Ho-hum

February 22, 2015

Moderate depression is irritating. I’m on day 3 of a jag. Friday I woke up and couldn’t get out of bed. I wasn’t totally incapacitated and screaming and moaning and writhing like I get when I’m severely depressed, but it still took me two hours to get up. Then I kept dissociating all day. Ran some errands and I didn’t even know where I was. Watched six hours of movies. Saturday watched the snow come down. Today woke three hours early and every minute I’m just on the verge of tears but I don’t cry. I don’t know what the point of my life is but I can’t be bothered to think about suicide. I bake some Toll House brownies even though I already have some just so I can binge on the dough. I play with the kitty and dissociate and come back and dissociate again. I’m tired but jittery. Depressed but anxious. And irritated as hell.

Light depression is just a touch of the blues, almost wistful. Severe depression is absolutely crippling. But this moderate crap is being right on the knife’s edge and just standing there, wavering. Stuck.

I’ve been listening to my “moody musik” playlist (right now it’s Barber’s Adagio for Strings), which keeps me going but mellowly. Books on depression tell you to listen to happy music when you’re depressed but that just makes me want to throw things. I remember a music theory class where the instructor told how he was once playing piano for a group of developmentally disabled people. They got increasingly agitated so he switched gears completely and played something which he thought would soothe them. Instead, they went completely berserk. That was when he realized mood regulation needed to happen gradually.

Since The Bad Thing happened in 2000 I don’t really cry anymore. Even when I’m severely depressed, I cry for 10 minutes and then I scream for a while and then I cry for 10 minutes—it’s never 20 minutes at a time. When The Bad Thing happened I completely dissociated. I never cried about what happened. And since I have PTSD from it, I am stuck in that time and so keep repeating that loop of reaction. I can’t move on. So I get these urges to cry but then I just go away.

I had a hard time understanding PTSD when mytherapistlynn first diagnosed me with it. I always associated it with ‘Nam veterans and it was even a joke among my friends. I could understand how someone who’d been under fire would be triggered by police sirens and relive wartime experiences in a flashback, but I didn’t see how flashbacks applied to my life. Mytherapistlynn says I live most of my life in a flashback. I started dissociating as an infant and I keep reverting to that.

My mom once told my sister that her way of dealing with our crying jags as babies was to leave us in our cribs until we were all “cried out.” So apparently I learned early that my needs didn’t matter. Mytherapistlynn says there’s research to show that infants do this—it results in “failure to thrive.” I don’t know how it’s measured (how do you measure the psychological state of a pre-verbal being?), but I know that I have always struggled with even identifying my emotional needs, much less asking others to meet them.

Though I do recall one experience that stands out. It’s the experience that doomed my relationship with my fiancé. He and my friend Brad and I (for some reason I will never understand—I’m terrified of heights) decided to cross this big ravine via an abandoned railroad bridge. As we moved out towards the center of the track, the spaces between the ties got wider and wider and the ties themselves were more rickety. I became totally paralyzed with terror, setting down on the rail and clutching on for dear life. My fiancé and Brad were already across the bridge before they noticed I wasn’t with them. And my man, my beautiful man, came back out on the bridge to help me. He was so gentle and reassuring and patient. He just talked me through it, in no hurry, totally taking it at my pace, getting me to inch forward. It took years to get me across that bridge but he never showed impatience, only love. I had never experienced anything like that before. And once tasted, I wanted more.

Throughout most of our relationship, I was in therapy (of course, when am I not in therapy??), and there were times where he would come in and my therapist would help him see what he could do for me. But what I never asked was what I could do for him. I had that taste of having a survival need met and it triggered an over-powering, infantile NEED to be loved in that way again. Completely. Thoroughly. Safely. Kindly.

On the night of 09 December 1996 he told me he couldn’t take it anymore. He needed me to get my own life. That’s a whole long story which I don’t need to go into now. Suffice it to say, I did what he asked. Not because he wanted it—because I wanted it. And it made a dramatic difference in our relationship. But when push came to shove he left—for other reasons. Devastating. But that’s not the story I’m telling today. I’m thinking about needs and how they get filled or not.

