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Category Archives: Hypnosis & Inner Work

Carving Out a Space

I had an awful dream last night.

In this dream, I was taken place to place by other people, not exactly following but not exactly leading, but ending up in situations not of my choosing where I always seemed to meet pain. Sometimes this pain was the form of people trying to get me to leave. Other times it was a more literal pain where I was being made to carry something with pins sticking out of it. In every situation, I may initially try to fight back, to draw a boundary out for myself and declare my needs and safety, but every time that declaration was ignored and met with more testing of those very same bounds. While the dreams were largely nonsensical, when I reexamined them upon waking, I found that there was a lot of my own experiences in them. A lot of me wandering around life, being forced to exist in a way I didn’t like, and never finding a way to really claim or enforce what I’ve needed.

When my health tanked, it took my ability to dream with it. I mean that in about every sense of the word “dream” — in that I no longer dreamed while asleep, and I no longer had any dreams while awake. I lost all purpose. I lost all direction. Upon starting EMDR treatment, my dreams returned to me, albeit in a patchy sort of sense. And upon switching over to Brainspotting therapy, my dreams have turned this sort of hectic mess of pieces and parts all taped together in a slightly incoherent fashion. I believe it’s my brain trying to grapple with the situation that I’ve found myself in. I think it’s trying to process while I’m asleep, to find a way to accept what is around us.

Acceptance is a common theme in therapy as of late. My therapist urged me to consider finding a way to use my voice to find some acceptance with my past. I’ve never really liked the word acceptance — it’s often been used as a bludgeoning tool (right up there with ‘forgiveness’) where people are actually less concerned with my acceptance of a given situation, but are more concerned with me being quiet so that they can be comfortable again. They don’t care if I actually accept a given situation, they only care that it appears like I’ve accepted it so that they can move on.

Further, the off-shoot to “acceptance” is usually “letting go.” “We need to find a way for you to be able to let go of your past trauma,” she’d tell me. However, the notion of letting go of something I’ve kept so close to my chest for all these years invoked a panic within me. The idea of losing the only thing that I do have, however painful it might be, was too much. And some portion of myself just couldn’t bear the notion of letting go as being a good thing.

In light of this, we have begun to call it “changing my relationship with” or “coming to terms with” instead. How can I find a way to change my relationship to what I’ve experienced. How can I come to terms with what I’ve been through, and yet still make a path for myself that is more enjoyable and content than where I’ve previously been. There is no pressure to feel things I don’t feel (acceptance) and there is no pressure that I’ll have to endure more loss through “letting go.”

Of course, the next question stirring in my brain was: how can I find a way to enforce those boundaries that I tried so very hard to grapple with in my dreams? How can I find a way to reject the pain that others repeatedly thrust and forced upon me while still maintaining some amount of relationship with them?

My therapist suggested that instead of focusing on the how, I spend more time looking at what it looks like and feels like to be in that space, that space of acceptance and understanding. I thought about that for a couple of weeks and came up with an incomplete list of what I imagine it would be like to be free of my past:

  • I would no longer be bound by fear and anger from my past.
  • If confronted with similar abuse or situations that mirror my past trauma, I would be able to maintain a clear head and stay present in the moment with minimal inner turmoil/upset.
  • I would be able to interact with people who are similar to my abusers and not carry their baggage home with me.
  • I’d be able to define my needs and enforce them. I’d be able to enforce boundaries as needed and leave situations that don’t serve me without guilt.
  • I’d be able to live the life I want, without feeling pressured to be what my abusers wanted me to be.

While I expect this list to grow and become more involved as I get further on this path, it at least gave me an end goal to reach for. It gave me a sort of destination or target to try and hit.

And more importantly, it gave me a mental image of where I want to be, and I’ve been using this mental image when I feel myself becoming worked up by my trauma. I’ve found that when I start to get caught in old trauma-based patterns, I can ask myself “is this where I ultimately want to be? Does this look like what I expect my new relationship with my past to look like?” and if the answer is no, I can try to realign myself to what I am looking for in myself. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but all in all, it seems to be helping.

Ultimately, though, this is leading up to what I am calling “carving a space.”

In an attempt to figure my own situation out, I have been watching other people’s experiences in regards to changing their diets and dealing with depression and chronic pain. A set of videos that has stuck with me are the few that Simona and Martina have released about her chronic pain and her subsequent depression. In her mind, there is a practice that she calls “building a ladder,” which is basically where she wakes up in massive pain, and tries to build herself a ladder out of the pit she woke up in. I could understand what she meant, even if it didn’t quite work for me. But as the weeks have gone on since watching that video, I have found what has begun to work for me — carving a space.

In my dream, I was a passive participant in everything going on. I only chose to speak up or act with initiative upon receiving pain, and with any amount of pushback, I would quickly devolve into sadness and anxiety. I was never good at enforcing what I need in the face of adversity. In many ways, my life has also been this way. I have felt like I’ve had no options, and that I was always stuck to the whims of the world around me. And while it’s true that children often don’t have options, as an adult, I have more choices and more freedom to create a life that I want, not one I was thrust into.

Of course, there are some things that can’t be changed very readily. For instance, I can’t easily move from this location. The idea of being in a place that is near the ocean or green and wet has always appealed to me, but I will likely never be able to do that on a permanent basis. The most I can hope for is to visit such places. Similarly, I am stuck in my body, for better or worse. While the difficulties that come with having this body are challenging and frustrating, at the same time, I need to find a way to work with my body because it’s the only one I have. Or in other words, I understand that I have options, but sometimes my options aren’t feasible or reasonable anytime soon. As such, I need to learn to work with what I have to get what I want.

Carving a space originated (for me) during a session with another person, wherein they were shown an image of their body. Their body was not shaped in a way that made living inside of their body easy. It was the equivalent of trying to fit your foot in a shoe that is 3 sizes too small. The metaphor here was trying to communicate that this person needed to find a way to make their body fit them better — through whatever means was best for them. Whether that meant exercising or taking better care of their body, or decorating it in a way that felt more genuine — they needed to find a way to mold their body to fit their actual shape.

I began to look at my life in the same way. It’s a shape that has been partially formed by others, and is partially beyond my control. However, I am able to work to carve out a me-shaped space in my life that makes life more bearable, more livable. This began with looking for things that made me happy, and partaking in those joys whenever I could. I began drawing again simply because it brought me joy. I began to do things that were only for me, and didn’t necessarily suit anyone but myself.

