I. I wrote most of what I want to kick this week off in my newsletter, which you can find here, but there’s some less “newsy” stuff I want to explore, so I’m here today as well because a witch has things to purge and what is a blog but a personal vomitorium?
I kid, but not really. Anyway, let me explain that rather – um – alarming title. I promise it ends well.
II. I was in conversation last night with some shadow-dancers, and in response to something we were exploring (how difficult it is to stand for what we know is true for fear of abandonment), I had a vision. It ain’t pretty, so brace yourself.
I saw all of us trauma survivours (of whatever – you know who you are) as women on the birthing table, in transition. I saw us exhausted, in pain, at the end of our collective ropes. I saw us fully dilated, with our bodies absolutely on fire with the need to push, and I saw us clenching up for fear wondering what would happen if we shit on the table. This thought, this fear of laying a fresh turd right there for all present to see is so powerful that we *do not dare to push*. So we white-knuckle it. We hold it all in however painful it is to do so.
Gross, I know, but stay with me.
III. Along with this vision came this understanding:
If we don’t push, we’ll delay the inevitable, and it will hurt for a lot longer, and while shit is not a pleasant thing to have to deal with, the baby that *needs us to push* in order to come into the light doesn’t care one iota about the fact that we are going to shit on the table, and neither should anyone else who is present in the room, and if those who are present in the room *do* care about the fact that some shit arrived along with a *whole ass human being* we just pushed out of our cootchie, well, those humans do *not belong in the room*.
See what I’m saying?
IV. It was one hell of a vision, and while this whole “If you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best” thing is not a new revelation for me, it was powerful to have this new (if rather visceral) way to think about it.
V. I was reminded of the experience of having all of my upper teeth extracted.
After growing and feeding babies in and from my body while I was living in poverty, my teeth were too far gone to save, so they had to come out. And I was terrified because like many of us who have a history of child sexual abuse, I do not enjoy the sense of powerlessness that comes over me when someone hovers (looms!) over my prostrate body and does stuff to me that hurts.
I had asked my partner to stay with me throughout the process, which my partner promised to do with the dentist’s approval, but he couldn’t handle it. He said “Your face is getting all wrinkly and it’s freaking me out.” and he *left me there*. I was high on nitrous oxide, terrified, and totally helpless, and *he left me there*.
Same thing happened when I went to emergency with an irregular heartbeat and the doc was afraid I was going to throw a clot.
He left me there, all hooked up to a heart monitor, watching it like a hawk while I waiting for a head CT, afraid I was going to stroke out.
VI. It should come as no surprise that these examples of being abandoned when the shit hits the fan are only the tip of the “abandoned when the shit hits the fan” iceberg.
When my first husband died of pneumonia and my grief over it elicited eye-rolls and exasperated sighs. When the kids in our household were all going through some form of crisis AT THE SAME TIME and he checked out completely, smoked pot and played WoW and left us all to our own devices. When my kid got hospitalized for psychosis and I was left to fend for us both while he holidayed in India.
I know *now* that that fucking guy did not belong in the room. But in those moments, I thought it was *my fault* that he didn’t want to be in the room, because, look. I couldn’t even get the flu as a kid without being treated like I was an inconvenience, so of COURSE it was my fault that he didn’t want to be in the room, right?
VII. I know better now, because, me? If I love you?
I want to be in the room.
I want to hold your hand when the dentist is ripping your teeth out by the roots. I want to help you breathe through the worst while you shit on the table. I want to hold you while you grieve. I want to *show up*. I want to *be there*.
Hell, I want all of that even if I barely *like* you.
So, yanno. It follows that anyone that wants to be in my life has to be able to say the same or they don’t deserve me.
And that’s a thing I know now.
Hallelujah. I’ll take it.
