(Trigger warning for trauma survivors: I don’t go into a lot of detail, but I do mention dealing with death, and memories of rituals and pagan holidays.)
September is an odd month. It’s both my favorite and my least favorite month. It’s one of the months I most look forward to, but also one of the months I most dread. One day I might get into the odd events I remember from my childhood that probably contribute to this “September” feeling, but for now, I’ll just leave it at that.
So, what happened last month (September) is pretty much a blur to me right now. If I thought hard enough, I’d probably be able to come up with more specifics, but I can’t right now. The only things I remember clearly are coming under pretty severe demonic attack twice (and the subsequent depression that came afterwards), and my youngest son finding a stray cat in the trash bin at work and bringing her home.
But October has been pretty clear so far. Full, certainly. Full of things that I can remember. So in that way, it’s something positive.
We found out that the stray female cat that my son brought home was pregnant. I knew after the second day we had her that she was pregnant, of course. Maybe some moms just have a sense about those things. But no one else believed me until she was waddling around, scarfing up her kitty food and sniffing around for more.
She had her babies a couple weeks ago. Four beautiful kittens. Two are perfectly healthy and fat, but two died. Just . . . died.
Their death brings up an ocean of overwhelming emotions within me that I can’t even begin to describe, so I am doing my best to ignore those pesky, intrusive feelings. My feelings can’t change the outcome, anyway, so what’s the point in dwelling on them? This probably isn’t the healthiest point of view, I understand, but it’s the best way I know how to cope by myself. I don’t know of another way. Trying to talk about it frustrates me and causes depression, especially because I know that the thoughts I’m having aren’t thoughts that, if I were a better person, I would be thinking. And talking about it would just worry my family and stress them out. So, I don’t talk about it. After all, they were just cats, right? It’s not like a person died or anything, so what’s the deal with feeling sad about it?
At least, that’s what I tell myself. I know I’m being too hard on myself, as usual. If someone I knew was sad about their kittens dying, I would be understanding and try to comfort them. So why can’t I be comfortable with my own feelings of sadness? Why can’t I talk to myself the way I would to someone else? Such as:
“It’s okay to be sad.”
“You did everything you could do.”
“You didn’t do anything wrong. It’s not your fault.”
But it’s not just the dying part that upsets me. Logically, I know that nothing and no one lives forever in this current condition. And really, as a Christian, I understand that that’s a good thing, right? Because who wants to be stuck in a permanent state of decay in a world that is full of sin?
But it’s not just about the kittens. In my mind, their life/death symbolizes me and other people like me. They are symbolic of the entire human condition, really, and I feel sad because of it. Helpless. They remind me of my baby brother whose life/death lasted a matter of minutes, and I was helpless to stop it no matter how much I prayed to God. They remind me of the animals I had as a child and the cruel way they were treated by my mother, and how I was helpless to stop it. They remind me of the horrific way animals were used in rituals and various traumas I was forced to watch and be involved in, and how I was helpless to stop it.
And it seems to me that some lives are born for the sole purpose of suffering and dying and I am absolutely helpless to do anything meaningful about it, and this makes me angry. But experience has taught me that talking about these feelings will only cause people to switch into their “Christian-eze” mode, trying to ease the yawning, engulfing sadness and answer the painful questions with empty platitudes that only bring up more questions and fuel even more anger. Which, in turn, drives depression.
For me, anger usually leads to depression.
I’m sure I’ll eventually work through it and come to some sort of “wise conclusion” that I will blog about, but maybe I won’t blog about it at all, because sometimes our own philosophical understanding and life’s wisdom comes across as callousness and a failure to be empathetic. Sometimes our own understanding that brings us peace, is like a stab and a twist of the knife in another person’s spirit.
Sometimes there are no answers, and the best thing is to simply acknowledge the feelings. Sometimes the best thing to say to a loved one is, “Life sucks, and I don’t have any answers. But I’m here to walk through this crappy life with you, anyway. I’ve laughed with you and I’ll probably laugh with you again, but for now I’ll cry with you, because for now it’s time to have a good cry, and complain and moan about how crappy and unfair life is. Tomorrow may be good, but for now it stinks. And I’m sorry that we both are forced to sit here and marinate in all this stink.”
