I am a 50 something woman living in upstate New York. I have had an amazing life with plenty of ups and downs. I see my life as a journey where I am presented with lessons to learn. I am a pagan High Priestess, Pagan Chaplain at a university and a tarot reader. I am a mother of two adults, grandmother of 6. I am MzMedusa the producer of the Rochester Vampire ball and other Goth/Industrial nights in Rochester NY. I am the co-founder and art curator of the Rochester Erotic Arts Festival. I co-lead the Rochester RocDommes a group for female empowerment.
I created this blog to share my journey. I believe that if we share our struggles we may be able to help someone else. You are not alone. I struggle with Religious Trauma Syndrome, anxiety, depression and abandonment issues. I also have severe ADD. Even with all that I thrive and am successful in the world. Our labels do not have to stop us from living an amazing life.
My last post was on March 14th and I said in that post that I would probably be home for a couple of weeks. Today is April 16th and I have only left my home one time, yesterday. I never dreamed I would be in isolation for this long. I feel blessed. I have so many friends who are on the front lines. My son became sick right about the time I went into isolation. He lives in a small rural community where people still do not seem to believe how serious this is. It was terrifying. He was not able to get a test. After testing him for the flu and strep which was negative they told him to go home and if he got worse to call back or go to the hospital. Three days later he was having trouble breathing. He was told to go for a chest x-ray. He was told he did not have pneumonia. They still did not test him. They told him only those who need to be hospitalized were being tested. They just did not have enough tests. They said “just go home and treat yourself as if you have it. If it gets worse and you cannot breath call 911.” He is my first born. I remember his first smile, his first laugh and the first sound he made. I was heartbroken that I may lose my son without even getting to hug him goodbye. We talked on the phone several times a day. That call would always start with me asking “are you ok?” I just wanted him to be ok. He was lucky. He began to get better. But we still feel like we are holding our breath…who will be next? My sister who works at a WalMart in Louisiana. Walmart,who lied to the press and said they would suspend their attendance policy for the month of April and three days later told the associates the policy was back. To be sick at Walmart means losing your job. It does not matter if you are at high risk like my sister. Everyday I worry that I will get a call that she is sick. She almost died as a child from pneumonia and her lungs are scarred. She has been hospitalized before as an adult with pneumonia. She is risking her life so people can buy TV’s and junk and try to pretend life is normal….when it is not.
All of the events I had planned for this year are cancelled and I have had time to breath. I usually run from event to event on pure adrenaline. I have become accustomed to the quiet. It occurred to me this afternoon that I had been working in complete silence for the entire day. My body has calmed down. My mind is starting to.
So now I work from home and long to hug those I love. I have my little dog Mister Bojangles who sleeps next to me. I have hope that when we all come out of this that we will remember what we did not have during this time. Connection with others is what really matters. I have hope that soon I will be able to hug those I love and tell them how much they mean to me. I will never take that for granted again…never.
I am on day two of a self imposed exile from everything. I have immune issues. I had H1N1 in 2009 and it was pretty horrible. This they say is worse. Because I already catch every damn thing that comes around I cannot take any chances. So yesterday I got the last of the stuff I felt I needed and I headed home with the idea that I am not leaving the house for at least 10 – 14 days…more if my work will allow me to work from home. The reason I got H1N1 in 2009 had to do with the fact that I work on a campus. It is a dangerous place to be when these things go down. People are traveling from all over the US and the world and are many times in close quarters with each other. I am so glad that my university made the choice to go to online instruction. The only thing I am wondering about is what about the staff? As of yet there has been no instruction for staff about what to do except…come to work. I was lucky. I had vacation planned for this week. I was supposed to travel to Minneapolis and present at Paganicon but it was cancelled. So I am home and hopefully I have not been exposed.
Fear, that is what is giving me the most problem. Every time I sniffle a little, every time I feel like I might sneeze or feel a tickle in my throat I think…here we go. It is on my mind constantly. I am not allowing any visitors to my house and the only person I am going to see the next 10 days or so is my housemate who is hiding away in his part of the house in fear too. I am not used to be alone like this. In addition I just had a major change in my life and the person I have spent the majority of my time with over the last year and a half is no longer here. So I am truly on a hermits journey at this time. I plan on making it a spiritual journey to prepare me for an upcoming initiation and dedication. The rest of my life is going to be dedicated to my spiritual path as a priestess and chaplain.
