this is why you don’t avoid shadow work

Set has been telling me I need to write and publish this post for a little over a month, but I’ve kept blowing him off and saying “laaaateeerrr” like the stubborn, snot-nosed little shit I am; consequently, here I am about to publish a post about something I’m very insecure about right when there’s a whole group of people ready to tear anything I say or do to pieces. I guess that’s what I get for being too proud and dragging my feet.

Current kemetic discourse on Tumblr (“om g ur all disrespectful don’t take ur religion srsly humans r supposed 2 b subservient all the time blah blah hubris blah”, as usual), coupled with Devo’s recent post about shadow work being a never-ending process consistently reminded me of my own recent shadow work project that I’ve avoiding like hell for months. It’s the same damn project I’ve been having to come back to, again and again, since I first became kemetic and had to deal with the reality of being under Set’s (and HSA’s, technically, but me and Heru have a lot less baggage to contend with) control: learning surrender. When I scratch down all of the issues I have in my religion and religious life lately, it all comes back to the same problem of mine; a larger part of me than I’d like to admit would prefer to wallow in my own personal hell than to let someone else call the shots.

‘Course there are many reasons for this. On one hand, I’m not a naturally submissive person; on the other hand, I’ve had bad experiences with pretty much every authority figure I’ve ever come across. Worse, my life so far has been a long process of learning that there’s really nothing I have the power to control. My life is chaotic, turbulent, and violent. I’m never really sure that I’m safe, always looking over my shoulder and worrying that someone bigger than me is about to come and take advantage of me in some way or another. My outward environment, my relationships with others, my body, even my mind -little by little, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I have control over none of it. None of it is “mine”.

The one thing I’ve always had, though -the one thing I’ve always clung to with the kind of strength that only desperate people can have- is that I am in control of my choices. So what if I don’t know what I’m doing, so what if I fuck it all up, so what if I make mistake after mistake after mistake and make an absolute mess of everything? My life is still mine. My choices, my fuck-ups are mine, and no matter how much it hurts, no one can take that from me. I suppose it’s partially an ego thing, as most things are, but more than anything it’s a fear thing. I don’t want to let go and let someone else decide what I do; I don’t want to surrender the very last bit of stable ground I have in the world. If everything else I ever have and ever am has been broken, can’t I at least have my will?  What else do I have to lose, just to be allowed to exist? I get so angry at the idea of surrendering the only thing that has ever really been mine, I want to throw things, scream, set everything on fire.

Believe it or not, this is what some people consider an “unhealthy mindset”.

So, finally, a few weeks ago I gave in to Set’s badgering and let him collar me the way I’ve been letting Heru do fairly regularly for a few months. (You all wish you could’ve seen the fallout the first time he tried to it. I lost my shit.) I guess you could sort of consider it a divine D/s thing, but it’s never been about sex; it’s been about trust, about getting me used to the idea of willingly surrendering, the idea of belonging to them and of being submissive to them.

(Gods, it still bugs me just to type that out. Fuck, I have such a long way to go.)

To Set’s credit, he knew that I needed him to take it slow; my reaction to someone else being in control is honestly akin to being triggered. My heart rate speeds up, I feel sick to my stomach, I have this animal urge to lash out at the person (or god) and run like hell. He approached me like you might approach a scared, feral animal -slowly, speaking softly, reminding me that I had said yes, I had wanted this, I had agreed. “The choice to surrender is still a choice,” he reminded me over and over. It took hours for him to get past my mental defenses to the point that I could actually submit.

“This shouldn’t be so hard,” I told him in frustration. “You’re a god who I’m devoted to. If I can submit to Jesus, why can’t I submit to you?”

“Because I’m not Jesus,” he replied simply. “I’m not the Good Shepherd, and I never wanted a sheep. I want you to be willing to kneel, but frankly I don’t like talking to the top of people’s heads. To own you the way that your capital-K King owns you, I would have to break you past the point of usefulness, and I have never wanted that.”

I believed him, and it made the whole thing easier to swallow…even though it stung that he saw me as something to be used. “It still hurts,” I said.

“It will always hurt, because you will always be a little wild. Besides, how long did it take you do submit to the God that you worship, again? The God who you were taught was the source of everything good in existance and your only escape from eternal damnation?”

“Fifteen years.”

“Fifteen. Years.” He said it like it was an accomplishment, like he was a proud parent pinning a straight-A report card to the fridge. “Against all odds, you were never quite indoctrinated. Granted, your God prefers a less…straightforward approach than I do, but still. Even while you believed it was his way or Hell, you struggled. It’s in your nature, I don’t hold that against you.”

And that’s nice and all, but it doesn’t make any of this easy, either. He keeps telling me to read Devo’s “A Good Horse” post, the same post that resulted in me having what was essentially a complete meltdown last year when I first read it. And every time I swallow my pride and obey, I have the same reaction: every single part of me screams “no”, along with assorted swear words; I want to punch a hole in my computer screen; I want to run screaming from kemeticism and never come back.

But I don’t.

Because I’m stubborn about that, too. I could never run away from all of this, and spend my whole life wondering what could’ve been. I could never just…quit. And he knows it.

So what I’ve been doing instead of quitting, or really coming to terms with my issues, is just kind of…putting it off, day after day, and pretending I don’t know why I keep doing the same dumb shit, until eventually my bad habits end up having repercussions for those around me. Set tells me part of the issue is “learned helplessness” about bad things happening to me, and that’s something I need to work on -because if I believe I could make things better, maybe I’ll focus more on that than on being stubbornly comitted to doing my own thing. Another contributing issue would be my ego and self-esteem being tied almost exclusively to my independence (instead of my talents, or resilience, or kindness, or humility, or integrity, or any other positive trait that people insist I have but I just can’t ever really see), and my defense mechanisms that center around digging my heels in and refusing to back down, damn the consequences. (I don’t know how I’m ever going to teach myself not to do that; as long as I can remember, not flinching has been the only way to survive.)

More than anything, I have to find whatever it is in me that would prefer to burn alive than to let someone stand above me, and find a way to either kill it or heal it, or maybe a little bit of both -whatever it takes to make sure that it stops making me act in ways that harm those I’m supposed to be serving. My ability to take my licks and keep pushing in the direction I’ve chosen can be a great gift to me and mine, if I can learn to use it wisely.


#kemetic, #personal