Or something along those lines.
So that was pretty much the majority of the bad so far this month.
On the good side, my youngest son celebrated his birthday this month, and we enjoyed a family day at a nearby retired battleship. Being on the battleship was triggering and stressful for me, though. Anything military related seems to bring that out in me. But I managed to keep all those emotions buried deep inside so that I could enjoy the family time, so I’m happy about that.
Yes, more buried and ignored emotions, but it’s better than being a nervous, emotional wreck and ruining my son’s birthday. The only thing I couldn’t handle was climbing to the top of that tall building in the battleship park (is it called a park?). I’ve never been a fan of heights, and being up that high sent me over the edge (in a manner of speaking, of course . . .), so rather than have a public panic attack by forcing myself to stay in that stressful situation, making an awful spectacle of myself and embarrassing my family in the process, I chose to make my way back down to safe ground.
. . . where I sat and rocked back and forth on the bench until I felt calmer.
But there was no drooling or muttering or screaming or banging my head against the walls (I’ve done the head-banging when I’ve gotten very upset and triggered, which is horrible and embarrassing, but it is what it is), and my children weren’t there to see the rocking. So, I’m mostly okay with acting like an idiot. (No offense meant to other people who rock back and forth, too. I’m just expressing that I feel like an idiot after acting that way in public.)
We also went on a family trip to visit the college campus that my daughter is going to attend in the spring. She’s graduating from the nearby college in December with two degrees (and a four-point-oh-summa-cum-laude to boot. . . so much for the people in my life who thought I was making a mistake by homeschooling my children. . . ! Ha!). She wants to continue her education at a different college in January, so we took a family trip to visit the campus, and we had a wonderful time. All the walking, though! Man, you think you’re in pretty okay physical shape until you have to trek up and down hills for four hours straight!
So in spite of the bad things, there have been some good things this month. I’m not looking forward to Halloween, of course. I’ve never really enjoyed that holiday, even though growing up, I knew I was supposed to. For that matter, I never enjoyed Christmas, either, and the whole “Christmas spirit” attitude only made things worse, really. The whole “pretend to be a ‘Norman Rockwell’ family for the sake of everyone else watching” was tiring. And depressing. Because no matter how hard I tried to pretend for the sake of my mother’s public mask, I was anything but happy.
But concerning Halloween, I remember my first Halloween that we celebrated. I can’t remember how old I was, but I was probably somewhere between 8 and 11. My family and I lived across the street from our church and church-school, “Gateway Christian —”.
(I don’t feel comfortable sharing the full name.)
Gateway used to be “First Apostolic (or was it Pentecostal?) Church,” or something like that, but somewhere along the way, the pastor (and presumably the elders, too) decided to change the name. I remember that the name change was controversial at the time, and not everyone was happy with the change. I can’t blame them, although I think they were more concerned with the “Apostolic/Pentecostal” identity being taken away from the name, and not because they were aware of or concerned about the occult meaning behind “gateways.”
I can’t say for certain if the pastor and other church leaders at that time were consciously motivated by the demonic when they chose the new name, but considering that not all of their members were the “Christians” they claimed to be (my mother and stepfather, for two, but they weren’t the only ungodly, child-abusing and child-molesting people that attended there at the time), the occult meaning behind “Gateway” certainly fit the bill, as that church was literally a gateway for demonic spirits to enter and work.
At any rate, one particular year, the pastor (and presumably, the church leaders) decided that they were going to jump on the “Fall Festival” bandwagon. You know, the one where churches change the name of “Halloween” to “Fall Festival” in an effort to try to convince themselves and others that they aren’t celebrating “Halloween,” in spite of the obvious, often giving themselves extra pats on their collective backs for enforcing the “no demonic or evil costumes” rule. You know, the safe, “Christian” version of the pagan (satanic) holiday.
(Soap -Box Warning: controversial thoughts to follow.
Questions: are there any other available days in the year to buy candy for children to consume, or are candy purchases and consumptions only limited to October 31st? Are children not allowed to play dress-up and pretend games, except for on the 31st of October? Are there any other days during the year where parents are allowed to throw a party for their children and let them play games, or is Halloween night the only night during the year that those sorts of parties can take place?
