When I look into your eyes
It’s like watching the night sky
Or a beautiful sunrise
Well, there’s so much they hold
And just like them old stars
I see that you’ve come so far
To be right where you are
How old is your soul?
Jason Mraz, “I Won’t Give Up”
Sometimes when you lose . . . you win.
Richard Matheson, What Dreams May Come
I’ve always been just a little in love with humanity. Not just people, for they fail and hurt and burn, but humanity as an existential concept of struggle against the tide of forever. Like that. I have this horrible habit (flaw?) of wanting to reach out, help, fight like a rabid sixties liberal in a naive state of grace and doom. As my middle son likes to say, my bad. I am not the tit of the world, nor can I save anyone–after all. But damn, I lose myself in the rapture of linked hands. Actually lose myself. And that, my friends, is the problem.
Recently, we closed the doors of Grass Roots Church to include Tribe and family only. The response has not been supportive. It appears that *others* see that move as an aggressive one, a personal one, and apparently do not get one simple concept: not everything is about you. I had been warned, heavily, about the fubar that is our local community in Alabama–but nothing prepared me for what I found. Is it worth saving? Oh, hell yes. Could we have helped? Probably. Am I willing to throw my marriage, my tribal health, my children and my home down as collateral?
Screw that. Let the ones who are interested in ego-building, war-mongering and drama-stirring have that cauldron. (And: they will. Enjoy.) I have seen the end of the rainbow-and my treasure lies in my own spiritual health.
Ah, it’s personal alright. To me. What is it about our culture that demonizes that sacral moment of self-preservation? Eclipses our own path and happiness at the sight of popularity and power? Naw. Sorry, y’all. That’s my foot, down. If folks need saving, mayhap they should do it their own selves. My hands are full.
There’s this movie running through my mind, a goofy comedy that somehow made an impact on my life anyhow called Death Becomes Her. Two women, in this hysterical epic stand-off on who would win all while Bruce Willis flubbers and concedes and loses his soul–until one day, when he finds it. And walks away. Now, Helen (Goldie Hawn) is in this death-grip with Madolyn (Meryl Streep) and can only focus on her nemesis and the thousand ways to get revenge–to the point that she has lost her own life. These two war and spar and act like a couple of asshats until . . . well, their hate has locked them into an eternity together. They cannot die, only continue the battle forever:
And no matter how I search, I cannot find the funeral scene where Bruce’s later life makes it clear that he stepped out of the game. Found true happiness. Refused the eternal life potion and chose instead to truly LIVE. But I remember it. I remember thinking: how brave.
How very, very brave. To walk away from the anger and the hate and the deep well of resentment and ego and just live.
This is what I have chosen.
Recently, I sat down with my tribe and we broke all ties with curses, negativity and doubt. Yes, it had repercussions. Yes, we asked for justice. Yes, it shook the ground across town. Did we ask for vengeance? No. We asked for sweet and utter release.
Let me tell you a Southern story. Once upon a time, a very bad witch walked into my path and refused to leave. I was all: “I can save her from herself.” She was all: “I can teach her the dark path.” How in the world either of us thought it would lead to anything but pain, I cannot remember. Shaking the natural order in that form of supernatural asshattery makes no damn sense and still, we tried. No amount of affection or adoration can supersede primal tendencies of right and wrong and scores of souls have been torn and battered by that, um, battle. Let’s call it a battle–because it was. My uppity butt was so invested in winning it that I almost lost my own soul. You know that moment? Where you cannot tell the difference between yourself and the enemy anymore? Yeah. Like that.
My lame excuse for continually picking up my sword went something like: someone has to do it! She will never stop!
Jesus. On a pogo stick. No shit. Of course, she will never stop. Therefore . . . I intended to keep fighting? Witch’s duh moment. Wow. Slap my face and call me Southern, I forgot everything.
Have I told y’all that I’m an Aries?
And so, the battle raged on. Over a year ago, I begged her for a “divorce,” the only word I could use in my lexicon that she would understand for a forever break–to which she responded badly. I had envisioned a shared experience of two people who could not make a relationship work sitting down and–perhaps even with love–parting ways. Formally, without malice. (Yes, yes. It was idealistic and stupid.) The option was ridiculed–heavily–and I was left with nothing but my ass in my hands.
And then it hit me: I was asking for release. That meant I understood my bondage to be under someone else’s control. Ah. (Never teach a slave to read–they will use the language to tell you to go fuck yourself. Moment in grad school. And, hell yeah, we will.) This post is going to be long. Go pour yourself some wine.
Someone asked me the other day: So. You’re just going to let her win? Come on. Isn’t that a bit simplistic? When you walk away from the battle, you’ve lost? Okay. If that feels like victory . . . enjoy. In fact, I don’t think that it’s all been wasted. This time has taught me more about myself, who I want to be, who I need NOT to be, than any other experience I have had in my life. There are some lessons, here, Batchildren, in what we traditionally consider “wasted time.”
