I dream about protests, fear, anger, queer blood and tears spilled in the streets. A knife in someone’s hand; my own, maybe, or Daren’s. “You never let him talk about it, either,” I say to Tanim, thinking of the illness, the madness that rolls through Daren’s mind like a storm front and how its edges spill into mine. Tanim grabs my wrist, yanking it up and back so hard I think he means to snap it, and growls a threat I can’t remember afterwards. I remember he means it, though. He’s never looked at me with such rage before – nor has he ever hurt me. That image is what stays with me as I wake: the anger and violence in his eyes, my thin wrist gripped in his clenched hand.
I feel like I’m going crazy. Literally.
Over the last two years, I’ve frequently felt like my own brain is gaslighting me. At work, I miss red flags that I specifically looked for; I calculate budget numbers but then can’t figure out how I came to those totals the next day; I forget tasks or duties I’ve never had trouble remembering before; I swear I started a project but then find no evidence in my files; my completed documents are riddled with obvious mistakes I thought I checked or corrected; emails I have a vivid memory of reading were never sent to me. I’ve even run two red lights – not because I wasn’t paying attention, but because I could have sworn that the light was green. Every day, I feel tripped up by false or missing memories, by basic math that makes no sense, by this frustrating “Past Elyssa” who keeps fucking everything up for the present me. Sometimes I find her mistakes the next day, when I can fix them before my boss notices, but other times I don’t find her mistakes until months later, when a tiny issue becomes a monster. I find myself apologizing over and over and over again, promising I’m a hard worker, dedicated, detail-oriented, that I’m not who Past Elyssa makes me out to be. But what if I am?
For two years now, I’ve felt like I can’t trust my own mind. This paranoia leads me to second-guessing everything I do. I double and triple-check information I’ve long had memorized; I have shadow systems for everything I might possibly need to track or remember; I leave myself sticky notes for the most obvious of tasks. I read and reread emails and documents before I send them, and I check my math however I can. But it’s not enough. Things still slip through at an alarming rate. And it scares me. It scares me because this isn’t who I am. I am detail-oriented. I am good at remembering deadlines and tasks. I am able to complete complex tasks. Yes, I’m bad at math, but I’m not usually this bad. I’m not usually inept.
When the brain weirdness first started, it had a definite cause. I had just gone on Topamax, a medication well known for reducing the user’s cognitive functions. And boy, did it slow down my brain. I was like a different person at work: forgetful, prone to missing obvious mistakes, and overall just slower at grasping even simple tasks. When I forgot to take another important medication for an entire week, I finally went off the Topamax. I assumed the side-effects would linger for a while, which they did… and did… and did… and do. I still feel like I’m on the Topamax, though I was only on it for a couple months and I’ve now been off it for over a year. At this point, whatever I’m experiencing simply can’t be caused by the medication. My doctor has suggested my migraines (for which I was taking the Topamax, ironically) might be causing my forgetfulness and decreased cognitive function. This is a good theory, but I don’t buy it 100%. This stuff just seems to happen too often to be the result of a migraine.
So what is it, then? None of my other medications cause such side-effects, and they’re all meds I’ve taken for years without issue. My diet and general health are good, so it’s not my body trying to run at half-capacity. The issues happen no matter what my mood, so it’s not anxiety or depression related. I don’t fit any of the other symptoms of adult onset ADD. I don’t love my job, but I’m dedicated and focused, so it’s not just that my brain is checked out. Plus, that doesn’t explain the times I’ve run red lights.
I feel crazy. That isn’t me co-opting an often misused word – I truly feel like I can’t always fully trust my mind or my perception of reality. These things have happened too often for me to just laugh off. Now every time I find a weird mistake or have a memory that apparently didn’t happen, I feel myself unravel a little more. It’s a creepy, frustrating, scary feeling. I don’t like being a bad employee. I don’t like being unreliable. I don’t like putting myself in danger by accident, or questioning even bland, innocuous memories. I already deal with anxiety, depression, and invasive thoughts; I really need my brain to otherwise work okay. If something’s wrong, I want to know so I can treat it with therapy or medication or whatever will work. It’s the not knowing, the not being able to act on a problem, that’s eating away at me.
[ I feel like this sounds really dramatic, and maybe I’m overreacting, but I’m going to make myself post it. Blurhg, brain bad. ]
I used to wonder, late at night when I wandered between streetlights and shadows on a chilly, quiet campus, what it would be like to sing with you. Listening to the songs that conjured your spirit, if not your presence, I wondered which part you would take; would your voice be higher than mine, light and lilting, or would it reach even deeper notes than I could? I’d sit on cold stone steps and imagine you huddled against me, us sharing scant body warmth as we watched our voices drift away in ghostly breaths of melody. You were for so many years a siren calling to me from third-hand sources, and I the lost sailor traveling sightless in the hopes of finding you at the end of my journey. What I did not know I heard in this music was my willingness to break upon the rocks, should that be my only way to glimpse you. The lyrics did not speak this immutable truth; the notes did not spell it on their staves; yet I absorbed it nonetheless. Thus when you did finally find me, I came to you as the sailor longing to wreck, as the tower maiden eager to jump, as the innocent girl who wanted never to find her way home from Wonderland. And you? You remained as I had imagined you: the siren calling, calling, calling in the dark for the only one who could hear her voice. Now I know exactly what our voices sound like blended together, and all the words in the world can’t describe such beauty.