On To Lighter Fare
VIII. When I say “lighter”, I mean “less heavy”. I am lighter. The content I am pursuing and engaging is lighter. The things I’m painting are lighter. The way I play is lighter. While all of *waves at the above* is super heavy, I am following heavier fare with lighter fare as way to practice self-loyalty. I am doing therapy and then engaging in something whimsical so my nervous system has a chance to regulate itself. I’m taking a course on shadow work, and following up with an episode of The Great Pottery Throw Down or Portrait Artist Of The year (instead of the latest serial killer documentary). I’m digging in my own dirt, yes, but I also turn on the tunes and dance it out until I’m a glowing, sweaty bundle of endorphins, and then? I sluice off in a hot shower.
It’s such a relief because I got stuck there for a good long while with nothing but the heavier fare. Too much true crime (what is up with my fascination with serial killers, y’all). All the sad songs. My regrettable past playing on loop in my head. All The Trauma Work, none of the fun, and what passed for fun was really just anesthetic.
There wasn’t much room in my life for the things that give me life.
IX. I wrote a bit about that for this week’s Journal52, which I sent out to my beloveds via my newsletter + uploaded to The Wilderhood, but I thought I’d share it here as well.
GRAB THE FILE ON DROPBOX
It has been an absolute joy to see how people respond to these (brand new for 2022) editions of Journal52.
Lighter Fare. Mmmmm hmmmm.
I’ll take it.
X. As mentioned in my newsletter, I am 73 days alcohol-free. The search for lighter fare has been integral to this journey, because once you stop numbing everything out, everything arises to be felt and dealt with, and that, my loves, is heavy stuff. But, I’m up to it.
See? This is me. Clear-eyed. Self-possessed. Dancing in all of my own rooms without fear. Pushing as needed, shit be damned. This baby is worth it.
*I know I’m aging myself here – we give birth in beds now, but I had the delightful experience of having to hop up on a *table* in the delivery room once, and I’ll never forget it. Boy am I ever glad that’s a thing that’s changed.
This is x-posted from my newsletter.
If you’ve known me for any length of time at all, you know that my primary purpose, the #1 thing that drives me is self-possession. Whatever I’m doing, that’s the goal. I want to be my own authority. I want to know myself so intimately that everything I do is in alignment with my values.
Well, I lost myself there for a couple of years. A love affair and subsequent breakup, my son’s mental illness, which moved me to upend my life and move in with him only to turn around and upend my life and move out again six months later (we’re good now, though – we love GG! We just don’t love the illness that, without medication, makes him a bit of a bear to deal with, eh?), relocating to a new city in the middle of this damned panini, bone crushing loneliness, layer after layer of grief, intense trauma work in therapy….
…it should come as no surprise that wine o’clock started coming earlier and earlier in the day. I *know* I’m not alone.
Needless to say, I have been anything but “self-possessed”.
Twelve days ago at the stroke of midnight, I quietly and determinedly dumped all the alcohol in my home and rolled myself up in the blanket fort with the furbabes to have a nice long cry over my loss of control over my rate of consumption of alcohol. When I woke up the next morning, I signed up for an alcohol free challenge (gamefying things works for me), got my butt into a sober support group, and installed a sobriety tracker on my phone. I connected with a couple of people in my support group so we could “buddy up” and I’ve been alcohol free since.
Best. Decision. Ever.
This was me on Day Eight. LOOK AT MY EYES! Seriously.
The first three days were gnarly, let me tell you. Insomnia, tremors, difficulty regulating my temperature. My skin felt like it was going to crawl right off of my body. I was dizzy and wobbly and whoa. Slowly but surely, though, things improved. I started to sleep better. I woke up *without* anxiety and depression. My *vision* improved (did not know that was a thing, but it is a thing!). The tremors stopped. My digestion improved. My appetite came roaring back with voracious cravings for avocados and pan roasted tomatoes and sautéed greens and allllll the cheeeeeeese and olives and hummus and CUCUMBERS omg CUCUMBERS.
I stopped ordering in food because the crap I’d been eating wasn’t what my body wanted. I dusted off my chef’s knife and started cooking again. The dogs, who had been picking up on my frenetic alcohol fueled anxiety and acting out calmed right down and returned to their usual sweet, chilled out selves.
