Pagan Blog Project: H is for Herbs

When I was a baby witch, just learning my craft, I got really into herbs.

From Pixabay
From Pixabay

Like REALLY into. ūüôā

I had the classic Herb Book, which is likely still in my library somewhere!

I bought herbs at magick shops and food co-ops.

I had mason jars and containers full of herbs.

Cooking herbs.

Healing herbs.

Essential oils.

Tinctures.

I made my own incense.

I made massage oils and candles.

I made tea (technically tisanes) and potions.

Wet and dry potpourri.

Cordials.

I’m not much of a cook, but give me a shelf full of herbs and a pot of water, and I’ll mix something that smells good, at least.

At various times, I’ve had herb gardens.

Herbs are at the heart of magick for me. laurel-272961_640

In pretty much every culture, there has always been a healer, a witch, a wise one that knew the ways of plants and how to use them to ease suffering or to conjure dreams and visions.

And this is another thing that somewhere along the way I lost touch with.

I had an herb garden when C was a baby. When we lived in Washington, there was a huge herb farm nearby (which seems to have “retired” now).

But as we moved around, I had to leave behind living plants, or give up space on my shelves for things that had a higher priority.

I used up or got rid of my stash.

Eventually, all I had were the basic cooking herbs.

As our financial situation worsened, and my daughter grew, and my faith waned. . . I gave up my herbs. I gave up my magick.

Last summer when I was going to one of the local farmer’s markets, there were big bunches of purple basil and mint.

I brought them home and used some of the basil for a tomato sauce and mint to flavor my water, but I didn’t want to waste the huge bunch, so for the first time in a long, long time, I hung up my herbs to dry.

Weeks¬†later, I was looking for my regular, old, bought-for-cooking dried basil and couldn’t find it.

Then I remembered, among my cluttered shelves, I had hanging this beautiful basil.

My mortar and pestle, if I still have them, are in storage, so I pulled the leaves off the stems into a bowl and rubbed the dried leaves between my hands to make them smaller.

As I was doing it, I wondered, “How did I ever get away from doing this?”

My hands smelled like fresh basil, and the taste of the herb was strong in my sauce.

Basil is for flying, faithful love, and drawing money to you.

I felt so good to be doing that simple thing. Refreshed.

One of my Core Desired Feelings is “Restored”.

I felt restored.

As my daughter is pretty much grown up now, and I’m rediscovering who I am without the “C’s mom” added to my name, I know that I need to bring the herbs back into my life.

I regret leaving them behind and not bringing my daughter up with the full appreciation of the art of herbal magick.

I don’t know if I can realistically fill up my shelves again the way I did in my early 20s, but I want to¬†start again.

I wonder if the apartment complex will notice if I cut a few rosemary branches?

 

Emotion vs. Logic

I am often of two minds about a lot of things.

I call these “Emotion Brain” and “Logic Brain”.

They are quite often at odds.

My first pdoc told me that I was smart, I knew all the right things to do, and if I just listened to my mind instead of my heart I’d be just fine.

That flies in the face of all my spiritual training, which is all about “following your instincts” and “letting your heart guide you.”
But as I came to accept the bipolar diagnosis, I also had to accept that my emotions are totally fucked up and divorced from reality.
Logic Brain must reassert itself. Logic Brain must be in charge.
I realized last night that my emotions were running away with me, and I was allowing myself to just ride the tide.
But I can’t allow that to happen.
That way lies madness and I know it. That direction leads to unhealthy obsession and stupid decisions.
And much like what happened earlier in the year with my obsessive fantasies about J, I have to let go of the scenarios running in my head about M. 
I know that the reason I can’t be friends with J is that I can’t talk to him or anything without wanting to be with him.¬†
I’m hoping that I can reach a point where M and I are friends, or rather that I can just let a friendship happen without feeling the pressure of “what might have been?”. We knew each other when we were both emotionally vulnerable and just starting to figure out who we were. So, we have a real bond. It’s just not the magical, mystical, unreal “soul mate” bond I once thought it was.
It’s good to have friends that knew you then, or that knew a side of you that you no longer display to the world.
Much like talking to my BFF from high school, or Jerry, can help give me a better perspective on who I was, being friends with M could help me figure out who I want to be.
So, I did some journal writing last night, and some meditation, trying to inform Emotional Brain what Logic Brain has come up with. That usually takes awhile, though; Emotional Brain needs a lot of time to accept things.