[in-kawr-pawr-ee-uh l, -pohr-]
1. Not corporeal or material; insubstantial.
2. Of, relating to, or characteristic of nonmaterial beings.
Ghosts are incorporeal. Incorporeal means no hands to hold, no fingers to clutch, no mouth to bite and swallow. Incorporeal means ghosts cannot have or keep. Give back, then, the songs you took from me. Give back the books, the movies, the places and people and names. Ghosts are not allowed to lay claim to the corporeal; only the living can, and I am so very much alive. I grow more alive by the day, while you grow deader and deader. I bet you’ve already forgotten what it feels like to be made of flesh and blood, sensation and experience, haven’t you? What a pity. All those wonderful things you’re trying to hold onto are wasted on your scrap of weightless soul – so why don’t you give them back to someone who can fully appreciate their worth?
Do you allow the use of a divination technique only once? Is that why you allowed the cards to speak for you, then scrambled every subsequent message? Is that why you conjured one meaningful book quote, yet choose only the most useless and innocuous when I attempt it again? Is that why every time I think I have stumbled upon the one way you’ll let a connection be established between us, it only works once and then causes me nothing but confusion? Of course, you say. Why did it take me so long to catch on? (Did we really choose such a dense scribe?)
Would it be so terrible, that connection? Would it be so awful to give me more than the barest, vaguest hint of what you want me to know or do? I’m not trying to cheat or take the easy route; you know I’m always willing other face whatever you throw my way. I just want to be certain for once, instead of guessing at what important message I think you’re sending. Hell, I’m not even sure that you’re sending anything! All I can act on are my hunches, my feelings, my instincts, and how am I to ever know if they’re right? When you are everywhere and everything to me, everywhere and everything could be a message I’m missing, and I know you well enough to know you do not deign to repeat yourselves. I’m left, therefore, assuming I’m always five steps behind and forever rushing to catch up. And you wonder why my anxiety levels are so high?
So I did a tarot reading last night. I have felt that Wepwawet has been watching over me lately and I wanted to do a reading to identify Him officially and ask what He wanted from our connection. I asked Bast to help me with the reading, since I wasn’t 100% sure the entity was indeed Wepwawet and I seem to have more successful readings with Bast than anyone else. So with Her help, I laid out a 6 card spread I found online. This was my reading:
1) The Spirit: Page of Pentacles reversed
— Narrow-minded, selfish, rebellious, illogical, difficult, petty, obsessive compulsive, delay
2) Personality, Abilities, and Traits: Four of Pentacles upright
— Wealth, hard work, material possessions, conservative management, financial security, being miserly, not taking risks
3) Omens and Signs, Manifestation, Appearance: Two of Wands reversed
— Delay, incompetence, excessive pride, misgivings, being overwhelmed or disillusioned, abuse of power or wealth, lack of activity or interest
4) What They Want From You: The Tower reversed
— Passing of trauma, or a worse situation, failure, bondage, injustice, confinement
5) Things to Know: Queen of Cups reversed
— Fickle, vain, emotional, clouded judgement, enabler, codependency, mental illness, infidelity
6) Things to Avoid: The High Priestess reversed
— Misuse of or ignoring intuition, prejudice, secrets revealed, mental illness, too analytical, hidden enemies, self-destruction, listen to your subconscious
This reading totally confused me because I have heard Wepwawet is very laid back and… well, the opposite of this reading. I turned to Bast for help and asked Her to give me one card for clarification.
7) Clarification card: Five of Swords upright
— Negative energy, hostility, defeat, struggle, sabotage, betrayal, revenge, consequences, mistrust, accept what you cannot change
This card felt like a slap in the face – it’s the card I associate with Daren. In the Shadowscapes deck, this card features a fallen angel who looks strikingly similar to him. That, combined with the negativity of the card, gives me hella Daren vibes.
I came away with about a million questions and no answers. The next day I talked it over with my girlfriend and she pointed out that Tanim and Daren have been sending me lots of angel imagery lately. She suggested perhaps Wepwawet was trying to speak with me, but was blocked by one of them. She suggested interpreting the reading again, but with the cards in their upright positions. Their reversals, she thought, might be Daren’s doing. With that in mind, therefore, I reread the cards (but not until after our fire alarm went off for “no reason” in my altar room, which seemed eerily well-timed).
1) The Spirit: Page of Pentacles
— Positive finances, education, open-mindedness, goals, introvert, reliable friend, scholar, payoff for hard work and practicality, attention to detail
2) Personality, Abilities, and Traits: Four of Pentacles reversed
— Greed, miserliness, envy, wasteful essential, lack of fulfillment, money problems or worries
3) Omens and Signs, Manifestation, Appearance: Two of Wands
— Beginning of a collaboration, ambition, growth, partnership, travel or business, hard work becomes success, restlessness before the start of a venture
4) What They Want From You: The Tower
— Disruption, shock, chaos, major change, release, death of illusion, break the chain of social conventions
5) Things to Know: Queen of Cups
— Sensitivity, intuition, empathy, artistic, loyal, caring, feminine, easily influenced
6) Things to Avoid: The High Priestess
— Intuition, subconscious, dreams and hidden messages, sexuality, femininity, inner mind, higher truths
So, obviously this reading is much more positive. The first and third cards are much more in line with what I was originally expecting from Wepwawet, though I’m still thrown off by the second, fourth, and sixth. Overall, though, I still feel lost. Ugh, why did I take up divination?
i feel off today – yesterday – this week – whatever
i pulled the cards but couldn’t read them
it felt like they were making fun of me
do i ask stupid questions?
this vanilla chai’s too watery
and tastes like root beer
and I’m not very good at my job