What is it about female sexuality and independent women which our Christian Western society has always found so threatening?
In Paganism the feminine is given as much reverence and gratitude as the masculine, unlike Judeo-Christian-Muslim religions which generally suppress the feminine aspect. So much of Western culture is based around the idea that masculine energy is “correct” energy and that the feminine is inherently flawed in some way.
A prime example of this is the Apostle Paul’s blatant misogyny in his letters to various churches. These instructions about not letting women speak in church and what-not from him are based on the idea that Eve caused Adam to sin and therefore all women are fundamentally evil, which completely ignores the fact that Adam knew the rules, had free will in his decision making and has blamed Eve for his own actions ever since.
You might not put much stock in the bible, but you cannot deny the fact that it has shaped our culture since Constantine made it the mainstream Roman religion in the 4th century. 1700 years of feminine oppression doesn’t get undone overnight.
When I talk about feminine oppression, I’m not just referring to women. I’m including the LGBTQI+ community in this as well as any man who would like to be allowed to express his emotions and be recognised as a caring, feeling human being.
That being said, what is the “wild feminine” and why was it considered so threatening to structures of power?
I’ll use my own background to give you an example:
Typically, as a straight woman, the men I have been in relationships with have tried to control me and whatever is mine in some way. Perhaps it was my body, or my money, or my time, or my energy and space. Whatever it was, they were entitled to complete access, control and use of it (or at least they thought they were).
If I objected to this they would either ignore me completely or engage in abusive behaviour to exert dominance and force submission.
Now, there was no need for anything like that to happen. I was never the sort of person to cheat or be polyamorous so the paranoia was unwarranted and the behaviour completely unprovoked. That being said, there’s nothing inherently wrong with polyamory as long as the situation is understood and honesty is foremost.
The underlying issue was that these men believed at a fundamentally cultural level that I was incapable of self-control and good judgement if left to my own devices and given the space for autonomy. They believed me to be a faithless person based on no other evidence than my gender. At their very core, they thought they were doing me a favour because I would make horrible mistakes if I didn’t have a man telling me what to do and controlling the situation.
That’s one aspect of the belief that the feminine is flawed.
The other aspect is much more complex in nature. It has to do with the dark power of the wild feminine.
Divine feminine energy is the Yin to the Yang, the darkness to the light and the chaos to the order. It is the primordial void which birthed the light and is almost unfathomable and incomprehensible in its vastness. Where the masculine can be symbolised by the sun, the feminine is represented by the moon.
She sees everything which lurks in the shadows. She sees all of your flaws and mistakes. She knows what you do when no one else is looking.
The feminine is dangerous and powerful, partly because she can perceive the shadow aspect of a person, but also because the feminine is not direct.
The U2 song said it perfectly back in the early ’90’s; she moves in mysterious ways.
The feminine doesn’t usually spell it out for you because it uses intuition rather than logic, so it cannot be explained, it can only be felt and known.
The feminine only gives subtle hints that you’re treading close to the edge before destruction rains down on you from angering the goddess.
She is not going to tell you what to do or try to control you. You’re supposed to do that for yourself.
A wild creature does not move in straight lines or behave in predictable ways. They adapt and flow to the situation, keep their options open and refuse to be caged.
Masculine energy is tame, orderly, precise and predictable.
As you can imagine, we’re supposed to be a mixture of both energies in order to find that optimal “sweet spot” for our lives. However, systems of power and control won’t allow unpredictable and mutable energy to exist in a state of free-will. It seeks to control, manipulate, undermine and extinguish anything which might be capable of calling out its shadow side.
This is why goddess worship has been forbidden in the past. Both men and women have been denied their inner world and taught that the darkness is evil, corrupt and flawed. Emotions have been suppressed, intuition has been denied and free-will has been stolen away from it’s rightful owners.
We each own our intuition, emotions and the right to choose for ourselves.
Women need to reclaim this. Men need to reclaim this.
This is the true seat of power; not over other people, but over ourselves.
Halloween is a popular holiday around the world and lots of people engage in trick-or-treating with their kids, but where does the tradition come from?