My guidebook to that relationship and one other was Harville Hendricks’ Getting the Love You Want. His theory was that we are attracted to people who can fulfill our childhood needs but who unconsciously don’t. The goal of the book is to bring us to consciousness so that, in the context of marriage, we fulfill our own needs and the needs of our spouse. I focused on the bits where I listed what I needed and what my fiancé was supposed to do. I wanted that experience on the train tracks over and over. It wasn’t until after he told me he needed a change that I started implementing Hendricks’ other suggestions. It totally transformed our relationship. I really recommend the book to people in long-term committed relationships. Pretty amazing results.

Mytherapistlynn has told me about “attachment parenting” (just glancing at the page this links to makes me tear up) which sounds like some bizarre, Martian, impossible method of parenting where you actually pay attention to your child. You try to meet your child’s needs. So if your infant is crying, you soothe the child. By your soothing the child, the child learns to self-soothe.

This is just beyond my comprehension. One of the many reasons I can’t have kids is I would be like, “Crying? Get a job!” I don’t think I’d be able to transcend my training.

My sister somehow did it. Her kids are 18 and 20 now and they talk about just about everything. They have their rough patches, but they trust each other. When I was 18 and 20, I wasn’t on speaking terms with my parents. I don’t think I really let them back into my life until I was 30, after my Saturn Returns. I like to think that, in the context of a loving and supportive relationship with a spouse, I could find a touch of my sister’s patience and understanding and Libraness to break the stranglehood of my Capricorn sun sign and five-planets-in-Virgo-holy-hell-Batman. But that’s all academic. No babies for me.

Ho-hum.

Now I have it—it’s a Kurt Vonnegut kind of day. “And so it goes.” No high highs, no low lows, just this gentle feeling of there being no point to life but, to your bewilderment, you find yourself alive anyway.

Let’s end with music, shall we? Here are some excerpts from my moody musik playlist.

Radiohead: Talk Show Host

Cat Power: Cross Bones Style

Aqualung: Cold

Nouvelle Vague: In a Manner of Speaking

Madonna: Paradise (Not for Me)

Portishead: Wandering Star

Have a day.

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Favorite lyrics by The Smiths!

August 28, 2014

“I wear black on the outside, ’cause black is how I feel on the inside.” This is the quintessential lyric for The Smiths, one of the best alternative music bands of all time, and a huge influence on my high school and college years. As I went through my first mental breakdown, Morrissey and Johnny Marr were with me every step of the way (as was The Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees). Morrissey only has about four notes in his range, so singing the songs by yourself is incredibly monotonous, but paired with Johnny Marr’s unforgettable guitar riffs you can’t help but wail along.

This post is entirely an exercise in self-indulgence, though if you feel so inclined, leave your favorite lyric in the comments!

William, It Was Really Nothing
How can you stay with a fat girl who’ll say:
“Would you like to marry me
and if you like you can buy the ring”
she doesn’t care about anything
“Would you like to marry me
and if you like you can buy the ring”
I don’t dream about anyone
except myself

What Difference Does It Make
Heavy words are so lightly thrown
But I’d still leap in front of a flying bullet for you

These Things Take Time
Vivid and in your prime
you will leave me behind
you will leave me behind

This Charming Man
I would go out tonight
but I haven’t got a stitch to wear
this man said “It’s gruesome
that someone so handsome should care”

How Soon Is Now?
There’s a club if you’d like to go
you could meet somebody who really loves you
so you go, and you stand on your own
and you leave on your own
and you go home, and you cry
and you want to die

Handsome Devil
A boy in the bush
is worth two in the hand
I think I can help you get through your exams
oh you handsome devil

Hand In Glove
The good life is out there somewhere
so stay on my arm, you little charmer
But I know my luck too well
yes, I know my luck too well
and I’ll probably never see you again
I’ll probably never see you again
I’ll probably never see you again

Still Ill
I decree today that life is simply taking and not giving
England is mine and it owes me a living
ask me why and I’ll spit in your eye
ask me why and I’ll spit in your eye

Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now
I was looking for a job, and then I found a job
and heaven knows I’m miserable now

This Night Has Opened My Eyes
In a river the colour of lead
immerse a baby’s head
wrap her up in the News Of The World
dump her on a doorstep, girl
this night has opened my eyes
and I will never sleep again

You’ve Got Everything Now
No, I’ve never had a job
because I’ve never wanted one
I’ve seen you smile
but I’ve never really heard you laugh
so who is rich and who is poor?
I cannot say…

Accept Yourself
anything is hard to find
when you will not open your eyes

Girl Afraid
She says:
“He never really looks at me
I give him every opportunity
in the room downstairs
he sat and stared
in the room downstairs
he sat and stared
I’ll never make that mistake again!”

Back To The Old House
Are you still there?
or have you moved away?
or have you moved away?

Reel Around The Fountain
But take me to the haven of your bed
was something that you never said
two lumps, please
you’re the bee’s knees
but so am I

Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want
Haven’t had a dream in a long time
see, the life I’ve had
can make a good man bad

Is It Really So Strange?
Why is the last mile the hardest mile?
My throat was dry, with the sun in my eyes
And I realised, I realised
I could never
I could never, never, never, go back home again

Sheila Take A Bow
How can someone so young
Sing words so sad?

Shoplifters Of The World Unite
Tried living in the real world
Instead of a shell
But before I began…
I was bored before I even began

Sweet And Tender Hooligan
Poor woman
Strangled in her very own bed as she read
But that’s OK
Because she was old and she would have died anyway

Half A Person
She was left behind, and sour
And she wrote to me, equally dour
She said : “In the days when you were
Hopelessly poor
I just liked you more…”

London
You left
Your tired family grieving
And you think they’re sad because you’re leaving
But did you see Jealousy in the eyes
Of the ones who had to stay behind?
And do you think you’ve made
The right decision this time?

Panic
Burn down the disco
Hang the blessed DJ
Because the music that they constantly play
IT SAYS NOTHING TO ME ABOUT MY LIFE

You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet, Baby
If you’re wondering why
All the love that you long for eludes you
And people are rude and cruel to you
I’ll tell you why
I’ll tell you why
I’ll tell you why
I’ll tell you why
You just haven’t earned it yet, baby
You just haven’t earned it, son
You just haven’t earned it yet, baby
You must suffer and cry for a longer time
You just haven’t earned it yet, baby
And I’m telling you now…

Ask
Shyness is nice, and
Shyness can stop you
From doing all the things in life
You’d like to

Rubber Ring
And when you’re dancing and laughing
And finally living
Hear my voice in your head

Unlovable
I wear Black on the outside
‘Cause Black is how I feel on the inside [a classic!]

Asleep
Sing me to sleep
Sing me to sleep
And then leave me alone
Don’t try to wake me in the morning
‘Cause I will be gone
Don’t feel bad for me
I want you to know
Deep in the cell of my heart
I will feel so glad to go

The Headmaster Ritual
he does the military two-step
down the nape of my neck

Rusholme Ruffians
scratch my name on your arm with a fountain pen
(this means you really love me)
and though I walk home alone
my faith in love is still devout

I Want The One I Can’t Have
On the day that your mentality
catches up with your biology

What She Said
“How come someone hasn’t noticed
that I’m dead
and decided to bury me
God knows, I’m ready”

That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore
when you laugh about people who feel so
very lonely
their only desire is to die
well I’m afraid
it doesn’t make me smile
I wish I could laugh
but that joke isn’t funny anymore
it’s too close to home
and it’s too near the bone
it’s too close to home
and it’s too near the bone
more than you’ll ever know

Nowhere Fast
and if the day came when I felt a
natural emotion
I’d get such a shock I’d probably jump
in the ocean

Well I Wonder
Gasping – but somehow still alive
this is the fierce last stand of all I am
Gasping – dying – but somehow still alive
this is the final stand of all I am
Please keep me in mind

Barbarism Begins At Home
A crack on the head
is what you get for not asking
and a crack on the head
is what you get for asking

