Headscarves?

I don’t know what it is with headscarves. I’ve always had a sort of morbid fascination with them. I say morbid because I’ve had some very negative views on them. I didn’t understand, and still don’t understand, what I like so much about them.

Now, Ramadan is upon us. Out of solidarity for my friends who veil, I was considering covering as well for the month. Well.

I’ve had a terrible week. Let’s put it that way. I’ve been a crying mess, non-functional, and miserable. So Ramadan skipped from my mind until two days ago, after our Beltane celebration.

I was, as usual, angsting over my choice of garb to lead the ritual in. I have a ritual robe that I embroidered myself, as well as choice headscarves I like to wear for ritual purposes. At least I think it’s ritual purposes. I’m not entirely sure what head covering has to do with leading rituals, but I find it useful. It helps me feel ‘set apart’ and sacred and in charge. And, in fact, the Beltane ritual went so well that I woke up the next day feeling the urge to head cover again.

Mmmmkay. I put it on, feeling a bit weirded out by it all. And, I think, it helped. For the first day in a while (aside from Beltane, which I was covering for also) I was functional. Just super insecure about what I was doing, but functional.

And then! Once more I felt this call from Allah. It kind of pissed me off. I was just like ‘what the fuck do you want again’?! But then I had this feeling of ‘ooh look Ramadan! Let’s fast!’.

Sensibly, I went to bed thinking that I shouldn’t fast. I’m already struggling with my food. Shouldn’t I focus on eating instead of fasting? Also, in order to successfully fast, one has to wake up before sunrise to drink water and eat. So, without an alarm, I went to bed.

But, as has happened before when I wanted to fast in the islamic way, I woke up during the night and found myself continually checking the time to see if the fast was starting yet. Y’all, I woke up at 5 am, just in time to figure out what I was doing, eat, and listen to a prayer that ended on the dot before sunrise.

It was all just… coincidental. Too much so.

So here I am, fasting for Ramadan for I’m not sure why, and head covering in the hopes that it will… calm down my anxiety? Help make me more functional and get out of this slump? I really have no idea what’s going on, and am worried I’m losing a grip on myself again.

But at the same time, I feel like I can’t keep ignoring these pulls and calls. Maybe I’m just going to end up being a strange mishmash of beliefs and practices. Because part of me really wants to head cover. But … since when do men cover their heads? I mean, I know a non-binary man who does but… it just strikes me as a super effeminate thing to do and it makes me worry about my transition and being a ‘real’ man. But at the same time… if it helps and I’m called to do it, I should, right?

Well, this has been my daily rant. See you all later!

 

Mental Illness and Creative Writing – The Later Days

As I explained in my previous post, I remained largely alive due to my beliefs in my writing and its reality. I believed that somewhere, in some dimension or other, my characters existed. I believed I was chosen by them to retell their stories, a sort of missionary to the world.

How did this change as my psychosis burst over me? How did this change as I fell in love with my wife, and sought out treatment?

Simply, it didn’t. My writing remained there, and I was determined as ever to convey their message to this world.

It was only when I became medicated and more balanced in my brain that I realized that maybe it wasn’t true that these stories existed. That maybe it was all part of a delusion.

It was a terrifying realization, that maybe these novels I’d dedicated my life to were just that – novels. It was hard, and still is hard. Part of me deep inside still believes firmly that they are real in some dimension, but the logical part of me is wary to believe it like I used to.

Presently, I float between the two beliefs, my heart in one and my brain in the other. But my dedication remains the same. Writing is my path, my vocation. I may have become less militant in it, but I still consider it a large part of who I am.

 

Mental Illness and Creative Writing – The Early Days

I’ve written about this before on another blog that I ran about writing (and have since quit) but I think it bears repeating here. I write (duh), and I have mental illness (double duh). But how do the two intertwine?

In the past as a young child and later as a teen, I was suicidal. I felt my life had no meaning. I felt empty, anchorless. When I began to write however, life gained on a spectrum of colors and meaning. My life became bigger than myself, it became about these fantastical characters.