You see, in case anyone doesn’t know, Halloween is a pagan celebration, and a pagan (satanic) “holiday” isn’t “magically” transformed into something different through a name change.
And, although this might be a newsflash to some, here’s something else: calling yourself a “Christian” doesn’t sanctify or make holy the pagan celebrations that you choose to participate in.
Why have “Christians” throughout the centuries had this insatiable need to “take over” pagan rituals and celebrations?
(Including Christmas and Easter, by the way, but that’s another post for another day, and yet another opportunity to make even more people angry at me than already are . . . *sigh*)
Christians celebrating pagan holidays are following in those same footsteps, “taking over” a celebration that is not, never has been, and never will be festivities that are Biblical, Christian, and spiritually safe. I mean, hey, if you’re pagan, then you celebrate pagan holidays. It’s what you do. But why do Christians think it’s okay to do the same?
I understand many Christians celebrate Halloween out of sheer ignorance, and I don’t think they really understand that those holidays that were supposedly “taken over” by Christendom are not Christian in any sense whatsoever, but are a continuing and evolving celebration of old pagan traditions that circle around demonic rituals and observances.
I celebrated out of ignorance before, too, in a way, although my conscious still pricked at me, even at a young age, because it just didn’t seem right to be celebrating a holiday that was obviously satanic. But even when I absolutely knew the truth as an adult, I still allowed myself to be pressured by my mother into celebrating Halloween with my children. Why? Mostly because I was more afraid of her and what she thought of me, over and above being concerned about doing the right thing.
And yeah, when I and my husband finally took a stand years ago and decided that we were D-O-N-E done celebrating pagan holidays, there was negative backlash, particularly from my mother. Not my husband’s family, although some of them probably think we’re a bit nuts. 🙂 That’s okay. We kinda are — lol (and by “we,” I mean, “me”). But they are polite and respectful about our decision, which is all I ever expect. We are also respectful about their decision to continue to celebrate pagan holidays.
Regardless, here’s a challenge: maybe it’s time for Christians to take a stand — kind, yes; respectful, absolutely; but a firm stand — and stop celebrating and following after pagan traditions. There’s no need to get nasty and hateful towards Christians who choose to celebrate pagan holidays, but there’s also no need to continue celebrating with them. And maybe it’s time to kindly explain why you don’t celebrate, and why they should consider stopping their pagan celebrations.
Just my thoughts . . . . Ultimately, we all stand before God and give account of our own individual lives, so regardless of what you do or don’t celebrate, and how you celebrate, we should all live our lives with that end in mind.)
Okay, I’m off my soapbox now.
As with the name change of the church, there were people in the congregation who weren’t happy about celebrating Halloween with a safer, “Christian” version, but my mother wasn’t one of them, of course. She was fine with the whole thing. So on Halloween night, she dressed up my brother and I in homemade costumes.
I don’t remember what my mother dressed me as, but I do remember that my brother was dressed up like a hobo clown. Mom strapped a pillow around his chest with a belt, and when she put his big shirt on (a shirt that belonged to Tom, our stepdad), it looked like he had a fat belly, and she laughed and said my brother looked like a mini version of Tom.
Tom didn’t look amused. But since one of his side-jobs at that time was dressing up as a clown . . .
(he never seemed to have an actual full-time job, only part-time jobs that he couldn’t keep . . . except, of course, the part-time job he had of toting me back and forth to programming rituals; he managed to keep that job)
. . . and since his belly was a bit on the plump side, it seemed to be a fair comparison at the time.
I also remember being upset because mom was putting makeup on my face, but she said it was okay since it was for a costume. So I tried to smother my apprehension that I was doing something wrong by putting makeup on my face.
After our costumes were on, we walked across the street to celebrate Hallo—
I mean, we walked across the street to celebrate “Fall Festival.”
We weren’t allowed to stay long at the party, though, which was disappointing to me at the time, and before I knew it, Mom and Tom were standing in the doorway of the room, telling us it was time to go. We had someplace else to be that night.
So I took one last turn at bobbing for apples . . .
