Failing Faith

One of my big desires in life, in writing about my life, about sharing my spiritual journey, is wanting to keep it real. Even when it’s ugly, even when it’s fraught with doubts, even when the world conspires against me and nothing works out and everything seems pointless. I can appreciate wanting to stay positive and upbeat, but at the same time I don’t know that that gives an honest example of how this sort of life can be.

I’ve written before that the last few years have been about shoring up my foundations and as a result a lot of the outward trappings have fallen away. The only outward devotional practice I’ve kept on a regular basis has been my tea time with Poseidon in the morning. Yoga is sporadic at best. Meditation time doesn’t really happen. We’ve started to work n our household festivals so that they’re a bit more formal, and we’ve started a few new traditions, and these things have been helping.

I have found myself, for the last number of months, drawn inexplicably to reading various writings and watching various videos by devout/practicing Jewish folk and Muslims, and I finally, finally realized yesterday (which was the second or third day after another epiphany of mine) that the draw, especially in regards to the Muslim attraction, was the prayer schedule. There are other interests, naturally. Such as the emphasis on modesty in one’s approach to life (this is a big thing for me of late, it does not end with clothing, and it’s something I’m still working on trying to articulate for myself concisely), and the cleansing rituals to be found in both religions (Um. Duh.) but realizing the prayer schedule is what keeps calling me back was a big deal for me. There is obviously a yearning within that I’m ignoring.

I can see that clearly, now, thanks to the first epiphany. That first epiphany? I am not okay. I am really, really not okay. I have not been facing reality and as a result, my entire life has been suffering. To put a fine point on it, I have become quite the bitch to live with, as my unconscious need to micromanage my immediate environment has spiraled out of control, left unchecked.

So, a short five months ago my grandfather died. It was not a shock: he was sick, he was 95. At the same time, it also sort of was: until four years prior he was still walking *everywhere* and active, and was a primary caretaker for his wife. I jokingly disparage myself for my reaction to his dying, because it completely devastated me. I cling to the fact that for me 1) death isn’t the end, as I have a healthy ancestral veneration going on and 2) I have two way interaction with those who have already left the mortal coil and 3) this isn’t the first loss I’ve been through. I admit that changing the dynamic of the relationship can be hard and takes time. These are the things I repeat over and over, and when my uncle died a few years ago this mantra helped.

It’s not helping now. I can easily say that I idealized my uncle. He was my father figure, and his passing should have been the more devastating. He was younger, it was more of a surprise. It breaks my heart, still, that he’s already passed, but it didn’t do this and I’m not sure what the difference is. They both factored among my personal heroes, but my grandfather was a more formative influence on my young life. When I was a toddler, I was afraid of men. I suspect this was because of my father being a violent drunk back in those days. I was afraid of men who were strangers. I was afraid of my uncle and his brother. I remember being afraid of them. I was never, not once, afraid of my grandfather. When I was a kid, he was one of the kids, a playmate. He was absolutely everything that could be good in humanity, and his passing certainly made my world a hell of a lot darker.

And I’m not coping at all. I’m sleeping way too much, drinking a bit much (which still isn’t a lot, because I can’t drink too much regularly without getting I-can’t-function migraines, wee!) reading and knitting, and holing myself up at home, dropping contact with most people. Part of this is, I’m exhausted. Work stress is reaching a breaking point (it’ll be better soon), part of this is my grandmother is declining steadily and I’m bracing for that, and part of it is, I’m seriously trying to control every aspect of my life that I can, because the whole thing feels so out of control.

And it feels out of control, because I’m not coping. I’m not even trying to cope, at this point. I’m not there for my loved ones who need me to be there for them right now, I’m focused solely on my own crises, but I’m not focused at all on trying to regain my footing. I’m bottling things up, pushing them down, trying to find out how to turn off without going apathetic, and realizing all over again that I can’t, and it’s exhausting. Poor Beth has had to deal with me trying to control everything and being a super bitch when that doesn’t work out. I’ve become an insane nagger on my better days, and on the worst ones even the dog hides from me. It needs to stop.

So does the incessant admonitions that float through my head. Mostly, as my grandmother is declining, it’s things like, I should have never left Massachusetts, I should never have been so selfish as to go off and have my own life, I should have horded time with these two amazing people. It’s not realistic. My grandparents have both been very good about my having moved away and have been very supportive my living my life as I see fit. I can’t imagine not living in the Pacific Northwest, it’s so amazing, so beautiful, and my love for the land in general was greatly nurtured by my maternal grandparents. Furthermore, I don’t actually regret any part of the last ten years; I love who I am, usually. Not so much right now, but usually I’m not a nagging, criticising, control freak monster. Usually, I’m able to be there for people, at least for emotional support when I can’t physically be there. I’m not the only one with challenges in my life right now; one of my dearest friends is facing similar challenges, and I’ve been so not focused on that, and I don’t like it. I don’t like the me I’ve become.