Later, in my teens, as my suicidal desires increased, I struggled daily to find reasons to live. Unfortunately, as is so often the case, my family just wasn’t incentive enough to stay. What made me feel like I had to stay alive was my stories.

Because to me, my characters were alive.  Maybe due to psychosis, maybe because I was in a burst of psychic practice, but I firmly believed my characters existed in another world. I felt I was their chosen emissiary, their special one who would tell their story to the world. And that duty was what gave me reason to stay alive.

I fought my suicidal ideation, my chronic nightmares, survived on three-four hours of sleep a night for years, all because of my belief in these characters and their choosing of me. Largely, I made it through the most dangerous and lonely part of my life thanks to writing.

To Be Continued…

Taking Care and Rant about Discrimination

I think that somewhere, in my mess of a self, I’ve leveled up. Maybe my practice as a priest for a pagan group is paying off in spiritual spades. But I doubt it. I find that the rituals have been having their desired effect, and as such I have been feeling nebulously better. This better-ness was actually doing me NO GOOD at all until my wifey ordered me into at least one day of rest. One day.

Well, one day has now become three thanks to me being so good at it.Why? Because I feel great. I’m sleeping if I’m tired, eating when hungry – both novel things for me – I’ve cut out a TON of sugar from my diet and am doing yoga two to three times a day, as well as maintaining steady chores.

Wow. How did I get there? What magical incantation did I use?

Here it is: I forced myself to stop trying to make money to make our situation better.

Ouch. It hurts to admit that I, as a welfare recipient, am not even trying to make money in some way. But I just can’t. My mental health suffers too much in my frantic attempts at finding ‘something’ or ‘some way’ to support us. I’m not even envisioning getting to a state of health where I can work. I’m just resting.

It’s humiliating, but I think I’m finally going to just relax and let myself not earn money. And I’m cringing just writing it – which says something about our society as a whole.

Why is it so hard to not earn money, even when doctors agree we can’t? Why do we (and I use ‘we’ because I’m sure I’m not alone in this) feel so guilty for something that is part of our social agreement? For something that, in the case of illness, is hardly one’s fault? Something that is doctor prescribed?

Rant begins *

We live in a capitalist society, that we all know. But what does this mean to the poor, the sick, the disabled, or better yet, those who live with all three? Those who are dependent on others for their own welfare?

My mother always says that there is spirituality to be found in poverty, and I’m sure that is true. You see things, beautiful things, from the experience of needing help and receiving it. But you also feel the pressure of the system.

A system that devalues you for not being able to produce. A system that constantly urges you to ‘get a job’ and ‘not be a bum’.

There is something to be said about the fact that I’ve heard more jabs about welfare recipients than I almost have about colored people – and I live in a racist society. We are trained to believe that because we do not produce money, that we do not participate in society in any meaningful way. That if we do not produce money, we produce nothing at all.

Let’s just sit and stew on that for a minute. No money, no value. But what if we are taking a monastic path? What if we do volunteer work? What if we simply cannot do anything other than function?

We are all trained to be givers, producers of valuable things, but isn’t there value in being a recipient? I’m thinking here of a friend’s sister, who is mentally handicapped and cannot care for herself. What of her role in society, where she is wholly dependent upon others? Doesn’t she enrich us by offering her unique perspectives, her joys and challenges?

Isn’t there value in being a recipient, a leper, a priest, in being a caregiver, a support system, just something other than the producer?

I’m tempted to say that, obviously, the answer is that we are all valuable in this web of life. After all, animals do not produce. Yet they are all valuable within their fragile ecosystems. And yet, how do we manifest this precious value to members of society? How can we thank them, value them, and destroy this system that devalues them?

I don’t have a fast-and-hard answer. But I will say that this Christmas, due to my financial situation, I gave out handmade gifts and spent time with relatives, and that felt right. We need to appreciate what it is that everyone can give, no matter how ‘little’ or much.