I have slowly begun to expand this practice to things I don’t necessarily want to do, but know that will ultimately help me do things that I want to do. For example, I want to begin backpacking so that I can go to parts of the state that are greener and have more water. And to be able to do that, I need to work on improving my health and stamina so that I can walk longer and go further. In the meantime, I visit smaller places that have things I enjoy, such as ponds that have ducks and other birds, to keep my brain happy with what is readily available to us in the here and now.

I feel like I have spent the majority of my life building things for others. Working to help others improve their lot and get to better places. For once, though, I am taking the time to improve things for myself. In a sense, it’s a matter of committing myself to the fact that I am alive here in this place, and that this is a life worth investing my time into.

For years, I have pondered on the notion of using the Self, your own body, person and life, as a shrine to devotion that can ultimately serve the gods. In a way, I think this is a part of that. I can’t claim to be a shrine for the gods and not take care of that shrine. I can’t claim to be living to the fullest for their sake if I’m not even willing to invest in myself, in my own life. I can’t expect to serve as a useful shrine, or even devotee, if I’m spending every day miserable, wishing my life was something that it’s not (or wishing that I was dead). Nor can I wait anymore for the currents of life to take me to a destination that is better. Instead, I’m finding it’s easier and more fulfilling to try and get there myself. To carve into the life that I have, and make it more livable and suitable for my needs. In a way, it’s like decorating my house, finally putting some paint on the walls and investing in furniture. It’s reminding myself that life doesn’t always have to be awful, and that I don’t have to always take what is thrust upon me.

I’m not entirely there yet, and I’ve still a long way to go to really truly embracing that on all levels, but I think I’m at least taking the first steps to getting there. And every journey has to start somewhere.

What do you think about carving space into your life to make it more enjoyable? Do you find it hard to invest in yourself or your life? What ways or methods could you use to change that?

**As a post-script, I would like to know if any of my readers would find any benefit in more posts like this that discuss either where I’m at along this journey, or what I’ve learned from therapy that you yourself may find useful in your own life. Or would you rather things stay more Kemetic/pagan driven? Thoughts?

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The Evolution of Mental Illness

I was recently participating in a discussion on Facebook about the negative voices that live in our heads, and heka that can be done to keep them at bay. In the post that was sparking the discussion, the author suggests that giving the negative voices in our heads a name and a form can help us to sit down and discuss things with them. It allows us to interact with parts of ourselves so that we can learn more about who we are, and more importantly, what causes some of these voices to speak up as they do. The long-term goal, as far as I could tell, was that by conversing with these voices, you’d hear less from them in time.

This got me thinking about the voices that pop up in my own head. Of course, I’m not talking about the voice of the gods or spirits that I work with. I’m talking about the voices that often tell me that I suck, or that remind me that I’m not doing as much as I’d like (often stated as “not doing as much as I should“). I’m talking about negative voices that often come with mental illness.

The more I began to mull over what those voices that embody my mental illness try to tell me is the “proper” reality that I live in, the more it really hit home that conversing with my internal voices probably wouldn’t do much for me. Why? Because I’ve found over the years that my mental illness evolves. You see, when I was younger, those voices would still tell me that I suck, but they’d use different reasons to showcase why it is that I suck. For example, when I was younger, I was a lot more isolated from other people, and I was frequently wracked with loneliness. So my voices would remind me about how no one really liked me, and how I could very easily just disappear and no one would notice, and I believed what my mental illness told me because I had nothing to prove them wrong. But now that I’ve worked through some of that baggage? It’s no longer used against me. If my voices want to bring me down, they know that that angle won’t work anymore, and so they choose a different soft point to poke at (such as “this particular person doesn’t like you and never will because you suck” etc.)

This is probably even remotely possible for me to detect on my end because of the shadow work that I’ve done over the past several years. I feel as though my trudging through life with all of my issues was a relatively plateaued affair until I began to actively hack at it in my late twenties via shadow work. Or in other words, my mental illness could hit me in the same spots over and over again when I was younger because I wasn’t making leaps and bounds worth of changes in the mental illness arena. The same issues and concerns I had in late high school were relatively similar to the issues and concerns I had in my early twenties. It only really shifted once I began the shadow work process.

But this highlights for me one of the ultimate caveats to shadow work that doesn’t seem to be spoken about enough–sometimes all the shadow work in the world won’t actually fix everything. I know I talked about this briefly in my post about shadow work being an ongoing process, but it really hit me hard when I realized that as I was beginning to learn how to outwit and overcome my mental illness, my mental illness was evolving to learn how to outwit me.

A side effect of this is that the voices have changed their ‘sales pitch’ to fit whatever topic is the most damaging at any given point in time. Once upon a time, my anxiety and depression could get away with telling me just about anything, and I’d believe it. But now they both have to work a little harder by formatting their statements a certain way in order for me to listen.

This probably sounds like an improvement, and in some ways it is. Due to the work I’ve put in, I can now shrug off certain statements that my brain will fling at me, and certain topics are relatively harmless to my mental health (in comparison to before). But don’t get me wrong–just because these mental illnesses seem to have to work a little harder to figure out what to tell me to get me to sink doesn’t mean that it’s still not effective. Nearly two years of being in mental illness hell is proof that these illnesses are very much in full swing and are effective at crippling me when they want to.

Another way to possibly illustrate it is to compare it to holes in a boat. If I have a boat that has a large hole in the bottom, there is no getting away from the fact that that sucks. Boats with holes don’t float very well. But let’s say that I learn how to somewhat patch this hole up, and now I have two smaller holes instead of one large one–some might consider that an improvement, but my boat still has holes in it. And that’s how I feel when I look at how my mental illness has shifted over the years. In some ways it’s an improvement, but I still have to live with mental illness. And that mental illness is still damned effective at doing what it does despite all of my best efforts.

The biggest point I really wanted to emphasize here is that shadow work will only do so much. Not many of us emphasize it enough, but there is no getting away from that fact: shadow work, therapy, all of these things that we use to try and heal ourselves from our trauma–they only go so far for some things. All of the shadow work in the world won’t erase mental illness, nor will it fix everything. You can definitely wage war against mental illness and push it back a bit, but just like isfet, it is always there lurking at the corners of ones mind. Just like with the gods working to maintain ma’at, the work we put in to stay as healthy as possible with mental illness is a non-stop, never-ending process.