In Gaelic history it was originally called Samhain (pronounced sow-win) and it is one of the fire festivals on the pagan Wheel of the Year. The wheel consists of 8 festivals around the solar year: 2 solstices, 2 equinoxes and 4 fire festivals in-between them.
It marked the end of harvest season and is a mid-point between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. One of the reasons a pumpkin is synonymous with modern Halloween is because of the harvest. Most societies until the last hundred or so years centred around agriculture and the pagan wheel of the year is reflective of that. It helped them to know when to sow seeds, when to slaughter animals and when to harvest the crops. It also broke up the daily grind with something to look forward to after all the hard work.
Because everyone had to pitch in for the harvest, hearth fires would go out. Harvested fields were piled high with dead branches and set alight. At the end of the communal feast and bonfire, everyone took a portion of the fire home to re-light the hearth. It was generally considered their “new year” and an opportunity to reflect on the past year and set intentions for the new one.
On the more serious side, Samhain also represented the declining daylight hours and a descent towards the winter solstice. It’s synonymous with death and decay as the autumn leaves decompose beneath the frost.
The period of the 31st of October to roughly the 5th of November isn’t just the end of the harvest: it is said to be the domain of spirits. The veil between physical reality and the realm of dead ancestors, sprites, ghouls and fae “thins” so they can cross over into our reality… and us into theirs.
Pagans would set lanterns around the village to both guide themselves home after celebration and also ward away evil spirits. For their deceased loved ones they would set a candle in a westerly window to guide them home from the realm beyond the setting sun. To further confuse the spirits people would dress up to blend in with them.
Strangely enough, the Gaels are not the only people with a belief and tradition like this at the same time of year. On the other side of the world, South American cultures had their own ancestor worship, referred to as the Day of the Dead, or in Spanish; Dia De Los Meurtos.
On the 2nd of November the indigenous Mexicans observe a day of remembrance for their passed loved ones and ancestors. They too feel a thinning of the veil between physical and spirit realms. The tradition of sugar skulls evolved from a practice of actually digging up real skulls and looking upon their actual ancestors.
In terms of an appropriate ritual for this celebration, it traditionally centres on community and family. You might want to plan yourself a big party or collaborate on one with your friends.
For a solo ritual you’ll want to create an altar and populate it with photographs of loved ones who have passed on. Offerings of food and wine can be made and candles lit while you spend time in remembrance.
Whatever scale you’re operating on you can include themes of late-autumn harvest like pumpkins, a fire, and lanterns. Dress up as one of the spectres of the night. Tell stories about people who have passed to keep their memories alive, enjoy a delicious feast and set your intentions for the coming year.
However you mark this auspicious time, make sure you enjoy it.
If you’re just starting your journey into witchcraft, one of the important first steps is creating an altar. But what do you need an altar for, and is there a “correct” way to arrange everything?
A lot of people think of altars like they think of a knick-knack shelf or display cabinet, especially when first starting out. At that point it tends to be all about aesthetics rather than function. Don’t feel bad if you’ve already done this, we all have 😉
Yes, it’s nice for your altar to look good, and it’s especially nice to have nice things for your craft. In some ways this can be important if your practice centers around deity reverence and/or ancestor worship. It can be likened to a Hindu shrine in that respect and used in a similar way.
I can’t stress this enough: your altar needs to reflect your craft, whatever that might be.
Think of your altar the way you think of your kitchen: It’s a place where you can keep tools and supplies for your craft, have some potions etc developing in jars, and be a comfortable space to work your magic. Have a look at the video above to see what I have on my altar and how I’m using it.
Your altar is supposed to be in constant use and therefore always changing. It’s not a static space where you display stuff and never touch it except to dust.
If you need motivation for this, try having a little vase which you constantly keep fresh flowers in, or regularly smudge your tarot deck and then put it in a crystal grid between uses. Light a candle and play a singing bowl to meditate. Keep your book of shadows there and make time to write in it. Leave an offering of libations in a little glass for your ancestors and then pour it into the garden after a couple of days. Charge some moon water…
The point of an altar is to use it.