So what about Rochester? Well, we have two confirmed cases as of right now. Colleges are going online. Monroe county schools have just closed. Some people are still in denial and are saying “fuck this, I am going out anyway” I worry that this attitude will make things worse. The grocery stores are getting emptied out. There is no chicken. The toilet paper is all gone. There is no hand sanitizer. But maybe this will begin to make people realize that we really need each other. I hope so. When I see pictures of lines of people with an entire cart of toilet paper I cannot help but wonder where does this selfishness come from? Is it fear? Insecurity that there will never be anymore? What about the elderly person who lives alone who has to try and get those supplies but they are all gone, taken by younger healthier people. We cannot go on living in our own world and never knowing our neighbor. I hope to come out of this a different country and a different world. There is a Facebook group in our city that is helping each other and I was invited to join it. People are offering to bring things to people who need it. Those who have extra are letting the group know. This is how it should be. It gives me hope.
There have been times in my life when I felt like my heart was so broken I would never recover. In the midst of those times I have always stopped to consider the heart of the other person. I can honestly say there are a couple of people I would put the label monster on but they are from long ago and they went on to do much much worse things to other people. When I say long ago I am speaking of 30 years ago or more. I am also not just talking about break ups. I am talking about physical and mental abuse that scarred both me and my children. Those monsters are long gone from our lives but pop up like ghosts on occasion. However, there is not one person I have met I would label monster since I moved to New York. For the most part the broken heart adventures I have had were due to my own expectations of other people. Instead of relying on myself I put too many hopes and dreams on other people. I tried to make others something they were not. I looked to them with longing wanting to be loved in a way they were not capable of. I was reaching out to my own reflection I saw in them. I was trying to heal something in them that I needed to heal in myself. This is not to say they are lacking in love but that they were just as wounded as I am. This is why the heartbreak would be so deep for me. My real heartbreak came from knowing that deep inside I was so broken myself that no one could heal me..but myself. I fought against that. I went from relationship to relationship hoping for that hero. But there was no hero. I am truly my own heroine and I know that now. When I made the choice to take the journey of the hermit over two years ago…the solitary spiritual journey of healing… I packed my bags full of all that stuff I had been carrying for many years and headed into a very dark place I had avoided for a very long time. Occasionally I would reach out and try to go back to that familiar place but it would not be long before I would say to myself “You can’t go back. This time you have to face it…all of it.” I have had some helpers in this time. People who truly love me and have stood by my side when I was white knuckling it. When I felt that the only thing between me and beyond the veil was the love of my children, grandchildren and my beloved true friends. I have learned so much. You can know thousands of people and still be lonely. You can love yourself and never be lonely. I still struggle at times. There are days I wake up and wonder if this will be the day I leave this world. I watch people who are my age and older and then go look in the mirror and realize….I am much older than I feel inside. I am afraid of death right now. Not because of what is beyond this place but because I don’t want to leave all of you. I do not want to think about how my children will feel when I am gone. I cannot imagine my beloved friends speaking words at my wake. We have held tight to each other through so many things. I never want to be too far away from all of you. I guess I have to remind myself of how I feel about those who have gone on before me. We never really die…we live on in the hearts and minds of those who love us. I know that I will live on in my children and grandchildren just as I lived on with the love of my grandparents, my dad and my friends and teachers who have gone on before me. I was prompted to write this as I was thinking about an old friend who is no longer in my life. It is strange how you can be so close to someone and then have them just disappear from your life. That has been a rare thing for me. I almost always stay in touch with people who have had an immense impact on my life. As I was walking into work this morning I heard a song that reminded me of them and all this emotion just washed over me. The love we felt with someone….it is real for us. Yes, things change and we move on. But that moment…that place…that time is sacred…magical. I will not degrade or make it less than it was. I will always cherish every moment of connection I have had with every single one of you.
I love you. I always will. Nothing will keep me from loving you not even the veil between this life and the next.