And similarly, if you find that you’ve been working for years trying to get headway with your mental illness, but find that you’re still only treading water, please know this: you’re not alone. Fighting against mental illness is hard and it’s a non-stop battle, and you’re not less for not being able to squash your mental illness down entirely. While so much of the world seems to want to imply that you can somehow teach your mental illness a thing, and make it so that it no longer effects you, that’s simply not true (and honestly smacks against the fact that it’s an illness). And if my experiences are any indication at all, as you improve at waging war against your illness, your illness could get more adept at waging war against you.

Because I haven’t said it enough, remember that shadow work is a tool in your toolbox, and the same way that a hammer doesn’t work that great for putting screws into something, sometimes shadow work isn’t the right tool for the job. Sometimes you’ll do your shadow work exactly as you’re supposed to, and you’ll still come out not completely healed. This isn’t necessarily your fault, but is the nature of living in imperfect bodies that are often riddled with illness. You’re not bad for not being able to fix an incurable illness. You’re not bad for not being able to “magic” such things away. And don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

Have you found that shadow work only goes so far with mental illness? How do you combat this? Have you found that your illness has evolved or changed it’s “angle of attack” over the years?

 

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Spirit Work & Mental Illness

Alternate title: Quit romanticizing my illness.
Alternate title #2: Quit demonizing my treatment.

Every so often I will see little flare-ups in the pagan community that center on two fairly unrelated topics: spirit work and mental illness. Don’t get me wrong, these topics can be related, but they aren’t necessarily related, though many people try to make them out to be. I’m sure many of you have seen articles like this and this that go on and on about how we’re killing our spirit workers because they have mental illness and are not handling it “properly”. And if we’d only just learn how to “properly” handle these “gifts” that we’ve been bestowed, we’d suddenly find that our problems would poof out of existence.

Being a spirit worker myself, I read these posts and feel my jaw clench shut as I find rage welling up in my stomach. These posts are so damaging on so many levels, to both spirit workers and the mentally ill (as well as mentally ill spirit workers), and it really bugs me that so many people don’t see what is wrong withposts like this. There are so many flaws with these kinds of posts that it’s almost impossible to know where to start when critiquing them. But here are a few of the main problems that come to mind whenever this sort of stuff shows up on my FB wall or dash:

Your illness is really a gift from the divine!

One of the first issues that I see popping up with these kinds of articles is the idea that  your mental illness is not actually an illness or a problem, but is really a gift from the gods. And if you’d just learn to accept that, you’d feel all sorts of better! This is also sometimes presented as “if only our society would see the inherent worth and value of your mental illness, you would feel all sorts of better”.

The truth of the matter is, most of the spirit workers I’ve met who are also mentally ill don’t feel like their mental illness is “divine”. I’m here to tell you that I don’t perform as well as a spirit worker when my mental illnesses are flaring up and ruining my life, and it seems like many people feel the same way. Even if society were to somehow make it a-okay to be depressed and anxious all of the time, I would still feel pretty miserable regularly, and wouldn’t be able to operate at maximum capacity.

Mental illness is an energy suck. It sucks the life out of you and leaves you feeling drained, tired, and miserable (most of the time). I can’t imagine how anyone would find this to be divine in nature. Quite honestly, I would expect being tired, drained and miserable would be the opposite of being divine. And no amount of outside support is going to change that my illnesses leave me feeling like crap on the regular. You can’t sunshine and rainbows away mental illness. You simply can’t. And implying that this is a gift is like spitting in the face of every person who has to work really hard to function despite their mental illness/es. Implying that someone with mental health issues doesn’t really know what their illness “actually” is is also ableist. Of course, if you are mentally ill and wish to make it a part of your spirituality, or find that it is a source of power for your spirit work, that’s fine. But it’s one thing to believe that your particular mental illness is a strength for you, and quite another to imply that everyone else who is mentally ill should operate the same way.

I’ve also never understood why so many people believe that mental illness always makes you a spirit worker. I have been depressed and anxious for as long as I can remember, but spirit work wasn’t really a part of my life until I was in my mid-to-late 20’s. And truth be told, my mental illness didn’t really play a role in my becoming a spirit worker (and based off of what I’ve read, mental illness was not a common indicator of spirit work in some cultures in the past- physical health was another story, though). If anything, my mental illness often gets in the way of doing what I need to do Over There, and there are many times when I get really frustrated with the constant interruptions that crop up from my brain deciding that it needs to tank my mood right when important work needs to get done.

There are many mentally ill people who are not spirit workers, and who don’t want to be spirit workers. Conversely, I’ve met plenty of non-mentally ill spirit workers. I’m not sure where this idea originally came from, but it’s an idea that needs to stop propagating. You can be mentally ill and a spirit worker, you can be a spirit worker who isn’t mentally ill, and you can be mentally ill and not a spirit worker. None of these things is necessarily related.

Medication is bad, m’kay?

The other factor that I see constantly brought up in these articles is the idea that if you’re using western medicine in any capacity, you’re drugging your abilities away, or ruining the gift that you’ve supposedly been given.

For anyone that has been following me for any amount of time, you know that I have worked on finding ways to medicate myself, and that I’ve had a fair amount of success with it so far. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t want to go back to pre-medication me. Medication can take all sorts of forms, and since mental illness can’t really be cured, we really have no place to judge what works or doesn’t work for another. So long as you’re being responsible and healthy about your medication choices, that’s really all that matters. The idea that medication is somehow going to ruin you is so damaging, and prevents people from seeking out treatment. It causes people to be miserable because they fear seeking treatment, or they feel like treatment makes them weak as a person.

Everyone really needs to stop implying that medication is inherently bad (you are treating an illness, after all. And if you’d take medicine for a physical illness, you shouldn’t be chastising someone for taking medication for a mental illness). There are so many people I have met (spirit workers and non-spirit workers alike) who have become better and more stable because of their treatments. I have met spirit workers who feel like their medication makes them better spirit workers. Because, wow, you can actually get more work done when your brain isn’t working against you.

Discernment? What discernment?!

Something else I’ve noticed when these kinds of posts are trawled out is that discernment seems to go down the tubes. In many ways, people seem to believe that if you happen to “see” something that “isn’t there”, then it must be a spiritual experience, and can never be a symptom mental illness.

