Sunday, October 24, 2010


Okay, this is going to be a little tricky, and I don't know how much I want to share, given that that is my real name at the top of this blog; then again, it's only been my real name for not quite a decade yet, so there is still a bit of camouflage there.

But Hecate's post got me thinking. And now here's the part I don't want to get into, much.

I should warn you all first, I suppose, that this blog may now well descend into the occasional navel-gazing; and I guess I have two things to say to that. One, this is a blog, and one can hardly be surprised, as hello, this is a blog; and, two, that one should rightly check one's belly button on a regular basis, as a lotus may be sprouting there. You never know.

This is the time of year when it is traditional to honor the ancestors. The veil is thin, so they say, and the ghosty sorts crowd us round, as the leaves fall and the trees shift through their annual deaths. I can't say I can really feel it this year, though, as I still have that cotton in my ears of necessity. But that's okay, as it really has done wonders for my anxiety level.

So now to that navel-gazing part I'm not sure I want to share, about the ancestors.

Or, rather, about my father. A warning to the stray cousin who may have wandered here: if you do not wish to hear anything bad about your Uncle Walter, you may want to leave now.

You see, my father was a deeply broken person. I say was, even though he is not dead, because he is now in a nursing home after a stroke several years back, and he does not remember anyone. This is a good thing; a great blessing, in fact.

He was seriously mentally ill. I mean, not that we recognized it growing up; I am only able now to see that there was something really wrong with him, or put a name to it. But he had a personality disorder, a severe personality disorder, one called obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. This is not, it should be noted, the same thing as obsessive-compulsive disorder, no. They are not even, as far as I've been able to find out, particularly related, other than the similarity of names. OCD is perceived as not-quite-right by the person with it; they know, on some level, that the compulsions and rituals they perform aren't rational.

But personality disorders are different. They are perfectly in harmony with the ego. Which means that not only does a person with one think they are perfectly rational in their behaviors, they think they are right in doing what they do. Especially someone with OCPD, with its focus on perfectionism. Other personality disorders, by the way, include narcissistic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and the ever-fun antisocial personality disorder.

Anyway, this made my father, well, not fun. Actually it made him an impossible completely opaque control-freak who could not be reasoned with, even a tiny little bit. Oh, and he was a hoarder, too, of an extreme sort. If you wish to hear about this more in-depth, really, go read my other blog, Tetanus Burger. There is more than enough about him and the effects his behavior had on us over there, as, well, that's the stated purpose of that blog. I would like to especially direct you to a recent post on his OCPD.

So, back to the ancestors. Though I know that honoring them is a big part of this time of year, and of this religion of Paganism in general, it has never been something I've been all that interested in doing. I suppose some of it is that my family (to either side) is not all that close-knit. As a family we don't really do family. And that's fine.

And some of my family are just, well, dysfunctional, as Hecate put it. And I don't wish to honor that. Acknowledge, sure, that's fine, and healthy, as denial won't get you anywhere, but honor? Not really, no.

My father's father, my grandfather, died when he was young, when my father was I think eleven years old. My father was the eldest of three boys; so his father also left a six year old and a two year old. My grandfather died suddenly, and unexpectedly, in 1934, right in the middle of that Great Depression which also wiped out the family's savings. Fortune, actually, one might even say, or so I hear. There was money on that side, once, as evidenced by the numerous rich houses my ancestors built, including a big stone number that now functions as the Historical Society for the next city over.

So, bad times. And one could reasonably surmise that that childhood of loss, insecurity, and deprivation triggered my father's later hoarding.

His mother, so I have heard, was also a piece of work, perhaps a hoarder herself. I don't know; I was very very young when she died, and I don't remember her.

So. Back to things of a Pagan nature.

A couple years ago, my father came down with some kind of raging infection in the nursing home. He was taken to the hospital where they started pumping him full of intravenous antibiotics. We went to visit him there. He was running a high fever, and was very very out of it. Or, almost, to my Witchy eye, very very in it. Some part of him, it seemed to me, was seeing very clearly. Oh, not in an intellectual sense, of course; but some part of him knew he was very close to the edge, very close to dying. And he was terrified. Because he was completely unwilling.

I'm not surprised; the man was terrified of any kind of change, even the littlest sort. And it doesn't get much bigger than death for changes, does it?

But as much as I have reasons, good reasons, to dislike the man, or, even, to hate the man, I am a compassionate person. I think I am, anyway. Though at that point, really, it wasn't my father there. Just a scared, terrified person.

So when I got home I invoked my ancestors, his ancestors, though I had never felt the need to before.

I did not honor them. I did not ask nicely. I told my grandfather, the one who died young, that I did not know if he left willingly or unwillingly, but that his leaving had caused a profound mess, a real fucked-up pile of shit, one that my father had happily passed on to the rest of us. And so I told him that it was now his responsibility to get his ass over to that hospital bed and be there for my father. And the same for my grandmother, too. Because I sure as fuck was not going to do it. As if I could have anyway.

So I don't know about honor. I figure the ancestors are dead already. They can deal with the unvarnished truth.

Or maybe that is honor. I have always considered the telling of that kind of truth, that level of honesty, where nothing is sugar-coated and I just tell it straight from the soul, to be a form of respect. So maybe it is.

The next day my father was much better. Remarkably so, and the doctors commented on it, even. Though I don't remember now if I thanked them. The ancestors I mean. They still owe me, a lot.


Debra She Who Seeks said...

Your honesty resonates with me. I have a lot of relatives about whom I feel ambivalence at best and active dislike at worst. Working through a messy heritage can certainly be a life's work.

Thalia said...

Actually I'd rather prefer that I get this crap done with so I can then concentrate on the fun type of life's work.

Thank you.

Witch of Stitches said...

I have ancestors that I'd really not honor so I focus on the ancestors of my path and the blood ancestors I do love and honor. Family - a touch subject and I think you have the right idea Thalia, move on and enjoy life. It's in the past, nothing can change what has been but we can change how we deal with it - not easy - but it helps get is to the fun stuff.

Unknown said...

Ditto what Debra said about resonance w your writing.

About unvarnished/honor/ocpd, here's what I got (and my Muse said, go ahead and share):

[While gazing upon a solid wood table]
It's unvarnished, so it breaks down easier.
But then again, it's unvarnished, so it breaks down easier.

I'm quite intrigued by these topics. Came here by way of HDD (h/t). Look forward to more :)

Pip said...

This is awesome. In all ways.