Thing is, I have tools in my tool box to help me cope. It is a huge part of why I live my life the way I do, semi-secluded. Why else, if not to give myself the distance and space I need in order to stay connected to my gods? How do I deal with the devastation if I do not turn to Poseidon and lay this into his capable hands? Has he not seen me through other crises before? I’m not too proud to say that I cannot carry the weight of this on my own, and that I need help. Odin too factors into this, but it’s much easier to drop all my defenses with Poseidon. Odin feels enough like family that I want to be strong for him; Poseidon introduced himself to me as I was in the midst of my first nervous breakdown; he’s seen me in pieces and he’s carried me, and so I don’t have that need to be strong for his benefit.

On the heels of this came the realization that I’m drawn to multiple prayer times during a day. Well, gee, I wonder what that could mean. It’s possible there’s yearning within to let Poseidon help me carry this and help me find my way to beginning to heal.

These are good things to realize. The faith is there, the tools are there, and the desire is there. It’s time to start working on getting better.

I’ve started. I’m making a serious effort to communicate less critically (again, poor Beth has caught the brunt of it. She’s been pretty good about it, too!). I’m spending more time by Poseidon’s shrine, which helps me to be mindful of him. I’m incorporating prayer when tying on my scarves in the morning. I’m letting it be okay that I’m not okay.

Yesterday Beth and I ventured to one of the local cemeteries and, oddly, that helped immensely. I sat for a bit and was surrounded by other peoples’ loss, and it allowed me to gain a sense of community, oddly enough, which has helped. Intellectually I know that I’m not the first to be this devastated by a death, but apparently that wound runs very deep just the same.

I’m still not okay. I’m not going to be okay for a while, but it’s time to stop keeping life on hold while I insist on not coping with this grief. And, it’s okay, not being okay.

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10 thoughts on “Failing Faith

  1. Yes, it is okay to not be okay. It’s good that you’re able to recognize how not-coping is not working and to find keys to what sort of coping will help.

    {{huge hugs}}

    Have you given any thought to what sort of timing of prayer calls to you? High tide/low tide seems intuitive for Poseidon … but difficult to work with since it’s always changing.

    • My prayer times are likely not going to be so rigid as all that. While ideally that’s a great idea, I know me, and if it’s too complicated I won’t do it. So, when I get up, as I’m going to bed, when I’m putting on or taking off the scarf so far is how it’s going.

      Part of coping is being okay with not being okay. If I’m not looking at that then I have no way of accepting that I’m not okay. Luckily, my loved ones (((huge hugs))) don’t require me to be 100% okay, because they rock. Just so you realize.

      • My prayer times are likely not going to be so rigid as all that.

        I had a feeling not.

        So, when I get up, as I’m going to bed, when I’m putting on or taking off the scarf

        That makes a lot of sense. *nods*

        {{huge hugs back}}

  2. ((hugs)) get well in your own time, in your own way. We all grieve differently, and it is important to recognize how that is, and to honor it for yourself. When my father passed, I did everything right, for everyone else. It took me 5 months to grieve him for myself. It wasn’t ok to do that to myself!

    If the multiple structured prayer times call to you, honor it, structure your day for it, for as long as you need it.

    And yes, it is ok, to be “not ok.”

    • No, it’s definitely not okay to take care of others to the detriment of ourselves. The results are all bad. It’s good knowing I’m not the only one to do so. Thank you.

  3. It’s totally okay to not be okay, especially when you’re awesome. And it can’t be easy to have the micromanaging thing and live with someone who washes dirty fleeces in the bathtub (with periodic clogging of the drain). No one who can put up with that gets to call themselves a bitch.

    Loss like you’ve had to go through for the past couple of years is hard, and this time of year is hard anyway. I’ve been a little preoccupied with my own stuff too, and will try to be there for you more without being so “me, me, me.”

    • Hey I *am* awesome, aren’t I? 😉

      I don’t care about the dirty fleeces (I even have a ditty about them!) because it’s a process that you have to deal with and also, so long as I don’t have to touch the wet hair I’m happy.

      It’s hard not being so “me me me” when we’ve got stuff going on. Obviously, because I’m still all “me me me” so I certainly don’t blame you for it. I’m just . . well, lookit! I’m awesome! HA!

  4. If I may put it this way, you have every right to be a little selfish, especially for something like this. You know full well I am a big proponent of self care and in a way that’s part of it. So what if you’re not perfect to live with for a little while? None of us are dear. Find your support, use your support, that is its purpose. As for the prayer times, I would imagine finding one consistent time each day (and doing it, but also not eating your heart if you don’t) would be the best start.

    *hugs* keep breathing.

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