Reminiscing, Realization

I’m over the almost 2 month freak out about THE ex calling, I think. It hit a peak earlier this week, and suddenly, my feelings are very. . . different.

I started thinking about other men from my past that have looked me up.

I was talking to an old friend last night; let’s call him Jerry*, since using only initials will get confusing very quickly here.

Jerry and I didn’t really interact that much in high school. He was a close friend of my boyfriend back then. Funny thing is at this point in our lives, I have much more in common with him than I do with the high school boyfriend. . . It was kind of fun to remember that time. I was all of a size 10 (thought I was fat!)**, I was one of the cutest girls in our group of misfits, I was happy most of the time.

The high school boyfriend, A, has looked me up several times. He’s happily married to the girl he started dating after we broke up, and he proudly refers to her as “his high school sweetheart”. (We dated for almost 2 school years, and he only dated her for the last 4 months of his senior year, but, whatever. . . )

Jerry says, “I think he is generally concerned with your well-being. I dunno, maybe he wants to see if he missed out on something.”

Maybe. 

I always thought it was more of the latter, but he is a good guy, and there’s probably a lot of the former. Considering how screwed up my life has been at times, I’m sure he hasn’t missed out on anything, considering all the years of crazy.
But, that aside, after I stopped talking to Jerry, I started thinking about another ex, M.

M was probably the biggest ex-bf before THE ex discussed before.

M and I had a very passionate on-again-off-again affair for quite some time. We stayed in touch and on the periphery of each other’s lives for several years. I even invited him (and his then-wife) to my wedding. (They didn’t come.)

M has also looked me up several times over the years. The last time, he spent months trying to find me on the internet. There are literally hundreds of people in the country with my first name/last name combination, and he combed the ‘net looking for me in a time when I had virtually no web presence. The last couple of times, it was very easy for me to realize that he doesn’t hold that big a part of me any more. He did, for a long time, but now he’s pretty much a stranger.

There was a point in my life when I never thought I’d feel that way about him. I thought he was The One, until I fell for THE ex.

A brief aside here, as someone with bipolar disorder who wasn’t diagnosed until I was 30 years old, I had several years that were. . .¬†adventurous. I often had more than one romance going on at a time. I slept with a lot of people.

The number of times I’ve been in love can fit on one hand, but I don’t know the number of men I’ve had sex with. I know that I have broken a few hearts, especially my first husband (I had two marriages end before I was 25).

My first husband looked me up a couple of times, but I felt so bad about how I treated him, that I didn’t even respond.

So, J is not the only ex to locate and contact me. He’s not the only ex that sometimes thinks of me. All of them are married to other people.

On the one hand, it’s nice to know that some of the people that meant a lot to me at one point think of me.

On another, I can’t help feeling like they think of me as a crazy bullet they dodged.

My friend synchronicity says you should always sleep with someone crazier than you.

I think I’m the crazier one for quite a few people.

That’s a little sobering.

Anyway, as I was reminiscing, I recall a time when a girlfriend and I discussed a group of friends. If girlfriend 1, girlfriend 2 and I were in the same room and a guy walked in, the guy would want to sleep with me, marry GF 2, and be a big brother to GF 1. No idea why, but that is the way men acted around us. Something about how we presented ourselves, I guess.

And I realized. . .

I’ve always been the one that guys wanted to sleep with, not the one they marry. The one they have an affair with, but not leave their wives/girlfriends for.

At one point, I liked that, even needed it in a sick sort of way.

But by the time I was with husband 2, I didn’t want to be that one any more. I really was ready to settle down and grow up and be the married one. But I had trouble making the transition from superficial relationships to a real, intimate relationship.

I think the reason his betrayal cut so deep was that I was ready for that, and desperately wanted it.

I also realized that part of what I wanted from him was for us to. . . grow up together. You know, all that stuff you learn in your 20s about being independent, living away from parents, taking care of yourself, learning each other’s quirks and compromising. . . I wanted someone to grow with while learning those things together. I wanted to raise kids with him, to share all those little moments of babyhood, toddler years and school years that you go through with kids.

And since I cannot go back and relive these last twenty years, I will never have that.

My reunion fantasies?

Can’t ever happen.

Because we can’t go back and do those things together.

Even if, by some miracle, he was suddenly single, neither one of us is who we were.

I’ve said that before, many times.

But I don’t think I really internalized it, really believed it, until I went through it from this direction.

