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Arden Raine is an ex-theatrical making sense of life through many lenses.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Me & Demeter Hanging With the Dream King

This winter of discontent seems like it will never end.

The bipolar weather patterns of my geographical local are normal, 32° one day then 60°the next or 18°to 53° in the same day, for late February and early March. And we don't usually get to last frost dates until mid May. Yeah zone 6!

But this year it's like winter just can't leave.

And I am feeling it. The roller coaster temperatures are a mirror to my own temperament. Freak snow storms, torrential downpour, freezing cold and overcast skies all seem reflections of my emotional distances, sobbing bouts, rages, and exhaustion.

So as me and the family took a Saturday leisure drive these things occupied my mind as the unspring-like countryside rolled past.

I pondered snow covered hillsides when it was 55° outside and I contemplated grazing land withered and brown where grasses should be greening.

I thought where is Demeter? Like Babe what's up? Hello, Spring... Is this thing on?!

Then a thought crawled into my noggin; probably somewhere between the 100th time my kidlet told the 'banana' knock-knock joke and the 4th Erasure song on the radio; it hits me that maybe like me She just isn't ready.

Since the loss of the baby I've been feeling a lot like nothing matters. Not all the time but enough that I watch myself.

Am I depressed or grieving? And my angry at situational events or life? Can I face this happy occasion and not be Suzy Storm Cloud?

And the answers I've found so far are:both, both, nope.

It's no surprise either is that I am not sleeping. My mind runs at Mach speeds until about 4am each day. As a SAHM this stinks. And since day light savings my kid gets up two hours earlier.
And frankly for awhile there (like last week even) I was pushing as hard as I could to do the barest minimums. My house reflects this inertia or lack of REM or as I think of it my 'Ennui'.

I hate it. I hate clutter and mess and dirt.
Our home has it baby in spades. But the sheer volume of work needed stymies my efforts. I start and stop and then give up.

So what if Demeter is feeling the same way? What if the searching and hardships she's endured this year have taken a similar toll on Demeter?

How would the world look if she's been a raging insomniac with a filthy house and a preschooler who's daily life mission is to stretch her boundaries (all of them) past breaking?

How would the world look if She just couldn't give a damn about taking another step?

How would the world look if Her emotions are held in check by the thinnest of membranes?

How would the world be if she just laid down and refused to get up until the pain stops?

I think the world would look a lot like it does outside my dirty windows.

So for now if you need us, Demeter and I will be hanging with the Dream King.

I mean heck- what else can we do in the middle of the night. Blog?!

[Funny thing, as I write this in the wee hours my own Persephone began to whimper and cry. Terror shattered her sweet slumbers. I jump up and run to her. I rock her and settle her back into Morpheus' realm. And I am glad, for once, to have been awake.]

Friday, March 28, 2014

Gordian Knot

There's been a lot of 'discussion' over the last few days in the pagan community over a prominent member arrested for possession and distribution of child pornography. He wasn't a criminal hiding behind cultism. This man is a real pagan and respected artist and author.

This issue is a tricky one for me. Heck this is the second draft of my thoughts.

As an incest and child sexual abuse survivor my feelings are very complicated over these issues.

First off I never heard of the man until a week ago when exposed to his blog. I have no ducks in this race of a personal nature. But others do.

I want to discuss the community reaction as I have seen it.

And then I want to discuss the problem from my unique perspective that of childhood victim and the relative of a man also arrested, then convicted of possession of child pornography. And the abuses hurled at those around the actor.

90% of what I see commented on in the pagan forums is divided almost entirely into two rants:

1. How will this man's actions reflect upon us ("true") Pagans to the outside world

2. How furious the pagan community is and what violent actions they espouse to want to visit upon this man

Here's the thing, this man's actions are his OWN. The are not a reflection of anything but his own sickness. Period.

And he is a "true" pagan. But that's not indicative of anything but his religious affiliation not predicate to his behavior.

Pedophiles and child pornographers and those that gravitate towards such materials are found in all strata of society. It's no reflection on the races, religions, socioeconomic backgrounds, educations, or the communities in which these people self-identify or reside.

The psychology of predation on the most part shows these people as able to blend. Prodigious chameleons and pathologically able to appear as needed to feed their predation.

A lot of the time they are so good at masking these parts of themselves that they are regarded as pillars of the communities they live. They are the coach, priest, teacher, neighbor, parent, sibling, friend.  They can just as easily fool those closest to them as the stranger or passing acquaintance. They can be seen as good spouses, parents, children and friends. They can be seen as best of a community. That's how good a predator can be at masking their true nature.

Not all of these folks are good at hiding. Those usually get caught. But there are predators who can abuse for years right under everyone's noses before being caught.And some never get caught. Some never see justice due to a long line of reasons. My attackers live full lives with one exception. He died unknown to those but his victims as a monster.