If you haven’t come out to your family, there are lots of ways to disguise an altar.
A friend of mine used a side-board for her altar with nice candle holders, plain white candles, a glass bowl for her crystals, a vase for flowers and a locked wooden box for the witchy stuff.
That being said, there’s a lot of spiritual tools which are becoming mainstream now, such as smudge sticks and singing bowls. You can always say that you’ve joined a “meditation group” and need to practice at home.
A cauldron is very cool, but a little bit obvious unless you have an antique fireplace which you’re “decorating” in a theme. However, a cast-iron camping Dutch oven is less obvious and can be stored on your kitchen bench for “cooking” purposes. Resins, herbs, spices and oils can also be kept on a kitchen shelf in nice jars as a normal part of “cooking”.
One of the reasons why I practice hearth-witchery is because it gives me permission to make my whole home a magical working space. That way it doesn’t matter how much or how little room you have, whether everything is in the one spot, or if it hides in plain sight.
This is your domain, and you the mother-effing witch!
What are Ouija boards and the Tarot? Where do they come from and are they safe to use?
These are highly contensious questions which are still hotly debated so I thought I would give you my personal experience with both of these things.
The board was originally invented in the Victorian era when “Spiritualism” was a big thing. This movement became popular after the American Civil War because of how many people died young and often unidentified. Their families wanted to know what happened because they never got the bodies back for a proper burial.
If you want to watch a great and informative video on this subject, check out Gigi Young.
In terms of Ouija, my personal experience is limited because I have always refused to use it myself. A lot of what I know is from other people and what happened to them, in particular one friend I had who was Wiccan long before I ever got into witchcraft. In fact, I would say that I resisted walking the path of witchery because she was such a bad example of a witch. She was one of those people who’s life is messy and chaotic to put it politely and eventually I saw her abusing her husband and decided to have nothing more to do with her.
She had a lot of negative experiences, but rather than learning from it and evolving a sound spiritual practice, she saw it as proof of her “power” and got off on the trip. She gave access to negative energies all the time and it really showed in her mental state and her life in general.
She had a cheap, plastic, glow-in-the-dark Ouija board that she liked to mess with and somehow years after we stopped being friends it turned up at my house in a box of stuff from our old sharehouse. I put it straight in the bin.
The thing about Ouija boards is that they are portals. When you use one you create a portal and invite spirits to cross over. That’s literally the game. If you are not stringent about how it is used and what is invited, you can end up with negative entities taking over the session and not leaving at the end. They can even attach themselves to particular people and start feeding off them.
Like any kind of channeling, it must never be done in a fear vibration and must not be a blanket invitation.
The problem with Ouija is that it’s often “played” in a group and a lot of people are scared when they do it. You have no control over the emotions of the other people in the group and what might come through as a result.
Mediumship and channeling are not things to “play” with or “mess around” with. It takes a lot of personal discipline, strong barriers and discernment to control the situation and amateurs will leave themselves open to opportunistic entities.
The games don’t have proper guidelines of use and the people who generally use them are too young to fully understand what they’re doing. It should be a controlled sale item similar to guns, but because most people don’t believe it’s real, that level of caution isn’t exercised.
For a group of high-functioning spiritualists to use it is probably fine, but people at that level don’t need a board to get answers. It’s kind of ironic that the people who can use it responsibly are the very people who don’t need it.
Once again, Tarot cards started out as an ordinary game for competition and gambling similar to the regular card deck we use in casinos, although much earlier in the Middle Ages. In the 1700’s they were adopted by Occultists as a form of divination and the deck we’re most familiar with, the Rider Waite, was produced in 1909.
Rather than receiving words in response to questions like the Ouija board, Tarot uses symbolic imagery and old Christian allegories to show themes.
The Tarot is a bit different to Ouija because the cards are generally used by one individual rather than a group. This significantly changes the dynamic of the situation.
A deck of Tarot cards is very much a personal item and becomes infused with the owner’s energetic state. In this way, it can be both positive and negative.