Today I pulled a card while I was contemplating my healing. It was the Queen of Cups. I am not surprised. The Queen of Cups is my card. I am a cancer. I am deeply introspective and emotional. It is time for me to trust my intuition and pay close attention to my emotions and feelings. This is a time when I need to really listen to my heart and send the squirrel committee packing. I am opening myself up to messages that are coming to me intuitively and in order to do that I need to shut down the static and noise around me. I need to turn inward. I have been having intense dreams for two weeks now. My consort shared with me that I have been talking in my sleep. I have been writing those dreams down and looking for messages in them. I know what they mean. It is time to take care of myself. It is time to heal my own heart. It is time for me to embrace the little girl who sounds the alarm inside of me that everything is going to go wrong, that I am bad, that no one really likes me and everyone is going to leave me. I have to take the time to feel my feelings even if they hurt like hell. I am stronger than I think I am. I know this. I have lived through some really hard things in my life. I have come out the other side stronger, wiser and with an empathetic heart. Today I have to use that to heal myself. The healing I seek lies within not with anyone else.
I am impatient. I have always been impatient even though most of the time I do not let others see this about me. Lately I have been feeling very impatient with my healing. I know this is not something that is going to happen overnight but dammit…why not? I get the whole thing about the journey being part of it but I am tired of being on this bus. I have been on this particular bus for over 2 years now… hold up…. If I really look at the situation closely I have been on this bus my entire life. It is just the last 2 years of this bus trip that have gotten really bad. Like the last leg of a trip back from New York City when you don’t even want to go into the bathroom because of how bad it is going to be in there. What I have experienced the past couple of years is healing that I have needed to do for many years. It was unfair of me to point the finger at one person who was really just a symbol of every single person who had hurt or abandoned me but I did not understand what was at the root of all this. I have had a break through in my life and have finally been able to figure out where my feelings of inadequacy, fear and abandonment come from. Yay! and OMFG… As you may know when we make these discoveries it is great and awful at the same time. My whole perspective of my life has shifted. I have had the most intense tower moment of my life and I am standing in the midst of the wreckage thinking about how I am going to clean this mess up. I am broken and jubilant at the same time. I am truly taking that first step like the fool in the tarot deck.
At this point you are probably thinking what the hell are you talking about? What is it that has influenced your whole life in such a way? I have been sharing little glimpses of it on my Facebook and with close friends but I have decided it is time for me to just let it all out. As a child I was indoctrinated with the idea that I was born a worthless human being. I was told that the only way I would ever be able to pay for the terrible sin of even being born would be to follow a God who killed his own son because of me. I was told if I did not do this, if I was not good enough that I would burn in hell for eternity. I was told that I could not be sexual and that as a woman I was to blame for the sins of the men around me. I was told that I needed to keep quiet and only ask my husband about things in the bible. I was told that everyone I loved who was not of my religion was going to burn in hell. I was told that God was coming back and when he did that so much blood would be shed that it would reach the bridles of a horse. Yeah, that is a thing… WTF???? I really feel this is a form of child abuse. I have been reading about Religious Trauma Syndrome and I know now where the roots of my PTSD come from. I was taught to bow my head to and be afraid of a God that has a description like an abusive husband. The fact that I was able to break away from these perverse teachings years ago and follow a different path is amazing. So many people stay trapped in that way of thinking and let me tell you…. they think they are absolutely right without a shadow of a doubt and anyone else is completely wrong.
I have been told the following by those in my family and that I grew up with since I left Christianity. 1. You are misleading young people who are going to go to hell because of you. 2. You just need to come back to church and then everything in your life will be OK. 3. If you do not come back to Jesus he may strike you with Cancer, take your children or take everything from you to humble you. 4. You are not having mental illness issues you are just demon possessed. 5. One day you will wake up and everyone you love will have been taken in the rapture and you will be left here begging for rocks to fall on you so you can die. That is just the tip of the iceberg. Even typing all that makes me feel anxious and sick at my stomach. When I have confronted them with how crazy this is they just smile and give me some bullshit about how their god is a loving god and it is my choice whether I accept that love otherwise I am the one choosing the punishment. Uh…. you mean like when a woman is being beat it is her fault because she didn’t just do what he said? Or the woman who was murdered by her bf or husband was murdered because she did not obey him? WTF people….OMG how can people believe this shit? Well, at one time I did because I was raised in it and I was not taught to think critically. In fact I was taught that anything outside of those teachings were of the devil and not to be trusted. How did this happen?