Meat Is Murder
it’s not “natural”, “normal” or kind
the flesh you so fancifully fry
the meat in your mouth
as you savour the flavour
of MURDER

The Queen Is Dead
So I broke into the Palace
With a sponge and a rusty spanner
She said: “Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing”
I said: “that’s nothing – you should hear me play piano”

Frankly, Mr Shankly
I want to live and I want to love
I want to catch something that I might be ashamed of

I Know It’s Over
“If you’re so funny
Then why are you on your own tonight?
And if you’re so clever
Then why are you on your own tonight?
If you’re so very entertaining
Then why are you on your own tonight?
If you’re so very good looking
Why do you sleep alone tonight?
I know because tonight is just like any other night

Never Had No One Ever
I had a really bad dream
It lasted 20 years, 7 months, and 27 days

Cemetry Gates
So we go inside and we gravely read the stones
All those people all those lives
Where are they now?
With the loves and hates
And passions just like mine
They were born
And then they lived and then they died
Seems so unfair
And I want to cry

Bigmouth Strikes Again
Sweetness, sweetness I was only joking
When I said by rights you should be
Bludgeoned in your bed

The Boy With The Thorn In His Side
And when you want to live
How do you start?
Where do you go?
Who do you know?

Vicar In A Tutu
I was minding my own business
Lifting some lead off
The roof of the Holy Name church
It was worthwhile living a laughable life
Just to set my eyes on a blistering sight
Of a vicar in a tutu
He’s not strange
He just wants to live his life this way

There Is A Light That Never Goes Out
Driving in your car
Oh please don’t drop me home
Because it’s not my home, it’s their home
And I’m welcome no more

Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others
[I have never understood these lyrics but that doesn’t stop my caterwauling]
From the ice-age to the dole-age
There is but one concern
I have just discovered
Some girls are bigger than others
Some girls are bigger than others
Some girls mothers are bigger than other girls’ mothers

Reel Around The Fountain
oh people said
that you were easily led
and they were half-right

You’ve Got Everything Now
I’ve seen you smile
but I’ve never really heard you laugh
so who is rich and who is poor?
I cannot say…

Miserable Lie
I know the wind-swept mystical air
It means: I’d like to see your underwear
I recognise that mystical air
It means: I’d like to seize your underwear

Pretty Girls Make Graves
End of the pier, end of the bay
You tug my arm, and say: “Give in to lust,
Give up to lust, oh heaven knows we’ll
Soon be dust… ”

This Charming Man
Why pamper life’s complexity
When the leather runs smooth
On the passenger’s seat?

Hand In Glove
Hand in glove
we can go wherever we please
and everything depends upon
how near you stand to me

I Don’t Owe You Anything
Did I really walk all this way
Just to hear you say:
“Oh, I don’t want to go out tonight”?


World’s best description of depression

March 2, 2014

Read it here. Then come back.

I am not yet to the corn stage. Still hanging out with the fishes.

I think this blogger nails it when they talk about how difficult it is to be around cheery people who try to talk you out of depression. I know, I know, you feel helpless and you really, really want to help, and that’s very kind of you, but in some cases the best thing you can do is say, “I’m sorry things are so hard for you right now.”

Severe depression is an illness like diabetes: chronic, potentially life-threatening, and treatable. It can’t be overcome by simply talking to a friend. It takes treatment by a trained professional.

That doesn’t mean friends and family can’t help. It’s just important to keep in mind that severe depression is a long-term thing, not a three-day “I’m feeling a little blue and just need someone to talk to” sort of thing. So unless you want to exhaust yourself with continual rescue attempts, just offer support and turn to your friends for support for you. The depressed person isn’t going to make you feel better by—hey presto—changing behaviors permanently overnight.

I had a vision when I was 17 that “something very, very bad” was going to happen but that I would be all right when I was 23. Sure enough, my life began to spin out of control and when I was 18 I began having psychotic episodes. That went on until the day when I came within a hair’s breadth of going over the edge permanently and I just suddenly shut it all down. That’s a good story (good=interesting, not good=fluffy bunnies and rainbows) and I’ll have to tell it someday.

