A little lesson from the moon (AKA: Violet learned how not to be offensive)

I’m inclined to say that Friday the 13th was not as lucky for me as others, but maybe it’s just a different kind of good luck I experienced. It was early in the evening (about 8ish) and we were seated at C’s wooden table and someone mentioned something like, “Oh are you talking about your spirit animal?” in a joking tone. The first thing that comes to my mind when someone says spirit animal? Young adults who like an animal or think it’s cute and decide that they have a spiritual connection with that animal only to be trendy (spirituality is big with the New Age crowd, it seems. Which is cool, it’s just not cool to make a mockery of people that practice rituals and hold beliefs because you want to be that cool, edgy chick on Tumblr). Or the popular meme, “So-and-so is totes my spirit animal”. Like, Lorde. I would love Lorde to be my spirit animal. It’s considered an internet joke, and I have only seen people use it as such.

So I began with the first statement with, “Yeah, I think the ‘spirit animal’ thing is bullshit-” but was unable to finish the rest of my thoughts because the guy in front of me became really upset and clutching his dog tag (which I still have no idea of its significance, he just sort of threw it in my face) and said that he didn’t like me anymore. That I just dismissed his spiritual beliefs but that it was okay, he wasn’t going to bother to change my mind and opinions; all that mattered was his thoughts and my opinions were just invalid. Between his words, I apologized several times and attempted to ask him questions or explain himself but he just talked over me. When he calmed down a little, I was finally able to say “I’m sorry I offended you, can you please explain what it’s all about? I like discussion and I’d like to learn.” He explained that he was part Native American and had had a spiritual experience during a retreat with people about the wolf, and how much it meant to him. When he was done with his story, I thanked him for talking about it and apologized again for my ignorance. He thanked me for listening, then left the party for 15 or 20 minutes.

As you might be able to tell, I felt so damn awful. I felt like the shittiest human being to ever live. Me, the girl who prides herself on acceptance and kindness and respect, managed to offend someone deeply. This is also the first time I have ever offended someone. I remained quiet for the rest of the night and ended up leaving a couple hours early because I felt so miserable. So, yeah- my lucky Esbat ended up being really crappy, and seemingly unlucky.

But maybe it was a super lucky day.

1. I learned how to practice humility and apologize when I know I did something wrong. I also thank the Universe that I was able to admit ignorance and invite conversation about the other person’s beliefs. It REALLY sucks to admit you were wrong and don’t know as much as you had thought, but I was able to swallow my pride and own up in front of my peers.

2. It was a reminder to be very very careful with my word choice. It makes sense; as a writer, I’m going to have to be so precise because my words will literally determine my job. Even though I did not intend to offend the dude or even make that statement, I did and it was sloppy and not well thought out. Words can make a world of difference, and now I have a (painfully) fresh reminder of it.

3. That incident was a big test of my love for myself. As I have mentioned before, I used to self-harm. Part of that self-harm was denying myself food on occasions because I believed I wasn’t worth it/needed to be punished/etc. Two or three years ago you can bet that had a similar situation occured, I wouldn’t have eaten for the rest of the night (even though I was seriously hungry because I hadn’t eaten since 4pm). I would have considered myself inferior to everyone else- a stupid burden- and denied the nutrition my body needed to grow healthy and strong. It’s scary thinking about it now that I haven’t self-injured in so long. At first I didn’t eat anything because I did feel so badly about myself and my worth. But I took myself out of the situation via my mom driving me home, cried a little, and thought really hard and deeply about what happened, how I was feeling, and what I was going to do about it. I still felt horrid, but I decided I was going to eat. I had some extremely delicious bread rolls and slices of my favorite deli cheese. I drank a glass of water, took my pills, and went to sleep. I decided that even though I made a mistake and hurt someone’s feelings, hurting myself will never be the answer and I am a person and infinitely worthy of love and care just like everyone else. I am imperfect and human, and that is okay. I will learn from my mistakes and keep on being me. I think this action demonstrates how much I truly love myself; that I refuse to harm the vessel I live in because I am upset and feel insecure. I’m proud of me. *pats myself on the back*