As a child I learned bible verses, went to church every Sunday and Wednesday, went to vacation bible school, went to youth group and got lectured at home by my mother on a regular basis about how if I did not behave “the old devil is going to come right up out of the ground and get you.” I was brainwashed and terrified. This is how it starts. I stand my ground when I say that I feel this is child abuse. You are terrifying a child in order to keep them following the path of a religion that when you look closely at it makes absolutely no sense. So what now? I have been listening to people who have gone through major healing in this area. I am reading books and and I am going to be writing more about my healing here. As a woman who has become empowered and a spiritual leader in the pagan community I want to say that I know there are many people in our community like me. We can help each other. It is time to pull the boogie man with the bible out from under the bed of our childhood and run that mother fucker off.
I need you to know that this has been hard for me. I love my family and friends. I do not want to hurt them however, I have to speak the truth about what has happened to me. I have to speak up for those who are still being indoctrinated. I am sure I will suffer some backlash over this but I will stand firm. I am also going to heal from this. This is why I have had issues with relationships all my life. It is why I have had trust issues. Now that I have found the root…it is time to start digging it out. My time on the bus is not over yet but at least I can see the bus stop now.
If you feel you have similar issues I would like to recommend a couple of books and YouTube videos you can refer to.
Mister Bojangles is my little 10 pound Jack Russel, Chihuahua mix dog. Technically a designer Jackchi. Ha! that just makes me laugh. Its fancy talk for mutt. He is a rescue from Texas. He was lost during a flood down there. He doesn’t bark much and he behaves for the most part. He seems to like men more than women but he loves me. He is not incredibly intelligent but he is sweet and loves to play. When I first got Mr. B he had no idea how to play with toys. Over time he learned how to play with toys and now he has specific toys he loves. He has a great space with a window and to be honest he is pretty spoiled. The first week I got him I was living in downtown Rochester. This was about 4 years ago. I was walking him in the churchyard next to my apartment building and he backed out of his harness. He immediately took off toward the road and there was a bus coming. I screamed out “B!!!” and he stopped in his tracks and ran back to me with his tail between his legs. It scared me. Over time I learned that B does not really understand that roads mean really big dog squashing cars and trucks. He was always trying to go into the road. So that leads us to our adventure this morning.
Mr. B got off his leash this morning in our front yard. I was dressed for work and in heels. I dropped the leash on the lawn and took off after him. He was running full tilt for East Avenue. I had the worse case scenario in my mind and figured that either he would be lost or killed by a car. I kept calling to him and running after him. When he got to East Avenue he turned right and stayed on the sidewalk. I was surprised and happy about that but he was still running. He would run and then take a quick pee on something and then run again so I could not catch him. It was like he was taking one of his regular walks on fast forward. I was frantic. If he reached Penfield Road he would have to cross and that would be dangerous for him. I kept chasing, threw off my shoes and chased some more all the time yelling out “Mister B!”. Then I started begging “come here boy I have a treat for you”. I even picked up a small stick trying to pretend like it was a treat in my hand. He stopped and looked back at me and then kept running. I said it a few more times and he would stop and then take off again. Finally I just gave up. I decided I could not stand by and see my dog hit on the road and at this point there was no catching him. I yelled out “ok you win, I’m going home.” I turned to walk home and I was crying over the fact that I had failed him somehow. I also thought to myself that he must really not like me to run away like that. I know that I should not put human experience onto a dog because for him it was probably more like “woohoo!!! I can pee on everything!” I glanced back and there he was trotting behind me. He was not close yet but he was coming along behind me so I kept walking and he kept following. After a few moments he was walking closer to me and then he stopped to pee and I picked him up. Just like that….as soon as I gave up the chase he came right back to my side.
I cannot lie…I wanted to scream. This reminds me of so much of my fucking life and almost every single one of my x’s. In my past I have only said “That’s it I’m going home” in one instance and in that case I didn’t really want to say it but the pain was too much and I just wanted my life back. But the chasing part? I have spent my whole life chasing people who probably did care for me but they had a joy for running from one bush to another and that was what they were going to do. I get that. I really do. All of us should do what makes us happy. If we are trying to stop someone from doing what makes them happy then the first time we loosen up the reign we try to put on them…zoom…off to Penfield Avenue they will go. It is also an untruth that they will just find someone better and stop that behavior…someone they love more and they will settle down…All Bullshit. I have seen it first hand. Their search for joy doesn’t stop because they know what they want and if you try to change someone who is trying to get to the next bush (yes, pun intended) you are going to lose the race. In the end you will be standing on the sidewalk all disheveled with your heels thrown in the grass looking pathetic. It is better to pick up your shit and go find your own joy. If they want to come back around, Yay…if not then let them go in joy and find your own joy.
