It has been a while, a long while, since I felt the stirring of elation. Don’t get me wrong, despite everything the last three years have brought, I have been content and grateful for life and its joys. If you have followed my journey, thank you for sticking with me! If you haven’t, here’s a quick rundown of the last three years.
Just as my writing and editing career was starting to take-off, I was struck down by a mysterious condition. This mystery condition left me bed-bound, my husband carrying me to and from the washroom as I cried out in pain at the slightest touch. My limbs and mind began to fail me. Exhaustion I couldn’t shake no matter how much I slept haunted me, and my body trembled affecting my ability to speak, eat, and otherwise care for myself.
Doctor after doctor, assessment after assessment, nothing came to light. At first, neurologists diagnosed me with a myriad of disorders, including Functional Neurological Disorder, then finally, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. After monitoring and multiple treatments by the right doctor and several practioners both medical and holistic, as well as my own and my husband’s efforts to help me crawl back into life, I was identified as disabled by severe and significant symptoms due to these multiple conditions. Now, my efforts and treatment are focused on maintenance, with the hope that someday my body and brain may enter remission. But there is no cure and I happen to have an extreme case of FM and ME on top of it all.
This experience leaves me relying on family and friends to help me dress, to prepare meals and some days feed me when tremors or weakness make bringing even a fork or spoon to my mouth near impossible, and to take over every aspect of my life. It is a huge weight upon my husband’s shoulders especially, and I wish nothing more than to be able to take that weight from him. I have had to surrender my dreams of being an independent author and editor. I have had to surrender my desire to work at any job anymore. Everything I do is complicated by the need for some level of assistance or assisted devices. To even go out of the house is a great effort, longer journeys of more than a few minutes or a block or two more often than not require me to use an electric wheelchair.
On top of the disability changing my entire life, I have had to face the even more challenging world of insurance and disability income assistance. That is one of the most discouraging and complicated journeys that I have ever been on. Everyone is trying to deny you coverage for various reasons. Everyone suspects abuse of the system. Everyone who you think is supposed to help you, either isn’t equipped to assist you or has the ulterior motive of finding a single flaw in your mountains of paperwork or words to call you a liar and remove your coverage. There are constant reassessments if you finally achieve the complicated path of acquiring the supports you truly need. These assessments and reassessments are incredibly dehumanizing and ableist. Often, they make up the worst parts of being disabled. The longer you continue in these programs, sometimes the more hostile the insurance companies and assistance workers can get.
“Yes, I am still disabled.”
“Well, we’ll determine ourselves if you’re disabled ENOUGH in our eyes to actually continue needing the supports we offer even if your condition is uncurable and you’ve had over twelve doctors and practitioners, even ones we have paid, declare you chronic, incurable, and completely disabled.”
Questions are intrusive, triggering, and assessments can even make you sicker or worse as a system built to deny tries to push you into health or actions that prove to them you’re a liar gaming the system. The system isn’t built to support the vulnerable of society, it is built to humiliate, beat down, and prevent the vulnerable from receiving equitable supports and engage in a full life. There is always some ableist statement or practice to face and with the added cognitive effects of my conditions, without the help of family and friends, I would never have been successful in obtaining any supports.
Our world is sick, and 2020 was a year that really brought that to light. It brought to light the hate in the hearts of America. It brought to light the ignorance of individuals who can’t wear a mask to prevent the spread of a lethal plague that kills those we love and puts people like me in danger. It really illuminated which countries have the people’s best interests at heart. 2020 illuminated the dark and sinister world of narcissism, sociopathy, and nepotism that controls money and world politics. The year tested our resiliency, our morals, our beliefs, and sense of self, it challenged everything. Everything that has been brewing beneath the surface for a long, long time bubbled up all at once.
But just because the United States has a new president, doesn’t mean all of that goes away. There is SO much wrong with our world, it is heartbreaking, spirit destroying, and can sap our will right out of us. The good can only take so much. But I do believe that our world will become even better soon. That the efforts of those who fight oppression and those who do the hard work of looking inside themselves will change our world for the better.
