mental health, self-improvement, writing

A Ghost of a Person

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

– Jim Rohn

I have no idea who Jim Rohn is1, though variations of this quote run rife in the personal development community. It’s an overly simplistic way of saying that we tend to manage our behaviour in relation to other people, that we should be around people who lift us up, and run a mile from people who drag us down. You know, the regurgitated advice from every self-help guru.2

We’re about 11 months into an on-again-off-again lockdown, so if we are being responsible adult, then we are not being around many other people in a meaningful way. We may be trapped with have the company of family, friends, or flatmates, we could find ourselves living with just one person, or we could find ourselves living alone. What does this mean for us if we are the average of the people we spend time with?

I bring this up because of something I am personally experiencing.

I have been diagnosed with Emotional Intensity Disorder3, twice. It basically means my emotions go up to 11, but you can look at the diagnostic criteria for the ins and outs of it all (it is very complex, and there are many different combinations of symptoms). The one criterion I want to look at it is this:

Identity disturbance with markedly or persistently unstable self-image or sense of self.

I have very little sense of self. I have a habit of modelling the ideas and opinions of the people I am around. I can come across as a bit of a cranky and overly-opinionated little shit online, but in person I think I am overly-amiable and conflict avoidant. I want people to like me, but who am I? Well, I’m whoever I think you want me to be. It sounds really creepy when I write it out, but it’s true. I can’t pin my identity to anything other than others. I am a ghost of a person, and I only exist in relation to other people. When I am alone, and try to figure out who, what and why I am (remember, I am addicted to personal development) there is nothing to pin myself to.

So what then am I, and people like me to do when we aren’t around other people? How do we continue to exist?

I am struggling with who I am, and I can’t be the only one.

Are any of you fans of Nickelodeon’s Fairly Odd Parents4? There’s an episode where Timmy Turner wishes to be alone with his crush, Trixie Tang. Trixie needs constant admiration from the boys, and with them gone Timmy has to provide it all. Watch it.

That is a vibe. And it’s kind of my vibe right now.

I don’t need the constant admiration of people, but my partner alone can’t provide me with a strong anchor point for my identity. He shouldn’t have to. That’s too big a responsibility for anyone, and he is unable to really consent to that5. It’s a toxic behaviour that I am struggling to manage.

Being among people doesn’t give me a stable identity, but it allows me to flex and explore identity without overly burdening people. However, I will not be able to be around people in any meaningful way for a long time, possibly next year. A year of being a ghost.

Of course the real solution is to have my own stable sense-of-self, but I’m fucked if I know how to do that.

What am I the average of?

You can’t drink from an empty cup, but what if that cup can never be filled?


1He’s an entrepreneur, author, and motivational speaker. All the worst sorts of people, lol.

2I snark, but I am addicted to this stuff.

3Or Borderline Personality Disorder, but that label is so shallow and easily misunderstood.

4It’s problematic. Shut up. All your favourites are problematic too.

5How on earth would consent work in this situation?

journal, sidhehound, Uncategorized, writing

Love and Light and Covid

This piece is a work in progress. I will do my best to make it clear then changes have been made.

This is a post I have been avoiding writing for a while, and certainly wasn’t the post I wanted to start 2021 with.

But here we are.

On the macro scale, in the US we have white terrorists backed by the outgoing president attempting a coup and I seriously doubt any real action will be taken against the perpetrators.

On the micro scale, in my home town I hear people talking about how Covid-19 isn’t real and I see that few are taking precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.

On the surface, these two things might seem unrelated. However both have their roots in the same dangerous ideology: right-wing conspiracy theories.

It all starts simply enough. Most of us recognise that there is something fundamentally wrong with the lives we lead1, and it unsettles us. We begin to question the way things are, and try to find ways to soothe ourselves. The path then diverges into multiple trails, different ideas and philosophies, twisting and turning.

But some of us trip up, and fall down a rabbit hole. That, in turn, leads to right-wing conspiracy theories.

These conspiracy theories have always been with us. I used to think it was a bit of a laugh imagining that the Queen of England was really a space lizard. But recently, I have been learning a bit about how many of these conspiracies have roots in anti-semitism (“lizard people” is a dog-whistle for “Jew”), and how dangerous they can be (such as the Satanic Panic of the 80s and 90s).

And we are seeing in real time, with trails of evidence (thanks to the internet), it all happening again.

Now I am not academically inclined enough to be able to go into the ins and outs of this (I have recommended some resources at the end), but I can talk about what I am seeing amongst my friends and peers.

After many years personal pathworking and spiritual practice, I am training to be a shamanic practitioner2. As such, I spend time in the shamanic practitioner, witchcraft, druid, and general pagan communities. I also spend time in vegan and vegetarian comminties. Alternative beliefs, ideas, and practices have always been a part of that. Unfortunately this includes a lot of harmful ideas, such as “vaccines cause autism”, and “chemtrails are real”. You learn to dodge these people quickly. Then there are the more insideious people who talk about themselves and their fellow “lightworkers” as enlightened beings here to drag the rest of humaninty up to a 5 dimentional existance by their bootstraps. Yikes! Can anybody say “spiritual fascism”?

For reasons I don’t fully understand3, these members of the community have been fertile ground for the seeds of right-wing conspiracies. I hear people I used to love and respect regurgitate the most ridiculous and harmful bullshit. It has gotten to the stage where I may not be able to continue the path I am on because some of my peers think that the Covid-19 pandemic is a hoax.

Let that sink in. A virus that has unnecessarily killed nearly 2 million human beings worldwide, and ruined the lives of millions more isn’t real. Or isn’t serious. Or is caused by something other than a virus (such as Elon Musk sending 5G rays down from a satellite to kill us all4). Or is a deliberate scheme to force everyone to be vaccinated (so that Bill Gates can put nanochips in us5). Or it doesn’t matter because only old, disabled, and vulnerable people will die from it (have you ever heard of eugenics?).