But anyway, my point is that I shut down everything. I became the walking dead. No feelings. No feelings whatsoever. It was my first experience with the all-pervasive grey that comes with severe depression. I remember my sister screaming at me, “You’re so cold, you’re like ice—” and my replying, “Paula, I’m afraid that if I start crying, I’ll never stop.”

Things went on. Again, a story for another time. Hallucinations, self-mutiliation, constant thoughts of suicide. You know. The usual. And the only thing that kept me hanging on was that vision that I’d had. So I hung in there. Hanging by a thread, but vaguely curious to see if the vision would come true.

One day when I was twenty-three I was setting on the edge of my bed. I leaned down to tie my shoes. As I got back up, whoosh, all my feelings came rushing back. “I can feel! I can feel.” I just sat there crying in wonder and gratitude. (Gratitude! A feeling!)

Who knows why it happened? After all, it’s not like I hadn’t worn shoes before. It was completely out of the blue—no warning. I wasn’t thinking anything in particular. Just putting on my shoes.

So I get what the blogger says about the corn. Sometimes all the medication and the therapy help, and sometimes it’s a mysterious juxtaposition of random forces that elicit change. I’ve been 14 years now in the wasteland and sometimes I still catch myself holding my breath when I tie my shoes. Maybe someday that will do the trick.


The second thirty years

December 8, 2013

I decided to kill myself on May 12th, 1997. Denise came back from the big bonfire to our little camp. She took one look at my face and said, “You’ve decided, haven’t you?” I nodded. There was nothing more to say.

Two months earlier my fiancé had left me. At first I grieved naturally and started to experience some healing. But then, as had happened since I was 15, my natural process was hijacked by my mental illness and I spiraled down into a deep depression.

As I had countless times before, I fantasized about killing myself to end the pain. I had lost not only the man I loved with every cell, I had lost a loving family and a promising future with children of my own. I couldn’t cope.

Aaron came to stay with me. For several years I hadn’t been able to watch any movies with violence in it but not long after Barry left I watched a long documentary on the Nazis. Aaron tried to distract me with lighter fare but I wanted to dig deep into suffering.

I threw myself on the mercy of my friends. Again. Whenever a crisis arose, there would be tearful late-night phone calls, crashes on couches, and always, always, endless talk of cutting myself and suicide. On April 15th, 1997, I was trudging into work, wallowing, when I suddenly snapped to clarity. “I will give myself a month,” I decided. “If, in that month, I want to die more than I want to live, I will kill myself. I’m sick of this suffering. More than that, I’m sick of putting my friends through this. I’m either in or out.”

During the ensuing month I studied up on suicide—its causes, its methods, and how to prevent it. I had a long email exchange with the Samaritans in Britain because I couldn’t find a suicide prevention organization in the States (this was before the Internet came into its own). I spent long hours talking with my therapist and my closest friends about how healthy people lived their lives and how they coped. That was the thing I could not do—I could not cope.

But after all that, I ended up at that little fire in the woods at Lothlorien, clear and utterly sure of my course. But I had given myself until May 15th to decide. So I chose to wait the extra three days before getting my things in order and procuring a gun.

On the morning of May 14th I had an auspicious dream. I felt like I had waited my whole life for it. I won’t go into the details, but it essentially pointed to a third road between mindless happiness and self-destructive despair. It allowed me to accept myself for who and what I was. It showed me that I didn’t have to fight myself anymore, that I didn’t want to, that there was another way. I woke up weeping. “Thank you, Goddess,” over and over again.

I had set aside three days starting May 15th for ritual. During that time I went through a profound process of change that left no part of me untouched. It was terrifying, it was mortifying, it was filled with mercy, it was lit by Spirit, and it birthed me into a new life.

I, who had always needed A Plan to get through an hour, a day, a week, a month, a year, was now living moment to moment. I saw myself in darkness. I was totally calm and at peace. I took a step, and as my foot approached what should have been ground, a piece of sod appeared. As my foot left the sod, the ground disappeared, but another piece of turf came into being underneath my other foot. On and on, always supported, while not knowing (or needing to know) where I was headed. For the first time in my life, I felt fully confident in a relaxed, free, deeply spiritual way. I could rely on myself for self-care rather than self-destruction.

