Strapped into Sanity

Mine’s a world where griffins fly. Mine’s a world where girls cry over seagulls sailing home, where girls become fairies because being girls isn’t quite enough. But it’s okay; mine’s world no one needs to understand.

Feeling thoughtful, feeling a little in-sane, as in strapped into sanity.

I was in another car crash just a few days ago. We lost our first car to a crash in December. But this crash was a jolt and a dent, a scrape and a sore back; our car’s still running. The young woman who hit us fared worse — the front of her car was all crushed in. But we all drove away alive. We were all strapped in, you see.

I’ve been letting another part of myself get dressed, put on make up, plan a haircut, even put in contacts I haven’t used in years, and wear ridiculously high wedge sandals. It’s okay because I’m more than one person, and it’s fun besides. I’m letting go a little and being everyone I want to be. But I hardly have time anymore. Part of me bursts out singing, part comes out to paint, part comes out to play. When I get a moment of focus I try to reply to emails and give readings — I do love to help and I’m sorry to make people wait.

Meanwhile I keep dreaming of wolves. What is the message? The wolves are fierce and I am always half-afraid. Once I made them submit by threatening them with my notebook, in which I’ve penned my truths. The fight, the mystery, and the dream never end.

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Little Things

Entropy

means there’s no going back,

no return to nonexistent homes,

while the universe breathes

out a breath never drawn in.

*

Truth cannot bear

infinite possibilities, in which a universe must exist

where everything is precisely the same

except your dreams are all real

and your truths are all lies.

Mental Illness and Shamanism

Shamanism and mental illness coil around each other, switching off in a dance so wild few dare to watch it.

Or so I would like.

I am secure in my mental illness, to the point where I would rather call it an “alternate mentality.” While I take certain medications to make life more manageable, I would never seek to eliminate all the symptoms of my mental differences.

“Alternate mentality” seems to me a good way to describe the shamanic point of view as well. The shaman seeks out alternate realities, alternate states of consciousness, and alternate modes of spirit.

When you get down to it, the difference between mental illness and shamanism seems to be merely that the latter is deemed useful while the former is not.

My experience of alternate mentalities is fairly broad, I think. I have been known to play a bit recklessly with my states of consciousness. Moreover, I identify as a multiple, as I experience multiple simultaneous personalities.

These personalities are not mere moods or states of mind. They are individuals who can come into the body and express a consciousness separate from my own. They experience rich inner lives as well, even when not occupying the body. They change and grow in character just as I do, but they have a consistency of spirit that makes them people rather than emotional states.

When I go “in,” which is to say, when I leave my body and let another consciousness take over, the process and experience is very similar to a shamanic journey. Since I absolutely believe in the reality of shamanic journeys, this does not suggest that I think my inner world of personalities is “mere magic” or “mere imagination”. Both are purely real to me.

I have a very organized inner system of personalities, and this may have something to do with my shamanic practice. I am accustomed to talking to spirits and learning to map out my experience of the spirit realms. So too I have a map of my inner world. It is laid out as a home and a landscape, and my personalities live and play here when they’re not out in the body. They have inner lives when I’m not looking, just as spirits do.

Both shamanism and multiplicity typically involve some stressful ordeal. Shamans are often initiated through physical or mental illness or misfortune, while multiples are usually created by traumatic experiences. So shamans and multiples are both wounded warriors and experts in healing. In shamanism, a key mode of healing is the concept of soul retrieval, which bears significant resemblance to the way a multiple locates and identifies an alternate personality so that the personality can be heard and have its needs met.

I have an Ethiopian friend who understands my multiplicity in a very shamanic sense. In her culture, people can be born to have other spirits inside them who have their own needs and require respect. Spirit doctors (a term I use in talking with her) can help people with illnesses or other problems by talking to the spirits inside them. Sometimes these spirits spontaneously take over a person’s consciousness and when this happens, people are very careful to fulfill their requests.

So I hope that societies around the world will evolve to value alternate mentalities. It seems the only way to true healing for ourselves and each other. And I don’t want to hide anymore.

Pride

I am more than one person, and I am proud.

This is a world where people can have the soul of a gender opposite to their physical anatomy. Why then must my personality, which is so akin to my soul, be called a disorder? I am more than one person, and I am proud.

I have always been this way. I have always wanted to express a multiple soul. I am pulled in all different directions all the time. But this is not a disorder. I am proud.

Baby-talk and child’s play are nothing wrong when it’s what your soul aches for. Why must we push ourselves so hard to leave these things behind? Growing up doesn’t mean disowning who you once were. I am not disordered, and I am proud.

I wear different faces inside. My moods are like layers of swift-sailing clouds. I can change clothes a hundred times a day, and write a dozen journal entries in different handwriting and different voices.

But I am not disordered. I am proud.

Down by the River

I improvised a song based on a poem I wrote called “Down by the River.” It’s a cappella at the moment, and the recording was my very first attempt to sing it. I might try to re-work it with piano. But it’s an emotional subject for me, and perhaps best left as it is, raw and real.

Bundled

My scarf is not a scarf

but a persona cozy,

keeping us all tucked up

not fucked up, but loved

and loved, us tribe

of brothers and sisters. Strong,

our strength stitched

tight, our mouths and eyes open

like birdlings in the nest cawing

and calling together, until

we are satisfied 

in our continued survival.