“An It Harm None, Do What Ye Will.”

handmade greeting card, collage artThese few little words make up the Wiccan Rede, or moral code.  It’s similar to the Hippocratic Oath (First, do no harm), but is more about how one lives one’s life rather than medical treatment.  Still, both phrases seem to be hovering over my head as I press on in the latest round of rapid cycling.

Frankly, I could use a little witchcraft to get through the day without making a mess or doing harm to myself.  I’m not talking about suicide or anything that dramatic.  My self-harm is much more mundane and boring—like piling on more debt to my credit card or buying bags of groceries that I throw away a week later.  Self-harm comes in the degrading, humiliating and hateful words my brain says to me.  Self-harm happens when I do anything to stop feeling the barbed constriction of my mind.

My own take on the Rede and the Oath is “Do the Least Amount of Harm.”  I know I’ll make poor choices now.  I know I’ll act out.  And if I can’t do something that is beneficial, maybe I can temper the hurt I cause myself.  Instead of canceling everything on Wednesday and going home to an empty apartment, I was able to seek out my meditation friends in Des Moines and sit in their company for a couple of hours.  It took a monumental marshaling of Will to do that—to sift through the noise and panic in my head to even consider it.  To drive there, sobbing.  To stand in Barbara’s kitchen, incoherent, while they circled and held me.  To fall asleep from exhaustion on her couch while the others chatted softly.  What started out as a grab at Doing Less Harm became medicinal.  I did something good for me.  I don’t know how to tell you what a miracle that is.

I’ve been spending a lot of time at the movies—my Safe-House.  I can stay all day without eating too much, or spending too much, or alienating any more people in my life.  I can rest at the movies.  Sometimes it’s all I need to reboot and come at this weird illness from a different perspective.

I’ve become fascinated with August: Osage County.  This horrible, dysfunctional, destructive family is what goes on in my head when I’m brain-sick.  There are tyrants, and betrayals, and screaming matches.  There are parts of me in absolute denial, and parts so strong they survive at all costs.  There are the loving bits that can bend.  And other more tender parts that get smashed flat.  There’s beauty, and ugliness, and a sense of being caught in a cycle of despair.  I hope Meryl Streep wins the Oscar.

August Osage County, Little Charles, Ivy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Julianne NicholsonThe part I keep focusing on is a tiny little scene between the two incredibly damaged characters who are still capable of gentleness and love.  They hold each other up.  They save each other.  In the middle of my worst brain-sickness, I also have a Little Charles and an Ivy, causing absolutely no harm.  They sit at the old Hammond organ and sing quiet love songs to each other, wrapping themselves in safety from the chaos around them.  I can hear that sweet little song and lean into it.  A miracle.

14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Littlesundog
    Jan 18, 2014 @ 08:40:25

    I love this raw honesty of yours Sandy… it left me speechless this morning. I hope you can feel the warmth of my love wrapped around you.


  2. Servetus
    Jan 18, 2014 @ 10:36:51

    I experience this, too — if I manage to stop hurting myself in one way I pick up another way …


  3. Kathryn McCullough
    Jan 19, 2014 @ 08:06:43

    I understand what you are saying–at least, I think I do. It’s the smaller forms of harm we do ourselves that are hardest to escape. Maybe because those behaviors are so automatic. And when we’re feeling bad, I, too, find it easier to be alone–though that doesn’t happen much for me. I end up hurting Sara when I, certainly, don’t mean to. Hang in there, my friend!

    Hugs from Ecuador,


  4. pegoleg
    Jan 20, 2014 @ 09:34:23

    Thank you for sharing the pain you’re going through so eloquently. Hoping for better days soon.


  5. Trackback: Guidelines and Constriction | janetkwest

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