Striding Through the Fire
I touch the fire and it freezes me, I look into it and it’s black
Why can’t I feel? My skin should crack and peel.
I want the fire back.
Now, through the smoke, she calls to me to make my way across the flame
To save the day or maybe melt away. I guess it’s all the same…
So, I will walk through the fire cause where else can I turn?
I will walk through the fire and let it… burn. Let it burn.
–Joss Whedon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer “Once More With Feeling” – condensed slightly
2018 has been a hell of a year, hasn’t it?
As a Bruja, I hear the stories people bring to me, looking for ways out of their difficulties. Sure, most people do not consult with a Bruja for answers during their highest highs, but often do during their lowest lows when there is no other recourse. Brujas tend to be everyone’s dirty little secret.
For that reason, I hear less about people’s successes and joyful moments and more about their times of pain and outrage and fear and disappointment. This also puts me in a unique position to see the panoramic overview and mark some trends of challenges people experience at certain times. It is fascinating how much they all tend to parallel one another.
The trend for 2018 is that it pretty much sucks.
There are some wonderful parts of 2018, don’t get me wrong, and truly, the outcomes will be even greater. But for the most part, the challenges we face, while quite necessary, are not what we would likely choose to endure.
We are becoming more of who we truly are than we ever dreamed of being
What I see for 2018 are people who are being forced into the fire. They are good people for the most part; sometimes, too good. They are people were given signs that they should change their lives in some vital way: end a friendship, leave a job, change a habit, leave a toxic relationship, or in some way, take a step that for whatever reason they did not want to take. They could be afraid to leave the familiar. They could be worried about hurting someone else. They could be hesitant to give up a comforting crutch.
In 2018, the Universe took hold. The Divine got tired of waiting and said, “OK, Dears… I tried to be nice about this, but you are picking and picking and picking at the edge of this bandaid and I am running out of time.” Rrrriiiipppppp
I see people forced into taking action they did not want to take. I see people forced into confronting parts of themselves they never wanted to meet. I see little birds shoved from the family nest and furiously flapping their wings to try and fly despite stark terror.
Get into that fire!
The Universe has said, “Put up or shut up. It is time for the rubber to meet the road and we no longer have time for your whining, your resisting, your excuses, or your stalling tactics. F**king MOVE.”
Did you know you needed to eat healthier and exercise more and only piddled around about it? Here, have a big ol’ heart attack.
Did you know it was time to downsize, simplify your life, and purge your hoarded treasures? Here, have an unexpected foreclosure.
Did you know it was time to leave your job and you refused because you are this|close to retirement? Here, you’re fired.
Did you know that in order to grow and to embrace your manifest destiny that you had to leave a relationship and you refused because you would miss that person? Because you were afraid you would hurt their feelings? Here, they are going to take what they know about you and use it to hurt you in the one way that is completely unforgivable.
This is a year when all the cards are going onto the table. We see people for who they truly are, including ourselves. Never have we seen this more clearly than in our national condition right now where people are showing their asses, their ignorance, their prejudices, and their fears in a more public and undeniable way. In the past three years, people have paraded the ugliest, most despicable sides of themselves out for the whole world to see and STILL good people dodge by saying things like “I will not let politics destroy my relationships.” I got news, Lovey. It’s not the politics… It’s not the politics at all. Politics is only the microscope.
Man, stripping away what holds you back hurts
I have been let down more times than I can count this year by people who I truly thought had my back. By people who I defended with all my heart right up until the moment that I was looking at the underside of a big ol’ bus, still feeling the warmth of their hands on my back.
I am not a person who lets people into my heart easily. I have a big heart and there is a lot of room in there. I have many friends who mean a great deal to me. But when it comes to those special friends who you really let into your world, I rarely have any at all. There’s a lot of damage going on in there and when your house isn’t clean, so to speak, you tend to not give people the grand tour. I did, and now I fight an ongoing battle to not have the words “this is what happens when you let people get close to you” burned into the walls of that “house.” I was forever changed by that situation and I have to make sure the change is a good one.
No more excuses
That really is the crux of it, isn’t it? When we go through the fire, when we are forced to do it and when there is nowhere to go but through, we have to stride through it like a Queen, not crawl through it like a baby.
Like I was telling a friend (one of those “real” ones) last night, “if you have to go through the fire and there is no way through but through, make sure when you get out the other side, there is some serious Dark Phoenix shit going on.”
We can be consumed by the fire or we can be forged by it, but Goddess help us, if we sit down in the middle of it and pout, if we stand in the middle and try to fight the fire, we are going to be ashes and nothing more.
