Pagan Blog Project: C: Cunningham

I was almost certain my “C” post was going to be about candles or candle magick.

But I also felt like that is soooooo overdone – I’m sure there are at least a million websites and blogs that talk about candles. After all, they’re a mainstay. And I’m not sure my take on it/them is unique in any way. I couldn’t think of a way to make it interesting.

Then I looked at the prompts given for the week.

And I saw Scott Cunningham on the list.

This is an old story, one my close friends have probably heard way too often, but others may not have heard at all.

1988/9.

I was in the Navy, training to be an electronics tech in Great Lakes. Some of us started playing with psychic energy – and when you get that many young adults in one place that can get interesting all on its own.

There were some things that I knew instinctively were “right” and, well, some were bullshit. My personal life was an absolute mess.

But somehow I managed to make it through, and was high enough in my class to pick my own specialty school.

Shortly before I left, there were rumors that this one girl, K, was a witch. Like a really real witch.

I was not friends with her; she was fairly new as I was getting ready to leave. But one day I saw her give a book to someone else. It was this one:

A couplefew weeks later, I was home in Florida on leave before driving out to San Diego for my specialty school.

My mother had just bought the same book. She hadn’t read it yet, but it was sitting on the table.

I picked it up and read the back and the “about the author” blurb.

And I found out the author lived in San Diego.

Well, if the book is going to follow me around the country, maybe I should read it.

And read it I did.

When I got to San Diego, I checked out some of the stores he mentioned in the back of the book. Well, haunted them really.

Whenever I had money, I spent a good chunk of it at this one particular store. I used to spend a lot of time there. They had free psychic fairs every couple of months, and speakers/classes happening quite often.

One day when I was just hanging out, Scott Cunningham walked in the store, greeted the store owner, and started signing some of his books. I had a total fan-girl moment. ūüėõ

The most recently published was his aromatherapy book. He was in the store to make arrangements to teach a class on the topic. I chatted with him for a few minutes and signed up for his class.

I went on to immerse myself in Wicca and magick for many years. I made contacts at that store that led me to others. The really real witch from Great Lakes came out to San Diego and we connected for a time.

Would I have found this path without his books? Maybe. But these were the events that led me to this path.

Cunningham’s books were many people’s introduction to Wicca, and I’m glad that I found them. They lacked oppressive dogma and arcane knowledge and didn’t hint at more secrets to come. They were ARE straight-forward and easy to read and easy to begin a practice with. I’ve passed some of them on to my daughter.

When he died, I was once again living in San Diego and attended a public ritual for his passing. I was grateful to be there.

 

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.”

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.


Cleaning & Establishing Routines

So, now that I’m feeling more like my old self, I’m more . . . . interested in making my place livable: cleaning, getting rid of trash, organizing.

When I lived alone, before C was born, I was good at this. When C was small, especially during the time that it was just the two of us, I was good at this.

But for most of the time C remembers, most of her growing up time, I wasn’t. I would ignore things until they were totally out of hand and then do just what I needed to do to get by.

Now she’s almost 15, and she doesn’t know how to establish these routines and it’s all my fault. I keep comparing her life to mine at her age. I had a chore list, with something to be done every day before mom came home from work, plus dishes daily, and most days, cooking dinner, too.

If things weren’t done on the right day, or not done to Bill’s satisfaction when he came home at midnight, I would be dragged out of bed to complete the task properly. Ok, this only happened a couple of times, but it was enough for me to know he really meant it.

Housework was a constant source of argument between us, almost as long as I can remember.

There was a point, when we lived in this white house on a quiet suburban street (my favorite place we ever lived, and I never got over us leaving that place), when my mom worked on Saturday mornings, and Bill and I were alone. I was about 6 or 7.

I wasn’t allowed to watch the Saturday morning cartoons or anything until we were done cleaning. We hung laundry on a clothing line outside, swept and mopped the hardwood floors, I had to clean my room and make my bed.

Then he’d make lunch. Since he didn’t usually make the food in the house, he didn’t know my preferences and would often make something I didn’t really like. My clearest memory was tuna sandwiches with tomato soup. I don’t like tomato soup. He would make me eat it anyway. And he’d have this silly polka music on the little transistor radio in the kitchen. Whenever I eat tuna sandwiches on soft white bread, I’m right back in that hideous orange kitchen. Hmmm, maybe that’s why I prefer to eat it on toast?

Wow, this post didn’t go where I originally thought.

Anyway, I resented the routines established by someone else imposed on me. I fought against it for my whold childhood and teen years.

I’ve allowed my kid to grow up without any sense of these routines. I’m horribly embarrassed by this.

Now that I’m feeling like my old self, I’m wanting the . . . comfort of those routines. I want a clean house. I want things done in a timely way. But it’s hard. It’s hard to make myself do it, but I’m starting to.

The problem is that I’m upset C isn’t jumping enthusiastically on the bandwagon. I know this is not rational. It’s my fault she doesn’t know these things. But I get upset when she doesn’t jump up to help out when I’m doing something.

So, I’m trying to enforce a “15 minutes a day” rule for both of us. I hope this helps us both get better about this.