My sisters jest that “Sarah had a feeling once. It made her very uncomfortable. She didn’t like it.”
I don’t know that I have always been this way. I recall being very tender-hearted and sensitive at a young age, but somewhere along the way I must have learned that this is a dangerous thing, allowing oneself to feel things too deeply, and worse – letting the world see that you feel things too deeply.
I have known my fair share of people who value cleverness over kindness, those who would pride themselves on their “brutal honesty” and that they “pull no punches”. I believe you can’t have brutal honesty without a brute at the very core and I am no brute; rather than fight like with like, I learned that I must toughen up and develop a thicker skin to deal with these people and deflect their unkind cuts, their churlishness and rancor.
Over the years this thick skin has become an intangible but very organic feeling armor, calloused in some places, worn through in others. I’ve learned not to cry, or if I must weep, I steel myself against my tears, allowing them to fall and harden and become stiff patches which I will harvest and use to mend those tears in my armor where the chinks are beginning to show. These tears, now fortifications, are protection against the very things that caused them – and those things will not make me cry again.
Later in life I am learning that this thick skin, this armor, does not always serve me well. It has allowed me to only to half-feel, or not to feel at all…. and this lack of feeling, this numbness, this blocking of emotion and engagement, has stunted some relationships before they had time to flourish. Or perhaps it inhibits me from pursuing the friendship or relationship or opportunity at all.
I am learning that this skin is not one in which I can live in permanently…but nor is it one that I need to shed completely. I think it is something I can don when I know I will be in a situation during which I can become hurt, where there are people whose motivations are suspect, whose words are inconsiderate and thoughtless at best or harsh and hateful at worst. People with personalities that jab and poke and dig, and from whom I need protection
And yet I am realizing that to live fully and immersively, I need to be able to quietly slip this skin off, fold it up and stow it away and allow myself to be unguarded and vulnerable with those whom I feel safe. I do have these people in my life, and they are good people, and they deserve that part of me. And I know I deserve that experience. Of being fully loved, of crying if it comes to that, and allowing myself to feel.
Here’s to you, my thick skin. For growing and developing as I needed you, for protecting and preserving me, and for changing and adapting to fit my transformation as I move forward, feeling my way through this world.
A new 8tracks mix, loosely inspired by Kier-La Janisse’s House of Psychotic Women.
STILLBIRTH, Alice Glass | Desire, Modern Witch | Casual Diamond, Sleep ∞ Over | Living With The Black Dog, Emma Ruth Rundle | Be Brave, Tropic Of Cancer | Gallowdance, Lebanon Hanover | Rotary, Phosphor | Synapse, Linea Aspera | Mirage, Drift | Artificial Heart, Soma Sema | Drowning, Sixth June | Mes Démons, Galatée | Grey Days, Chelsea Wolfe | Solitude, Marissa Nadler
As I may have alluded to in the past, and well, if you’ve been paying attention or if you know me, like, at all – you know that I’ve got some Issues. Of course, who doesn’t, right? But your issues aren’t my problem, and I can only work on me. Sorry about that.
And so the time has come for me to actually put in that work. I am nearly 40 years old and that’s a long time to be hauling so many hurts and anxieties and problems around. I don’t want to continue into the next decade of my life without at least having tried to address some of these things.
A local therapist was recommended to me by a friend and I have already been to two sessions. Hooray for follow-through! Normally that’s a problem for me, too. The office is located -literally- about three minutes from my house, in a small plaza with ample parking. She’ll see me after work in the evenings. So many things that might make me anxious about the act and process of simply being there are already resolved! I feel good about this.
Our first visit was more or less a “getting to know you session”; she asked a lot of questions about the issues I am facing now, my history of certain things, my family and my family’s history. She told me a bit about herself, how she got started, and what she focuses on now; when she mentioned her background in addiction and substance abuse, as well as trauma, I knew this was probably a good fit.
I spent most of my second visit biting my lip and desperately trying not to sob as I found myself going on and on for nearly 40 minutes about my mother. I couldn’t cry. I wanted to, but I am not there yet. And it’s not really a sad cry; it’s more an anger thing. I can’t seem to properly express my fury, it usually ends in a deluge of tears. But I am not there yet with this lady, and I don’t cry in front of strangers. My sister points out that your therapist is the one person you definitely shouldn’t worry about crying in front of.
Maybe I’ll get there in time.
My initial reason for being there was my constant anxiety, however, she believes that I suffer from dysthymia – a low-level, persistent form of depression – and seems to want to focus on that. I’ll go along with that for now. I don’t think she’s wrong, and who knows, maybe my anxieties are a symptom of that. Maybe it stems from something else altogether.
I’m open to exploring different possibilities, and I am not so naive as to think that there’s an immediate fix to be found. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
She shared with me this article, written last year by Therese Borchard: 10 Things I Do Everyday To Beat Depression. I expected it to be kind of cheesy, but in attempting to keep an open mind I gave it a read and I think there are some really helpful things to be found in the items that the author lists, and I would definitely recommend this as a worthwhile read.