As part of this healing process, which I call Rebirthday, I received many spiritual insights. One in particular stood out for me: In the beginning there was no-thing-ness. Not nothingness, not abyss, not void. That implies an absence of Something. There was no Something, and there was no Nothing. We don’t have a word for pre-Something. There just wasn’t. Anything.

Then, suddenly, there was lifeanddeath, like a Celtic knot, winking into and out of the light. Time began. Lifeanddeath are one thing, inextricably woven together. They were not born of no-thing-ness. That implies no-thing-ness was a thing to be born of. They simply existed, where nothing had existed before. And like no-thing-ness, we don’t have a word for the meta-concept which is lifeanddeath.

It’s not about yin and yang, where (at least in the Western conception) life is a part of death and death is a part of life, though that is certainly true. It is more that they are both emanations of a greater Mystery, a greater power, a greater truth. And they are so bound up in each other you can’t separate the two.

Death isn’t something to be feared or kept at bay. It is part of Gaia, that juicy biosphere we are an element of. Decaying and returning to the Mother is just as holy as taking our first step or having our first child. All is sacred; all is whole.

I first became self-destructive when I turned 15. From then on, whenever I experienced any setback in life, I ripped apart my wrists or burned my arms and screamed, “I hate you I hate you I hate you!” into the mirror and yearned, how I yearned to be dead. But in this revelation I had, I Saw that in all those years of invoking death, I was not invoking the death of lifeanddeath—I was invoking no-thing-ness. That’s what I was calling into my life.

I sat in silence for a long time after that.

Another insight I was given was that my life was split into roughly thirty-year intervals. I was completing the first thirty-year cycle and was embarking on my second. I won’t say all the things I was told at that time, but one thing that was different was how change would come into my life. My first thirty years had been marked by revolutionary change. My second thirty years would be marked by evolutionary change. Whereas change previously had been a jagged and wildly looping line, now it would be a gently sloping spiral headed upward.

My life up until Rebirthday was filled with high drama. There were always dragons to be slain. I came from a highly dysfunctional family, had experienced my fair share of trauma, and was highly sensitive with no constructive outlet. Everything was opera. Sound and fury.

After Rebirthday, I got a year off. For the first time in my life, I got to just be. It was glorious. I was so relaxed, so calm, so clear. So confident. Not the hard-headed arrogance of youth but the supple confidence of inner knowing. I was so competent. I had “blue” days, but they passed easily and quickly. I believed I had passed through mental illness and had come out the other side. I coped.

I remember one day in particular, even though it was typical of the days at that time. I was setting on a bench in People’s Park, eating an ice cream cone. The sky overhead was brilliant blue, the leaves on the trees were deepest green, the Sun was a glorious beacon of spiritual light, and my chocolate chip ice cream from White Mountain was a taste explosion. Everything was hyper-real. I was completely in the moment, fully at peace, totally immersed in the simple pleasure of the experience. Without even trying. It was just the way I lived my life.

After that first year, challenges started to appear. I eased into them, then plunged in, feeling sure of myself and wondering at the new directions my life had taken. Rebirthday had transformed every relationship in my life. Some I’d ended. Others I’d restructured. And now I was beginning new ones.

One in particular was epic.

Then, on January 3rd, 2000, the dawn of a new century, a catastrophe happened. One person knows half the story, but only half. I once read a story about a woman who’d been held in a prison in South Africa during apartheid. She’d been gang-raped by her white guards every night. She said her soul had left her body and gone up into a corner of the room and watched. And when she finally left that cell, her soul stayed behind her. She was never whole again.

When the unthinkable happened, my soul left my body, just turned and wafted away from my right shoulder, up into the air and disappeared. I stopped crying. Even today, when I almost feel pain enough to weep, I never cry for longer than 10 minutes. This from a woman who got her first wrinkle from crying all night long after an altercation with a best friend. I no longer flow. I am no longer confident. I am no longer competent.

