Friday, February 10, 2012

C is for Compassion

I used to have compassion for some people, by whom I mean my father.

But I have learned that having compassion for, well, people who are frankly abusive, doesn't get you very far. It's a nice idea, and it sure is easy to talk about if it's not your problem, if you've got the distance to be able to talk about it in the abstract, but—

My father was a hoarder. I've only had a name for it for a few years now. Before that, it was just this completely baffling... thing. Now, however, not only do I know that what he did is called hoarding, but I know that it is a serious mental condition, in his case, something called obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.

Not obsessive compulsive disorder, let's get that straight. But a personality disorder.

And the thing with those is that the person doesn't change. The person can't change. The person doesn't think there's anything whatsoever wrong with them. It's the entire rest of the world who is wrong, in their mind. It is a fundamental brokenness in the brain. Think sociopathy, or narcissism.

I know, I'm repeating myself. Sometimes I think that saying it over and over again is simply validation, or maybe due to disbelief on my part, which I am trying to break through. It is a strange thing to come to terms with, when you grow up thinking it normal.

So people don't generally 'suffer' from personality disorders; like I said they don't think there's anything wrong with them. But the people around them sure do suffer.

If a person has something wrong with their brain, something that cannot even be perceived by them, never mind understood as something not-right, they are not going to change. They just aren't. They can't. But that person is also not going to be able to help harming those around them. They can't change that either.

I have found that having compassion for people like that, while you are one of those people around them, just means that they hurt you over and over again. And especially when that person with the personality disorder, the, shall we say, self-absorbed, or perhaps, toxic person, has trained you to consider their needs first, always. Well, that's not quite true; in my father's case it was more like his whims came first, before the needs of the rest of us. It was more important to him that he got to pile some rotton boards on top of each other in the yard, than it was to see that the water heater was installed. So compassion, in this case, just gets you hurt.

So fuck compassion.

Now, I may come back to it sometime in the future; I don't know. But here's the thing: there is nothing wrong, morally, with where I am now. Which leads me to the other C's:

C is for crooked path. And C is for curse.

I have never yet cursed anyone; I have, in the past, thought it morally wrong. But that was before I started thinking about things like my dysfunctional family and my neglected childhood.

I spent years, no decades, literally decades, trying to talk my father into cleaning something, anything, up. I memorized the littlest shadings of his moods, the subjects that would get him to open up, just a little, what time of day was best to talk to him. I learned diplomacy, when to push, when to leave things alone, what to bribe him with, how to butter him up, and I had the patience of all the saints combined.

It didn't work. It never worked. It couldn't work, because my father was incapable of change.

I have no patience left, none at all. I used it up. I also have no compassion for him, now; not, in this case, that I've used it up, but that it was coming at the expense of compassion for myself. And that must, absolutely must, come first.

And so I find my outlook has changed. I can see nothing wrong with curses, morally. They are simply neutral. Some things cannot be solved any other way. If someone is abusing you, and there is nothing you can do to stop it? Self-preservation must come first. You, I, have the right.

There is of course no need to curse my father now. He is safely out of the way in a nursing home, after a stroke that damaged what was left of his brain, after the personality disorder and the dementia he had due to age. He can do no harm where he is.

And I am very, very grateful for that.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Just letting everyone know that my CafePress store is down right now. I am sorry if there has been any confusion. In the meantime, I also have stores up at Printfection and Zazzle, if you're interested.

My Printfection store link

My Zazzle store link

I also have a section at Zazzle just for greeting cards, here.

Again I apologize for the inconvenience/bafflement.

Couple Updates

Yes, well, B is for Busy. B is for Behind. It's been a week o' kittens around here.

Ratty is doing well, though he really doesn't care for the Cone of Shame he has to wear so he doesn't yank out his stitches. Poor thing. Grooming is so hard-wired in the little cat mind that he's been attempting to lick, say, his shoulder, and ends up licking the inside of the cone. Over and over and over.

Ratty may not be the brightest bulb.

Also, Rory is staying. And there's a long story. I gave him up, with his brother, Wednesday morning. I was expecting I'd be sad to see them go—kittens are after all cute and sweet and all—I was not expecting that Wednesday night I'd find myself bawling my eyes out over Rory being gone. I wasn't sad; I was devastated.

Sometimes, I think, you just know. The look Rory gave me when I dropped him off and walked out of the shelter said it all—it wasn't one of Don't leave me! it was simply Where are you going? A little confused, but mostly calm, and very knowing. As if, he knows the story, and he knows how it ends, and that was not it.

I mean not like I need another cat. I really, really, don't. I can do it; the house is plenty big, and I've been feeding him anyway so I know I can afford it too. But...