My most recent turn around happened today
What I have been fighting for thirty years now is my weight. I have written exhaustively about it. I have tried so many different eating plans and workout regimens. Fat loss has consumed a huge percentage of my thoughts and energy for three decades. It is my shame. It is literally the burden I carry every day. I am in good health. My healthcare providers tell me that. I am happy in every way but that. I feel pretty in every way but that. It haunts me. It is my Achilles heel. If anyone truly wants to hurt me, there’s your cheat sheet on how to do it.
Today, I prayed to my patrona, Santa Muerte, and asked her to take away whatever is wrong about how I am proceeding with this journey. For 2018, I have worked hard on this. I have embraced the Keto lifestyle and worked out regularly. I have walked and walked and walked these hills. I do strength training every other day, several times in that day. I drink lots of water. I feel healthy inside. I have not lost any weight. My clothes all fit me the same.
I went to an acupuncturist and he worked on me for 90 minutes. He gave me some good insight. But nothing changed, at least outwardly.
So it came down to praying. It came down to saying, “Please Mami, whatever I am doing wrong, whatever is blocking this progress, whatever is in the way, please, I beg you, remove it. Here. Here is a dead, dried up lizard. I know you love those. Please take away whatever I need to release in order to make this right.”
With Santa Muerte, because she is the saint of Death, you do not ask her to give, you ask her to remove. I literally stayed up all night last night praying and went to sleep around 5:30 this morning. My skin, my blood, my spirit, all felt “enflamed with prayer.” I felt on fire.
I woke up around 10:00 am. I had my usual breakfast, bacon, and eggs, and it was delicious. I felt full and satisfied. I went to get my usual lunch: a broccoli and chicken alfredo steamer with under 200 calories and only 4 carbs. I heard her say, “Is this what you want?” No, what I wanted was salmon. I didn’t have any salmon in the freezer, but I had salmon in a can and I could have salmon croquettes. But salmon croquettes have crackers and cornmeal in them. Not Keto friendly. She said, “Eat the salmon croquettes and enjoy it.” So I had salmon croquettes and green beans and it was a delicious meal.
Then she took me to my supplement supply. I have prided myself that I do not take any medications, even at age 56, than what I need for managing my Meniere’s Disease. I do, however, take a shitload of over-the-counter supplement to try and adjust my metabolism, my insulin resistance, my adrenal responses, my leptin levels… you name it. Take garcinia cambogia! Take chromimum picolinate! Take saffron! Take Forskolin! Take kelp! Take fish oil!
This is what I took every day, some of them two or three times a day. I have an excellent phone camera, but the photo I ended up with was terrible. I kept this photo rather than taking another one because it best represents the situation. A blur of pills and pills and pills all piled up together.
I told my body I was sorry I stopped trusting it. I was sorry I battled with it for decades. I was sorry I had not loved it enough. I was sorry I had divorced myself from it and made it my enemy. This body carried and nurtured six beautiful children. This body stayed healthy despite all odds. This body took drastic measures to tell me it was out of balance by giving me a balance-related condition. It screamed at me for help by causing pain in my lower back and left knee, also affecting my balance. It begged me to pay attention to the fact that I was out of balance. This body protected me, even when I treated it like garbage and despised parts of it.
I trusted nothing it told me. I believed it betrayed me. I treated it like it was my enemy.
I asked my body what it wanted. I opened up to it to hear its wisdom. What do you want? What do you need from me?
Now, this area looks like this:
This is what my body told me it wants.
I will listen to what my body wants to eat, how it wants to move, when it needs to sleep, and when it is thirsty.
I will trust my body. I will love and honor my body. I promised my body I would hear it and give it what it needs without judgment. I promised I would love and protect it. I promised I would honor its phases and its moods.
I will listen to the Universe when it tells me to move, when it forces me to see what is right in front of my face, and when it demands action from me. I will not wait until I am on fire to take that action. I will trust my body. I will trust my connection to the Divine, and I will trust my own inner wisdom.
I will release the mourning for what I have lost this year and embrace the peace that comes in the aftermath. I will own my life and stand proudly in my sovereignty. I will be fully and completely… me.
I also realize now, just writing this, that reclaiming my natural hair color after many years of dying it was the first step to this authenticity and that happened way back in January. It was a harbinger of this change that I did not even recognize at the time, even though I could feel the empowerment of it and still do.
Today really does feel like the first day of the rest of my life.
This has been a challenging year and every time I get pushed into the fire, I am by God going to stand up and walk through it and out of it like a walking inferno.
Inside that fire, I will galvanize myself to my own power, which I have denied for a long time. I have been afraid to step into it for a number of reasons. No more. As I am so fond of saying, “Hold my beer. I’m going in.”
As an aside, if you want to see the full video, just for reference or for wonderful memories if you are a Buffy fan, here it is. It is a truly beautiful segment:
Also, for those who follow, I think Sophie makes a great Dark Phoenix: