from work in an ambulance due to what was later discovered to be a mini stroke.  I remember the fear that overtook me as I laid in the floor with coworkers looking down over me.  They would ask my name and I could hear the halted slurred speech as it came out.  I could feel the weakness in my left side as the EMT asked me to squeeze his fingers.  Then later that week, the overwhelming tiredness and weakness of just getting in and out of the shower.

This one time in my life I decided to do exactly as the doctor ordered.  I took the time off work.  I rested….a lot.  I hydrated…I nourished my body.  I did crafts to keep my mind and motor skills as sharp as I could.  I had my follow up visits and am working with a TIA clinic to put myself at the lowest possible risk of this happening again.

I have been rewriting my story this week too.  There are some characters that may need to take their final bows.  There are some characters that may need to have their parts fleshed out more.  The main character in this book is me…and I determine what the next sentence is…what the next chapter is…how it ends…when it ends.

But I have to strip away all the old thoughts, ideas, and the way I thought it should all play out first.

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Blessed Be!

Sometimes the Most Powerful Place to Be is Inside the Darkness

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The photo above was taken by my roommate a couple of weeks ago just prior to a pretty major storm.  When he sent the photo to me, he commented about how powerful the energy felt in the midst of the lightness and darkness of the clouds.  As I looked through the photos on my phone tonight….I kept going back to this one.  It reminded me that the strongest, most powerful areas of our life are where lightness and darkness intermingle.

When I look back at some of the most profound moments….the deepest changes….the most powerful magick in my life, it is always….and I dare emphasize always when light and dark butt heads.  When I think of this, one of the darkest times in my life comes to mind.  I was just out of high school.  I had left home and family hoping to find myself among the bright lights of New York City.  I had been there for eight months, sharing an apartment with six others actors, waiting tables on the side…sharing crumbs with the roaches.  I was struggling with my sexuality at the time….after all, nobody in television or on stage was gay….ok, right.  It was 1984.  I had done some commercials, voice-overs, even some theater.  I was actually doing pretty well for just starting out.  I can remember sitting on the fire escape one night….trying to get a glimpse at some of the stars that it seemed I had left back in North Carolina.  I watched as the lights of the city flashed around me.  I looked down and watched the sparkle in the streets.  I yelled out, “I am gay!!”  I did it a couple of times.  Finally, a voice shouted back to me, “Good for you! Now shut up and go to bed!”  My being gay was such a heart wrenching ordeal for me….but in that moment, someone who really didn’t care…let me know that it really didn’t matter all that much to the world around me….why should I let it bury me in self-loathing.New_York_City_at_night_HDR_edit1

Another instance when light and dark met for me was just as I was finishing up my college for the ministry.  I had become so intwined in the problems of others….learning to hide myself again…that I fell into a deep depression.  I went to bed and slept…..for weeks.  I remember my mother coming into my room and saying to me, “Where is my David?  I am used to him being my rock….my strong place.  I don’t know what to do with this one.  My insides hurt when I look at him.”  I crawled back into myself and listened to my spirit cry.  “Why was I who I was?  Why couldn’t life be easier?”  I had been on antidepressants, sleeping pills….whatever could be prescribed to numb my heart.  I had pulled myself out of bed to go to church one Sunday morning in July.  It had been raining for a week and I had to go over a bridge to get to the main road.  As I have mentioned before in here, the water came behind my front tires as I tried to back up.  I was swept out into the flood.  I watched my car sink as I struggled.  It would have been so easy to give up, but something rose up inside of me as I saw the sun between the trees.  I fought with everything I had and hung in a grove of trees until someone heard my screams and a rescue boat was sent out.

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Probably the darkest time I have endured is the death of my partner.  We had loved each other wholly and completely for three years.  When I close my eyes still today, I can remember everything about him.  He was 6’4, an ex-marine, bright blue eyes, brown hair, muscles in all the right places.  His heart was as good as any man’s heart could be.  I knew he was HIV positive when I asked him out for the first time….I never dreamed he would say yes…he himself was a dream.  He did say yes and we spent three short years in bliss.  Nothing was ever too much to handle as long as we were together….he ingrained this mantra into my mind and my heart.  But then, that day came when we weren’t together….when the ambulance took him away.  That day was so dark….watching him on that ventilator day in and day out….finally watching him slip into the summerlands.  This was a time when I realized just how strong I am.  I came to understand how strong loving him had made me.

It is in these darkest times of my life that I learned how to fight.  I understand that as witches, sometimes it can be easier to roll over and just say, ‘Goddess has got this.’  Yes, she may have the situation well in hand, but she also teaches us where our strengths lie and how we are best suited to battle.  I can see in each situation, how I was shown how to get my armor and weapons ready.  Each trial teaches us how to more effectively wield our sword.