In this case the man was arrested and according to the news report admitted to the charges. But he has yet to be tried. Keep that in mind in case he is not guilty. 
I personally have no doubts but I respect our process of litigation.

What has me angry is all the concern about how others will view us. Point of fact that thus far his religious beliefs seem to only be a matter of discussion with the pagan community. For now the press hasn't responded with the 'Pagan Pedophile' lead. And though it's probable his religious views may be brought up as a form of scandal. Why not disallow the fervor?

If some were to question me about pedophilia and paganism in regards to this case I would state that yes the man is pagan. That religion has no baring on his case. His arrest has no connection to our faiths or its traditions. His actions speak only about himself and his sickness.

There's been a lot of yelling about how other faiths have abusers. "Those Catholics!!!!" Stop it! Right. Now.

His actions reflect on him. Period.

And unless there is a concerted effort to hide his predation within the multitude of pagan tradition and those we then do not allow him to be brought to justice to protect those traditions your analogies are false and idiotic.

On the second point above, I get it. The anger when children are harmed is electric. I feel the rage. As a past victim I know how a child's life is shattered by abuse. The man had pornography. He distributed it. It didn't say be created it. But children were harmed and instead of reporting the abuse he shared with others. His actions, if true, are foul.

But the mob mentality, the call to violence, the comments of smug vitriol ask yourselves what good are they serving? Is it schadenfreude? Are you attempting to distance yourself from his actions by sheer force of fury? How much violence is appropriate? Who gets to decide? How do you think your words are affecting those who love him? Do care about them? Are you recognizing the pain of the family, colleagues, community in which he was a part? Are your comments doing any good for the victims? How does your voice in this problem reflect the values of your tradition?

And I swear if I hear about castration one more time! Sexual predation is about control not the penis. I was abused for 7 years. Age 2-9. There are an infinite amount of ways a predator can abuse and penetrate and never once use their sex organs. Trust me I have first hand experience. Removing testes or penises or sewing shut of vaginas doesn't do anything to stop predation. Period. So STFU and educate yourselves about the realities of rape and the minds of predators!

The second part of my reflection on this event is the utter lack of regard for the  victims. All of them.

I am not apologizing for this man. He's getting the opportunity to defend himself. But he hasn't yet been convicted. And if convicted he deserves the full measure of the law. I only care that justice is served.

My real concern is for those harmed. The children in the videos. Any possible children who he may have harmed directly. Those who were duped by him and loved and respected him.

They deserve our love and compassion and healing. Period.

As I said as a child I was vilified. Branded as a liar when physical evidence (my hymen was intact) was lacking. Some of them heard my screams saw the bloody stool watched as I deteriorated but refused to act. But they knew. I have no compassion for those people. I hold them just as responsible as my abuser.

Later in my 30's as I was struggling through PTSD, directly related to my childhood trauma, a close family member was rightfully convicted of possession of child pornography. This person never harmed me. They weren't the type one would ever expect to have such deviance. But the community blamed us for not turning them in. It didn't matter that we had no knowledge of the activities of that family member. We were held somehow accountable in the court of opinion.

Trust me I'd turn in my own child if I thought they were harming another person. No one should ever experience what I did.

See once the community rage can't be directed at the perp it goes to the spouse or parent or colleagues. I've seen it happen over and over. And unless those folks actually are accessories to the crimes (I say punish to fullest if they are) they are also victims. They've been cruelly shattered too just in a different way. But often they are ostracized not cared for.

So what am I saying?

Think about how your words will affect others.

Anger, shock, sadness, horror, rage, confusion, doubt are all normal reactions to finding out about a predator in your midst. But making healthy/unhealthy choices on how to express those emotions can heal or shatter communities.

This man's actions are his own. They are not a reflection of others no matter how they can be identified with him. (Race, religion, education, socioeconomic strata)

If you harbour a predator you are culpable in my eyes.

Words matter.

This isn't an simple issue it encircles and tightens as one investigates deeper. Respect that.

How do we minister to imprisoned sex offenders?

Do our traditions value redemption?

How do we handle people who have served their time and want to reintegrate into our fellowships?

Are these offenders able to be rehabilitated?

I have no answers to those last few questions. I am understandably conflicted. Buy we need to address them for our communities religious and otherwise.

And on a final note, if you suspect sexual abuse or crimes against children REPORT IT!

It's easier to be wrong and apologize and help repair reputations than it is to repair the souls of the victims.

I wish everyday that someone had put me first as a child.

I conclusion put away the offenders and help the victims heal.

Any questions?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Where's my Map Light?

I am grieving. I am in the process of processing the emotional and physiological aspects of my miscarriage and the subsequent car accident that followed.

I am doing well as I gage these things.
As an unmedicated major depressive with PTSD I have years worth of experience with my mind/body brokenness and learned tools to handle my emotional and physical pains.

I wish I was a medicated major depressive with PTSD in that it's less time consuming to start a grieving process when you don't have to constantly put every thought under an electron microscope to see is this old stuff or current pain.

