Every couple of days or so, or maybe a few times a month, I open Facebook and start sweeping up. It’s tedious, partly because it’s engineered to be an ouroboros and you’re the end of the tail, and partly because it is so hard for me to remember why I was connected to these people, or these pages, or these things.

When did I like this page? Are these the people I friended because we were all in the same class? Did I friend-request this person because I wanted the ego boost of being Facebook friends with someone I’ll never actually meet?

Why did I do this? Why did I make this weird knotted mess that I’m not sure how to untangle?

I am an onion. I may accidentally make you cry. You may never get past two or three outer layers. Or maybe you’re not allergic to onions, which is great, because I am allergic to onions and this is not a good metaphor any more.

I talk intimately with a relatively small group of people; I talk into the federated void on my Mastodon account; I write to my people on my two (three) Substacks and this fills my cup very well. One of the things I’m continually reminding myself is that — I might feel bad about clicking an ‘unfriend’ or ‘unlike’ button, but none of those people, even if I can think of their avatars fondly, have spoken to me in years, if at all.

Which is okay! I think we all have either dozens or hundreds of people on our Facebook friends list, or Instagram followers, but genuine connection is rare. I’m glad I am not trying to be an influencer. I don’t want to make sponsored content. I don’t want to sell anything. I just want that little bit of connection here and there.

So if you happen upon this site (I will be marvelously surprised), and you miss me and don’t know why I’ve unfriended you, it’s a chance to reconnect, if we both want to. I mean, maybe I unfriended you because I don’t actually want to talk to you, but more than likely it’s because Facebook isn’t made for community the way that I want to be in community.

Hello, and goodbye, and see you around, to all my ghosts of friends. I hope your life is able to be full to the brim with sweetness in the ways that you crave sweetness and safety.

Growth is not the beginning; darkness and choices are the beginning

waxing crescent moon

It is paradigm-shifting to consider that using the Wheel of the Year (the cycle of the seasons) to mark a year-beginning and year-end means that the year begins with darkness and rest as the light wanes, and ends after the final harvest.

First: rest, recover, sift through all that you did over the previous twelve moons. Consider your mistakes — what can be learned? Can you accept that the choices you’ve made cannot be unmade?

Then: see the next twelve moons stretching before you, and take comfort that there are new choices ahead and that taking time for consideration before choice-making is part of the natural way of the world.



I regularly do divination for myself as part of my daily practice. Sometimes the messages are obviously not just for me, so I share them on Instagram, Facebook, and here.


you have been given the ability to own your boundaries; sovereignty is of the utmost importance 

the choices before you are yours to make; you get no guidance other than what you already know 

the Work always reaches a point of done-ness, yet there is always more Work; to do the Work is the choice before you 

repeat, repeat, repeat the Work; repeat the struggle; repeat the harvest 

the lessons of sovereignty will come over and over and over and over and over / learn it or repeat it / learn it and repeat it / the Work is never done / the Work finishes and begins again 

you choose to try because the Work is worthy; the Work is yours to choose 

make the hard choice / the choices are always hard

A light in dark places, when all other lights go out

May it be a light to you in dark places when all other lights go out

On February 5th, we checked Alexis into a rehab program a few hours away from us.

This was our last grasp at something that could stop and hopefully redirect her behavior, because she was dangerously close to death by organ failure or overdose after all the drugs and self-inflicted broken meds schedule.

I was exhausted, painfully so. Alexa was exhausted. Keith and the younger two kids were by turns hopeful and disappointed, having to witness not just the promises their sister made over and over again, but also how she broke every promise without fail, sometimes in the worst way possible.

Around six weeks after she had been checked in — while we tried to recover our physical and emotional selves — Alexa and I both found out, within days of each other, that we have multiple chronic illnesses between the two of us.

There was at once a sense of intense relief, knowing that there was a name for the various sicknesses and physical complaints we each had; and a sense of intense grief, because there is no getting better from a chronic illness. It is with you for the rest of your natural life, and there is only adjusting to it and finding out how to have the best quality of life that you can.

