The winner of the poll is the Coven Status… Truth is, it is only part of the tale I currently have to tell but it’s good to break it up into parts for ease of reading. Even so this is a long post. There is much back story.
As many of you know this has been a very challenging year. Many things in my life are going by the wayside, people, places, and things. And while it can be a bit like getting a really big band-aid ripped from a very hirsute part of your body, the healing that is happening below is a Good Thing.
Back in early 2006 I completed Outer Grove training (my second but only one worth talking about). While the teachers are from the Kingstone British Tradition, they made sure that they covered all kinds of topics and gave us as broad a scope as they could. It was a really amazing year. It was a very painful year. It was the year that I began finally really shedding my inability to deal with male authority figures and began to take my own power back. It was messy to put it kindly.
At the time I was working in the worst situation imaginable for an American worker. My boss was volatile and constantly abusive (to myself and others). He was a very large man, over 6’4″, of Scottish descent with red hair and when he got angry his pale skin turned the color of St. Nick’s suit. When angry he was a very scary character indeed. And he was angry all the time. He had thrown things at me like pencils and file folders. He had grabbed my arm. He had launched himself up out of his chair throwing his arms in the air and shouting. The whole floor could hear him. There was a woman who also worked there that for a time was also my boss. She was a tiny little thing, a scarecrow of a woman. And she was caught in so many lies by myself and her other assistants it was really quite awesome. She would do and say anything to get her way.
I took the job, knowing from the first minute I saw him, that this boss was going to be “challenging.” I had no idea how much though. I took the job because I was fresh out of web design school and the job came with two websites that needed a new design. It was a wonderful opportunity to manage, design, and develop these sites and I wanted to be able to put it on my resume. Be careful what you ask for. My co-worker, three months before I quit attempted suicide herself. And when she didn’t think to call in from her hospital bed, they fired her. Even though her emergency contact did notify them she was in hospital. It was killing me too. No doubt about it.
I had been there two weeks when I was so sick to my stomach from nerves that I wrote him and told him that I couldn’t work for him any more. He called me and begged and pleaded and told me that his son, physically disabled from birth, had been in the hospital for a month and he was stressed out. This wasn’t normal. God, I can be such a patsy. I agreed to stay. And spent the next 3+ years trying to get another job. I was so dejected, so depressed, that what interviews I did get were dismal failures. Surely they took one look at me and said, “Oh, no way Jose.”
All of this was happening during Outer Grove training. I felt trapped, powerless, suicidal. The only joy in my life at the time was the Outer Grove and my family in France. But it wasn’t enough to make me sane. I was crazier than a shit-house rat. I don’t know about you but when I feel that way, I react in anger. I lash out at those who want to support me the most. I’m cranky, bitchy, and with all my fire I can really take a big bite out of a person’s hide. I’m not nearly as bad as I was, much progress has been made and many have noted this, but there is room for more growth, as always.
So. I wasn’t the only person in Outer Grove who faced challenges that year. Some of us had no sense of self, no self empowerment. In fact I would feel comfortable saying that 50% of us fell into that category. A few others had no boundaries and pushed their needs onto others. There was one woman, just as nice and good and sad and damaged as myself. She had a few meltdowns too and a couple of major disagreements with other students. She brought plenty of her own drama. Me, well, I did things like said, “don’t hug me or I’ll fall apart,” and it was with a very decided SNAP. Those lion teeth can hurt. It is the only incident I recall that had anything to do with her specifically. But I did have a lot of emotional times. Lots of realizations, lots of ripping open old wounds, lots of tears, sturm and drang. I admit it. It was rarely pretty. But two months before classes were to end, I up and quit my job. And reported my boss for creating a hostile working environment. I won my case with the state employment office right out of the gate. My last day I flew to France to visit my brother. It was this stress that I hold attributable to the horrifying “food poisoning” escapade at the Dijon train station.
Those of us who made it through the first rigorous 2 months of Outer Grove lasted the full course. We were friends for life. But I knew that the year had been so very, very draining even if I did find my power, that initiating and making a serious commitment at the time would be Not Very Advisable.
But this summer I decided I was ready. I missed my peeps. After much thought, including much thought about the relationship with the one woman, I decided that I could forgive and forget all, that I could easily, totally, do perfect love and perfect trust. I know I have changed. To quote a dear friend, “I’m not perfect but I am excellent.”
So I applied. And was encouraged to go around and reconnect with as many people as possible from the circle as I could. There was only one person I didn’t know except very casually. I thougth perhaps she might have me jump through a few hoops and that I would have to prove myself. The coven was informed of my petition to initiate with them. The High Priestess was very pleased and when I went to visit the High Priest (the person who does the annual Hekate’s Night) he seemed pleased to. I know the one woman and her husband, I see them frequently at OLOTEAS.