The first thing Borchard talks about is how she swims early every morning, noting that “exercise is the most powerful weapon [she uses] everyday to beat the demons”, and that all aerobic workouts release endorphins,which,”while helping to block stress hormones and produce serotonin”, also can relieve depression.
I haven’t got a pool and I am not going to schlep down to the Y every morning, but I have begun taking a half hour walk every morning around 5:30am, just after I get out of bed. Once you are actually out of bed, there is something so wonderful about that time of morning. Though people may be just waking up, the world is mostly still and silent. No cars on the road, no children playing in the yard, and most importantly – no one is ringing me on the phone at that time of day. It’s glorious. I wish it could be 5:30am all day long.
I have found, in the past few days I have got much more energy and I am probably twice as productive. Is this sustainable? Can I keep it up? That I don’t know. But I did it today, so that is what I am trying to focus on for now.
I may slowly begin implementing some other suggestions from that list; for example, I like the idea of taking a minute or two to record the little joys of the day. It is the little things, so often, that provide unsuspecting moments of delight when one is fraught with anxiety and sadness. Taking time to collect these moments and appreciate them seems like a nice thing to slow your racing heart and still your crazy thoughts for time.
Power smoothies, however, can fuck off. Not in my house.
*The Skeletor Is Love image has been created exclusively for this post. We are not making a comeback.
The loveliest tea sampler from Marble & Milkweed. I’m a bit of a coffee fiend, and have been for a number of years, but before that I really did love the the calming ritual of a small pot of tea. I’m not giving up my coffee anytime soon, but I couldn’t resist trying some of their tea blends. So far the standout is the gorgeous Forest Tea; a mélange of “organic heirloom pu-erh, organic lapsang souchong, wild-harvested douglas fir tips, and the delicate woodland character of blackberry and violet leaves.” It’s slightly smoky, subtly sweet, and really quite wonderful.
Alexander McQueen Pagan Unicorn Pouch and Fluevog Arabella flats that I picked up for a song on tradesy. If you are looking for designer items and you don’t mind previously used (don’t be such a snob about your snobby high end stuff!) I highly suggest you peek around on the site. Use my referral link for $20 off your first purchase of $50 or more! I’ve never really considered myself crazy about shoes or handbags and I would never pay full price for any of this stuff, but if you’ve ever longed for something previously thought unattainable by a super fancy designer, you might just find it on tradesy.
Lovely little dishes and trays from CatsPawPottery on etsy, for stray baubles and trinkets and maybe incense, too. I like to leave safe places scattered around the house for precious things. Very reasonably priced, too! I saw these over on wolfnwhisky last year and have been thinking of them ever since.
The Coven playing cards from 52Ravens, “Custom poker size playing cards inspired by the mystery of the covens witches.” Which coven? I don’t know, but I saw the Kickstarter for them a few months ago, and I can never resist a vaguely occult themed or esoteric playing card deck. I don’t even play cards! But they are really beautiful, and I suppose they make nice gifts.
Kale Cafe Juice bar and Vegan Cuisine in Daytona Beach. Our little town doesn’t really have many vegan or vegetarian offerings (that I’m aware of, anyway) and so when my brother in law and sister were in town this weekend I jumped at the chance to try this place out, as I’d been hearing about it for a few years. On downtown Beach St., it’s in an excellent location, along a small strip with some antiques shops, a taco restaurant, a coffee shop, a few book stores, and a record store around the corner. It was a chaotic little place but warm and friendly, and the owners offered samples of just about everything on the menu, if you wanted to try something out before ordering it. Standouts were the kale salad, the jerk mushrooms (so spicy! but good) and the seitan marsala. It was a very different sort of meal than the one I had later in the evening which included a gourmet local cheese board. lobster, a petit filet and $18 cocktails, that’s for certain! But life is all about balance, right?
My Satanic Feminist tee shirt from Nattskiftet finally arrived! The funny thing is, I thought I ordered this months and months ago. When it never showed up, I checked my paypal account and it turns out I never ordered it after all. Did I dream the whole thing up? It was very weird. Anyhow, when it was back in stock again, I double and triple checked the entire process – I wasn’t taking any chances this time. I might wear this the next time I visit the dreadmills at the YMCA, what do you think?
New spectacles! I have wanted a pair of cat eye glasses for the longest time, and when I saw this pair from Derek Cardigan, I knew I’d found just the thing! They felt a little severe at first, but I think that adds to the charm.
I am now one pound heavier than I was when I started.
A lot of great things have happened in the past year. I traveled to Iceland! I hosted my second Death Cafe! Several friends have asked me to participate in fun projects! And some not-so-great things happened. My grandfather passed, making our small family even smaller. Care for my grandmother has consumed me, and in providing this care I missed out on what may have been a once in a lifetime opportunity to attend a family reunion in the Midwest, and a chance to meet some relatives I didn’t even know that I had.
As is the way sometimes, right now it feels like the bad outweighs the good, and emotionally that’s weighing on me quite heavily. Physically, all of the weight I have not lost (and the little I lost but gained back) is weighing on me as well. All of this weight is no small burden and it’s making me pretty glum.