The truth is that many spirit workers who have mental illness will tell you that there is a definite difference between the symptoms of their illness, and what they experience as a spirit worker. I have met people who have told me that their hallucinations have a very different look and feel in comparison to their astral visions and travels. I’ve met others who tell me that the non-existent things that they hear sound different than when a spirit is talking to them. I’ve met others who tell me that their medication has shifted their experiences (sometimes good, sometimes bad) and that once they took a closer look at their experiences, they could tell what was more induced via medication, and what was genuine.

However, when these posts start throwing the baby out with the bath water, and assume that all visions are the same- regardless of your “gift” of a mental illness, then we stop focusing on discernment and learning how mental illness and spirit work actually play together. Because they can play together, and there are distinct differences between the two for most of us who live with both. When discernment goes out the window, you’re creating a recipe for disaster, because discernment is key to staying safe while working with not only the Unseen, but within our community itself.

Why I consider this to be dangerous.

I personally believe that these sorts of ideas are not only incorrect and damaging, but I personally believe them to be entirely dangerous. They are dangerous because they don’t create an atmosphere where people who are mentally ill can actually seek out treatment that works well for them. The notion that all Western medicine is inherently bad and will completely screw you up often demotivates people to consider all possible treatment methods, and may cause people to skip over a particular treatment type that works for them. It may also be a strong enough argument to convince someone to stop treatment, even if it is working for them. And when people who are mentally ill don’t receive proper treatment, we often run into other problems that causes a decline in our quality of life. Buying into narratives that perpetuate this will cause people to get hurt in very real ways. I have met people who believed that they could spirit work their mental illness away, and let me tell you that the results were often not pretty, and in many ways, produced the exact opposite effect of what they desired.

This is also damaging to the spirit worker community and the wider pagan community as a whole. It causes people to feel inadequate in some ways, and gives people power that they wield poorly in others. The idea that all mentally ill people must be spirit workers creates a rift within the community, as those who are mentally ill, but not spirit workers may feel like they’re doing something wrong. “If all mentally ill people are supposed to be special, but I’m not getting anywhere, then I must be a screw-up, right?”  And if you happen to be a mentally ill spirit worker who is undergoing therapy or treatment, you may suddenly question if you’re also doing it wrong, because apparently these things will prohibit you from being as “good” of a spirit worker as you could be. Not to mention that it makes the spirit workers who are not mentally ill feel ostracized in a community that is already pretty small, niche, and hard to get into.

It sets up this expectation that most people will not meet, and that people shouldn’t have to meet, and yet people continue to push this narrative as if it’s 110% absolute truth. These ideas hurt those who are already vulnerable (mentally ill people) and inadvertently sets them up for a very likely failure. It takes the conversation off of important topics that could actually benefit mentally ill spirit workers (topics such as: how do I tell the difference between a spiritual experience and my mental illness, how do I tell the difference between the astral and a hallucination, how do I work around these crippling symptoms I am experiencing from my illness, how do you manage spirit work and mental illness, etc.) and puts the conversation onto a useless topic of “your medication is bad and everything would get better if you’d just become a spirit worker”.

Yes, it is true that our society doesn’t handle mental illness well. Yes, it is true that we would all benefit from having a society that accepts mental illness and treats it like the illness that it is. But I still don’t believe that spirit work is the cure for all mental illness (quite the opposite, really). I don’t believe that spirit work will make every single mentally ill person feel better (I’m still mentally ill), in the same way that I don’t believe that every mentally ill person is meant to be a spirit worker, or is even necessarily having a spiritual/Unseen experience (many of my symptoms have been exactly that- symptoms, not genuine spiritual experiences). In many ways, mental illness and spiritual experiences can have some overlap, but they aren’t inherently the same thing and it’s better for everyone that this becomes a more recognized and understood thing. I would love to see more discussion on their differences and similarities than the constant “they are all the same” that you seem to get in the posts linked above as it would actually help the mentally ill people that everyone is so intent on discussing.

 

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The Weight of Worth

I think it goes without saying that I have a fairly shoddy family life. My relationships with most of my family members are strained at best, and completely beyond repair in a lot cases. While they’re not the worst people in the world, they aren’t exactly the best, either. Or at least, they’re not always the best for me. Maybe if I was straight, neurotypical or lacking in mental health issues out the wazoo it wouldn’t be such a big deal. But for whatever reason, my relationship with my family is still not ideal in a lot of ways.

Because of this, I hide a lot of what I do from my family. They don’t know about my personal life or my relationship with my partner that’s been going on for almost a decade now. They don’t know about my life in the Unseen (could you really imagine how they’d react?), and they don’t know about my work with the Kemetic community. They have a passing knowledge that I’m “not Christian” and that I’m “not entirely straight”, but that’s about as far as their understanding goes, and I like to keep it that way. I worry that if they were to find these things out about me, they’d eat me alive the first chance that they got.

This can be difficult to manage, though, as there are times when I would like to share these aspects of my life with other people that I know in the flesh. There are times when I’d love to show how my work online has influenced my life offline, or utilize online or religious experiences to show my family members how they’ve got the wrong idea about me.

A good example of this is the very frequently used “you’re so angry” trope. This usually happens when I’ve managed to catch a male family member off guard by calling them out on something problematic, and they end up deflecting with a “well you’re so angry all of the time, it must really suck to be you.” Of course, calling women angry as a means to belittle them and derail the conversation into a different, more personal topic (often called an ad hominem attack) is pretty well discussed and well documented in our society. In many ways, women aren’t allowed to be angry. We’re only allowed to be nice and happy and fluffy cuddles all of the time. So when this happens, I’m not entirely surprised, just agitated that this is how a grown man chooses to handle criticism.

And as I sit there and watch this grown man throw around the whole “you’re so angry!” as if that invalidates everything I have to say, I often find myself wanting to do one of two things. The first is to tell them that I am angry, and for good reason. Who wouldn’t be angry that their family treats them fairly poorly, or that their upbringing was less than ideal and how that still effects things to this day. Who wouldn’t be angry for being a second rate citizen within our culture. Who wouldn’t be angry about getting paid less for doing more work, for being shunned by politicians, the media, and the general population. Who wouldn’t be angry for getting the short stick. I usually want to follow this up with statements about how my gods have taught me not to fear my anger, but to embrace it and use it for making change. I want to tell them about how the NTRW have pushed us all to be more accepting of ourselves and our emotions, even if those emotions are not always considered “appropriate” by our society. In this moment, I want to talk about Kemeticism and how it has influenced my ideas about anger, and to push my family member to reconsider their ideas about anger (and women being angry). But as I said above, I can’t.