Psychologists call it dissociation. I call it grey. It’s not depression, though I certainly spend my share of mornings unable to get out of bed, my days unable to answer the telephone, my nights unable to get off the couch. There’s always anxiety, that dread that keeps me wringing my hands until they ache. But more than that is this bobbing along on a current in a fog where the features of the shore are indistinct.

There are certain things that stand out for me: the Pagan Summit which I organized, which is still the only gathering of leaders of national Pagan organizations in America. The day I learned I couldn’t have children. The day I lost my mind, well and truly. And lesser events, like performing at Lotus. But there were several years there when I had to use a calculator when people asked how old I was because I simply couldn’t remember.

Each day runs into the next, pretty much the same. Anxiety over money. Feeling like a failure at work. Not feeling anything at all. Wondering if it will ever be over. Wishing therapy would be faster, more productive, faster, faster.

Last night I realized I’m more than half the way through my second thirty years. And I barely remember any of it. It has been distinguished by agony. A different kind from what I grew up with, but suffering nonetheless. Time slips by without meaning. There are a handful of relationships that tie me to the year, rituals that mark out The Wheel, but I can’t recall the difference between this year’s Imbolc and the last. I don’t remember because I’m not fully here. My soul left me and I am lost without it. Adrift.

And horrified. Horrified that this is the life that I have built for myself out of the glory and promise of Rebirthday. There was a relationship there at the beginning of the cycle that seemed to promise a whole new life, but the only thing new is this grey disconnection from consensual reality. I pay my bills, I meet my commitments, I watch a lot of movies, I read, I mostly stay away from people. I do not feel my feelings. I do sing. That makes a difference. And there are a handful of people whose lives seem to want me. But mostly there is—dare I call it?—no-thing-ness.

What has happened to me??

Oh, I can point to the events in question, down to the dates and times, but in a larger sense, how have I got caught in this endless loop of checking out? In my journals over the last 35 years, there is a recurring theme: “Who can explain my life to me? Who can look at what I was born with, my apparent destiny, and explain how I came to this day?”

There is the overwhelming feeling of waiting. Standing at the big picture window in the living room. Just standing, looking out. Waiting. Praying for forgiveness. Hoping that, with enough hard work and luck and mercy, I will find my way back onto the spiral of lifeanddeath.

Though I did ask, one time, in ritual, if I were still alive. I feel like the walking dead.   Totally unnatural. And the answer I received was that yes, I was still part of Gaia, and that my experience was still sacred. If only my experience didn’t suck. That would be a bonus.

I have been working hard these last couple years, and in the last 13 months or so I’ve seen some movement. But it’s glacial. And last night’s revelation has me terrified that I will be 60 before I find peace again. Before my soul returns. And then what? The unthinkable happens again and I am lost on the river for the rest of my life?

It’s hard to know why I’m still alive. There have been several times since Rebirthday that I’ve decided that I’m done. One in particular where I was making serious plans. But when I look into my heart, I know I want to be alive. But I want to be alive, pulsing with the beauty and sanctity of lifeanddeath, stinking in my nostrils with the sweat of a life well-lived.

I don’t know how much longer I will wait. Every morning I make a decision whether to keep on or whether to stop. It’s such a part of my thinking that it happens automatically, like locking the back door or putting my contacts in. I remember a point in therapy a couple years ago where I realized I did not know if there would ever be a time where my present suffering would be worth it. Where I could say, “Yes, that was a terrible time, but now I’ve made it through to happiness and health and I’m glad I stayed the course.” I’m not saying that will never happen. I’m saying I don’t know. And whenever the fog suddenly clears like it did last night and I see my life in the cold light of day, I can’t justify my continuing existence. There just really doesn’t seem to be a point to all of this.

I will get up today and shovel out my car and go to rehearsal and enjoy performing at Lara’s benefit gig tonight. I will not apply for a gun permit tomorrow. I am merely trying to work through this latest realization in a sea of insights which leaves me gasping.

Who can explain my life to me?