What have I done about it? Well, I stepped on the scale, for one. That was rather terrifying, but I guess you have to know what you’re working with, right? So, now we are starting all over again, I suppose.
I’ve got so much on my plate right now – pardon the pun – that I almost don’t even care what happens with my weight and with my health, and I certainly don’t care to dwell on it. I guess I could make a list of all of the things I’m going to do or not going to do, but that’s of interest to no one but me and to be truthful, it doesn’t even interest me that much.
I went for a walk last night. I will go for another walk tonight. I will probably do it again tomorrow. I have been walking for exercise since I was eleven years old, and it’s what I know how do to. I don’t believe I am going to make myself crazy about it right now. I am going to walk every night this week, and we will see what things look like next week.
Not much of a report, is it? Well, that’s just the way things go. In the meantime, I don’t look too awful in this dress, so I’m not going to cry about it.
Tai, please email me at mlleghoul AT gmail dot com so that I can send these fragrances your way!
In the original post it seems I neglected to mention where these scents can be found. Allow me to remedy that! Most of them can be found on amazon. See below for links. Regretfully, the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab scent that I listed, “Danube” , looks like it is no longer on the site (I must have a really old bottle). I have found their scent “Arkham” to be strangely comparable, though..
The Duke Of Burgundy, directed by Peter Strickland, has been on my watch-list for a while now. I was quite taken with the dreamy trailer, (an “aesthete’s dream!”, one reviewer proclaimed) and had already enjoyed Strickland’s Berberian Sound studio, a twisty, imaginative “anti-horror” film, and so I was prepared to watch something quite beautiful that would probably go absolutely nowhere. I don’t think this makes me very popular when it comes to my turn to pick a film for group-viewing, but these sorts of nonsensical, plodding, but visually exquisite films are among my very favorites.
Advertised as “Sex, Bondage, & Butterflies”, I suppose the best way to sum this up in ten words or less is: “Gorgeous lesbian lovers/lepidoptera enthusiasts have minor spat”. That doesn’t give away any spoilers, does it? I am not sure that there are any to give away.
In any event, if you are intrigued by the non-review above, but aren’t yet sure if this is your cup of tea, have a peek at some of the incredibly lovely imagery.
A text from my sister earlier this week, after a conversation which very nearly escalated in a panic attack for me, but which didn’t, because I think I am too repressed to fully experience a full-blown panic attack.
“..I worry that you have developed this pattern throughout your life where you NEED something to agonize over, dread, or freak out about in order to feel normal. This impacts your capacity for joy and hurts my heart for you.”
Yes, she is a mental health counselor, so she is certainly qualified to recognize these things.
I don’t remember ever not being this way. Even as a little girl, I recall, for example, sitting in an airplane seat and dreading the part of the journey where I might have to pee; I’d have to get out of my seat, disrupt my seatmates, make my way up the aisle and hopefully not trip over anything, find the bathroom, hope that it’s empty, hope that I can look nonchalant if I have to wait, hope that there’s not a long line of disgruntled passengers after I’m done, make my way back to my seat without incident, and disrupt my seatmates again. As an adult, I still carry this fearful scenario with me, and now, as then, I will just hold it in until my bladder feels like it is going to explode – yes, even if it is a six hour flight – and just wait til we have landed.
My whole life is like that -an extended airplane ride wherein I have to pee, but I don’t want to disturb anyone, make a fuss, look foolish.
I think it might be time to start thinking about how my life, and my “capacity for joy” is being impacted by my nervousness and anxiety and neuroses. And I think it might be time to look into getting help for it.
I was absolutely thrilled today to find that the blog entries and frivolous writings I did in 2011, right before I moved, were still available deep in the internet archives! It seems a silly thing, I suppose. It was all just observations and lists and a record of my days, but I loved my little ghostsinthegarden blog quite dearly, and I was sorry to let it go. I am not even sure why I let it go, to be honest. Ah well… other blogs, other times.
I have started moving old entries into my current archives here, so that I will always have a record of them. “Always”, I suppose, as long as I don’t let this one languish and become buried by the sands of time and the internet as well. I’ll be more diligent this time, I promise.
If you are curious as to what I was up to in the summer of 2011, take a look!
In the meantime, I am reposting an entry from August 12, 2011, in which I talked about…you guessed it. Fripperies and perfume. I am fairly predictable.
Still Life With Adornments
There is something about a small grouping of items which I find quite pleasing. I’ve always loved “still life” paintings… a rustic bowl of seasonal fruit, an antique vase of hothouse flowers…there is a quiet calm to these little gatherings that I find rather soothing to gaze upon.
Lately I’ve been composing my own hushed, still tableaux with a small collection of well loved-items. I think there is a comforting magic present in a thing well loved, which translates into a tranquil bit of beauty for the eye when it is weary of the drab in every day drudgery, or even the flash and glam of common advertising that we are constantly bombarded with. Don’t you find those things tiresome? I know my own eyes need restful visions upon which to fall sometimes.
Click the images for a link to individual flickr pages with detailed description of the contents of each collection.