The second thing I want to do is to shout back at them “no I’m not!” and to tell them that they’ve got me all wrong. I want to tell them about all of the work I’ve done online, and how I’ve worked to help others, and the joy that that brings me. I want to tell them about how my partner makes me happy and has brought balance to my life in ways no one else has. I want to tell them that despite all of my shortcomings, I’ve worked so hard to make something of myself, and that I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot despite what I was born into. In this moment, I want to talk about Kemeticism and how it’s not only enriched my life, but allowed me to enrich the lives of others and how important that is to me. But again, I can’t.

But really, both of the above paragraphs are accurate. I am angry and not angry at the same time. Like most things, it depends on the subject matter as to whether I may appear more disgruntled or less disgruntled. I’m going to have a very different emotional response to kittens as opposed to rampant sexism. And to base a person’s entire personality off of the emotions expressed over one topic is really not cool or fair, especially if you’re using it to deflect criticism of problematic behaviour.

But more importantly than all of this, is the fact that I shouldn’t have to defend myself in regards to my perceived anger. I shouldn’t have to prove my worth based off of my community work. I shouldn’t have to prove my worth because “I’m not really all that angry, I promise.” I shouldn’t have to be ashamed or perceived as less than because of the emotions that I am experiencing. I shouldn’t have to defend myself at all for expressing what I feel in a healthy manner. And I shouldn’t have people trying to debase everything I say because of the notion of anger.

The more I reflected on this, the more I realized that while I had internalized all of the lessons that Set had given me about anger back in the Pit all those years ago, I still had more work to do in regards to my anger. Yes, I can accept that I am angry. Yes, I can utilize my anger in a positive fashion. Yes, I can control my anger and channel it a lot better than I used to be able to. All of these lessons are still with me today.

But what I didn’t internalize or take with me is that I can be angry without needing to prove that I am allowed to be angry. In so many ways, I have been conditioned to believe that I can be angry and upset because I do all of these other useful things that negate that anger. There seems to be this internalized idea that I can be “less than ideal” because I do other things that live up to our society’s idea of what we should be doing with our lives (hint: it centers around being productive for someone else 24/7).

anti capitalist love notes

My worth is not based around what I do for the community. My worth is not based around how productive I am or am not. My worth as a human and as a person is inherent simply because I exist. My anger is justified and valid because it is a feeling that I have, and I don’t need to go do all of these “good deeds” in order to be justified and valid in what I already feel. I don’t need to go do good things as a means to weigh against the “bad things” that I feel.

And above all, I don’t need to pull this information out to prove to random angry manchildren that I’m really “not all that bad if you’d just give me a chance.” I don’t owe him anything, and I certainly shouldn’t have to give out personal details in order to earn his respect (as the respect should be inherent). And really, none of us should have to. Our society likes to imply that we are only valuable if we are productive, but that’s really not true. You don’t owe society a thing, and you shouldn’t have to prove to anyone that you deserve to continue to exist.

Part of my practice has been about coming to terms with who I am and how I feel, as well as learning to embrace parts of myself I have been made to deny and hate for years. And while I’ve made a lot of progress, this past year’s interactions with the manchildren in my family has shown me that I still have a lot of work left to do. As I often say, the rabbit hole has no bottom or end, and so it seems to go with shadow work as well.

 

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Getting Your Astral Ducks in a Row

via wikimedia commons

via wikimedia commons

I have spent a lot of time talking about how dangerous the astral can be. I’ve tried to drill home the fact that the astral can be fickle, and that it isn’t something to be trifled with lest you accidentally bite off more than you can chew. When it comes to the astral, I’ve always tried to present a realistic view of what you can expect. I try not to make out to be 110% scary, but I also try to ensure that everyone knows what they could be getting into before they start to knock on that proverbial door. I’ve always felt that it’s my responsibility as a traveler to represent the facts as they are, both good and bad, and to let everyone else make their own personal decisions about whether they want to take the risks of trying to get Over There.

Something that I realized this past week is that I never bothered to go into the things that could make your transition into astral work a bit easier. Someone had asked me what reasons one might have for waiting before trying to astral travel, which I interpreted as “what things you might want to have taken care of or accomplished before you try to travel”, and I felt it was a topic that was worth exploring more in-depth. So for this post, I’m going to talk about what you might want to tackle before you try to astral travel.

Why would I need to tackle anything?

The first thing you may be wondering is why you need to do anything before you try to astral travel. Most people don’t seem to talk about prerequisites for astral travel, unless it’s mastering the method of traveling itself. But the truth is, there can be some beneficial aspects to getting your shit together before you try to go traipsing through the Unseen. Just a few of the benefits of having your ducks in a row are: you may sustain less trauma when you get there, it can allow you to be less easily duped into things, it can make navigation easier and it can allow you to protect yourself better. Not to mention that having your ducks in a row can allow you to travel smoother and more readily in general.

While you certainly don’t need to have everything in order before you start to attempt astral travel (and truth be told, most of us aren’t perfect before we start to travel- sometimes the astral just won’t wait), it is certainly worth considering marking off at least a few of these things before you start to regularly attempt going to the Unseen.

Consider your location.

One of the first things I recommend that people consider before trying to break into the astral is their living situation. As it turns out, where you live and what kind of people you live with can greatly influence how successful you may or may not be in astral work. When I was living at my mother’s house, I was always so miserable and stressed that trying to relax long enough to even attempt to travel was pretty much a no-go. On top of my stress levels, I was always worried that someone was going to walk in on me or disturb my session, which made my attempts even less effective.

If you’re wanting to go a lot of astral work, you’re probably going to have to make multiple attempts at regular intervals. For some people this is a weekly event, for others it’s an almost daily event. If you don’t happen to live in a location that has the space, quiet, or predictability for you to practice traveling, you’re probably not going to get very far very quickly. On top of that, if you’re already capable of astral travel, moving into a location where you can’t go through the proper steps or motions in order to gain access to the astral, you’re probably going to see a drop in your abilities. Having the proper space in which to do your work is important, if not vital to your success in being able to travel. And if you’re living in a location where peace and quiet don’t exist, you may be better off waiting until your living situation changes before you try again.

Consider your mental and physical health.