I used to repeat that sappy saying which goes something like this…..if you love someone set them free if they come back they are yours if they don’t they never were. Today I call bullshit. First of all we don’t own anyone. I don’t care if you are married, been living together for years, have a collar on them or whatever. We do not own people. We cannot expect people to promise to feel a way about us until we die. I think marriage vows should never say until death do we part. I propose that instead they say “I will always be honest with you about my feelings” That way when things change you know that shit and you are not trying to guess what is going on. Additionally you are not trying to chase someone down the sidewalk when you can be chasing your own joy. Our expectations are what break our hearts and expecting someone to never change is not reality. A friend of mine recently posted on her Facebook that she wants someone who puts themselves and their joy first because that is what she is doing in her life. I have to agree. I am putting myself first. I will never chase another person. If someone doesn’t respond to me or doesn’t want to be with me then I will wish them well and move on. I will not do it in anger. I will do it with the love I feel in my heart for them. We may even cross paths again. I don’t believe it has to be “with me or fuck you”. To truly love someone is to want them to live in joy and to be happy. Yes, I may hurt when things end and I am not perfect. I have said and done things I regret in regards to endings in the past but I have learned some big lessons over the past 5 years. I am really grateful for my life and the lessons I am learning. In regards to Mr. B. When I got him home I kissed his head and told him how much I loved him. I know that I will not have him forever and I want him to be happy. I have a responsibility to him as a dog owner and I will always do my best to make sure he is safe. This starts by making sure he gets extra long walks on these beautiful days so he can pee on as many bushes as he likes.
I have spent most of my life in relationships with men who at some point in the relationship began to look right through me. I would be totally focused on a conversation with them and then notice that they were looking at someone else across the room or near us. Their attention was already on someone else and not me anymore. When I would mention it I would be told I was imagining it. Before long that person was the one they were with and they would start the same pattern all over again. I have never had the experience of having someone in my life who really seemed dedicated or completely in love with me. Over time my trust in men was broken over and over again. The most recent one which was almost 2 years ago was the one that finally ended my search for that person I felt I would meet someday. His betrayal did me a favor. In my 50’s I finally accepted there is no knight in shining armor and I am my own hero. But it hurt, more than I could have ever imagined. It was one of the biggest tower moments of my life and interestingly I was the one who blew up the tower when I said “ENOUGH!” and ended the relationship. When it ended that relationship I began to believe that loving someone would lead to hurt in every instance. I told myself that love was just biological and no one is honest anymore. I stopped believing in love. It is probably the best thing that ever happened to me because it is true. Hear me out…. Even in the most loving relationship with the most dedicated person there will be hurt. If it is our expectation that this one will be the one who never betrays or hurts us we are just setting ourselves up for more intense hurt. Where there is love, there is hurt. Why do I say that? Because no one can promise they will never change and certainly they cannot promise they will never die. This forces me to live in the moment. If I live in the moment without expectation of anything beyond that moment with a person I can live in peace. I can accept that person as they are and wish them well when it is time to part our ways on the walk of life. Attachment to a specific outcome is what causes us pain. My attachment to a dream that never came true was a source of many years of pain for me. I have smashed that dream into a million pieces and rebuilt my life.
So what about now? Will I ever have someone else in my life. I do have someone in my life. I find it ironic that when I gave up on that dream someone walked into my life who literally worships me. A friend said to me the other day “Do you know what I love about how Zach is with you? He doesn’t see anyone but you when you are in the room and even when he is not with you he is always talking about how wonderful you are” That my friends is such a new thing for me that I do not know what to do with it. Do I love him? Yes, he is a wonderful, kind man who would do anything for me. But I also want to love him as a human being who may change and someday one of us will die or need to move on. I am not anxious about that because I am here in this moment cherishing the time I have with him, with all of you and with my family. If I keep focused on the fear of the day I will cry I am not focused on smiling in this moment. I don’t want to cry before it is time. I have had enough of that.