In America, this is difficult if not impossible. We are fortunate that we are poor enough to qualify for Medicaid, and that most of our medications are covered by this insurance. There is still quite a bit of it that we need to pay for out of pocket, including three of the antihistamines that I need in order to function every day.

The emotional impact of these diagnoses for me — because I was weighted down not only by my own diagnosis, but also my spouse’s diagnosis and how those together would change our lives in significant ways — was that about a week later, I had a heart attack.

(One of my chronic illnesses gives me a complication with blood pressure and is something I’ll have to manage for the rest of my life.)

It has now been eleven weeks tomorrow since my heart attack, and I am still not the same as I was before.

I doubt that I will ever have the same amount of energy or the same ability to balance all those metaphorical plates. In fact, I am determined not to be the same kind of person because that behavior led to my cardiac event on March 31st.

In between and around all of these significant events, I have been working at my spiritual studies. The heart attack itself arrested my trajectory and then adjusted it. When I was able to recover enough energy and life force to begin my daily practices again, I reestablished them with a seriousness that I have never experienced before.

My thoughts turn often to my purpose, my Work in the world. My mind is continually and curiously turning this concept and its myriad ideas and insights and wisdom over and over, looking from many angles, discovering new facets and new ways of being. I spend time each day with my ancestors, quietly contemplating what I know and what I do not know; what I need to know and what I am still learning.

I will never be the same again and I am deeply grateful.

As my understanding of my physical limitations has solidified, my experience of myself as a whole being, not just physical but energetic, has expanded. My purpose for my life, the Work that I am meant to do, is coming into view and I have begun to grasp how to weave my abilities and skills into this Work so that what I do, for love or money or service, is right and just and in alignment with my reason to exist here in this place and time.

In many ways, I feel that this is not just the darkest timeline in our world; it is also my own darkest timeline. I was born into a female-identified body, subject to the cruelty and whim and broken understanding of a man who calls himself a Christian. I have been rejected and controlled and manipulated and beaten and abused. I am queer and I am poor and I am not able-bodied. My own child, whom I have loved more than I loved myself in many moments, has abused, rejected, and manipulated me. The wounds I carry in my heart will last my lifetime and perhaps further; the grief I bear is intrinsically linked to who I truly am.

And yet: it is my sworn oath to bring light into the world. To be part of what is good. To make a difference. And I can still do that. That will never be taken from me.

This week, Alexis was discharged from rehab. I did not have the energy or physical ability to go pick her up, so my brother and a family member brought her home. One of the new realities for me is that my chronic illnesses conspire when there is high stress, and I become sick and unable to do things I used to be able to push through and accomplish — like interacting with all the doctors and social workers and case managers and therapists that help manage Alexis’ care, and that need to be coordinated with and, more often than not, need to be instructed about how best to care for her.

She is home and has already been breaking the few rules she agreed to as part of her discharge plan. She says she wants to prove to all of us that she has gotten better, and that she understands if we don’t trust her, but unless and until she has the strength of character and will to do the work necessary to have a better life than the one she has right now — in and out of facilities, leaving a trail of disappointment and near-overdoses in her wake — the same thing will keep happening that has been happening over the past two and a half years.

I love her, and I have to minimize the damage she does to her siblings and to me and the rest of her family, as much as possible. I love her, and I cannot keep her safe from the consequences she has brought upon herself — and I believe that to do so would be an egregious irresponsibility on my part as a parent.

I love her, and it is not my job to save her.

In a very real way, realizing this and seeing it in context with all the underlying introspective work I have been doing, combined with the spiritual path that I am on, helps me understand my place in the cosmos better.

My training with the Path of Light is shaping me to be a priest. My desire is to do clergy work, to function as an oracle, a compassionate listener, an advocate, a death doula, a mediator. My calling toward restorative justice, my desire to work with the dying and the dead, my deep love of philosophy and theology and psychology, my willingness to sit with those who are crushed and disillusioned and broken and needy: these things are what I can offer to the world.

And with the skillset I already have: for truthfulness in marketing, for sustainability in business, for holding space for those who are working for themselves and need help and oversight and organization; these things meld beautifully with the work of a priest-in-training.