Another thing to keep in mind is your mental and physical health, as both of these can influence your ability to travel as well as your discernment. For those who have mental health issues, I’ve found that bad mental health days often result in lackluster experiences Over There. I often have a hard time connecting to the astral, and that can result in an inability to move well, see well or hear just about anything. I’ve also found that bad mental health often results in less ability to discern what I’m seeing, and I’m more prone to falling into brain vomit than falling into the actual astral. And of course if I’m having a bad mental health day over here, and I fall into trouble Over There, my ability to cope with whatever is happening Over There drops dramatically. However, if I wait for days when I am somewhat mentally stable, I tend to be able to cope a lot better with whatever is going on. If you’ve got mental illness, it’s worth taking a look at how your illness effects your experiences so that you can begin to learn your own patterns and use those for discernment and planning your “travel schedule”. But if you’re just starting out, it may be best to make sure that you’re in a somewhat stable state of mind before you go anywhere. Otherwise you may be making your situation harder than it needs to be.

Physical health was always a big deal for me because I used very physical methods to travel when I first started out. Dancing until you can’t stand definitely takes its toll on your body, and if you happen to be sick (whether chronically or only for a short period of time), you may not be able to travel worth a damn until your body has healed up. This can be trialing if you’ve got chronic illness, and in those situations, I recommend that you experiment with less physically-taxing travel methods to see if you can find something that doesn’t stress your body out too much.

Much like with the living situation, if your mental health is in the garbage, or your body is unable to keep up, you’re likely going to be hitting quite a few walls during your traveling experiences. Making sure that you’re in a decent place mentally and physically before you take on the possibility of traveling can open you up for greater success and less frustration over all.

Be conscientious of your limitations.

Getting into astral work can take a lot of energy and time, and I think it’s important to keep in mind the limitations that you may or may not have before you attempt to make astral travel a regular part of your life. Having limitations isn’t necessarily a bad thing, we’ve all got them. However, starting to do work that you know you can’t maintain long term isn’t something that I can truly recommend. It’s important to remember that if you’re doing the work, on some level you have to accept that what you are experiencing is real. And while the relationships we develop in the astral may be a small part of our larger lives, that may not be the case for those who are living full time in the realms that you visit.

It is my personal and unpopular opinion that it’s not fair or responsible to travel over to the astral, begin to make a life there or develop relationships there, and then stop going all together. Obviously, life can have many twists and turns, and it’s entirely possible that things can happen here that you didn’t foresee. However, if you’re trying to do astral work, but know you’re not going to be able to maintain it in a long term fashion, I urge you to consider if it’s really a good idea. Is it really fair to anyone you befriend Over There to only travel during the summer when you’re not burdened with college? Is it fair to travel when you know you’re only going to be able to work at it for three weeks before your depression takes you out of the picture for 6 months? Is it fair to your family over here if you are already strapped for time, and are trying to fit another time-intensive activity into your waking life? Is it fair to you? In the same way that you wouldn’t want your friend, lover, or parent to disappear for months at a time, your astral companions may not be pleased to have you suddenly stop showing up because life got too difficult for you over here. Being aware of whether you can actually juggle life here and life there is incredibly important before you walk through the door to the Unseen.

Being aware of your limitations is important, not only for you, but for those you interact with- both over here and Over There. It’s not fair to anyone (yourself included) to only half-ass this type of work, and you can’t expect to get very far if you’re not willing or able to put forth a solid, consistent effort with traveling. Being aware of how your living situation, mental health, physical health, and other life requirements will play into your ability to travel is incredibly important. Taking note of what you can and can’t handle long term, and keeping an eye on your potential pitfalls will allow you to have more success when you attempt to travel, and better relationships both here and there.

Limitations are not necessarily a bad thing. They can often lead to interesting new methods of doing things and can drive innovation. However, not taking stock of potential problems is often a recipe for disaster. By taking the time to lay out some groundwork and getting your ducks in a row before you attempt to travel regularly can increase your chances of overall success.

Did you have your astral ducks in a row before you started to travel? If not, do you wish you actually had them in a row before you traveled? Any advice you’d give to people who are looking to make astral travel a part of their practice?

 

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The Astral and PTSD

I am pretty sure by this point, almost everyone has heard about the new movie Jurassic World. I’ve heard almost everyone I know (that is under the age of 55) talk about it in some capacity, and it’s even made its way into our Kemetic Fandom over on Tumblr. It’s so popular that it’s even made it into my workplace. I distinctly remember listening to my coworker talk about this movie last week, and referring to it as nothing more than, “A movie about dinosaurs eating people.”

You’re probably looking at the title of this post and wondering what the hell Jurassic World has to do with the astral or PTSD. And truth be told, that’s kind of the point. On the surface, it’s got absolutely nothing to do with PTSD or the astral. It’s “just a movie about dinosaurs eating people,” after all.

But that is the beauty of PTSD, triggers, and sketchy brain functioning. Sometimes the most tenuous of topics can set you off. Even movies that are about dinosaurs eating people.

Over the years I’ve tried to warn people about the dangers of jumping head first into the astral. I’ve tried to illustrate that the astral fucks with your brain a little bit, and that even those who have the best lives ever Over There can end up with a few mental quirks. And so you should be careful before you sign your life away to the astral bank because you never know what kind of mixed bag you’re going to be handed on arrival. You never know if the astral bank is going to charge you a 5 cent monthly fee or a $5,000 monthly fee, so you better make sure your pockets are deep enough to handle whatever comes your way.

I’ve talked about these “fees” and things like PTSD in abstract terms and hints and concepts, but I’ve never really laid it out in specifics before. I’ve never really sat down and talked to all of you about any one particular instance where my brain short circuited and I was left in a ball on the ground (it has happened a few times).

Today we’re going to talk about an incident more in-depth. If you don’t think you can handle discussion of a dinosaur movie causing a PTSD flare up, then you may want to skip this post. For the sake of those who haven’t seen the movie yet, I will be doing my best to ensure nothing overly specific is mentioned, so that nothing is spoiled. Please proceed beyond this paragraph at your own discretion.

The truth of the matter is, I wasn’t overly interested in seeing this movie. Dinosaurs are really not my jam, and I expected to spend two hours staring off at the wall out of boredom, not staring at the wall because looking at the movie screen was just too painful for me. I can’t even begin to express my own surprise and disgust that I felt towards myself when I realized that my mind was running itself through the ringer, and bringing up all of these images and sounds and feelings that had absolutely nothing to do with dinosaurs, especially given my sentiments about the movie on arrival.