So, after the last Full Moon, I was dying to know. Was I in? That was the week that Mercury went direct and my whole financial life blew into smithereens (I’ve yet to recover from this). I was invited to attend a full moon and then the next full moon the other petitioner would attend. Then on the third full moon both petitioners would attend. The coven would meet at the fourth full moon and decide. But it never occurred to me that the one woman whose own path that year was full of drama and tears and memememe stuff would be the one to balk at me joining. The High Priestess told me that one person wasn’t comfortable with my presence in circle. That the coven had become her home and she needed one truly safe place in the world. I can understand that. The one woman admitted and I quote, “Yeah I know, pot – kettle, but it’s how I feel.” It wasn’t who I thought it would be and it was an owie. Paybacks can be a bitch.
Oh. *sniff* *sigh* *crushed*
Three things happened. First and most important I didn’t react with anger. It says in the AA Big Book that “As we go through the day we pause, when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action.” Most of the time in the past and now sometimes still I don’t get to go through agitated, I go straight to anger. Pause rarely happened in the past. But I’ve been working on it. I paused. Halleluah! I took in the information and then asked the High Priestess what I could do to improve the situation. I told her that I was sad to hear this news but I wanted to make things right even if I didn’t get into the coven. She said it wasn’t a no, it was a lets get more information. She said that she would let the woman know that I was willing to make this right between us and to help her comfort level in any way I could. I was told that I handled it very well, nothing like Outer Grove times.
The second thing was, after a little private cry, I felt relief. I have a lot going on. I am moving, I have two web launches this Friday and two other clients waiting in the wings. I only just crossed the awful bridge that was The Breakup. I need a break. I need some peace in any way I can get it. And getting ready for initiation, while exciting, it is not peaceful. Relief. No resentment. Thank you Goddess, I know you have brought me here and that it is my home. All will work out exactly as it should. I know where I belong. And, if it doesn’t work out, I’ve decided that I will instead then volunteer at OLOTEAS. So there is a Plan B.
The third thing that happened was that that woman came to OLOTEAS at Samhain prepared to be brave and tell me to my face exactly why she wasn’t comfortable at this moment with having me in the circle. We spoke briefly and arranged to talk between the potluck and the ritual. After the potluck we spent some time in the hot tub relaxing and then, once dressed (It is a clothing optional hot tub, now there is huge progress for me), went to my car to talk. And she was very brave. I’m the first to admit that she has very valid reasons for needing safety. A child of some kind of severe abuse, my anger really freaked her out even though it had nothing to do with her. I get it. And she spilled it all. She cried her tears and I cried with her. I let her say what she needed to say, told her I thought she had a lot of courage. I also acknowledged that while I could tell her I have changed in many ways I know that trust is earned. I would have to earn her trust. And the only way to do that was to keep talking, keep meeting.
And best of all? She told me that while yes, time would be good, that my reaction to her truth was so incredibly different and so willing and that I listened and didn’t react from any place other that a true place of hope for future relations that she was very heartened already. Oh yes, my friends, the tears were flowing.
I have a standing invitation to meet with her at her home over the next few months. I sent her a card with her totem animals on it thanking her again.
I have to say that for us recovering alcoholics it is a scary thing to write up the list of people we owe amends to. And, when ready, to approach them with nothing but a sincere desire to make things right. To paraphrase a great man, prophet, and bodhisattva (wasn’t it Jesus who said?), go forth and sin no more? That is the second part of amends. NOT DOING THE SAME THING AGAIN. It was what we call living amends. Sometimes there is absolutely nothing you can say to make it right. All you can do is stay sober and clean one day at a time and eventually, as the years pass, people will see that it’s for real. And then real contact, if desired, can start anew.
The years have passed. I have grown. I have much to learn still and much room for improvement. But once again, when I suck up my pride and admit my own part in any situation, things get better. I say quite often I have been mean to the nicest people. With only one exception they all forgave me. I never expected forgiveness or the outpouring of lovely things some of the people I harmed in the past have said to me. I did it to clean up my side of the street. To become a better person. Someone who contributes to the good in this world instead of being one of The Difficult People. The best thing was that I found forgiveness. Forgiveness from them, from myself. They felt better too I hope. But mostly I know that I can not live with guilt. If I don’t clean up my side, my part, I will eventually drink and that means death to me. I want to live. I want to be happy. I want to have friends who like having me around. I want to be a useful and enjoyable member of this planet earth.
I am not perfect but I am excellent.