Logistically, these are concepts that belong on my Patreon page and the other places where I offer my work. As my energy allows, I will be making updates and writing new things. The support that I receive from so many of you already is going to the same things it always has — and the need for it is as important as it ever has been, and I need more support over the coming days and months and years, as I continue to train and continue to progress and continue to be part of the support network in my community.

If you are able to share with your own community when the time comes, I will be very grateful for the help. If what you can offer is love and appreciation for what I am working toward, I can always use those words of encouragement when they come.

In closing, please know that you can reach out to me when you need something. It is part of my joy and my duty to either do what I am qualified to do for you, or to send you to my elder to refer you to someone who can help you. I know that it is hard to ask for help, especially when you are aware that I have limitations, but my training allows me to know what my boundaries are and to respond only when it will not do harm to do so.

Walk in the Light,

Photo by Michael Liao on Unsplash

Only about 80% terrible

In 2017, life was a nightmarish trash fire. I endured more stress, more grief, and more physical and emotional shock than I remember ever having experienced in this lifetime.

And yet, there were good things too.

1. I was named to my tradition at Ostara, and earned a bigger shovel: I now have more responsibilities and more reasons to keep learning and using my skills to bring light to the world. My public name is FireHeart.

2. I quit my tech job in May, in an epic and truly daunting move, and have set up shop as a consultant. I never really stopped working for myself, but I had to re-frame and reconfigure everything so it feels like starting over brand-new, which is a little horrifying given that I have eleven years’ experience at running a solo business. However, my ability to be here for my kids and take care of the emotional needs of my household has made up for the loss of all the money I used to make.

3. Alexa and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. You can’t see it but I’m grinning right now. 🙂 In 22 days, it’ll be our two-year anniversary of meeting each other and falling extremely in love. EXTREMELY.

4. My Patreon grew from zero to sixteen people, and eight of them are in my business support group on Facebook. This brings me such joy, and I’m planning to move the subscription model off Patreon’s site in the next several months since it is working so much better than I’d hoped.

5. My spouse’s girlfriend’s husband Rob (hashtag polyamory) has become so dear and important to me that I refer to him as my brother, and we have an understanding that we will love and protect each other’s children as our own. I am so excited for him to be a father one day.

6. I have lost count of how many crushes I’ve experienced this year, and whether they were flash-in-the-pan or still going strong, I cherish each and every one.

7. There are three adults in the house now: my oldest child turned eighteen. I can’t describe how it feels, exactly, but there has been a shift in my understanding of my place in the world. I have successfully raised an adult child who is kind, thoughtful, funny, and who knows how to do his own chores. Also, he swears and tells terrible jokes, so I think we can all call that a win.

8. Three months ago, I started a low-dose weekly testosterone injection. I desperately wanted to match my outsides to my insides, although HOW to really do that is tricky at best. Over the past twelve weeks, my voice has dropped, my body hairs are growing like weeds in late July, my emotional regulation has been the best in my life, my boundaries are stronger than ever, and my physical strength is increasing.

Thanks for the memories, 2017.

I woke up this morning and noticed that it doesn’t really feel like a new year so much as a Monday, the start of a week, the blank slate that we get every day we wake up.

I can work with that.

Asking for help

asking for help

The end of the year isn’t quite here, but it is drawing closer. Yule is approaching, the weather is colder, and the existential dread associated with long grey sunless winters in Michigan is settling in more each day.

This year hasn’t gone the way I hoped.

Both literally and metaphorically, my life has been violently ripped apart and scattered to the wind by the experience of having a sixteen year old with a bundle of mental illness diagnoses.

Last year in the early spring, I started a job that paid well and gave us great health insurance. I leveraged that job to buy a house near the rest of my chosen family. I think I’ve settled in as much as I could in this new area, since I can go places without GPS directions most of the time. I’ve had the time to get to know my new family, and I love them fiercely.

A little over a year later, I had to put in my notice at that job: not just because the work environment had become toxic, but because I could not hold my family together while I was gone from them for ten or eleven hours a day.

