Speak Your Truth, Even if Your Voice Shakes

I’ve chronicled my struggles with drinking and cough syrup ad nauseum. But why do I struggle with feeling like I need to self-medicate? Why do I look for easy ways out to numb myself, to stop feeling, stop thinking? What if I was doing it because I was afraid to admit who I really am?

At first I thought it was just because I had made it into a habit, and when I was bored it was just what I did. And then I realized no, that wasn’t it.

Then I thought it was from old emotional wounds and I was drinking because of this. This didn’t feel quite right, either.

I knew when I was chasing my spiritual side, my formerly unquenchable urge to drink diminished. In fact, it was the last thing I wanted. I had to relinquish the fear that I wouldn’t feel as connected spiritually without the cough syrup, but with my husband’s steady encouragement and support, I realized the need for over the counter cold medicine to feel something spiritually was a lie, too.

So as I peeled back all these layers, I found myself with a new truth, an uncomfortable truth to say out loud, but one that resonates so deeply within me I can’t deny it.

My Christian faith was so good for me, to me, for so long. It gave me the glimpses of something deeper that kept me searching for more, for my truth. Some moments of prayer and worship were ecstasy, while some things I struggled with, deep inside. Like a good Christian I stuffed them down and told myself I was being tempted, that it was sinful to feel this way.

Until I gave myself permission to let go of every preconceived idea I’d been taught of good and bad, right and wrong. I recalibrated my inner compass to follow my soul and not my brain.

I started connecting the dots. Hebrew is a magical language, based on numbers. It goes so much deeper than this, but there is a reason sacred texts were written in Hebrew. It lent a deeper meaning to the words, the letters even. Numerology? It’s directly connected to Hebrew. Shirley Blackwell Lawrence spells all of this out for me in her book The Secret Science of Numerology.

I keep following the breadcrumbs. Pythagoras (faint memories of high school trig come to mind, and I still remember a2+b2=c2) was on to so much more. These written words, when spoken, become vibrations. Sound waves. Just like music. And then she explains how there is a mathematical synchronicity between music notes and the color spectrum. Red is C, Orange D, Yellow E, Green F, and so on (Reader’s Digest Great Encyclopedic Dictionary, 911). She goes on from there and explains how it is all connected. God and science. Numerology and Hebrew, Tarot and astrology.

Growing up I’ve always had a fascination for Tarot cards and numerology, and the spiritual world. I just could never reconcile the two worlds (the esoteric/occult with Christianity) without feeling like I was doing something wrong. Blackwell’s book was the key I needed to reconcile the two and to let myself give myself permission to explore what really rang true for me.

Once I let go of my preconceived ideas, it was like the Universe just opened to me and I was realizing new truths everywhere I went, meeting people to guide me on my journey without even consciously seeking them out. A podcast (Weirdly Magical) listened to on my way home from work brought me to Lou Edington, someone who gave me so much of her time and attention as I was trying to figure all this out. When she did my astrology report, everything was so spot on, things I’d never told her or even my husband, she revealed after a glance at my chart. She gave me the encouragement to follow my heart’s desire with my art and nursing career, and gave me insight as to how I could reconcile the two (art therapy). She gently helped me come to my self-realization that I am not happy being a desk nurse, and this isn’t where my gifts lie. With this realization I spoke with my ever patient boss and told her I knew last year this desk job wasn’t a good fit for me and asked if I could work the floor as a registry nurse. I start Monday, and I am so excited.

I met a local woman who while looking for sage, who on first glance, felt like home. Kindred spirit, I found myself confessing everything of my spiritual journey as she nodded and smiled and showed me where the sage was.

A few weeks later, she helped me figure out what white sage looks like in the wild, and it turns out we have it growing everywhere on our property!

I started doing things instinctively. My husband couldn’t figure out my sudden aversion to plastic and wanting to compost, and watched with curiosity as I traded in my wine libations for tea.

I researched whatever called to me and felt right. I had my little diary, that I call my “Will o Wisp” diary, and would write down anything someone suggested, or that I read (it was my breadcrumb diary…the universe throws things at me so quickly I can’t keep up…)

This is the same diary that I looked back on recently and realized something that left me breathless. I never paid much attention to eclipses. But hearing Lou’s podcasts and reading her posts, that were so spot on, I couldn’t help but be intrigued. So I looked up where I was for each eclipse.

The first eclipse, of the year? In February? Was February 15th. The night I found Kelly Rae Roberts’ art class and decided to quit drinking, and inadvertently launched into finding my way back to my spiritual journey path. I was blown away. I had felt the need to chronicle my thoughts in this blog, and as I look back, finding my religion back then, reopening the door to my spirituality that I had kept so carefully locked away for over 7 years…

I started to realize there is a reason I always wanted to go into medicine. I’ve always felt called to be in medicine. When people asked I would tell them I wanted to be a librarian, an author, and a doctor when I grew up. I love the idea of being a healer, and have built up my stockpile of herbs bought from a local organic store and a local wellness store to research and study. Growing them is another story (except basil and aloe…I’m convinced they can pretty much grow themselves).

I bought books on Tarot, numerology, astrology. I don’t have the patience for astrology, and I find I don’t like hearing what’s coming up—it leaves my mind feeling muddled and overwhelmed–but I love looking at my diaries and reconciling everything afterwards.