The thing I’ve learned about having weird trigger moments over the years is that there is rarely one single thing that sets them off for me. There are times when I have been set off and I couldn’t tell you what exactly about the situation made my brain make a connection that caused me to be curled up on the floor. There seem to be some people who know exactly what their triggers are, but I don’t really seem to be one of those people (with only a few exceptions). There are times when I can see something and be okay, and then other times it sets me off; and who knows exactly why it happened as it did. All I know is that it caused something to snap inside of my head.

Jurassic World was no exception for me. I can’t tell if it was my connection to a species that had been wiped out, and was then brought back to life simply to be exploited and studied by foreign captors. I can’t tell if it was simply seeing dead or dying things that did it for me. Perhaps it was the volume of dead things that bothered me. Or maybe it was more about sound and ambiance, and maybe they used the right mixture of gun shots that made my brain snap. Maybe it was all of these things. Maybe it was something else entirely.

It can be frustrating not to know what exactly it is that caused my brain to slowly fracture and break into pieces, as I have no clue what to avoid in the future so that I don’t set myself off again. Do I need to start avoiding dinosaurs all together? What is it about this movie’s portrayal of violence that was so different than all of the other action movies I have seen? Do I need to be avoiding this director or soundtrack composer instead? What exactly caused this?

Not knowing what exactly caused this to happen made me feel even worse as I closed my eyes and watched the gunfire through my eyelids, because all I could then hear in the back of my head was my coworker chiding this movie for being nothing more than “dinosaurs eating people.” Nobody else in the theater was having problems. No one else was crying because dinosaurs. (I used dinosaurs because I didn’t really know what was causing this reaction). And all I could think to do is waffle between “This is all I see Over There” (‘this’ referring to violence and death) and “How the hell can you be so stupid to get upset over dinosaurs?!”.

Going through such an episode was a very surreal experience. In a way, my brain felt like a cacophony of thoughts and senses. On one hand, I was caught in the past, inside of memories of standing amongst a sea of dead people. Feeling blood dripping down my hands and the dirt under my finger nails. The drag of dirty hands across sweaty and dirty hair as I tried to calm the person dieing on the ground. I was caught in the smell of death and the unnerving silence that falls after the guns quit shooting. It’s like you’re simultaneously caught in the middle of the past, wallowing in the hell that your brain is putting you through, but at the same time, I could hear the very logical and reasoned parts of myself trying to tell me that this is just a movie, it’s fake, it’s not real. I could hear parts of me trying to calm myself down. And at the same time, I could also hear my very chastising self getting irate over the fact that I was “freaking out over dinosaurs”.

The other thing worth mentioning is that sometimes there were no overwhelming visuals that coincided with my meltdown. Sometimes I would close my eyes and simply see black. But that didn’t stop my body from tensing and tightening up as though I was in the middle of a war zone trying to stay alive. You don’t always need to see something, apparently, to experience it all the same. I think this is particularly worth noting because there are many times when I wake up and don’t consciously remember a single thing I did Over There. But it would seem that even though I am not consciously remembering things, that doesn’t mean my body isn’t still taking notes for me. I’ve brought up the fact that bodies are like libraries and indexes of what we experience throughout our life, and this can include things you don’t remember. Repressed memories and experiences that lay dormant in your brain meats can be brought back to life if the right buttons are pushed. And if I wasn’t punishing myself for getting worked up over dinosaurs, I was punishing myself for getting worked up over memories I can barely even recollect or see.

For those who have never had the pleasure of experiencing something like this, the end result is a complete and utter depletion of your energy. My hands were rather numb. I was shaking and couldn’t find a way to stop. My stomach was so upset that I was on the verge of vomiting (something that rarely happens). I can only imagine what everyone else in the theater thought about the weird chick who “cried over dinosaurs.” And when I was asked about it by the person I had gone to the movie with, the first thing I could bring myself to utter was “You’re going to think I’m incredibly stupid.” (btw, they did not think I was stupid).

The thing is, PTSD doesn’t give a shit about what sets it off. Your brain doesn’t care if it’s dinosaurs, or crabs, or penguins, or eggs. Sometimes it’s a smell or a song. Other times its a facial expression or the way someone’s hair lays that day. It can be literally anything, and it isn’t always consistent. It’s not logical, and that’s the point. When brains break, they lose their ability to be 110% logical. The whole take home message of mental illness is that it is out of your control, and falls outside of the realm of logic.

When you read people warning you about going onto the astral because you never know what will happen to you, we’re warning you because of moments like this. Imagine yourself going to a movie and freaking out to the point that you’re barely able to keep it together until it’s over. Imagine if you’re with friends or family, and can’t explain to them why you’re freaking out, because if they knew that you were caught up in some sort of war zone in another plane of existence, they’d look at you like you needed a padded room and medication. Even if you go by yourself, imagine having to coast past the fact that “yeah, that movie gave me a mental breakdown so I don’t want to talk about it” when someone asks you if you liked the movie. Yeah, you can just brush it off, but it can be challenging to do that when the mere thought of the movie brings all of the memories of your episode back to the forefront of your mind.

The worst part about setting up an account with the astral bank is this: even if you aren’t sure if all of this is real, the astral will prove to be real in very real ways.

Even if I’m just playing around in my head, the breakdown that I had this past weekend was very very real. It can’t be denied. It manifested in such a way that I was physically ill and it left me pretty useless for quite a few hours after it happened.

And what’s worse is that you will spend the entirety of your life being told directly and indirectly that you’re only traveling to garner attention from everyone else. That you’re delusional and making it up, that you need “help” and that you’re just trying to lord this over other people or use it as a power play. You will spend your life wondering if you’ve lost your mind, and plenty of people will gladly jump in to tell you just how not-sane you sound.

And despite that, you will have moments like this that are so real that it’s really hard to believe that you’re making it all up. Of course, you can’t really talk about those moments, because people will really begin to question your sanity because now it’s making you cry in the middle of a movie about fucking dinosaurs.

This is the trade off that Unseen travelers and workers have to deal with. When I tell people to please be careful, this is exactly why. This is what you’re possibly looking at for the rest of your life. You never know what lies on the other side of that door, and once you open it, there is no going back to who you were before. Sometimes you’ll walk through and nothing major happens, and it’s kittens and rainbows and life is great and the astral bank only charges you a .05 fee every month. But you’re also just as likely walking into the middle of hell and everything that you thought you were is going to change into something else completely foreign and the astral bank wants to charge you $5,000 a month, and you have to learn to contend with that.

