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 rhiannonkelley.wordpress.com

My genderqueer feels

I shaved my own head! Again!
I want to run the razor over all of my head, but keep some back for when I feel wild and daring and fey.

I want to wear buttoned collared shirts and ties, but loosen them at the throat for when I need to breathe and break out of even this mold.

I never want to wear another dress, but somehow I cannot give away the ones still hanging in the closet next to the collared shirts that all fit almost-but-not-quite-the-way-I-wanted.

I want to have sharper angles, but the curves I already have are comfortable and comforting to me.

I want to pierce and tattoo my skin so that I continue to know who I am. I want to wear holy symbols on my body that never go away.

I want to be dangerous and capable and nurturing and bright and sharp. I want to be feared for my biting wit and loved fiercely for it. I want to be a safe space. I want a safe space where I can feel as unsafe as this life has made me.

I want to be seen as fully myself even as I discover what that is, but in public I still ping as female. Am I female? Am I male? I’m both and neither.

I want to wear men’s shoes with curvy wide legged pants and tee shirts with blazers and I want to wear my whole wild self on my face and in the way that I walk, but sometimes I want to be still and silent and not be seen.

I want to know who and what I am. I am finding myself in the arms and love of those closest to me. I am finding myself in pictures of other people who seem like me. I am finding myself in my own reflection.

This post originally published at rhiannonkelley.wordpress.com

I have four children.

When my oldest child was born, I was just twenty-one years old. My husband and I lived at Youth Haven Ranch in Rives Junction, where he was the program director. Both my oldest child and my second one were born at the hospital in Jackson, about a twenty-minute panicky car ride from our house in the woods.

Before he was born, we found out that he had girl parts. My family threw me a girly baby shower, and the pink stuff began to stack up everywhere in our house. I wanted to be sure our later children would be able to use all the new things we were acquiring, so I picked a neutral decorating scheme that I thought was kid and Christian appropriate: Noah’s Ark.

I named him, as I’ve named all my children. His first name given at birth was my middle name, and his middle name was to honor his great-grandmother, who to this day remains the frostiest southern bitch I’ve ever known, and I say that with all the respect I can muster, God rest her soul.

When his little brother was born, we called him a big sister. This didn’t seem to bother him in the slightest until little baby brother began to crawl and reach for and then slobber on things that used to be his and his alone.

When his father left all three of us on August 9th — almost fourteen months after my second child’s birth — I was devastated. Not just for myself, not just for the little boy who wasn’t old enough to remember his father later, but for my oldest. He was daddy’s little girl; everyone said so.

Fast-forward thirteen years.

In the years since, I have had another son and a daughter. I used to be teased that I had ‘bookends’: one girl on each side of two boys. When my two oldest were still tiny, I remember being enraged that someone could possibly mistake my younger boy for a girl, when he was CLEARLY wearing blue clothing.

Good lord, did I ever need to get over myself.

This year, my oldest child came out to close family and friends.

This year, my oldest child transitioned from asking for neutral and male pronouns sometimes, to asking for male pronouns almost exclusively.

This year, my oldest child renamed himself.

This year, my oldest child has tipped the balance in the family, which is all at once ridiculous and incredibly meaningful to me personally.

Elijah isn’t daddy’s wounded little girl, waiting for him to come back.

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Elijah is a young man learning what clothes he likes, what schoolwork he enjoys (or hates), which swear words are most fun, and how to navigate the world as an LGBTQ person.

Elijah is just a few weeks away from being sixteen years old. When I was sixteen, I met his father. When I was sixteen, I wanted to think for myself, but I was afraid to. I knew what was expected of me, as much as I hated having expectations at all. And I did what was expected: I got engaged, I didn’t have sex until my wedding night, I supported my husband in whatever he wanted to do, we had two children, and then he ran away.

So, Elijah, let me say this to you: fuck expectations. Fuck what everyone else wants you to do, and that includes all the new friends and loved ones you’ve met by joining up with your fellow LGBTQ people in this area. First and always, be true to yourself.

I’m not saying you don’t carry a wound in your heart from what happened to us when we were all thirteen years younger. What I’m saying to you is that you do not have to be defined by anything that happens to you. You will always be able to reframe and rise above it, even though the reframing will likely be a struggle.

P.S. Your sense of style is pretty killer.

I have four children.

I’ll get used to telling people I have three boys and a girl.

I’ll get accustomed to the confused stare I get when I explain to people that have known me for a little while that my oldest child identifies as a boy.

And you know what? When Elijah’s journey takes him somewhere else, I’ll get used to that too. I love him no matter what. I have four children, and I love them fiercely. All the rest is cake.

This post originally published at rhiannoncahours.com. It has been lightly edited.