Mourning what could have been, and what is not yet to be

Several weeks ago, I had a divination done that indicated I’d be broken down even more than I had been thus far, but that what would rise from the ashes of me would be a better version of myself.

I have been variations of avoidant and terrified about this ever since.

It’s not as if I could have put the brakes on it. It has already been put into motion. The effort required to put a stop payment on this cosmic check was — is — not within my power. And so I must allow myself to be taken apart so that I can be reassembled again.

Mourning the loss of my past spiritual self

The piece that broke last week and that I had to let go of is my participation and learning with ADF, the druid fellowship I joined almost two years ago. Because I am a student in a lineage tradition, I need to focus closely on it or I will fail. The reasons I decided to pursue the lineage tradition are that I need to be challenged; I need homework with consequences if I don’t do it; and I need to be pushed further than I’d ever push myself on my own.

It is sad to let go of ADF, because it was my first real commitment to my spiritual path since leaving the Christian church some years ago. It represented a time where I was very clear on the direction I wanted to go, even if I wasn’t quite sure how to get there. I have met some truly wonderful people through the grove in Lansing that I joined and I hope that I don’t become disconnected from them. One day in the future I may be able to pick my studies back up and continue learning the ADF styles of ritual and practice, but in the meantime, I will be retiring my home altar and declining invitations to public rituals.

Mourning the loss of my family as it formerly was

I have been shattered by the ways I have had to change my attitude, actions, and decisions for and about Alex, my teenager who struggles so much with mental illnesses and the fallout from their decisions.

In order to protect my ability to parent my other three children and maintain my job and my relationship with my spouse, I’ve been actively taking back a lot of the time, energy, and attention I had been giving to Alex every time a new crisis happened. I could not give them everything and also remain able to care for the rest of my family, to the point where I was on an emotional rollercoaster continually between each crisis, and during them as well.

To have to change myself in this way has been painful and depressing. I have struggled and agonized and cried over how it is to need to parent Alex differently than I did before. A child whose negative coping skills include words and phrases that were said to me in very abusive past relationships is confusing and painful and triggering to understand at times, no matter the depth of my love for them. This is one of the core reasons that I now have a regular therapist.

Mourning the loss of potential relationships

I have come to the realization that I do not have the resources to have multiple relationships right now.

When I came out early this year as poly, my expectation for myself was that I would be able to form healthy relationships and that it would be relatively uncomplicated. (Haha, I know — rookie mistakes, right?) What I found instead is that because of the rollercoaster-y nature of my life, I don’t have consistent resources for new relationships. There are weeks when I am able to talk and flirt and make plans and do things with potential partners, and other weeks when I am essentially curled up in a blanket and cannot face the world without triggering an anxiety attack (or three).

Because Alexa and I have joined our lives together the way we did, and because we are so connected, we are getting through the rollercoaster together. Inviting someone else into my life right now is just as foolish and potentially hurtful for everyone involved as if I decided to stand up in the rollercoaster while it was rolling along and grab someone to try and haul them into the coaster with me. Just, no. That is not workable.

My personal standard for how to treat someone in relationship with me is pretty high, and unless I am able to give of myself in those kinds of ways, I will not do it at all.

Death is change

In all this, I see my life breaking apart and being remade. I am becoming more mindful of where I use my resources. I am becoming more aware of the consequences of breaking my word — my word to myself, to my gods, to my friends, to my chosen family.

I am becoming a healthier, more whole person. I am becoming quieter inside; I can actually find the still small place within myself again. I am cherishing the moments I spend with each child. I am cherishing the life I have begun to build with Alexa. I am enjoying moments where there is nothing to do but the one thing before me. I am sitting on my porch swing in the evening with my beloved and a bottle of cider, slowly unraveling the day together.

I am also very uncomfortable in this adjustment period, and downright sad today. There are potential future partners in my life that I have had to have difficult conversations with. There are a lot of pockets of time that are now open to other things, such as my spiritual practices, that were previously taken up in certain ways, and I feel a dissonance and a mournful nostalgia for how things used to be.

I will be okay. My tower came down on my head and I am crawling out of the rubble, ready to rise anew.

This post originally published at

Rhiannon Kelley
Stargazer, medium, druid, student. Activist & rabble-rouser. Married with four kids. Really fucking sweary. Genderqueer & poly. They/them/theirs.

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