I could not be here to manage Nick’s meltdowns after getting home from school. I could not be here to sit watch while Alexis threatened to run away or tried to secretly set something on fire or attempted suicide again. I could not be here to hold space for Keith while he unburdened himself late at night. I could not be here to help Ian navigate how fragmented our life had become. And I could not help my spouse by being there to pick up the slack when they suddenly just couldn’t fucking do it any more in that moment.

So I quit my job, and I miss it. I miss my coworkers and I miss the regular income and I miss having just my own job to do.

I went back into business for myself, but it wasn’t just picking something back up and continuing on in the same vein: it was a reinvention and a reckoning. It was a deep questioning about what the fuck was I doing and who the fuck was I to do it.

And while I wrestled with those questions, and did my best to build something that can one day sustain me, my savings dried up. My debts grew. And my dependence on the kindness and generosity of friends and family and even strangers has also grown.

I’m not making enough money to keep this roof over our heads or the lights on. I’m barely making enough to keep everyone fed and clothed and gas in the car for all the errands, parenting time trips, and other obligations that I have.

I don’t regret what I had to do, but I’m not sure that it matters one way or another. Things are hard and I am broke, and I will be broke for a while still.

Between all the hours spent in ER waiting rooms, driving to the next facility for Alexis, sitting through three plus hour intakes, advocating for her with the CMH workers and with doctors and nurses, advocating for my other kids and the time I was losing with them, and the sleep I still haven’t recovered, I am exhausted. I am angry. I feel that I’ve been wounded in ways that will take longer than I can imagine to heal.

It has been two years of this. Almost every month, another hospitalization. Another intake where I detail, again, all the incidents that string together to make up Alexis’s life, and ours with her. Another emotional gutting, as if I am a dead thing being processed for someone else’s need.

Making a business that makes money has been something I am doing in fits and starts. I give it my all when I am able, and in between those times I sit at the computer and stare at the open tabs and wonder why I can’t just snap out of it.

I have been through hard times before now, and this is the hardest yet. I am so afraid of what the future will bring, because while I am certain that we will all be okay in the end: between here and that far-off time are shutoff notices, foreclosures, bank accounts in the red, and empty cupboards — this is what the rooms in my mind are full of. My failure is all that I can see, even though I know that this catastrophe is not of my own making.

All I can do, now, is to ask for help.

I will keep going, because I must. I will sometimes fall down. I will fail. I will be overcome by my exhaustion and the battle of my life, from time to time; and then I will get up again. And I need your help.

Clicking this link will take you to my Patreon page, which is set up to explain what kinds of things I pay for in my household, and how much those bills are currently running. You can see that I’ve got some regular support, which is amazing — and not enough yet. If you can send a one-time gift, there’s a link for that. If you can contribute regular support, there are tiers to choose from.

Thank you.

On relinquishing what does not belong to me

Today I’m writing about why I will not be styling myself a feminist marketing consultant any longer.

To get context for understanding the first part of this post, you will need to catch up a bit by reading two posts by Alexis Morgan: The Faceless: On Whiteness & Emotional Assassination, and On The Saga Of Kelly Diels: Straight, No Chaser.

After the culture makers group was archived by Kelly Diels and I began to search for what had happened — which I found, when Alexis Morgan wrote her initial piece — I have been sitting with and discussing in multiple conversations the ways that I, as a white person, both contributed to what happened and can learn from it in order to do better.

I realized while reading Amy Walsh’s piece on how her work was appropriated that I have also appropriated the work of others in the online marketing space, for at least as long as I have been doing business online.

My understanding of how to market, especially in the early days of getting my web design business up and running, was to observe what others were doing, and mirror those efforts inside my own brand. This led to me trying on any number of different kinds of marketing, list-building, launching, and copywriting techniques.

I always worked very hard to be authentic, not to lie, not to promise things I couldn’t deliver. I still ended up falling down, especially on that last thing. I had to make a mountain of mistakes to gain a fundamental understanding of what my ability to do work actually WAS, and how much capacity I actually had. Furthermore, I was attempting to build a business during a four-year abusive relationship, and the missed deadlines, less-than-my-best work product, and refunds (when I had the money to refund) put a pretty big dent in my momentum.