But that is not what this post is about.
It has been a difficult journey for me the last three years, as it has been for you too. Still, those of us still here have carried our worlds on our shoulders and kept going as best as we can.
The impact of that world may have left us forgetting what life can be like. Life can be joyous. Life can be filled with love and beauty. Life can be magical.
The magical has always been a part of me. Whether it was fairy tales or tarot cards, academic or personal exploration, spiritual or entertaining, magic was a part of everything I did. Every day. Until it wasn’t.
One day, for reasons I’m still not entirely sure, the sense of awe magic brings disappeared. The energy of elation and celebration vanished long before disability and 2020 seized my life. It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested in it. It wasn’t that I wasn’t looking for it, because I was. I really was. I studied everything I could. I tried everything I could to bring it back, but it was just gone. I couldn’t even conjure up its effervescence into my life again with my own fictional worlds written on hundreds of pages.
Like Old Magic suddenly disappeared in Becca Andre’s The Final Formula Series (one of my favorite reads), so too had my own sense of awe tied to the magic of life. That elation and light was just gone.
It wasn’t depression or medical. It wasn’t spiritual or emotional or psychological, at least, my efforts to explore those possibilities dictate otherwise. Once in a while, I would feel a sparkling whisper of its presence, but like a specter in a gothic novel it would suddenly vanish.
I connected with practioners and experts in the supernatural, occult, and magical from all over the world. I connected with the medical and psychological experts prior to my disability to see if something else was affecting me. Nothing. I had one energy worker get me close to feeling like myself energetically again, but then she decided to close her practice and I was left at a crossroads.
As a reader, books are special to me. They are physical manifestations of magic. They are nothing turned into something. And often, as many of you may relate to, books enter my life as I need them.
Today, one such book has blessed me with a spark of that magic, of elation, of awe. A gift from my husband delayed by the COVID impacted shipping world finally arrived weeks after the holidays have passed. As I unwrapped it, the yellow and black printing on the fabric textured paper sparked all my bibliophile sensibilities. Though new, it had old book appeal in its design and content. Though old material I have revisited hundreds of times, it seemed new, as if I was seeing it again for the first time.
This yellow book is Black Letter Press’ second edition printing of W.B. Yeats’ On Magic & The Occult.
Yeats is a poet I have been passionate about since elementary school. His and Tennyson’s poetical works have long been inspiration to my spirit and fuel to my writerly sensibilities. If you look closely, you might find similar themes and echoes of the influences of these two authors behind the influences of third and fourth wave feminism and my fascination with the supernatural and paranormal.
My first poetical deconstruction was over one of his poems. The technicality of my deconstruction led me into university level English Literature study. And though my passion continues for words and language and literature long after acquiring a degree in English almost a decade ago, Yeats’ poetry and life has always deeply touched my own.
Yeats’ words were quoted at my wedding. His life was a personal fascination I researched. I did not learn about his connection to the occult until my final years in high school where he had been touted as a “Christian” writer. He is not. He is SO not a Christian. Yeats was deeply involved in the occult and magical workings, in secret societies like the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and very much a rival to the infamous Aleister Crowley. Where Crowley founded religion and dabbled in the dark, Yeats moved away from religion and focused on less dark arts of magic. He instead, was drawn to the magic of the every day. The magic of nature, of real love, of authenticity. Based on what little is really known of his life, he seems to have separated himself from the drama and showmanship and elitism of such secret societies and practices as high magic.
It is fitting, I think, that the first lasting spark of magical elation returns with a book of Yeats’ words. I feel the tingle of magic on my skin as if my husband is gently caressing my skin. I feel the breath of magic in my lungs as if I have not taken a breath in a decade. The crack of the spine sparks fire in my mind that burns like the comfort of a warm hearth on a cold winter day.
The first words of this volume include the title and name of the main character of the book I found an amazing cowriter for to carry on my efforts, and which is now in the querying stages. I take it as a sign that magic has returned to my life once again and good things are coming. And it all begins with a Rose.