Again, it really depends on the user as to what comes through and it should never be used by someone who does not understand spiritual hygiene. Your emotional/vibrational level needs to be high, you should be cleansing properly, and you should be practicing discernment with what you’re connecting to.
There is an old bible passage about consulting oracles and how dangerous this is. That can certainly be the case. There’s multiple arguments for and against divination in general and if you’re going to see a psychic or trying it out for yourself there needs to be precautions taken. Never blindly accept the word of an oracle, always take it with a grain of salt and ask yourself the following questions:
If you’re using Tarot cards for yourself, also ask the above questions after a reading but also understand that a reading is just food for thought and an indication of CURRENT energies, which are subject to change depending on your future choices.
Free-will is a divine right which every soul has and it cannot be usurped in any way by another.
In terms of whether you need to be worried about external energies which are flagged in a reading as potentially coming towards you, they might be or they might not. Either way you need to continue to move forward in your life and never wait around for a lottery win or the love of your life to sweep you off your feet. Readings like that tend to be BS.
Don’t obsessively watch general Tarot readings on YouTube, they’ll just mess with your head. If you need to know how to proceed with a situation, get a personal reading.
If you want to learn the Tarot for yourself, I have a series of videos which outline the meaning of the cards. If you would like to book a reading from me, you can do so through the Services on this website.
Witchcraft allows for people to self-determine their spirituality and also to change their minds throughout the journey. What works for you at one stage of your life might not work later on, or you might find something new which resonates more than what you started out with. There’s no right and wrong way to go about it, so don’t feel the need to categorise yourself or to feel stuck on a path which no longer serves you.
The type of witchcraft you practice will also determine which tools you need. For example, a kitchen witch will have a mortar and pestle as well as a sacred knife and a sacred wooden spoon inscribed with sigils or runes to infuse their cooking with magic, but a green witch will have a special trowel and a sickle or scythe for their craft.
Overarching all types of witchcraft is whether the practice is Solitary or in a Coven. You can choose to be a witch on your own and just in private, or you can join a group and the larger community of witches.
If you do choose to join a coven, it is important to note that a healthy coven should be difficult to get into and easy to leave (pretty much the reverse of a cult, which is easy to get into and impossible to leave like Scientology). The coven should spend time assessing you to make sure you’re not bat-shit crazy and you should do the same thing.
Discernment is important because you’re opening yourself up energetically with other people and all the energy they’re bringing in.
I also want to say that witchcraft is entirely inclusive of gender, race and sexuality. You don’t have to fit into a particular demographic in order to choose this path for yourself.
Let’s have a look at the range of witchcraft available:
Under the banner of Wicca is actually two different off-shoots from the original founders of the religion. Whichever one you choose to follow, this path is the most strict version of witchcraft and follows specific set rules and practices. You will either need to read up on it or join a teaching coven to learn more.
This is a practice which is handed down through families from generation to generation. If you have a lineage of witches, you will need to learn this from either your parents or grandparents. Sometimes, it can be part of a tribal tradition and involve a process of initiation.
A lot of mixed race witchcraft can incorporate ancestral practices such as voodoo or strega which originated in specific parts of the world and are part of culture.
This is a mix-and-match-your-own style of witchcraft. You get to cherry-pick from all the various types of witchcraft out there and collate your own version of practice which works for you. This style can also be in a state of flux, subject to tweaks, refinement and adaptation. It’s very flexible.
This is a practice centred on the natural world of plants predominantly, but animals also. It involved spending a lot of time in nature, talking to trees, grounding and growing plants.
Green witches tend to incorporate herbal medicine into their practice.
A kitchen witch is someone who focuses their magic on nurturing the body, home and family. They infuse magic into their cooking and do a lot of cleansing in their house which is considered their sacred space.
A cottage witch is a combination of Green and Kitchen which is a more holistic form of kitchen witchery where it closes the loop on living naturally. They grow their own herbs and vegetables in order to use them for cleansing and cooking in the home, then compost the scraps back into the garden.
Not to be confused with the Little Mermaid, sea witches are connected to the ocean tides, lunar cycles and salt water and sea shells. They usually also have animal guides which are aquatic such as dolphins and their rituals usually take place at the beach.