After encountering my internal racism and the white-centric culture I was raised in, during the summer of 2014 when Michael Brown was shot in the street in Ferguson and left to lie there, I had to put down my marketing because I no longer trusted myself to say things that were meaningful or useful except to a cross-section of white love-and-light spiritual people. The pain I finally saw, reflected in Twitter threads and live-stream video from the Ferguson protests, spilling out of mouths and eyes, painted in patterns of blood and bullet holes and layers upon layers of injustices done over hundreds of years, stopped me from speaking because I had nothing to say. Listening was my job. Shutting my mouth was my job. Crying my white tears and processing my fragile feelings in private was my job, so that I could learn how to show up and accept what was truth and stop making everything about me.

In the meantime, because I no longer had a language I could trust to speak about my own work; or an understanding of what my work was even for, I put it down and got a part-time job, and then a full-time job.

Amidst all of this, I embarked on a two-year-long saga (still ongoing) of pursuing the right level of care for my mentally ill teenager; I met and married my spouse, while discovering how extremely and deeply queer I am in the process; and I began study in a lineaged tradition that requires my best discipline, my deepest introspection, and my strict dedication to the work.

Earlier this year, I found enough words to begin talking about what I was doing and what I wanted to be doing. I knew that I wanted to offer my work in ways that were accessible for others who were bootstrapping their way through without actually having boots or straps. I knew that I wanted to address anti-blackness in myself, in my own business practices, and in the ideas, copy, and practices of the people who might become clients of mine.

I knew that it was not for me to position myself as a resource for black entrepreneurs, although I hoped that I was doing enough of the work to be a trusted resource where I or my perspective or ability were needed. I knew that I had a lot more to learn, and that I would need to remain open to both seeing and owning my mistakes, and doing work to change and repair harm.

I’d been using the phrase ‘intersectional feminist marketing’ because the understanding of the interconnectedness and overlap of all the ways a person shows up spoke to me. However, it was pointed out that the definition and use of the term intersectionality rightly belongs to Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, and to the P/WOC it was meant for. (Note: I saw the term P/WOC on Alexis Morgan’s site, and because I am mindful of the gendering of language, I wanted to use this term as well so that what I write here can be as inclusive as possible.) And so I removed that language from all the places I had been using it around the internet, and I posted about why I stopped using it as a way of being transparent and in hopes of demonstrating a way of taking criticism without centering my experience of being criticized.

There is still so much more work to be done in myself. I am beginning to understand that, in the words of Dorothy on Twitter, “diversity and inclusion” is a neoliberal value. I am digging into an understanding of decolonialization and how to do that work. I am looking for ways to make reparations and acting on the opportunities that I am able, with my resources, to take.

In the meantime, I have read more of Kelly Diels’ words about the shitstorm she brought on herself: and the juxtaposition of her reclaiming the term she uses for herself, “feminist marketing consultant,” while many P/WOC in my Facebook sphere are saying that this term is at worst insulting and at best not useful, means that I am going to relinquish that term for myself as well.

I am a marketing consultant. I am feminist. But what I really want to talk about is not feminism or marketing exactly: I want to talk about truthfulness. I want to talk about communication. I want to talk about the impact of our words, our choices, and our business structures on the communities we live in.

I want to talk about how to create sustainable business practices that do not further harm the people we claim to love, or ourselves, or our communities. I want to talk about using words in ways that include and affirm and call in.

The vehicle this is wrapped in is, in the end, marketing: because marketing copy and graphics and sales funnels come directly out of our understanding of what we are doing in our work and how it affects what we want to affect. Understanding what we are affecting, and having a practice of questioning what we are doing so that we discover what our underlying assumptions, biases, and ideologies are so that we can intentionally affect the world is of vital importance.

I will forever be learning, and that is okay with me. Learning and putting those new understandings into practice are honorable. I accept that I may fail, but I ask to be held accountable and I ask to be called in; and if I will not be called in, call me the fuck out.

Making money while hell breaks loose

I have not had more than a few weeks at a time where nothing is happening.