But right now I have to do without medications. And I feel like a rock star in the fact that I have handled my loss so very well. Only one really bad day(thus far). That's a miracle in of itself.

I've found healthy outlets to speak about my pain. I have not become closed down emotionally. Nor have l been scattered and obsessive (accept for chocolate. I've been obsessed with it and I am allowing it for the moment.). And those are all major life wins!

I've been blessed with support and love. I've been labeled as brave for being honest about this process. I feel odd about that because I feel anything but brave. I feel like a fleshy, half inflated balloon filled with shattered glass. Not very heroic.

I see all this good work and healthy handling of my pain. But I still feel like shit.

I am concurrently today filled with euphoric sense of gratitude and and burgeoning overwhelming sense of rage.

In a desperate need to feel that I am in control I revisited the five states of grief.

But then I found this: http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/4414077 and found my head exploding!

Yes I am 100% guilty of wanting a neat and clear path to 'normal'.  And I really know better. This isn't my first rodeo. I know my mind and my limits and yet, and yet I realized that I wanted to just be done. How foolish. How disrespectful to myself!

I am really angry right now. My religious beliefs do not give comfort during this time because my practices are based not on orthodoxy but orthopraxy. And right now doing the basics needed to live and care for my child drain all of my resources.

So having a faith based on doing instead of being has been invariably hard. Most people find solace in faith during grieving. I, right in this moment, find it an unwanted, unreciprocated chore. My rites are hollow and I find instead of comfort,rage and restlessness.

But guess what? That's completely fucking normal!
It's okay to not be okay. It's okay to be a practicing neopagan who just doesn't give two flying screws that an agrarian feast day is this weekend. Especially when the high day celebrates a return to fertility when you are wrestling with the demise of your own fertile nature.

It's perfectly acceptable to not want to do ancestor work when you are smothering in your own grief from the loss of the life of what was supposed to be your child.

It's perfectly fine to feel distant from deity when in reality you feel distant from every aspect of your own life right now.

The Kindred, no matter your personal religious choices get it. They are still there helping as always. I see it in the outpouring of support and the car ride from a stranger when stranded. In the moment of waking and feeling blessed to have so much when others suffer so much more than I do.

But I am honestly too angry and lost and emotionally unstable to a. Handle group public rite b. Want to have to suppress and contain the place I am currently c. Act like I am okey donkey when I am clearly not.

I hate that I have yet to fulfill promises I made in January. (I have one mitten made. But I really don't want to create gifts in this state of mind. No, I cannot create beauty in this state of mind and you deserve my best efforts. And I thank you for allowing me to if not welsh delay fulfillment.) I hate that I am not 100% me right now.

I hate that I cannot define what "me" is right now.

I am doing 1000% better than my own expectations. But I am so very guilty of thinking that exceeding known past experience means a shortcut to wholeness.

So guess what? There's no yellow brick road through grief and loss. I am not special because I have been here before.

What I am grateful for is the tools to heal, the support of those who love me and the awareness to know I am lost, but it's only a temporary state of being.

I will endeavor to stop rushing through and daily remind myself this too shall pass. But that reminder isn't passive. I have the responsibility to be fully present in the now.

I am desperately trying.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Spring Hurry Hurry?

I am fully in discontent with this winter's seasons of death and decay.

The usual laments of spring crazed romantics call to me like Sirens. Oh the desire to add to the rubbish pile of spring tide ode-ing!

When will the grey end? When will the soul numbing cold cease? When will hope and living and happy warmth return?

I breathe and count to ten.

I remind myself to try to be present and be appreciative of the now.

Cuz spring leads to August swelter which I hate. Hate it!!

No the last dregs of the time of storage and want are almost gone. I try to feel the gnaw in my belly, my soul, as a good thing. A leanness that strengthens resolve and a necessity of community for survival. The sharing of what's left to nurture and sustain until the green and growth come back around.

I am very, very grateful to my close knit community and the life sustained (mine) by their love, courage and most importantly their storytelling.

The time for doing, the deep digging, moving and ACTION is a hair length away.

The time huddled together sharing and nurturing and holding back each other's darkness will pass. And that is a loss as much as the bloom of Springtime is a gain.

Winter has always been my time. It's darkness protective. It's coldness profound and embraceable yet escapable when too frigid. The sweet loneliness of Spring and the sweaty lust of Summer were an affront to my nature. The broiling heat dreaded (and honestly still dreaded).

So it's odd, or maybe not so much, how different this year's turning has been for me. I feel rabid with the need for all this death and hunger and longing and want to end. But instead I am trying to fight this uncharacteristic, overwhelming response to see Winter's ass hitting the door on its way out!

Enjoy the now. Embrace the cycle as it is in this moment. And search inside for the beauty that each second brings.

And it's almost easy! Like quantum physics.

Just follow your breath.