This is a Goddess-centred practice where the masculine energy is ignored and only the feminine energy is incorporated. This is usually the realm of very active feminists. Based on the Roman goddess Diana.
Focusing on the four elements of earth, air, fire and water, this practice draws upon those particular energies and the spirits associated with them.
The hedge tradition started when witchcraft was heavily persecuted in Europe and particularly England and Ireland. Teaching witchcraft was done behind the hedge-rows so that nobody could see them.
However, it can also refer to a practice where the witch straddles the liminal space between physical reality and the Otherworld of the astral plane or fairies.
A cosmic witch is someone who studies astrology and the movement of the planets and stars in order to work their magic.
On top of that it can also refer to the Star-Seed groups and witches who encounter aliens.
This is the witchcraft for athiests category because it doesn’t include any deities, just energy, intention and will.
This is one which a friend of mine informed me about and it centres on environmental activism and the global community. Their website can provide more information if you’re interested; reclaiming.org
It’s important to recognise that this is a path people can choose to follow. Whether you judge it as good or bad, this is the realm of shadow and some witches occasionally dabble or focus their craft in this direction.
This involves necromancy, hexing, curses and demons.
A word of warning about this last category: some people choose this path because of the power-trip. Just remember that witchcraft holds you responsible for every action you undertake and energy can come back to you if you put it out there. Also, it may seem like a bad-ass thing to do to summon a demon, but they’re ridiculously easy to summon. They will wonder in if you leave the door open and if you strike a deal with one, be sure that they’re getting all the perks and none of the price. You’ll be paying it later. Also, getting rid of them is much more difficult than inviting them in and you could get stuck with a demon hovering over your life.
Be careful with your energy, use discernment and understand what you’re doing before you do it.
If you suffer from chronic people-pleasing, or find that other people are constantly using you, there are things you need to start doing to set up healthy boundaries for yourself.
You can also watch the video version below;
When it comes to boundaries, prevention is better than cure, but it can be hard to notice where your boundaries are if you weren’t taught this properly by your parents. Some people don’t set limits with others until they are literally at their wits end, and then they proceed to explode in someone’s face. This ruins relationships which would otherwise have been manageable if some precautions were taken from the outset.
Just to be clear: if you have to get angry to enforce your boundaries, you’ve already let it get out of hand. If you know that particular people won’t listen to you the first time, then you need to separate from those people and either keep them at arms-length or cut contact entirely.
Sure, you might have to move out if you live with someone like that or lose 90% of your relationships, but if you don’t have the guts to save yourself from other people then you may as well embrace your fate as a used and abused doormat now, cos those people are not changing.
They don’t have to. This works for them.
Your Boundaries are the natural walls you build around what is ok for you and what is not ok for you. When someone brushes up against them, you may notice an automatic bristling. Noticing and acting upon those brushes is more important than we’re usually taught.
That’s why its super important to know your own limits, likes and dislikes. It sounds obvious, but this is something empaths struggle with a lot. They’re used to knowing how other people feel better than they know their own feelings.
For normal people, they take their time establishing friendships and relationships, but for someone suffering codependency or who is a natural empath, this is a process they’re used to skipping over. They tend to fall prey to love-bombing too easily (yes, even with friendships this applies) and that’s how narcissists push themselves into your life.
Suffering from narcissistic abuse can seem like everything is out of your control, but every relationship is a two way street and you’re more in control than you think.
If you understand that not everyone you make friends with is going to be capable of meaningful and reciprocal relationships, you can hold friendships lightly at first in order to see where the other person is at. If that person seems like a good sort and they’re keen to create a deeper friendships, this is something you can progress towards over time.
For those relationships which are already functioning inside of toxicity, setting boundaries will be hard to do without completely destroying the relationship itself. That is a sacrifice you have to be prepared to make because otherwise you have no bargaining power with someone who is prepared to play hard.
These sorts of people already don’t value you properly, so using threats or ultimatums is useless. The only power you have is to walk away and it’s vital for your self-esteem that you actually do it (safely, if the person is potentially dangerous).