I had a major revelation about a perception I have had about some events that happened in my life over a year ago that hurt me deeply. My ego was deeply wounded and I was protecting that wound in a way that it was keeping me from enjoying life. It was keeping me from dancing both symbolically and literally. At one point last year I was dangerously depressed and suicidal. Then I had a conversation that woke something up in me. I spent a couple of days just trying to unwrap this in my brain and when I finally saw the situation for what it truly was I began to understand something I was missing in my perception of what had happened. There was a part of the situation I had not been able to see through my pain and the revelation of that has freed me in such a huge way. I spent way too much time focused on trying to convince people who had hurt me why they had hurt me when I needed to turn that around and convince myself. What good was it doing me to try to convince people of something they are well aware of ….or maybe they are not aware of…but even if they are aware what at this point could they do? I think there was a part of me that was begging to just have it fixed so I would not hurt anymore. But the truth is it was done and over with and I was wasting my time trying to fix something that was not fixable. Furthermore my instant reaction to the tower moment and what I thought was the truth was just not true. In the moment the lightning hit and I was thrown from the tower I was blinded. I became so guarded that I become bitter and jaded.
What matters at this moment is that I have learned some amazing lessons. I have learned to set boundaries and keep them. I have learned to say enough is enough. I have learned to take care of myself when I need to. I have learned that sometimes I need to withdraw and reevaluate and that is OK. I have learned that sometimes people are going to hate you no matter what you do. I have learned that I do not have to react to that hatred. I have learned that in some instances people do not want to see the damage they have done. I have learned that sometimes all those things are things that I have done myself.
My life has changed for the better. I will never be the same and for that I am grateful. There was also a piece of this puzzle that when I finally clicked it into place I was just shocked at the realization. Why did I not see this before? But I see it now and today…right this moment I am forgiving and am letting go completely. It was never about me not being valuable. It was never even about me not being wanted. I was always wanted and valued. The bottom line is that it is also not my problem anymore and for that I will always be grateful. I don’t have to live my life questioning my worth anymore because I know my worth and no one can take that from me.
Today I am releasing from my mind and my heart those things I spent over a year feeling tortured about. Thank you for the lessons. Now…. It is time to Dance.
When you have had a deep valley of soul crushing depression and mourning it changes your life. That happened to me. I was in a deep dark place. I did not want to leave my room and I felt numb most of the time when I was not crying or thinking about how I wanted this life to be over. I tried to pull myself out of it and when I could not I went for help. I spent months in therapy and then I went into a 10 day program to help me to learn ways to cope with this depression and move on with my life. I struggled with medication issues and found that those medications I was on were making me worse. After some nasty withdrawals I finally starting coming out of it this past Fall. I started feeling better about my life and doing things again. I felt like myself or at least that is what I thought. But I have come to realize the past few days that I have been in a state of low grade depression for months…and probably for most of my life. I have a cycle of trying to pull out of it and doing lots of things but I always want to retreat for days after I do things and when I do plan things I spend all the time up until that thing dreading it. I am anxious in groups and I am always thinking that people secretly hate me. I have a fear of those I love leaving me without a look back. It has happened a few times and that is hard to deal with when it does. Last year at this time it did happen. Someone I had invested much emotional energy into and had been a close friend to for over 6 years just said “Don’t contact me anymore” and that was it. I was not a part of their new life and they did not want anything to do with anyone who had been a part of their old life. I honored their request and never emailed or contacted them again. I still hurt over that. I thought we would be friends forever. I want them to be happy and if never hearing from me is part of that I understand…but it still hurts.
So I am depressed. I have no motivation. I don’t sleep well. I worry about everyone around me abandoning me but at the same time I do not want to drag anyone down. So this is my plea to those close to me. Get out if you need to. Just be honest with me. The dishonesty is the worst part. If I am dragging you down just say so and go. I feel like giving up sometimes but those people who have truly stood by me…those people have helped me not to. I am grateful for you.
My adult daughter has been calling me on a daily basis to ask me about tarot card meanings. She is learning to read tarot. I always hoped my children would want to be a part of my spiritual path. I never forced it. I never made them go to ritual. I did however make things available to them and I encouraged them to seek out the path that was right for them. I wanted to one day pass the flame to my daughter or son. I am pleased that my daughter at 33 is taking up the study of tarot.