A day where nothing happens except morning coffee, quiet work hours, interruptions by eight-year-old Nick who is telling me his latest idea, breaking for lunch, and snuggles at the end of the day.

It has been eighteen months of chaos, ramping up slowly but surely, until we’ve gotten to a place where every night we go to sleep knowing that the next day could be filled with phone calls or home visits by the police department, long waits in the hospital ER waiting rooms, or long drives to pick up or drop off my sixteen-year-old at yet another acute care facility.

Today, it has been four days since we drove home in the early morning hours after a two and a half hour intake at an adolescent acute care facility that we’ve been to three times before now. That was early Thursday morning.

This threw off my circadian rhythm so badly that I could not catch up enough on sleep before my menstrual cycle started up on Saturday, so from Friday onward I was migraining, cramping, and fatigued to a degree that I don’t usually experience.

Yesterday was the first day I checked my email. Today is the first day that I knew I could sit down and do my work.

My usual reason for having to move work around – to accommodate my exhaustion and sleep needs – gets old quickly.

I hate moving work around. I want to do the work when I said I was going to do the work. Even when the reasons are valid and to push through would mean illness, I hate moving work.

To counter this, I have gotten dispassionately good at padding the amount of time it’s going to take me to DO the fucking work.

Before now, I would have padded for eventualities such as a few hours where one of the kids might need me for something, or a sudden doctor’s appointment, or an errand that was necessary but hadn’t been scheduled.

Now, I pad days at a time for an expectation that I’ll be driving four or five hours and then trading off playing warden in my own house: to keep my BPD kid from running away, hurting herself, or at least to call the police when she does and then spend the following hours talking with the officer who comes out for my statement. And, possibly, working from the hospital ER waiting room if it’s my turn on shift.

I pad for the time it’s going to take for me to process my emotions after a ‘family session’ conference call wherein I have to remain vigilant and point out every truth-twist, every outright lie, and each unfounded accusation because if I don’t, her version of truth prevails and I (and my family) will endure the ramifications of those dangerous lies.

I pad for the time I need to care for my spouse, who pulls just as much weight and needs just as much rest and recovery time after each shift.

I pad for the time I need to comfort and spend time with my other kids, to take them to their own therapy appointments, to watch movies with them snuggled on the couch together.

I pad for the time I need to take showers and cry and sit in the backyard while the trees whisper to me.

What this has done is remove – however temporarily – all possibility of regularly scheduled anything from my calendar.

I can gauge from week to week how much capacity I have, and how much work I can accomplish — and I’ve gotten really good at that forecasting. I am not just pulling from a pessimistic view of my life, but from a framework of behavior patterns and likely outcomes that I am building up each time something else happens.

Sadly, there are things I want to do regularly and can’t commit to, such as writing a newsletter each week or starting up a short-form podcast or even a weekly lunch date with Alexa.

Phoenix KelleyI worry that I am accustomed to this mess.

I worry that the cost of having my scheduled upended and emptied on a irregularly regular basis is going to cause me more physical and emotional harm than I can predict.

I worry that there will come a time when my clients all need something at the same time and I will be asleep, trying to catch up enough to have some of my normal brain function back.

I worry that this is going to break me.

But I don’t break easily and I will not accommodate the idea that my life can fall apart because of someone else’s choices.

So I get up, and I keep going.

I put things in my Google calendar and in my written lists and digital project management systems.

When I discover that something — or someone — got forgotten somehow, I apologize and I make it right and I put the things in the damn calendar.

I ask for help.

When I fall down, I sit for a moment and ask for a glass of water and I contemplate how I can take care of myself here, now, in this moment.

And sometimes, I have a chance to rest.

Nothing to fear but fear itself

Several years ago, I had an epiphany about fear.

Specifically, I realized in a sudden flash that what I feared was not the thing itself, but what it felt to be afraid. And so I was afraid of being afraid.

The chest-crushing, breath-stealing, frozen shock of physicality is what I feared.

The desperate grief of the effect on those I loved, and the spectre of their own fear, is what I feared.

The thing itself can be dealt with, or not.