and lastly, 4. Dude was kind of rude about it. I, of course, was in the wrong. My statement was not only unkind but incorrect in a lot of ways. I was offensive (regardless of intent) and deserved to apologize and listen to his beliefs and thoughts. However, I think he was being a bit immature and disrespectful by automatically jumping to “I don’t like you, I don’t like you anymore” and “your opinions are invalid”, instead of hearing me out and letting me say sorry. Throwing your dog tag in my face is also not going to help you seem more intelligent. No one’s opinions are invalid- just because someone doesn’t hold the same spiritual or moral beliefs that I do doesn’t mean that they don’t matter as a person. I have dealt with people saying similar offensive statements about me learning about Pagan traditions and whatnot and I never said anything to invalidate them and their personal beliefs. I have asked them why they felt that way, tried to open up a discussion, or simply asked to change the subject because I didn’t feel comfortable talking about it. The bottom line was that I was rude and a bit of a jerk. However, the guy’s reaction was- in my opinion, of course- unnecessary and childish.

But anyway, I messed up and owned up to it. I learned the person’s perspective. I guess that’s about all I can do about it now. Best believe I’ll be making sure my words are crazily precise before they come out of my mouth.

Putting things into perspective (TW: mention of self injury & eating disorder)

Last night was one of those nights; you know, those moments where it seems life is merely perpetual boredom and just not sufficient. Coming from someone who acknowledges that life is precious and beautiful and of infinite worth, this really messed me up. Part of me wanted this feeling to go away and change things in my life to make it more purposeful. The other part? It thought, Meh. Why should I even care? It had a complete lack of motivation (really problematic and the enemy of those with mental illness). Thankfully, J had ridiculously wise words and sage advice- I believe he said something along the lines of: It’s hard to see the point in things and even want to change anything, but when you get that first happy moment, it’ll change everything and inspire you to keep on bettering yourself. Goodness, is he some sort of therapeutic wizard? So even though I still feel sort of lethargic, a little spark in my ignited. It’s that minuscule but magical spark within all of us that ignites when we need it most; the tiny but forever-burning fire which fuels our spirit and mind. It made my mind drift back to my stay in the hospital, and some of the many invaluable things I learned there.

I was placed in the SIRS/ED program at Alexian Brothers (Self Injury Rehabilitation Whatever-the-S-stands-for and Eating Disorders). There I met many incredible and wondrous individuals who I will forever thank for their help and keep in my heart always. Not just those who helped support me and my new healthy perspective, but those that were so tremendously far gone that I was scared into never being one of them. It had heartbreaking moments: the 12 year-old girl that was so withered away and fragile that on family visit day her parents would hold her in their arms as if she were an infant. She was so small, and I’m sure her demons have stunted her growth by now. It hurt seeing that and still brings tears to my eyes- I hope that some day she will look in the mirror and recognize who she really was: a survivor of disease, a loving big sister and daughter, and a precious, sweet girl with a quiet voice that was braver and stronger than most. There was the teen girl who had a swirl of strawberry- blond on her head, who (while being weaned off of medication) writhed and screamed on the floor, sobbing for “more pills please, just to take the pain away”. And then there was the eighty or ninety year-old woman with the beautiful big smile and kind face, who I’m sure had been battling eating disorders and self-harm her whole life. These things scared the fucking shit out of me, and rightfully so. I think about these people a lot, imagining them healthy and recovered, back with those who loved them.

One of the things you had to do a lot at Alexian was fill out paperwork. Paperwork about if you ate, how you felt, what your goal was, if you had any urges to harm yourself, if you had anything you wanted to talk about, etc. We filled out paperwork after every single meal and snack, and during “lessons” where speakers or teachers would come in and give a small lecture about taking good care of yourself. I still have a few of these plastered up on my wall, to remind me of those times. As annoying as it was, it really helped put things in perspective, so I thought this would be something to help both you and I regain some composure and hopefully a more positive mindset.

I want you to list/say…

10 things you like or love about yourself (5 physical and 5 personality/characteristics).

Your mood on a scale of 0-10+ (0 being perfectly happy and well, ten and up being suicidal).

10 things you are looking forward to this summer or year.

Your small goal for the day.

Your big goal for the day.

5 people who inspire you.

10 things you are grateful for/make you happy.

& lastly, if you are not feeling on a level of 0 (and really, who is?) come up with at least 3 possible solutions for your problems.

This has been pretty long already so I’m going to end it here. I might make another shorter post listing and explaining my answers, but this is craaazy long so I’ll halt for now. Feel free to list your own answers, my friends. And know that even when you feel numb or whatever-feeling, all it takes is a little bit of perspective.