I love my Tarot cards, the High Priestess, the Empress. I did my Tarot spread, asking what was coming up for me in the next 3 months. The final card, outcome, was Death. How fitting. Not death in the physical sense, but death in the way that I am being emotionally, spiritually reborn. I’m no longer a slave to my addictions–for the most part. I still fall down at times, but the times in between stumbling are getting further and further apart–and as I get better at recognizing my triggers–my moments of weakness, and then learning how to work through them, the less of a hold my addictions have over me.

The universe led me to the most amazing art therapist who seems to understand me better than I do myself.

My go to book for insight is Women Who Run with the Wolves. It’s so deep I can only read a little bit at a time, but then when I digest it it’s exactly what my soul needed to hear, and I realize the answers are all within, if I can only quiet myself and be still for a moment.

I find amazing Facebook groups that resonate so deeply, and meet fellow women who I connect with on an inexplicable, primitive level. Rewilding for Women is amazing, and I adore the women who I Zoom with on Thursdays, one of which who sent me sand from across country for my abalone shell. I receive a friend request from another girl who is planning to move back to Montana and was also in the Rewilding for Women, and she suggests a book. Women Who Run with the Wolves. I can’t help but laugh as agree with her how great of a book that is. I suggest Paulo Coelho’s Brina and The Witch of Portobello. Both books left me breathless and feeling so inexplicably close to something that I can’t quite explain.

She suggests another book–Witch. Unleashed, Untamed, Unapologetic.

I read the Kindle sample, then order it. It strikes something so deep, and visceral. The same feelings I had when my mom told me my sister and her were going to Salem, MA next month for a tour, and invited me to go with. I found myself finding a dirt cheap airplane ticket, and talking with my husband about going. I can’t really explain it, but it’s as if I’m being drawn to go and I need to see this, hear this story for myself.

But what about the negative connotations? The judgment? Condemnation?

It can’t be any worse that the self-judgment, the self-condemnation, of living a life barely half lived, a life of half truths and feeling empty inside. With every fellow woman I meet who dares to stand tall and say she is not afraid to embrace being a female, and is not afraid to meet her deepest, darkest fears head on, I feel a little more empowered.

And when I read of what happened to millions of women years ago, and what continues to happen to women via shaming and guilt trips, and suddenly I feel a lot more empowered.

It’s only when I deny who I am that I am weak.

It might not always be easy, and society might not always understand. But I know the deep love I have for my earth, my fellow women, the children, the elderly, the broken, the hurting, and my fellow women, and if using my power to help them makes me a witch, then that is exactly what I am.

Our Suicide & Drug Epidemic

Depression and other mental illnesses are widespread in America. I could take time to link studies, but I’m not going to. My toddler will be up soon and Google is free. 🙂

I always felt things more deeply, it seemed, than my brothers. I find it interesting that I’ve always been more spiritual than they are, too. I self-medicated with alcohol, starting in 8th grade. I live in a state where alcohol consumption is prevalent, and until my mom moved out of state, I didn’t realize how out of the norm the drinking culture is in Montana.

So whenever I was uncomfortable, upset, or bored, it was easy to find peers and alcohol. As I got older, I found myself in situations that I felt ill-equipped to handle. (I wrote more about this in my previous post—Nice Girls Finish Last). As a result, I had more layers of things to work through. But drinking was easier. I tried weed, but I really didn’t like the way it made me feel. I was offered other drugs, but I think my guardian angels stepped in and I just never felt the need to try cocaine or any of the ‘hard’ drugs.

I’ve taken opioids for surgical pain, and honestly, they don’t really do anything for me. I’d rather take ibuprofen for pain, and I really hate being constipated. Looking back now, I’m grateful for this quirk my body has–that I don’t find that same high others do.

After I had Dillon, I was diagnosed with post-partum depression and started on an antidepressant. I don’t really know if it helped, because I still self-medicated with wine. I do know it left me with horrible brain zaps–like someone is sticking an ice cold needle right to the center of my brain for a second, whenever I moved my head. Zap, zap. Zap, zap, zap. I looked it up and it was a symptom of withdrawal from my SSRI.

So if an SSRI was supposed to make me feel better, why did I still find it compulsory to self-medicate with alcohol? Maybe because it wasn’t an organic condition like diabetes or hypertension that could be treated with insulin or a blood pressure pill. Maybe because it’s not a physical condition so much as a spiritual condition.

Life isn’t fair, and you’re going to have painful experiences. It’s part of being human, and growing and learning. But instead of listening to my soul crying out for attention, I took the easy way out. Re-reading this, I examine this statement. It might seem like the easy way out at first, but really, isn’t this the hard way out in the end? I’m still left with everything I’m struggling with, yet now I have to deal with the hangover, my family’s frustration, and most of all, my new layer of self-disgust, my feelings of being weak and wondering why I can’t just get it together…

2018 has been eye-opening for me. It is hard to feel that restlessness, that deep discomfort even though all might be well in my life. I’m still trying to figure out what works for me. I found an art therapist whom I love and just seems to get me. I’m finding more and more amazing people in Great Falls who understand this concept of how important holistic medicine is and are so generous with their knowledge. I trust them, because of the way I feel inside as I listen to what they tell me and feel my parched soul soaking up everything they’re telling me, and because when I’m still and I listen to my intuition, I know this is what I need.

The opioid crisis? The suicide crisis? I truly believe it’s a crisis of the spirit, and if our modern medicine would look beyond just the physical body that we can scan with X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs and test with fancy blood work, if we could stop trying to Band-Aid with these slew of psychotropics with proven nasty side effects, we could be so much more effective at healing our walking wounded, and in return, heal our country, and our world.