“Crazy people”

During my early 20’s, I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 (later changed to ADHD) and Borderline Personality Disorder. I was a frequent flyer at various mental hospitals, often being wrestled to the ground, handcuffed and taken by police car. At one point, I was in a state mental hospital where armed guards roamed the grounds, and the entire compound was enclosed with barbed wire. Once when my parents visited me there, they were shocked and appalled to be forced to exit their vehicle at the gate, so an armed police officer and drug dog could search their vehicle. My mother told me it was a prison for “crazy people”. I never forgot that stigmatic statement that I attached to myself.

I was outrageous back then for sure. But the older I got the more successful I became at mimicking behaviors that were considered desirable and hiding those less desirable. Something switched in me and I went from punching and attacking others to turning inward and using that same intense anger toward myself. My angry outbursts changed to screaming and throwing things. I think most counselors (I went through a lot of them) I encountered either didn’t know that the symptoms related to Borderline were what caused the most problems in my life or they just didn’t know how to help me. So it went untreated for the most part.

I went to therapy on and off for years. Sometimes I would pretend to have it all together for months just so they would close my case…who knows when I might need their services again so I didn’t want to burn all my bridges.

A few years before my parents died, I decided that I needed therapy again. I had no support system, my parents’ health was failing and I had no idea how I would respond to their deaths. In 2017, my father and I found my mother laying in a pool of her own blood. I had never seen so much blood. (She had fallen and hit her face on the corner of a door frame…breaking several facial bones). She was taken to the hospital where it was discovered she had brain cancer and about three weeks later she was sent home. My father and I took care of her for a few more weeks before she died. My relationship with my mother throughout my life was that typical “I hate you, don’t leave me” relationship.

Now is probably a good time to tell you that my relationship with my parents was not a close one. To me, mother was cold and aloof and ruled with an iron fist. That is how I remember her. To be fair though, I was constantly getting into trouble, fighting, drug use, overspending, couldn’t keep a job…and my parents spent thousands of dollars to keep me out of prison for writing worthless checks and committing fraud against the state.

A year after my mother died, my father also died. But before he died, while he was still in the hospital…for the first time I was alone in their house. It was a place in which I never felt safe. It was the place of years of childhood sexual abuse and rape by a close family member.

At first, laying down to go to sleep terrified me. So I just didn’t do it for a few days. During the day, I would rehearse over and over how many steps it would take me to get to the closest exit from different parts of the house. I spent hours every day doing these “exit drills” over and over again. I was preparing for what I called the “phantom man”. I’ll explain.

When I was a kid, I was terrified of monsters. I believed they dwelled in my closet, under my bed and in dark corners. As I grew up, I was still terrified of the dark and those monsters evolved into the “phantom man”. So anytime I become…unstable…sometimes I become paranoid of the “phantom man” who seems very real at the time, even though I have never seen him.

I quit therapy about four months ago. Through circumstances beyond my control, it was the fourth counselor in a year. I was getting tired of being passed off to the next person. Everything is temporary and everyone leaves. Sometimes it becomes too much and I just can’t do it anymore. That is why I left. Because, you see, I am allergic to people: to their criticisms, to their judgments, to their rejection, and to their abandonment.

Therapists used to ask: what is causing you significant distress in your life right now? I don’t even know what that means. Most of the time I don’t even know what I am feeling until I’m drowning. My measure rod determines whether something is safe or unsafe. Boredom and emptiness is unsafe for me because it gives birth to an array of other symptoms like: drug binging, excessive spending, depression and suicidal thoughts. It used to cause cutting, but I guess I grew out of that.

I am writing now because this is supposed to be helpful when I feel unsafe. So is visual journaling. I end this with two visual journaling pages I created: one from a couple of years ago, and the other I created right before writing this.

Hey the gifts

Hey the gifts, ho the gifts,
Hey the gifts, on the living.

Rising of dawn, movement of clouds;
Life from the sun, light from the moon.
Hey the gifts, ho the gifts,
Hey the gifts, on the living.

Falling of rain, cleansing of dew;
Vast of the welkin, sublime of sky.
Hey the gifts, ho the gifts,
Hey the gifts, on the living.

Spirit of flame, giver of light;
Mother of sphere, bounty of globe.
Hey the gifts, ho the the gifts,
Hey the gifts on the living.

Spirits of land, high-glider of sky;
Mysterious sea and life from the sun.
Hey the gifts, ho the gifts
Hey the gifts, on the living.

Raydottir MP 08/08/2021 adapted from Carmina Gadelica

Invocation of Justice

I will wash my face
In the nine rays of the sun,
As Rhiannon washed her son
In the rich fermented milk.