Lessee. Things my nemesis taught me:
1. Astral travel. (Thanks for that. Was very useful when you showed up here–nice hat, by the way.)
2. It’s okay to use a crockpot in cooking. (It was a big deal on my end.)
3. Define your terms. Someone is always out there looking for a missed comma, a forgotten etymology and the like and waiting to trip you.
4. Announce your Halloween party early.
5. Some folks are polyamorous. And that’s okay. (As long as they are honest about it.)
6. Everything can be taken for a time. There are wolves everywhere . . . and some of them aren’t your friends.
7. Even your worst enemy can make the best cake you’ve ever tasted.
8. Don’t tell anyone but your soulmate everything. It can be brought up for funnies to hurt you around a dinner table. (“Push back?”)
9. Excessive intelligence is a form of madness.
10. Love is not enough in a relationship. Ever.
11. Innumerable songs have the lyrics “nah nah na nah na” in them.
12. Egoists will never admit when they are wrong, especially when they decide that Annie Potts WAS NOT in that eighties movie. (Yes, she was. And you are an asshat.)
13. Knowing someone for almost twelve years does not mean that you really know them.
14. Matching birthmarks are not always a good thing.
15. Some folks just can’t get right. Never will. So you have to leave them.
16. Planting things in the ground is better than pots. Yet, agriculture is the worst thing to ever happen to the planet. (yeah, still scratching my head on that one, too.)
17. Satan is too much fun not to share a drink with from time to time. And then? Get the hell out of there. Before he Facebook friends your kids.
18. Cucumbers can be weird.
19. T-shirts should be taken at face value.
20. I’m too old for this shit.
Now, strangely, most of the things that she taught me were conducive in my recent decision to close down GRC to family only–although, watch and see if her next post doesn’t dance on that grave for a good laugh. You see, I woke up. I mean shaken-hard-by-poltergeists woke up, standing straight up in my bed, hair spiked on end woke up. Thought about things like: what if I were dying? would I give a damn about all of this drama and pretense and dungeons and dragons craptastic high-school performa? Nope. Then, shadow work showed up and slapped me around. Why am I doing it, then?
Don’t you hate that shit?
Yeah. Me, too. It was Ego, the crusty old bitch. Slaying her will take some time, a bag of lime and a strong shovel . . . but she is going down.
Hey. Nemesis. I know you’re reading this. Do you think they all knew? Like, really knew? That it was our playing field?
When I knew . . . I walked.
And so, here I am. And here’s what.
I love the way my husband snuggles against my back, talks back to me in my sleep, makes me coffee every morning. I love the way my son comes at Paganism–a rebel with a cause–and gets all misty-eyed and angry when he thinks of me dying. I love the way my magic bestie never betrays me and the way my academic, thirties bestie knows my every impulse and adores me anyway. I love the way Cynthia’s eyes light up when we go all Alabama and the way my students forge fire. I love the feel of my garden beneath my feet and the thought of dying near it. I love that I’m finally growing sunflowers and corn and tried out purple on my toes and remembered that writing is like communion and letting someone go is like sacrifice and that both are necessary in order for me to breathe. I like that I resent my crockpot–and use it once a month, anyway. I enjoy that I have friends from grammar school, that my dog loves me more than bacon, that my hands are starting to wrinkle and that lemon balm smells like Pledge when you rub it. I love the way that forgiveness feels, like Lava soap–all sandy and hard and clean–and the smell of regret when it slides down the sink in bubbles and dirt. I love that my neck is starting to sag, I love that I hate it, I love that I am grappling with age like battling with a toothy bear and that I have no choice but to lose because it meant that I fought.
I regret that I was too young to be a mom and did a piss-poor job my first time out, that I married badly several times, that I cannot get past my failure to forge peace with my nemesis, that I am addicted to brick-red lipstick, that I left a naked photo out there in the eighties and that I smoke so much.
I have always been so in love with the fallible essence of humanity. It just took me nearly fifty years to figure out that I am that essence. Grace and sin, dirt and soap, rebellion and concession, heartache and victory.
And–while I understand the anger and disappointment that some folks have voiced at the closure of GRC–I am firm in my belief that one must have priorities. Mine are myself and my family, our spirituality and our home. There is a certain justice in that. A peace that I cannot quite translate to those who have not yet grappled in the dark with their own egos and impulses and actions and regrets. Everything else is . . . well, frivolous.
I leave it all to you, my Nemesis. No more conflicting gatherings or parties. No more conflicts, period. Enjoy it all. I hope it makes you happy, I truly do. We will never have Paris, dear. That was only the lie we told ourselves.
And, there is no longer a “we.” I am bowing out, grabbing my oyster fork and a bottle of hot sauce and enjoying what is left of my life–and your reaction to that no longer matters. Flip out. Accuse me. Blog hard. Throw up memes. Blame my name.
I’ll be in my garden. Falling in love with humanity, all over again.
For myself, I choose . . . this.