I am absolutely fucking disgusted.

And my heart is breaking.

I have had to cut ties with some folks in the spiritual (and vegan) communities: people I looked up to, who helped me be the person I am today. I should have done it sooner. But when? When I found out they don’t believe in prescription medication? When they implied that vaccines cause autism? When they outed themselves as climate change deniers? When they told everyone that 5G was going to harm us all? No, I finally drew the line at the pandemic denial. I can only blame myself for being hurt by these folks. I saw all the red flags, and I chose to ignore them because I kept telling myself they were “good people”. In this regard, I need to take responsibility for my part in the spread of this toxic nonsense, because I didn’t stand up to it sooner. Maybe it is too late, because for years these people have been dripping poison into the ears of anyone who will listen.

That poison has spread far, but often it is subtle. The occasional meme here, the occasional link to a crappy YouTube video there, but it all piles up. You drip-feed someone a poison long enough, and they will eventually die.

I believe that spirituality and science should go hand in hand. I believe that spirituality keeps science empathic and compassionate. I believe that science keeps spirituality grounded in reality. We need to be allies in order to figure out this mess of a world we find ourselves in.

I believe that those in the spiritual community, especially those of us who brand ourselves as healers, coaches, and therapists need to accept the fact that we live in this world, here and now. And in this world there is a pandemic, whch needs to be managed with face coverings, social distancing, and a vaccine. We cannot heal the soul if the body succombs to a virus. It’s that simple.

We have to stop it with all of this conspiracy bullshit.

The pandemic is real.

5G will not kill us.

The “global elites” are not torturing children in order to drink their blood.

Vaccines save lives.

Can I let you in on a secret? The real horrors of the world we live in are far worse. If you spend less time on this conspiracy bullshit you might figure that out.

Our communities need to recognise the pipeline between questioning the status quo and the alt-right, and challenge it because the end of that road leads to people like Jake Angeli, the QAnon shaman. Yes we can laugh at him and denounce him, but what are we doing to stop our community members becoming like him? Where do you think his first steps down this toxic path of conspirituality began? And how many others are following in his footsteps?

Before writing this post, I asked my spirit allies for guidance. Should I continue to keep quiet and avoid conflict? Or should I speak out?

And I drew Vulture from my Animal Spirit Oracle.

The Vulture is the great cleanser. She consumes what is rotten, and transforms it into something of value to the world. She does the dirty work, and deals with what we avoid, in order to return balance to the world. She stops the spread of disease. Vulture uncovers the blessings in disguise.

I call upon the Spirit of Vulture to help guide our communities back to a path of balance between the rational and the magical. To claw out the poison of conspiracy thinking, consume and transmute it, so that we can grow into better versions of ourselves. And with her wings, lift us up out of this hellish pit we find ourselves in. So mote it be.


Footnotes

1Hint: It’s capitalism.

2I apologise for using this phrase. I know that many consider it to be culturally insensitive, but I can’t think of an alternative phrase to explain what it is.

3I was linked to an interesting article that offers some reasoning: Spiritual Conspiritualists, Psychology Today

4Elon Musk is a cunt, but this isn’t why.

5Bill Gates is a cunt, but this isn’t why.

Recommendations:

“The Satanic Panic: America’s First Q Anon (part 1)” from Behind the Bastards

The Conspirituality Podcast

Q Clearance: The Hunt for Q Anon

Q Anon Anonymous

Updates:

09/01/2021 – Updated my writing to be less self-deprecating. Decided not to blame one singular person for what is happening. Added a brief comment about Jake Angeli.

paganism, sidhehound, writing

Story time: Journey to the Great Phoenix

Drawn from a journey undertaken on 11/05/2020

I donned the cloak and antlers of Earth Deer Spirit. Alongside the Blackshuck, I began my journey. 

It was dusk. The pinks bled into purples, then magentas. Pinpoints of light marking the constellations began to appear, and with them the luminous colours of the Starbirds. We were invited to traverse the skies with them. 

Up we went, my edges merging with the night sky. The Milky Way sparkled below us, showing the Starbirds the way. The pale lights and sweet scents of the Upper World drew us in, where the Great Phoenix was burning bright in the topmost branches of the World Tree. 

I had to move through the crowd gathered around Phoenix, being careful not to bump into children who were running around in delight. Falling from the azure sky were Her feathers, and the children were making a game of gathering as many feathers as possible. A feather danced into my hand. 

I was called forward by Phoenix to hear her message. 

I am a creature of all three realms. I am born in the Lower World; my nest of ashes is safe amongst the roots of the World Tree. I die in the Upper World; my burning a spectacle in the crown of the World Tree. My body rises, and my ashes fall, through the Middle World; my forms spiraling around the trunk of the World Tree. 

My cycle is ending. My body has almost burnt up. My ashes are falling through your world, gathering ready for my rebirth. 

It takes time for the dust to settle. 

A dog toy shaped like a sheep. It's face has been chewed off.
writing

Good Enough

A dog toy shaped like a sheep. It's face has been chewed off.

The idea of not being good enough was planted in my head a long time ago by people who didn’t know any better: who had ridiculous standards, and values that were completely out of alignment with mine. The bar they set for me was too high, and set up in completely the wrong direction. I never had a chance of reaching it.

I am far from perfect, and I have much to improve, but I am a good person by my standards. I do what I can to make the world a better place, I do my best to be kind, I contribute to my community, and I work hard on my recovery.

I can always be better, but I am good enough.

From my work with the Write To Recovery programme.