Seriously – I have never been able to get a decent picture of Salem unless she was sleeping because she *could not stay still*.
Look at this. LOOK!
Soooooo Mellllloooooow! *Happy Sigh*
Why am I telling you this?
I guess I want to you to know. I want you to know that while I’ve been plodding along over here through *waves at all of this*, life got to me. All the tools I had in my tool box – art journaling, spiritual practice, self-inquiry, therapy – lost their power in my life because I was soaking my brainmeats in cheap boxed chardonnay – and if that can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. If you’re in your own struggle with whatever, I want you to know that you *can claw yourself back from it*, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Help is out there and recovery is possible. A quick Google search will yield results – some free, some not free.
Here are the resources I’m leaning on:
One Year No Beer Alcohol Free Challenge – Daily videos and emails, gorgeous support group. Varying timed challenges (28 days, 90 days, 265 days – I signed up for the year because I am dead serious).
Alcohol Explained by William Porter – This was life changing for me because it perfectly explained what alcohol was doing to my brain and why it was so easy to fall prey to it, and so hard to let it go. Available on Kindle, too!
I Am Sober – an app that tracks money saved, calories saved (I didn’t care about this, but some might), hours saved (because you’re not really focused and functional when you’re low key buzzed all day). It prompts you to make a daily pledge and then do a nightly review. Very supportive. Available on both Android and IOS.
For those who prefer a more traditional route (AA), check out In The Rooms for 24/7 meetings and support. AA is not for me for reasons I won’t go into here, but it works for a lot of humans, so if it resonates, dooooo eeeeeet!
Okay, that’s enough of that.
My focus from here on out will be all of things that move me in the direction of my prayers – the art as magics, the self-inquiry, the vigilance against anything that knocks me off course, connection with other humans, pottery (which keeps me grounded), ritual and structure and good habits (like walking the dogs and that vitamin packed smoothie every morning and fizzy water with lemon and checking in with my alcohol free buddies). I may occasionally mention where I’m at on this journey, but one of the things I’ve learned over the last 11 days is that focusing on what I *do* want (to be clear-eyed and minded and energized and ALIVE IN THE WORLD) rather than on what I *don’t* want is the way through this thing.
In other words, this will not become a “sobriety newsletter”. I have a million other things to write about and focus on.
LIKE ALL OF THESE GOODIES!
First of all, I’ve got a special weekend workshop upcoming in which I will be decorating a new Sweet Trash Journal for use in 2022. This retreat will include a bunch of demos of how I use the journal! It’s being offered as a special price until December 13th! Get the details here:
Ten hours of live video instruction + replays + forever access for $27 until December 13th, at which point the price will go up to $45! I hope to see you in there.
ONE BAD ASS ART JOURNAL is now open for registration. EARLY BIRD PRICING IS $69. I’m really excited about this year since I wasn’t feeling very bad ass through 2021, but I’m definitely going into 2022 with my BAD ASS FULL PRESENT. Here are the details.
We have a full moon + info session on December 18th (Full Moon Actual) at 1 p.m. EST. Here is the link This gathering will include an hour long info session right off the top, and then we will move into a Full Moon Painting Party. Everyone who attends will get a coupon code for Moonshine 2022 AND a chance to win a spot.
There will be a replay offered to all attendees. If you can’t attend, but you want a replay, please hit reply to this email and I’ll send you one.
We have a Solstice Releasingi Ceremony on December 22nd, 2021 at 1 p.m. EST. Here is the link. This gathering is open to the public, so feel free to tell your friends!
Book Of Days 2022 is filling up with beautiful faces and I hope you’ll join me for a gorgeous year of creativity presented to you by me and my deep diving, soul stirring, amazing guest artists!
Class is on sale for $99 (no coupon required) until December 31st at which point it will go up to $120 (still a fraction of what it’s worth!)
Sending you all my love,