Part of establishing boundaries is to get to know yourself. If you’re constantly looking towards the other person, their needs and their volatile mood swings, you will never have the mental space to do this, so your first step is to be alone as much as possible.
You need to start creating a relationship with yourself. That means turning all that attention inwards; discovering how YOU feel in different situations, noticing how YOU react to various people, knowing what YOU like.
Mindfulness is a key which can unlock a real relationship with yourself.
Part of that mindfulness is spending quality time with yourself. Take yourself out to a nice cafe and enjoy a cup of coffee with a good book. Go on a hike through a national park. Have a luxurious bath and listen to some soothing music.
Treat yo self.
The next step is to start saying no to things more often.
You don’t need to get angry with someone for asking. There’s not always a malicious intent if someone asks you to do a thing or borrow stuff or whatever, but that doesn’t mean you need to oblige. Determine in each situation if this is something which costs you too much time, energy, money or emotions before you say yes to anything.
How do you know which people you need to get distance from? They’re the ones which get angry when you start saying “no”.
If someone can’t shrug off a basic “no” and accept it as your literal right to do so, that’s a user and you don’t want to waste too much of your time on them. They can be as charming as they like, but if the cost of their friendship is carte blanche access to everything you have and everything you are, that is a hefty price tag.
Reciprocation is a choice, not a right.
The same applies in the other direction; just because you do something nice for someone, doesn’t mean they owe you. Being generous is a choice, not a contract. This is something codependents do just as much as narcissists; they think that if they make themselves subservient to another person, that person will give them the love they’re craving, but you can’t make a demand like that.
Love is freely given, not bargained.
If you’re trying to barter services in exchange for love, you’re likely to be bitterly disappointed in other people because the people you’ll attract are the sort who breadcrumb their love in exchange for massive amounts of servitude.
Settling for the crumbs from someone else’s table sends the message that you have no real value and then people proceed to undervalue your boundaries.
So break the cycle of giving to others and start establishing a new cycle where you give to yourself first and then decide if another is worthy of your precious time.
When you finally find someone worthy of that time, you will have a lot more to give because you haven’t become depleted from wasting it on one-sided relationships.
To be honest, that depends on how healed and awakened both of them actually are.
It also comes back to the question an empath must always ask themselves; just because I can, does that mean I should?
Lets unravel this convoluted piece of mind-fuckery.
First of all, what is the key difference between being codependent and being an empath? Are they the same thing?
No, they aren’t the same thing, but they often interweave, overlap, or at the very least spring from the same source: fundamentally messed up relationships with one or more parents or primary caregivers.
An empath is someone who has spent their early childhood having to temperature gauge the emotional environment in their house because at any moment the person in control of whether they live or die might just explode. They develop the skill of feeling emotional waves rolling off other people, processing them through their own body and experiencing the whole thing as though it is their own emotions.
The YouTube channel Empoweress describes it as being;
“…required to abandon your own needs for the sake of someone else’s emotionality.”
Empaths are prone to anxiety, people-pleasing, codependency and sudden inexplicable mood swings, but they don’t have to be. They will need a lot of alone time to detox from other people which may become an avoidance of going out and potentially full-blown anxiety about having to expose themselves to the emotional soup of the outside world.
They will also try to mollify anyone around them in order to quell the emotions flying at them. Conversely they may lash out at anyone bringing their emotional shit-show to the room.
Obviously, none of this is healthy.
All empaths needs to learn about, and develop, boundaries. That’s a whole other subject for discussion at a later date…
So what is a codependent?
Where an empath can function quite happily (and might even be happier) without a relationship, a codependent cannot. A codependent is an empath who feels lost without a close personal relationship. There is no such thing as a healed or awakened codependent because if you do the healing and awaken to the smell of bull-shit, you will stop being codependent.
The clue is in the name; Co = needing a partner in crime; Dependent = needing something or someone in order to do the thing with the thing.
Now, often a codependent will do their crazy little dance with a narcissist because that’s how they were raised and what seems natural. The ensuing abuse feels like love to them.
But can you attract a codependent person without being a narcissist?
The answer is yes. The real question is why?