I also think part of the reason I’ve stayed alone this long is that I don’t want to play the same role I did before, as the one men want to have sex with. For one thing, I don’t channel my manic energy in that way any more. I want more respect than that. But I’ve never really learned how to act with men when I’m not manic.

This seems to be my next challenge.

And it’s scary.

*names changed
** I know, I know! Jerry said he remembers me as ” you looked soft, for lack of a better word. but that was a good thing.¬†”¬†

I have an answer!

I’ve been beating myself up over becoming obsessed¬†since the ex called. But I found a Psychology Today¬†article that I think is helping me, a LOT.

Go ahead, read the article, I’ll wait (it’s four pages long). . .

Some of the quotes that got me:

These relationships may be so indelible, so off-the-charts intense, because they’re forged in the hormonal fire of the teenage brain.¬†. .

Dan McAdams, a narrative psychologist from Northwestern University in Illinois, has found that it is during these years that most individuals also form their core identity and sense of self‚ÄĒtheir personal mythology. The teens and 20s give birth to our personal narratives and our lifelong ideals. . .

“The adolescent brain is exposed to heightened levels of testosterone and progesterone, the steroid sex hormones involved in sexual intensity,” he says. “There’s also an increase in oxytocin, the same hormone that aids mother-and-child bonding following birth.” Chemistry thus sets the stage for once-in-a-lifetime sexual intensity paired with a unique opportunity for attachment‚ÄĒcreating a model of love that persists for life. . .

To explain why separation and other adversities can make the heart grow fonder, she has coined the term “frustration attraction,” the idea that threats to the relationship can actually increase feelings of longing and ardor. Passionate love stimulates dopamine-producing neurons, which generate the¬†motivation¬†to seek out the beloved. But if the lover is absent, those¬†brain¬†cells prolong their activities, Fisher hypothesizes in her book¬†Why We Love. “As the adored one slips away, the very chemicals that contribute to feelings of romance grow even more potent, intensifying ardent passion and impelling us to try with all our strength to secure our reward, the departing loved one,” she writes. . .

Many say they want closure, but closure is a myth, says Kalish. “The old feelings come back. Married people who want to keep their marriages should understand this before they search for a lost love and get in over their heads. Once these relationships take off, they aren’t¬†fantasies, nostalgia or¬†midlife¬†crises. They are loves that were interrupted, and the urge to give them another chance is very strong.”

This explains EVERYTHING.

My response and feelings are not magick or some Divine fate or a lost mythical “soul mate” or any of the other stupid overly-romantic things I was thinking.

It’s a biochemical response!

And hell, I fight biochemical responses every day. I’m not always successful but because I know what’s going on, I can deal with it.

And when I say it explains everything, I mean everything!

While J (the ex) was not my first love, I can clearly see a line connecting dots. I didn’t get over my high school boyfriend A until I met M (curiously, first husband was in between there, and didn’t make the cut. Hmmm, probably why I dumped him).

I didn’t really get over M until I was with J (again, despite other affairs in between).

I can clearly see how my feelings from the other two relationships were transferred to J.

J and I were forced apart by circumstances beyond our control: a military deployment – one of the factors of creating this bond. He couldn’t deal with the forced separation (something I was always aware of) and transferred his feelings to Her.

This explains:

  • ¬†Why I haven’t been able to totally let go.
  • ¬†Why I have the fantasies I have¬†
  • ¬†Why he looked me up now. . . EVERYTHING.

And as G.I. Joe used to say, “Knowing is half the battle.”

Medication Discovery

While my daughter is visiting family back east, I’ve been working on getting some stuff organized in the apartment.

Today, I started going through my old medicine bottles. I’m a little freaked out.

I know that I’m not always “good” about taking my meds. Sometimes I skip a dose (or three). For several months, I only took half of the anti-depressant I was supposed to take. I’m *usually* good about the mood stabilizer, because I find it difficult to sleep without it. My prescription for that is “one or two as needed” and most of the time, I only take one. I only take two if I’ve have trouble sleeping for a few nights.

I’ve also got anti-anxiety meds that are supposed to be on an “as needed” basis. Since they are addictive, I very rarely take them.

Then there’s the vitamins, calcium with vitamin D and iron pills (all prescriptions). And the allergy nose spray, and the new prescription nose spray that’s supposed to stop my nose from running. . .

