I’m creeping closer to the edge of the dark patch, finally tearing free from the brambles and thorns that held me tight and threatened to consume me. I credit the switch in medication, because I felt the smog lift when I started titrating down from the Lexapro. The new stuff is definitely helping with the brain chemicals, and my family and friends are helping me do the heavy lifting of getting back in touch with my sense of worth. Apparently I have a lot of value in my community, and it’s overwhelming to hear that and I’m working hard to accept and internalize that even as the nasty bits of my brain still try to convince me otherwise.
I met with a new therapist last week, and though I was resistant and really didn’t want to go and rehash all of the past traumas I’ve struggled with, I’m glad I went, and I’m looking forward to the next session. I ended up unintentionally making the therapist cry from laughter more than once, and she kept pushing the initial interview form away so she could scribble quotes on her notepad. One of them, she said, is likely going to be painted on a sign to hang in her office, and until then, it’s being taped on the inside of her desk drawer so she sees it every time she opens it. Near the end of the session, she was making me list my strengths, and I hemmed and hawed, saying things I think are strengths but also explaining how they double as weaknesses. Finally, after a long silence, I said, “Um, I guess my sense of humor?”
Her face lit up and she threw her pen down. “I was wondering when you were going to get to that! I’m very good at keeping my composure and a neutral manner, but you broke me several times! This has been incredibly entertaining, even though you’ve had some truly horrible things happen to you. Honestly, I’m amazed you’re alive [referencing my medical history, particularly the burst appendix], but I’m glad for it because you’re an absolute delight, and it’s obvious why your family and friends adore you.”
That, my friends, prompted me to burst into tears. I can talk about my father and my history with a sardonic grin, but give me a compliment like that, and I melt into a blubbering mess. It hit especially hard because “absolute delight” was exactly what one of my kinswomen said when toasting me at my induction into the kindred. Between the words all of my kinsmen and kinswomen spoke that day, and the words said by a stranger paid to listen to me, I’m starting to feel a new spark, and I’m remembering the words I wrote in one of the early posts in this blog. When I wrote about my purpose, wondering what the hell Loki wanted with me, why he’s so present in my day-to-day life, he said it was my energy. I wrote about how he was drawn to me (“intoxicated,” he says now as he looks over my shoulder) because of my energy, the way I play a chipper idiot to make people around me smile. How often have I written about how one of my greatest talents as a funeral director was making bereaved families laugh? Making them smile and giggle as I inspired them to share their craziest, silliest stories and quirks of their dearly departed, then working those memories into their services? Picking out caskets and urns is one of the hardest, most overwhelming aspects of planning a funeral, but I remember so clearly the cheers and applause when I’d slipped away into the back room, unboxed a dark green and white urn, and marched back into the selection room chanting, “E. A. G. L. E. S! EAGLES!” The family, who had lost their patriarch, had offhandedly mentioned his dedication and love for the Philly Eagles, and they’d been floundering during urn selection because nothing seemed right, and it was hard. They were cheering and laughing when I paraded in with the green and white urn held aloft, making a spectacle fit for their beloved, enthusiastic father. I could have just quietly returned with the urn, but I knew they’d appreciate the energy, and they did, in spades. They were over the moon with not only the perfect urn, but with the cheer I led when I presented it. They said the same thing to me that countless other families have said: “We’re so glad you’re taking care of Dad. You’re making this whole thing so much easier to get through, and it means a lot knowing he’s in such good hands.”
I’m not serving as a funeral director presently because of my physical health, but I try to maintain that same energy in my current job. I’m the goof who interacts with nearly all of the people who come into the place, and I make it a mission to elicit smiles and laughs out of everyone doomed to interact with me. I wrote about this in one of the first posts, but in the depths of depression, I forgot it. My purpose: sharing a smile in an angry world to lessen the weight and tension, and hoping that smile and laugh get passed on, even if it’s just a, “hey, guess what this idiot said today” over dinner. That’s what Loki loves so much, and somehow, I’d forgotten it. But it’s coming back, thanks to my friends reminding me of it. It’s not much, but it makes a difference. Inspire a smile, which inspires a good mood, which hopefully inspires kinder treatment towards the next person they see.
I’m also back in my studies towards clergy hood, and into trance work. I slip into trance states pretty easily, and I’m learning how to do more with it, hopefully to commune with the gods in their realm. Loki and Sigyn are kind of like, “You’re a great host, let us return the favor!” And I’d like to finally be able to sit with my Grandpa Frank and talk with him, the way we always wanted to, but never could because my grandmother would constantly tell us how stupid we were and change the subject.
Interesting side note: I’m finally understanding the depth of my empathic qualities, and a few days ago I got a troll cross tattoo to help protect me from malicious energy. People’s moods impact me more than I’ve realized, which is probably why I’m so keen on trying to make people smile. Negative energy drains the fuck out of me, and while I’ve never been much into magic and sigils, synchronicity over the past week with the troll cross became a klaxon alert for me. Thankfully, my very close friend B is also my tattoo artist, and he had a cancelation the day I got smacked in the face for this tattoo. The day I returned to work with the tattoo, the office’s beacon of negativity suddenly packed up her office and left without saying a word to anyone. Once everyone realized what had happened, the elation was intense. This person was a toxic drain on all of us, and we were all exhausted from the passive bullying and tantrums and moods. To borrow the words of another coworker, the giddiness of this person’s departure was fucking magical. I just sat at my desk in shock as there was literal dancing and cheering echoing through the building, and I said, “Damn, this troll cross is effective.”
Someone said I should have gotten the tattoo months ago.
Two of my non-work friends each independently called me “fucking magical” and “to never doubt your magic” when they heard about the interesting coincidence of the office bully disappearing the day I came to work with the troll cross. Loki, of course, is just smug and crooning, “see? I told you you were a witch, bitch. I also told you not to worry about that one, that you wouldn’t have to worry about anything. I got you. You just have to trust me.”
So there’s the joy. I did something to protect myself, to ward off malicious energy, and the biggest emotional stressor spontaneously quit and vanished, and the atmosphere at work is now one of relief and joy. Granted, it’s not a utopia, because there’s plenty of other stressors, but the biggest drain that terrorized us all is no longer a factor, and I’m definitely glad I got the troll cross. Correlation doesn’t equal causation, but the timing was uncanny. And fool that I was, I really did try to be a friend to this person last year. I was dropped at some point, as I knew I would be, but I wasn’t prepared for the emotional toll the passive bullying had on me afterwards. It was an enormous factor in my huge drop into the abyss, and gods help me, one of the factors that made suicide such a logical option. But no more. I have warded myself with a modern sigil, and I feel protected and back on solid ground. I’m back to the point where I can devote energy to my real friends and no longer worry about what I’m going to have to endure and survive at work.
To my friends who have always been there for me: I can never thank you enough. You give me purpose, and your love for me is tangible. Your dedication impressed my therapist, and I owe everything to you. I love you, and I’ll continue to do my best to bring joy to your lives as you have to mine. You have my word.