I have to admit, it is far to easy to whine about all the little things around us. Trust me, this week I have done my fair share of bitching….about air conditioning not working, people being bitchy.  It is in those times that I need to reach into those recesses and pull on the power that Goddess has placed inside of me. 

If you think about it, we are becoming more like tempered steel every day.  The heat that we endure with each circumstance we face….the strikes that every day life lands against us only sharpens and purifies us.  We are more powerful when we strike because of the processes we go through.

No, I haven’t endured what you have.  You haven’t been through the things I have.  I am not trying to one-up anyone.  All I am suggesting is that we each utilize those things in our lives that should knock us down for the count….show what we are actually made of and bounce back like the biggest mother-fucking ball you have ever seen. 

I have mentioned to you before…a circle of strong witches that I have come to know as family.  That circle grows more and more daily.  I am fortunate….I have a strong circle of witches (male and female) that surround me.  They call me on the carpet when it needs to be done.  I do the same with them.  I love them….I cherish them…..they stir up the fight in me daily.

When you find yourself surrounded in darkness….all you have to do is keep walking forward.  Eventually you are going to see the sun shining through…and I bet you find yourself even more battle-ready than you thought you could be.

Blessed Be!

Survival Magick

How many times have you felt like the witch that was caught in the cyclone in the Wizard of Oz?  There you are, minding your own business and here comes a big old gust of wind and knocks you off of your broom and out of your ruby slippers.  Next thing you know, you are trying to pick the dirt out of your teeth and scraping squashed munchkin off of your robes.

Too many times we have been overwhelmed by things that should shake us a bit at most.  We find that something that started as a good swift breeze suddenly has us hoisted up by our britches, spinning out of control, preparing for a crash landing.  I found myself in such situations this week.

I am pretty much a happy-go-lucky type of fellow by nature.  I try not to let things get to me.  I have always lived by the philosophy that if it can’t kill me or eat me, then I really shouldn’t worry about it too much.  I just never thought that life was worth too much stressing…..until this past year hit.  It seems that every stressful thing that could raise its ugly head, has tried some sort of attack on me.  When it wasn’t car stress, it was plumbing stress, or pet stress, or relationship stress.  I also realized this year that stress takes a toll on the body too.

This week, I was sitting quietly at my desk.  I began to feel something that I haven’t felt in a long long time.  Actually, it had been so long since I was visited by this dangerous adversary that I almost let my guard down.  You see, years ago, I struggled with major depression.  I am not talking about the “ho hum, gloom and doom” type of depression; I am talking about the “don’t get out of bed, don’t eat, try to figure out the easiest way to commit suicide” kind of depression.  During that bout of depression, I became someone that even those closest to me didn’t recognize.  I became so cocooned inside of myself that I didn’t see or care about the world going on around me.  I couldn’t muster the energy for protective spells.  I didn’t care what stone I needed to carry with me.  My heart wasn’t inside me anymore.

I had many people rallying around me at that time.  Most of those people understood nothing of what I was dealing with, but they were there.  They made themselves available.  I tried therapy, medication…..nothing seemed to work for me.  I just knew that this was my new normal and it spiraled me deeper into depression. 

In the middle of this dark, dismal time, one thing just kept circling my brain.  The phrase, “the power of words” kept visiting and revisiting my exhausted brain.  I knew that words had power, but I had no desire to tap into it. 

Back to this week…..I am sitting at my desk and I feel that isolation and deep dark pain begin to creep in.  It didn’t help that I had had a huge argument with my partner.  It also didn’t help that parts of work were burying me.  It helped least of all that my blood pressure has been spiraling upward and that upward spiral was creating panic attack after panic attack.  I heard words start to form in my mind…..”It would just be easier if I died in my sleep.”

When I heard those words in my brain, my heart took over.  It has gotten quite a bit stronger than those many years ago.  So has the spirit inside of me.  I could feel everything rise up and say, “What the hell are you thinking?!?!”  I began to pull on every ounce of ancient Magick that was inside of me.  I made myself create protection shields around every inch of me.  I did a stone grid.  I pulled my wand to me.  I called to God and Goddess asking them to renew the very essence that I knew was in me…..to breathe that “pneumos” or spirit back into me.  I laid there with my wand, “Raven Light and Dark” close to my heart and I could feel a force field building around me.  I could feel the strength of other witches. 

We have to rely on the circle goddess has place around us.  I know, for a fact that, even though the ladies and gentlemen that are a part of my circle did not know the situation, they began pouring their energy deep into my spirit.  Sometimes all it took was one of them sending something to make me laugh or just a simple, “I love you.” 

I am at a point in my Magickal walk that my Magick is “peaking.”  I can feel it getting stronger on a daily basis.  This is a time that I have to cling dearly to the Horned one and to My Dear Lady.  I have too much coming to be squashed by a wayward house or to be uprooted by a stiff breeze.  I am a sorcerer, a witch—-armoured with the ways of the ancients.  I am stronger now than I have ever been and I am ready for battle!