I woke up this morning thinking about failure. Not failure-in-general, but a personal failure of my own in particular. Some time ago, I managed to fail both a friend and a Deity in one fell swoop, and I don’t think it’s melodramatic to say it gutted me. Because it did. It hurt terribly that I let the other person down and inadvertently made an already difficult situation worse for them, and it hurt that I failed a Deity I care about, too.
Because I didn’t listen to Them. I was warned against involving myself in a situation that didn’t concern me, but I did it anyway, figuring They didn’t have to cooperate with me if They didn’t want to. I knew better, and I can’t say otherwise. But it was more important to me, in that moment, to try to help my friend than to heed the warning. I needed to at least try, if there was any chance at all that I could do something to relieve their plight.
In that moment, I closed my eyes to what I knew about the Deity I was appealing to. That’s really the only explanation I can come up with for why I went ahead anyway. I have had many stupid moments, but this was one of truly cosmic stupidity on a whole different level of dumb.
Ultimately, the situation turned out about as well as you would expect. It was a catastrophe I still blush to recall. And to this day, I’m convinced this failure of mine was the death knell of the human friendship involved. We didn’t part ways immediately, but there was an open wound there that never closed. I don’t know if I actually caused it, but I know I didn’t help it.
The wisdom of humans isn’t the wisdom of the Gods, to paraphrase the saying, and at least in this instance, that was definitely proved true.
I should have listened. I regret not listening. I only have myself to blame.
I’m sitting by a window that reveals a world going softly to sleep in the cold. The trees are bare and free, the earth wearing their shed leaves like a fading blanket. I feel like I’m here and not here, caught between the leaves, trapped in the space between the branches. This is my life now, an in-between thing.
I lost my friend because I failed, I think. And yet I also think I would have lost them sooner rather than later anyway. I feel myself shrinking away from everything and everyone else, whether I mean to or not. It grows harder, hour by hour and day by day. I’ve turned into some ghoulish thing who can only be fully present when everything around me is going to hell. When people are happy, I don’t know how to act, how to be there, even though I’m not unhappy myself. I don’t even know how to explain that. I don’t know how to tell people, I’m shit at being a friend in fair weather. I only know how to friend during storms…and only then if you invite me in.
I feel like I need to be something more, do something more, but I couldn’t tell you what that “something more” is. Every effort I make seems to cost me much more than it gains, whether for myself or anyone else. I’ve realized I’m fighting against an unknown current and losing. If I finally surrender and just let it carry me away, will I be failing e/Everyone this time?
I could blame this confusion on my illness. I was recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia on top of the chronic migraines. There’s a thing called “fibro fog,” apparently. It reminds me of what I used to understand as “migraine brain.” It’s a sort of fuzzy-headedness, forgetfulness, not thinking clearly, not articulating well, thinking through mud. I can’t really distinguish between them, given the frequency we’re talking about, but sure, I could point to that, say this is surely what is happening. I may not feel “down,” but maybe chemically, I’m in some sort of depression. Maybe it’s just the disease.
It is a bad habit of people of faith that we have a tendency to try to twist even the most mundane daily occurrences into Events of Great Spiritual Significance. I am very aware of this tendency in myself and generally ruthless in its eradication…unfortunately, my Patron is not One to allow willful blindness. When I refused to even consider the idea that my physical health might bear some relationship to the most recent evolution of my spiritual path, I was pretty much pulled to the side and taken to school on the subject.
It may seem strange that I would resist such an idea, but what I’m really resisting is the whole idea of “illness as punishment or evidence of sin or Divine disfavor.” The idea that one’s physical condition can be linked to spiritual events for reasons that have nothing to do with any of those things was utterly foreign to me before this latest fork in the road.
So, now I know better. Consequence is not the same as punishment, as Himself tells me over and over again.
I believe that. I accept it. I just don’t know what else to do with it.
Everything ends, whispers the chill in the air, the rustling of the dead leaves, the body that is failing me more and more, the friendships I’ve lost. Everything ends, so what will I do with what I have, while I have it? Is it ok to let go? Is it ok to stop white knuckling it? Will anyone still want to be around me when I can’t pretend I’m fine anymore, when I can’t be there like I used to be?
It’s not strength I pray for. Strength has kept me alive this long, after all, through things I will never talk about. Rather, I pray for the wisdom to know how to honor my Gods, my ancestors, and my loved ones through these things that have me so muddled and torn.
I pray for the wisdom to still know who I am when the current carries me away.