Is it any wonder I didn’t want to go back on birth control pills? Sheesh, I’ve got a lot of meds.

Anyway, I was going through, consolidating half-full bottles and the like*, and found unopened bottles from 2009, 2010 and last year. Holy crap! No wonder my mood states had been all over the place! I’ve been “better” about taking them since about the time I started working on fitness, but still skip the vitamins and such quite a bit.

This is just yet another area where self-discipline comes into play.

If I’m not disciplined enough to take my medications regularly, which I know help me with other parts of my life, how can I be disciplined in other ways?

I was talking to my high school BFF the other day and one of the things we talked about was having a clean and organized house. Neither one of us has been good about that for some time. She grew up in a very organized home. My home wasn’t as organized, but my step-father really, really tried to make it so.

There have been times that I can vaguely remember that I was much more organized. Particularly when I had this small apartment in Chula Vista, after my ex left. Things had been chaotic for several months (including having several roommates), and I¬†reveled in having my own space, with my own things, organized in a way I wanted. That was the most organized and clean place I’ve ever lived. I liked having people over. I didn’t have much to be embarrassed about. I even had a party there. It was a bit non-traditional (I didn’t have a couch and only one chair in the living room), but it was mine. Once a week, I did a deep clean, and it wasn’t hard because everything else was mostly ok.

I miss that place.

Even when my daughter was small, I was better about things than I am now, particularly after I got rid of the (then) deadbeat roommate (who has apparently turned out to be a really good guy).

I was writing in my journal** and talked about how I would sometimes “clear the decks”. By that I mean I would clean, organize, throw stuff out, make things fresh. I was always like that. Things would get out of control, and then I would spend a whole day clearing the decks. Even that was better than what I have in place now (i.e. chaos).

It made sense, when I was working full-time, running the tutoring business AND going to grad school. But since January, I haven’t had that excuse and I still haven’t done more than casual cleaning and the stuff that HAS TO get done.

I have gotten into a fairly good routine with working out. Now, I need to make sure I’m taking my meds the way I’m supposed to and get other routines into place. When I start working again, I’m going to need those routines.

*If I misplaced the current open bottle, I know I have more, and so just crack open another one. Yes, I’m really that disorganized.

**I swear I’ve done more writing in the last two or three days than I have in the last three years. Am I manic?

NOT sending a letter

This is sort of a continuation of my last post.

One of the things I don’t like about myself is my capacity for stupid obsessions.
Ever since that phone call, I’ve been obsessing. It wasn’t going away or getting better. In the comments, Monday’s Child¬†suggested that I allow the fantasy to play out.
That sort of made it worse.
Yesterday, it was even worse.
Now, logically I know that this is just a way for my brain to distract me from other things I need to be doing or from the fact that I’ve (almost) failed at something.
I posted on Facebook¬†that I was mad at my “diseased brain”. One of my friends, another math teacher who has been a long-distance mentor, posted about my brain not being diseased. We then had a private chat where I told her some of the background information.
She said all the right things. And I know all those things.
He’s a liar; he’s a manipulator; he’s not worth my time and energy.
I know.
But knowing that doesn’t stop my stupid brain from running the fantasies.
If I squash it during my waking hours, it shows up in my sleeping ones. If I try to¬†consciously¬†redirect it to where I’m beating the crap out of him, it still keeps running back to reunion scenarios. If I don’t find a way to fight this, I know where I’ll end up – depressed and anxious.
Last night, after chatting with JF, I pulled out my affirmation notebook and wrote a few simple positive affirmations to try to clear the psychic decks.
By the time I was done writing three affirmations twenty times each, I felt like writing something else.
I wrote a letter to him.
Six pages.
Wow.
I had no idea I still had six pages of stuff to work out about him. I haven’t written that fluently in years.
It has some bitter-sweet stuff, some anger, some pity, some sadness in it.
But there was a theme through all six pages. His lack of respect for me came through very clearly, maybe more clearly than I’ve seen it before.
When I was done, I felt . . . empty. 
I have no intention of sending this to him. It wasn’t for him. It was for me.
Maybe now I can actually get some work done. 

Catch up, where I’ve been, things on my mind

So, yeah, it’s been almost a year since I wrote.

From mid-August to mid-January, I was student teaching while taking a grad school class to finish requirements for my teaching credential. It was exhausting, physically and emotionally.
Smack-dab in the middle of it, I had gallbladder attacks, near constant for most of the month of October. In mid-November, on my 42nd birthday, I had surgery to take it out. 
I only missed four days of teaching, but I think I pushed myself too hard.
When I finished the semester, I still needed to finish writing one paper to close out my grad school class. 
But I collapsed, physically and emotionally. It took more than four months before I was even able to leave the house. I had intended to substitute teach during the remainder of the school year, and the mentor teachers I worked with would have had me fill in for them, but I could not bring myself to finish the paperwork necessary to do it.
How messed up is that?
I just finished that paper, finally. But it was after the Incomplete had already reverted to an Unsatisfactory. I don’t know yet if I’ll be able to get it accepted. I’m waiting to hear from the department director and my counselor about it. I think it will probably go through, or there is an appeal process I can use.¬†
I’m beating myself up over it. There was no reason for it to take this long.
Except, now I’m wondering if I can really handle teaching? Can I? If one semester wore me out that much? Should I have tried harder to get full disability back when my therapist thought I needed it instead of fighting to work and finish school?¬†
Anyway, during the workups leading to the surgery, I discovered that I’m insulin-resistant. The doctor also had mentioned metabolic syndrome. When my mother was diagnosed diabetic a few months ago, I finally got serious about losing weight.¬†
My friends and I started a blog 2 years ago to support each other losing weight: ¬†http://2010flacas.blogspot.com/¬†. However, all of us gave up, and stopped writing. Since March, I’ve been blogging pretty consistently over there, working out and counting calories. My highest ever weight was last June at 199.6 lbs, in March I was between 193-196 lbs. Right now, I’m around 178 lbs and lifting heavy weights. The others tell me they’re inspired, but they rarely write.

What I really wanted to write about today, though, was something that happened in early May. I wrote about it on the Las Flacas blog as “an emotional punch to the gut” but I didn’t talk about it in detail over there.

I think I’m ready to talk about it now.

My ex-husband called me, totally out of the blue.

It’s been 18 years since he left me, and 11 years since the last time I spoke to him. He called a couple of days after what would have been our 19 year anniversary.¬†

He told me he’s been seeing a therapist and the therapist wants him to explore problems in his previous relationships. So he called me.

Now, he knows that I’ve been in therapy. And I know there’s no way in hell that his therapist told him to call me. Because, you know, of course I talked about him in therapy, but I was never encouraged to CALL him. Because he needs to explore HIS feelings about the relationship, not mine.

There were a couple of times when his voice trembled, like he was nervous. And toward the end of the very brief conversation, he said he’d call me back when he had more time to talk (because he called me on his ten minute break from work – to talk about relationship issues! Um, yeah).¬†

I said, “You know what? Just don’t.”

He sounded very sad when he said, “I shouldn’t? Don’t?”

No, really, just don’t.

Thing is, you see, he’s still with the woman he left me for, 18 years ago. And I’m fairly certain they are actually married.

And if he’s in therapy and exploring previous relationships, that means there’s issues in his current relationship.
I really don’t see where it’s up to me to help him fix his current relationship!
But also?
He called me on his break from work. 
So SHE wouldn’t know he’d called me.
And he’s obviously been online stalking me for awhile.
Last year, he sent me an email when his cat died.
He sent it to my tutoring email address, which had to be found on my business’ website. I assume that’s also how he got my phone number.
He said he’d been “keeping tabs” on me for some time.
That’s creepy, isn’t it?
I mean, he left me and cut me out of his life. So why is he “keeping tabs” on me?
It could be that he’s turning 40 next January, IIRC. I’m sure this is a mid-life thing. Perhaps he has some regrets.
I don’t know.
I don’t care.
Except that he still has this stupid effect on me. 
My dreams have been full of reunion scenarios.
That pisses me off no end. At least I’ve been able to use that anger to fuel my workouts.
But it also distracts me from the million and one things I have to do.
I still have steps to take to finish my credential.
I have to create invoices for the contract job I’ve been doing. I need that money.
I need to look for a job, write a teaching resume, contact people for letters of recommendation. . .
And I’m fighting my brain coming up with stupid fantasies.
It’s a waste of emotional energy.
Maybe if I were dating someone, that would go away? But it’s not like I’ve had any energy to spare for that.
I put up a profile on OkCupid a few days ago, but I’m thinking of taking it down, because I’m not really ready to date.
I need my energy for other things right now.
SO GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HEAD, ASSHOLE.