(*ahem* in case you didn’t know, that’s an ancient pagan ritual)
. . . and we left. By that time, my costume make-up was all messed up because of the apple-bobbing, but it didn’t matter, because mom scrubbed my face clean for the event we were going to, anyway.
Here’s where my memories got a bit confused for a long time. Because of some of the memories I have surrounding costumes and a party/ritual at the house of a woman I will call “Pam” (one of my childhood programmers, who I called the “Good Witch”), I automatically connected the memories of that first Halloween celebration with a subsequent party at Pam’s house. But now, I’m pretty sure we went someplace else that Halloween night, and the party I’ve always clearly and vividly remembered at Pam’s house was during the Christmas season.
(well . . . the party part of the night is very clear, anyway; the awful ending, however — the ritual part — is still hazy for me)
Of course, we might have gone to Pam’s house on that Halloween night, too, but if we did, I don’t know which of my memories connect to that particular night.
One reason the holiday celebrations were confused in my mind is because of the jobs Pam and her husband had, and the interactions I had with them.
Pam and her husband were part owners in a nearby Christmas-style theme park. Pam’s shtick was being a “good witch” who worked at the gingerbread house called the “Good Witches Bakery” and who passed out lollipops to good little children, and her husband’s role was being “Santa Clause.” The park was like a little fairy Christmas village, with workers dressed up as elves and the houses shaped like gingerbread houses, but there was also a man who donned a huge pumpkin head, so there’s that connection to Halloween. And there was also an Easter Bunny walking around and a woman dressed up as “Alice,” with an attraction called “Alice in Wonderland Thru the Magic Looking Glass.” Suffice to say, it was an odd conglomeration of holidays and characters all rolled into one small theme park, complete with a novelty train ride that went past some tunnels and caves that were part of the geography there in the mountains.
(or was it through the tunnels and caves. . . ? And why, as I’m writing this, do I connect my memories of those tunnels and caves with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs? Hmm . . . odd.)
Anyway, although as a child I enjoyed visiting the theme park a couple of times that I remember during the day, I have some half-remembered memories of some of the awful things that happened there after hours.
So, I always more strongly connected Christmas with Pam and her husband, more so than Halloween, but the memories of a party with costumes lent itself to me connecting the party at Pam’s with that first Halloween celebration.
Bottom line, I think the party I have vivid recollections of at Pam’s house was during the Christmas season, and not on Halloween night like I had always believed.
Even so, this month, starting a couple weeks ago, one of the inside parts of me has been trying to tell me about that first Halloween night and what happened, but every time I think I almost have hold of a snippet of a memory that I didn’t have before — an important piece of the puzzle that I have been missing for a long time — I start to get dizzy, nauseous, and get a horrible headache.
As Halloween approaches, I’m feeling more and more anxious with each passing day, and I know that I would likely start to recall things more clearly if I journaled about it. But I’m feeling pretty raw right now, and I don’t feel like I’m in a safe enough place to completely remember, especially considering the trauma surrounding the death of the kittens this month.
So . . . I will try to squash this for now, and try to do things that help ease the anxiety.
What usually helps with this type of anxiety is staying busy with other things. Positive things. Like birthday parties for my children and touring college campuses. And keeping in mind the fact that we still have two beautiful new additions to our cat family (additions for whom we will find a nice home after they are weaned, because we can’t afford to take care of two more cats, four in the house is enough, thank you very much, Cleveland the Pit is already out-numbered as it is!)
And I’ve been focusing this month, too, on starting my own business, which has been keeping me very busy in a good way.
Not only am I planning on publishing the book that Carolyn and I wrote (the free version will still be available on our joint website, however; that won’t change), but since I’d like to do something productive to contribute to the household expenses (especially now that my children are all grown up and starting to go their own ways), I figured I’d use this opportunity to share some of the things I make, too. It keeps me busy in a good way, and since I’m going to do it anyway and I enjoy it, why not be productive with it and try to make a couple dollars in the process?
But I’ll share more about that later, when it’s time. 🙂
As usual for this personal blog, this post has pretty much been all over the place. Sorry ’bout that.
I hope you have a safe rest of the month, and that you find beauty and peace. Thank you for reading.