Because a codependent needs someone with a stronger core to lean on. They’re unable to stand up for themselves or make themselves unagreeable to others in defense of their own boundaries.
But why would an empath who is not codependent end up with someone like that? Because they’re preconditioned to it from a parent dynamic.
What if there is a type of narcissist who is also codependent? What happens if you’re raised by someone like that?
Well, there is. They’re usually referred to as “covert narcissists” or “shy narcissists” and they’re the most insidious and pernicious of the type because they’re less obvious.
What does this type of personality disorder look like?
First, you need to understand what happens when a codependent turns toxic. The features of this are listed below:
As you can see, a lot of this looks like narcissism and in a way it is. The premise of many of these behaviours is that this person is at the center of everyone’s lives and that totally unrelated stuff is somehow aimed at them. If that grandiose sense of self gets out of control and if they shut off their empathy you will have a narcissist.
I know that at various times I have been guilty of some of this behaviour, particularly in friendships, mostly because I kept being friends with narcissists.
What causes this?
Essentially, the codependent turns into a control freak to try and make things more normal. This won’t work with a narcissist, so its a never-ending battle and until the codependent understands the mind-fuck, they’ll never stop trying to claw back their sanity.
With normal people you don’t have to constantly be on alert that they’re about to set fire to something and then blame you for it. Having a narcissist in your life is like having an insane, rabid, gigantic toddler with access to money and a car. You’re the parent of this monstrosity, but the reality of your influence over whether they bite someone is pretty minimal. However, child services will still turn up and arrest you for all of the toddler’s collateral damage.
This is how I grew up dealing with my mother. It forces a child to mature way too quickly, without any of the actual power in the dynamic.
Luckily I was never someone who needed to be needed. Mostly I enjoyed being left alone, possibly because I had to adapt to changing schools 11 times which meant that I had gaps in making friends and didn’t always *fit in.
So I became very resilient, independent and self-reflective. I was not afraid of going against the grain, standing up for myself and others, or calling bull-shit when I saw something which wasn’t right.
Of course I still attracted narcissists, because I was still awakening to what was really going on and finding my way out of the mental woods, however I knew I didn’t want a narcissist as a partner. At least I was smart enough to look at my chaotic narcissistic friends and realise I didn’t have the patience to live with that.
So how did I always end up in toxic relationships?
How did I do that?
Well, at first I considered the possibility that I might be a narcissist myself, but the very fact that I questioned it precluded me from that category. Apparently a complete lack of self-awareness and responsibility are hallmarks of the type.
I’m definitely an empath. That much was obvious from the way I would randomly feel sad for no reason, or instinctively know when someone was angry without them saying anything, or become overwhelmed in shopping centers.
But I never went into a relationship with the mindset of trying to change someone, or control them, or get emotional validation from them at any cost. I didn’t want to “fix” my partner, but apparently they wanted to fix me.
The number one phrase I kept repeating in every relationship was this: “If you’re so unhappy with who I am, why are you dating me?”
They never really had an answer…
I say last with half a mind to mean both senses of the word.
My ex was (or probably still is, I mean, he’s not dead) a fun-loving guy who never got mad about anything and was always willing to do stuff for others. He came from a lovely, very traditional nuclear family which is miraculously still in-tact and is an intelligent hard-worker who achieved the Dean’s List at university.
If you’re already relationship-woke you’ve probably spotted about 3 red-flags right there.
He was chronically codependent with his friends, family, neighbours and workplace. In fact, everyone except me. As his partner, I was an extension of him rather than a separate person with whom he should be maintaining a relationship.
In his quest to people-please he worked dangerous hours at his job, sometimes a 20-hour day, 7 days a week and seemed unable to say no to his boss (no, he wasn’t having an affair, the sad fuck was actually working). At Christmas we would go broke buying presents for his family and friends, but mine were almost irrelevant (also, it would have made my family uncomfortable to be given obscene amounts of gifts which they couldn’t reciprocate).
He would volunteer to help people fix their houses, throw big parties, shout his friends on a night out and spend the grocery money on concert tickets which I was not invited to, but he wouldn’t help me change a tyre or take me to hospital when I needed it.