Love be in my countenance,
Benevolence in my mind,
Dew of honey in my tongue
My breath as the incense.

Black is yonder town,
Black are those within,
I am a white swan,
Queen above them.

I will travel in the name of the Goddess,
In likeness of deer, in likeness of horse,
In likeness of serpent, in likeness of queen:
Stronger will it be with me than with all persons.

Raydottir MP 8/1/2021 adapted from Carmina Gadelica

To be a tree

My back against a tree
As my mind aimlessly wonders
Til at last
I begin to ponder.

Oh I love how
The wind caresses my skin,
And how it swirls
The leaves into a spin.

What does the tree think
Of this silent whisper?
Of the whipping air
When it grows crisper?

I wonder about
The life of a tree,
Who never speaks
Nor have eyes to see.

Yet they all have
A story to tell,
Wrapped up inside
It’s strong bark shell.

Look at their branches
And ponder their shape.
Think about the vine
Of which it cannot escape.

Look at their leaves
Of various shape and color.
Consider it’s life,
Does it know dolor?

I wonder what it’s like
To be a tree.
I wonder what it’s like
To be free.

Raydottir MP 07/12/2016

Action-oriented person

Happy is the person who takes action,
who does not procrastinate about every decision,
nor becomes idle by doing nothing,
but are driven by a desire to do what they say
and are accountable for themselves.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water
that bring forth fruit in due season
because they are a person of action.
Not so for the indolent.
They are like a stone that never moves.
But the one who takes the bull by the horns
gets things done,
while the idle person will never accomplish anything.

Raydottir MP adapted from Psalm 1 10/02/2019

Ketuvim 7

When I put my trust in others, they betray me.
Like a coyote stalking in the dark,
They lay in wait for me.
What have I done that I should be treated so?
I have my own faults and I am not blameless.
Yet I have not trampled others without cause.
In my wrath I say I will stand up;
I will rise up against them.
But I must wait for the opportunity.
Meanwhile, I turn inwardly,
Bending my bow and turning it on myself.
I prepare weapons of death,
And make ready my arrow shafts of fire.
I beat myself up for trusting others,
And in my pain, I scream that I should keep my distance.
Look at all those who are pregnant with deceit,
Who give birth to lies.
They will dig a pit, make it deep
And fall into the hole they have made.
Their betrayal turns back on their own head;
Their deceit falls onto their own scalp.

Adapted from Psalm 7 Raydottir MP 2018

The voice of the storm

The voice of the storm is over the land;
The clouds of terror thunder.
The storm is over the  land.
The voice of the storm is powerful,
The voice of the storm is ghastly.
The voice of the storm breaks the trees;
The storm breaks the pines,
And the air smells of freshly cut timber.
He makes the forests skip like a calf
And destroys the mighty oak.

The voice of the lightning flashes forth flames of fire,
The voice of thunder shakes the ground;
The thunder quakes the land.

The voice of the storm causes the oaks to whirl
And strips the trees bare.
All nearby race for shelter.
May the shelter protect us from 
The voice of the storm.

Adapted from Psalm 29 written while sheltered in place from a tornado. MP Raydottir 03/27/2021

Tell me about her

Tell me about her,
The one you say is dear:
What is her greatest love,
And what her greatest fear?
Where is her favorite place
She runs to often?
Where she’s filled with joy
A place where her heart softens.
What is her favorite tune,
Her musical delight?
And what does she find facinating
About a bird’s alight?
Tell me about her,
This one you claim to know.
Tell me of all the stuff
She refuses to let go.
What do you know about her?
The one you claim as friend?
When you are unavailable,
And time you did not lend.

Raydottir August 4, 2016

I Am

I am the one you fear
because you do not understand;
but look deep within
and see all that I am.

I am a shape-shifter
challenging you to change;
giving you strength you didn’t have
before entering my domain.

I am your constant shadow,
hiding and unknown,
the one calling you from the deep
when you refuse to go in on your own.

I am a phantom queen
alluring darkness where few travel,
wrapping you in black wings
before your life unravels.

I am the one who stripped you naked
of all you thought to bring;
tools that cannot protect you
from my bitter underworld sting.

I am the one who flung you out
upon that mist-filled path
before you crawled in confusion,
through the barren and parched strath.

I am a warrior queen
calling you for battle,
sparking the fiery pulses in you
and making your bones rattle.

I am a river goddess
but not the one holding you down;
soon you will realize
it was me who let you drown.

Raydottir August 16, 2014