It kills me, or it doesn’t. It creates change or things remain static. I respond or I do not. The thing itself is not logical to be afraid of.

I had this epiphany and then, because living in a metacognitive state is exhausting when the thoughts you’re analyzing are the thoughts you are currently having, I allowed myself to forget.

Until recently.

My sixteen-year-old has a working diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. She’s being treated by doctors and therapists. She takes meds. She goes to therapy. And yet.

Living with my teenager is like living in a hostage situation.

I cannot let her go out alone. I cannot leave her in the house alone without A LOT of pre-planning and as much forethought as possible. I cannot let her have a goddamn phone. I discovered that she was accessing the internet today on her Nintendo DS and turned it off — so she left the house in a rage and we had to call the police.

She is an addict. She is a pathological liar. She knows how to become whatever person she needs to be in order to get what she wants, in that moment.

And so I am continually de-escalating her. Every emotion, every feeling, every desire, is turned up to eleven for her. There is no, I’d like to do such and such soon. It’s, I need to do this today or I want to kill myself. It’s, I will attempt to negotiate every single thing you’ve told me is non-negotiable, and then I’ll run away because I’m angry with you.

It’s non-stop 911 calls, conversations with EMTs and police officers, verbal recollection of the past 18+ months of hospital and acute care stays, midnight arguments, locking up everything she could hurt herself with, cajoling her into taking meds when she’s too angry and upset to think clearly.

It’s validation and reassurance when all I want to do is lock myself in my room and cry. It’s firm boundaries, reinforced over and over and over and over again, never budging, always standing up again to say no, for the thirtieth time, the hundredth time, the thousandth time, no.

It’s living in a state of exhaustion. It’s my other kids in therapy to help them deal with the reality that their sibling is dangerous. It’s operating as if you are calm while being ready to execute on whichever safety plan matches the current circumstances.

It’s taking a hot shower not because you’re dirty and need one, but because it’s a chance to relax and be alone for fifteen minutes. To let the hot water cleanse you and hold you. To remember that your gods and ancestors are here for you. To recite the things that remind you who you are.

Litany against fearToday, reciting the Litany Against Fear reminded me of the epiphany I had before: that I was not afraid of the thing itself, but of the way the fear makes me feel.

I am not afraid of her BPD.

I am not afraid of what she will do.

I am afraid of its impact on my other kids.

I am afraid of the impact on my spouse, and on my relationship with them.

I am afraid of the impact her behavior has on my quality of life.

But these things can be planned for and dealt with and looked at with clear unflinching eyes.

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when the fear has passed, I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone, there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

Our First Anniversary: Phoenix + Alexa

One year ago tonight, I stood holding your shaking hands under a very old tree in the starlight, and said these words:

I promise to love you, guide you, and protect you.
I promise to support you in honoring your existing oaths and responsibilities.
I will always desire what is best for you.
I will communicate with honesty.
I will speak truth to you.
I will endeavor to take the path of least harm for our life together.
With guidance from our ancestors and deities,
It is my will to make these promises to you, so long as our love shall last.

I meant every word then, and I still mean those words now.

One year wedding anniversary

In the past twelve months, we’ve done a stressfully large amount of things — we bought a house (a first for both of us), moved cities, and began to settle into our home here bit by bit.

We’ve sat up countless hours with Alex at the hospital.
We’ve comforted crying kids and driven hundreds of miles between school and home.
We’ve done things alone that we wanted to do with companionship, and soldiered on knowing we’d be reunited soon.

We brought a cat and two new kittens into our household, upending our sleep schedule for months.

We cried together through The Force Awakens and the special screening of Labyrinth and Guardians of the Galaxy 2.

We’ve worked hard to build a life that makes space for emotions and rest and good communication, even though the swirling mass of Things we need to accomplish each week can be daunting.

We’ve endured miscommunications, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings, because our devotion to our relationship and the deep care we have for each other has carried us through it, even when the other person’s perspective seemed so impossible to understand.

My lovely Cheshire kitty, I love you with my whole self: heart, mind, strength, soul, and body. I am blessed beyond measure to have you in my life.

Happy First Anniversary, sweetheart.