The nearest I can figure is that he's meant to be my familiar. I mean the others are nice kitties and all, but they're not Rory. And it's not even that he's still a cute little kitten and they're getting towards full grown; honestly I'm kind of done with kittens after this last summer and I'd really like it if they could mellow out a little already. It's just that he's him. That's the best I know how to say it.

I mean, if you'd been stupid enough to give your familiar away, you'd feel about like you'd cut off your own arm, right?

So I more or less moved heaven and earth to get him back, which is apparently a huge, huge no-no with shelters. If you surrender a cat, damned straight you're not getting it back. I'm still not sure what the logic is, but they were nearly adamant. I thought for a while it just wasn't going to happen. But it did, and the powers-that-be softened, and let me have him. Well, I had to officially 'adopt' him, fee and all, though that included a neuter and lots of shots, so it's okay. Sure, I feel like an idiot, but I don't care. Because I've got Rory back.

It was a very long drive (Friday night Boston rush hour, oy), to the shelter, in of all places Salem, Mass; even without traffic, the drive back was like an hour and a half. He mewed a little here and there on the drive back, but was mostly quiet. Finally I pulled into the driveway and shut off the car.

And in the sudden quiet I heard something else, this low but loud thrumming.

It was Rory purring. He knew he was home.

What C is Really For

Because every time I sit down to write one of these Pagan Blog Project entries, I get this song in my head. Thanks, Ms. Pendragon.

So I figured I'd share. No reason to be going quietly insane all by myself, now is there?

Friday, February 3, 2012

C Is For Cinquefoil

So, in The Temple of Shamanic Witchcraft, which year-and-a-day course I've been following along with, one of the visions takes you to your Inner Temple.

Mine turned out to be a small square building with a column at each corner and a perfectly hemispherical dome leafed in gold; inside was a main room, the same size, more or less, as the outside, maybe thirty by thirty feet.

Of course though there were rooms off it and it was as they say bigger on the inside than the outside. One of those rooms lead to a library.

When I stepped into the library I caught a flash of a small yellow flower with five petals. Something little, and wild; it looked like a rose, or a primrose, maybe. Though if it was a rose it was a species rose, not a hybrid; maybe Father Hugo's rose, though that yellow is on the pale side.

I've done some gardening, though it is a damned frustrating experience in this yard what with the abundance of groundhogs and deer, not to mention both wild rabbits and the giant domestic one from across the street who keeps getting out of his cage and hanging out in my yard. My neighbor, like Ratty, may not be the brightest bulb; half the time when he comes over to retrieve his rabbit, he brings his dog. Because the surest way to coax a rabbit to come walking up to you is to bring a wolf with you. We've taken to calling the neighbor Mr. Fudd, as the rabbit is obviously smarter; the rabbit herself I'm calling Cunny, after the old pronunciation of coney.

Anyway. I have not, in this Witchy journey of mine, so far done much with herbs and plants, though last season I did manage a functional herb garden. It hasn't been my field, I suppose, and it's a little intimidating as I know it's just a huge subject. At any rate I have never sat down and tried to commune with plants.

And I'm not sure it's the season to try. Most everything is asleep, up here in New England, I'd think; it strikes me as the height of rudeness to go knocking on doors waking things up to say Oh hey tell me about yourself okay? So I'll wait on that, I think.

But I can at least look up some book-learning. I think the plant I saw is cinquefoil. I know it grows wild around here; I've seen its little yellow flowers about my yard as long as I can remember.

It's called potentilla, in the Latin, cinquefoil is. That name, as you may have guessed, means powerful. 'Cinquefoil' itself means 'five-leaved' and refers to the way the leaflets are arranged in a cluster like the five fingers of a hand. An older name, tormentilla, from the Spanish, means 'little torment', as in, it relieves little pains; and medicinally it was used to relieve stomach ache and diarrhea.

Here's a picture of it, courtesy of Wikipedia:

Photo by Hans Hillewaert

It's a very, very familiar plant. I know I have yanked it out of my cultivated garden on more than one occasion. Was that rude?

It is also known as five-leaved grass, or five-fingered grass. Culpeper (1653) says it is an herb of Jupiter, good for treating the quinsey, sciatica, St. Anthony's fire, and the bloody flux; mainly though he says it is good for inflammation and fevers 'whether infectious or pestilential,' and gives several ways to take it, usually by boiling it in wine to make a sort of tea.

I know I have seen plenty of cultivated varieties under the name potentilla; I think, come spring, I shall see how many of them I can find, to put in my garden. Then I shall sit down and see what they tell me. I'm interested in seeing how the wild version of a plant differs from a cultivated hybrid in what it has to say.

At the very least, I know it has said hello.

Sources: Wikipedia (yeah I know), Culpeper's Herbal