With one friend of his he would not assert his boundaries and this dude would turn up every Friday evening and not leave until Sunday evening. I literally begged my partner to say no and tell him that he can’t just camp every weekend. In the end I had to scream and threaten to get personal space, which of course made me look crazy.
He felt entitled to everything which was mine from my money, time and energy to my personal space, ideas and body. Whenever he came up against my boundaries, he would take it personally and accuse me of not loving him.
Among his friends I had a reputation because I was the big bad bitch who told him no. And he was such a nice guy…
In fact, being “nice” was so important to him that when I had to assert my boundaries with friends, he decided that I was a terrible person and actually broke up with me. Later on, he found out exactly how far those friends had pushed me and lied to him, but by that point I had no love left.
The label of being the “crazy, cold-hearted bitch” was something I just had to wear if I wanted to stand up for myself.
No, he isn’t. I’ve met those people and he isn’t one of them. However, he is toxic. He’s particularly toxic to himself. He abused me the way he abuses himself.
And that’s the thing; someone doesn’t need to be a psychopath to be toxic. They can be the most caring people you know and yet be completely detrimental for you.
That was my biggest problem; it was so hard to reconcile how terrible I felt in that relationship with how “great a guy” he was.
Being codependent is no joke. They can do just as much damage to another person as a narcissist can. If you have a tendency to people-please or martyr yourself or try to “fix” others in your life, you need to understand that this is extremely toxic.
If you try to usurp another person’s sovereignty, autonomy and responsibilities you will potentially stunt their development, steal their power or just generally piss them off.
Instead, you need to remind yourself that other people are separate from you in every way; have the right to make choices (even bad ones); and should be respected to determine their own lives without you putting in two cents.
Your partner included.
What I am now looking for in a partner and what I need most in a relationship is this:
Someone who respects my boundaries and who is capable of dealing with their own shit.
I do not want someone to “fix” me or “save” me. I am perfectly capable to doing that for myself if I determine that it needs doing. And I have no time for baby-sitting grown men who won’t stand up for themselves.
Tattooing, branding and ceremonial scarring could be as old as cave art and can be found in different cultures across the globe. From South Pacific Islands and Australia to the Vikings and ancient Celts, human beings have been marking their own skin for thousands of years.
In more recent times the perception has shifted, due to an absence of tribal ceremony and a proliferation of personal choice. This has led many people to label tattooing as a “trend” and “cosmetic” devoid of meaning.
Some have gone as far as to say that it’s a sign of mental ill-health:
But is this really the case, or is it just that our global and virtual culture has fundamentally changed how we express tribalism and mark rites of passage?
There are many personal reasons why people choose to mark their skin, and sure, psychological issues may be a motivation for some people, but I would argue it’s a minority.
Also, someone else’s skin is none of our fucking business.
That’s like having an opinion on plucking eyebrows or whitening teeth. How is this anyone else’s business except the person who’s body it is? Can we collectively stop feeling entitled to comment on other people’s bodies?
That being said, I believe that while the format of how we undergo tattooing has changed, the reasons for them have not.
They still signify rites of passage.
They still signify milestones.
They still mark personal growth.
They still identify you as belonging to certain “tribes” and sub-cultures.
This is all important aspects of being human, finding a sense of belonging, telling your own story, and remembering your past.
EVEN IF YOUR INITIAL REASONS FOR GETTING ONE WAS TO BE COOL.
Each one of my tattoos contains a story and a significant memory. They all mark stages of my journey so far.
Just above one of my tattoos is a faint little scar (see feature image) and this little scar always reminds me of the cat who put it there. That’s my Boise scar and I remember him every time I look at it.
It’s easy to judge tattooing as a form of self-harm because they inherently involve pain, but pain is a natural part of growth. We can’t, and shouldn’t, be avoiding it so much.
As a society we have become pain averse.
I think this is a precarious place to be. We need to be teaching people how to embrace the process of learning from pain and transmuting it into growth.
If we don’t, then we get stuck in our trauma and can’t get past it.