No one seems to want to associate PTSD with astral, but I’m hear to tell you, you can only see so many people hurt and killed before it takes it’s toll on your mind. We all want to believe that the astral is only “sorta real”, but your brain doesn’t make that distinction even if you consciously try to do so.

For those out there who like to constantly remind everyone that “people who ‘travel’ to the astral are full of themselves and delusional”, I ask that you reconsider your stance, or learn to keep your stance to yourself. Even if the thought of traveling to the Unseen somehow seems too far fetched for you (even though you seemingly think that gods can be real), no one who does this kind of work is dumb enough to not know how crazy it all sounds. You’re not telling us anything we haven’t told ourselves.

For those of you who are considering astral travel as a “thing”, please consider heavily the price that you may have to pay if you are successful. Make sure it’s really worth it to you before you try to open that door.

And for those of you who are in the same boat as me, you have my sympathies and remember to take care of yourself, because I know how challenging this lot can be.

 

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The Good Earth

Astral bodies are incredibly vast. They can contain worlds and universes within them. You could spend an entire lifetime inside of some bodies and never see everything within. Get lost within a body, and you may never get out again.

Astral bodies can also contain relics of previous existences within them, the same way that we sometimes stumble across old ruins in the dirt.

I’ve seen it said that human bodies are like a sort of repository or record of everything you experience. And that the records may not contain only information about yourself, but of your predecessors and ancestors, too. I find this interesting, because astral bodies can be like that as well. But instead of keeping the information for only one lifetime, the body is storing away information from multiple lifetimes that exist along a single soul line within. So the same way that my human body stores information about my own existence here on earth, as well as genetic information from my parents and their parents, etc., my astral body contains information about earth bound me, and all of the other versions of myself running around on the astral as well as predecessors and previous incarnations of myself. Because astral bodies are vast.

Stumbling across one of these relics, one of these recordings of the past is incredibly interesting. I just so happened across one in the form of dirt one evening. But this wasn’t just any dirt. This was like dirt and glitter went out for a night on the town and had a baby. It was unlike any dirt I’d ever seen here on earth.

When I asked about this dirt, I was told that I was standing on a corpse. Beneath my feet lay the remains of a previous existence, a previous life form. I’m not entirely sure what this previous life form was or what it looked like, or even how it met its end. All I know is that the corpse that this dirt represented laid the foundations for new life to grow. Like plants springing out of the ground, or crops sprouting out of Osiris’ back, this dirt has given the nutrients needed to create new life.

As it turns out, the man I was walking with was one of the many end products of this fertile soil. And as it also turns out, this man was not very fond of his soul line’s predecessor, the entity that was now embodied by this soil. He and I had been working for months now to try and figure out how to fix some of the problems he was experiencing, and the origins for most of them lie in the soil we were walking upon.

It is very difficult to heal when you carry wounds and scars from your predecessors. I have a hard time healing because I still carry scars and wounds from my parents- my mortal predecessors. And my parents carry scars that were given to them from their parents, their mortal predecessors. Based off of the many discussions I’ve had about Akhu with fellow Kemetics, it is very apparent to me that having less than ideal family lineage is par for the course anymore. So many of us don’t feel secure in giving our ancestors the time of day because they were not very good people. It is challenging to build up any sort of solace or acceptance if it hinges upon people that have hurt you- blood related or not.

This is also true, I think, if the horrible predecessor is yourself.

Ever look back at things you said or did in the past and thought “Wow I was an asshole”? Ever learn that you’ve got really bad habits that need to go away, and that those habits have hurt people really badly? Maybe you’re one of those parents in the paragraph above, and you wake up one morning and realize you wrecked your kids for life. What do you do then?

That is the situation me and my companion found ourselves in. For this dirt that he walked upon was nothing more than remnants of himself. The predecessor that he hated so much was a previous incarnation of himself. And many of the reasons the work we had been doing was not sticking was because he couldn’t get over his own past, his own previous failings.

It sucks to wake up one day and realize you’ve been a horrible person. It sucks to wake up one day and realize that you’ve hurt or possibly ruined people. It sucks to know that you’ve fed into oppressive systems or perpetuated someone else’s pain and suffering.

It sucks to wake up one day and realize you’ve been a big bag of floppy dicks. That you’ve broken the main rule of Kemeticism.

I have struggled with this over the years in many formats. There have been times when I realize that I have been horrible to other people and have hurt them and I had to figure out what to do about it. There have also been times when I have been asked to help heal someone in the Unseen who has caused me pain in the past as well. It’s hard to help someone heal when you can’t overcome the pain that they caused you. It’s hard to help someone accept their own past mistakes if you yourself can’t even accept what they have done.

Life is messy like that, and in my short time both here in the physical as well as the Unseen, I can tell you that there are more people who have screwed up and hurt others than not. If you have been a bag of dicks, I can assure you you’re not alone in it.

Something else I’ve learned during my stint here is that just because you were a bag of dicks before doesn’t mean you have to be a bag of dicks now. Just because you screwed up in the past doesn’t mean that you are condemned to be horrible forever. Sometimes your old horrible self can become useful, fertile soil to create a new you, if you know what you’re doing. I say this because who better to teach others the pitfalls of falling into certain habits than someone who has had those habits themselves?

If you look back over your past and can see how you fell into the habits, situations, and destructive patterns that you did- it’s much easier to show other people what to look out for, what things to avoid, what things to do better. Because you’ve been there and you know the ins and outs of the behaviour, it’s easier for you to draw a sort of “map” to help others get out, too.

I try to tell the man that I am walking with this. I try to reassure him that just because he was prone to bad behaviour in the past doesn’t mean that he is always doomed to repeat that behaviour. I try to tell him that he can learn from his past and better himself, that he needn’t be chained to who he was. Every moment is Zep Tepi. Every moment is a time to start over and recommit yourself anew to whatever path you choose. This fertile soil that we walk upon could very well serve as the foundations for him to become someone better than he once was.

And the truth is, we are all this way. We are all our own cache of fertile soil that we can grow from. We are all able to become more than what we were, whenever we so choose to plant the seeds of change within ourselves. Even if you’ve screwed up or done things you regret, you can always choose to do better. Never give up on yourself. Investing in yourself is the best investment that you can ever make, and it is an investment that we should all be making regularly.

Do not deny yourself your new beginning.

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