A Lokean Type of Courage

One of the biggest groups of people who tend to find themselves interacting with Loki are those who have been abused in some way. The ones who have lost themselves and need to be guided back – who need to learn who they are again. Loki teaches us that it’s okay to not be okay. He teaches us that it’s okay to be wounded and feel the wound so that it can heal properly.

Until Loki came into my life, I had pushed the abuse that I dealt with growing up to the back of my mind. Learned to suppress it, to minimize it, to rationalize it into being less bad than it actually was. To some extent, I still do that. Because there’s the fear that follows me around that people are going to think less of me if they understand what I went through. That they are going to think me weak because I didn’t stop it, that they won’t understand that I couldn’t stop it.

It’s easy to tell people that I grew up in an alcoholic home and let them draw their own conclusions from there. It’s harder to explain the stark terror that I felt when my mother started drinking. The more alcohol consumed, the more violent and unreasonable she became. She would yell terrible things at me, telling me that no one would ever love me, that I was the reason she drank, that I could do nothing right. And I took that all to heart.

Because when my mother started drinking, I was eight years old. Up until that point, my mother had been the most incredible, doting mother that a child could ask for. She taught me how to read. She waited with me in the freezing cold for the bus to school. She made me snacks for when I got home from school. There was no one in the world that I loved more.

And then, like someone had flipped a switch, she became someone I didn’t know. Someone who terrified me because I couldn’t understand where my mother had gone. My life became a pursuit of escaping the terror she inflicted in me. I wanted to be anywhere but near her. Because I took what she said about her drinking being my fault to heart – I believed that I had caused the change.

So I did everything I could to be the perfect child. I performed well academically. I did my chores without complaining. I wanted my mother to be proud of me because I had this idea in my head that if I just did enough well enough that I could fix her. And I wanted to fix her because I missed the woman who had spent hours teaching me to read. Who had cared enough about me to stand beside me in the winter to make sure I got to school okay.

Occasionally, there would be flashes. Moments of sobriety where I would see her. In those moments, she taught me how to keep from being bullied. She taught me how to spot potential threats and how to guard against them. She also taught me how to deal with my empathic gift. And I loved her during those moments because that was the woman who I recognized as my mother. There was her, and then there was the woman she became when she drank.

She became domineering – everything was micromanaged. I had to fetch her drinks and fix them perfectly – eight ice cubes in each glass of water. I had to bring her glasses full of vodka. To this day, I cannot stomach the smell of pure vodka. If it’s in a mixed drink, I can always taste it. I told one of my ex-boyfriends this. He didn’t believe me, made a drink without telling me what he put in it, and I took one sip and handed it back to him. There was less than a thimbleful of vodka in the glass. The reason I can always taste it – the first time I ever tasted vodka, my mother forced it down my throat. I was twelve years old.

When I didn’t do something to her satisfaction, her favorite method of discipline was to use the handle of a broom as a cane. Compliance is pretty much guaranteed when you know that disobedience results in that level of pain. Because of that threat, as well as the continuous emotional abuse she threw at me, I lived in perpetual fear. I learned how to keep my head down and my mouth shut. I didn’t want to risk her ire – it was a matter of survival.

I constantly felt pulled in two directions – I loved her and I hated her. I wanted her to die, I wanted her to be better. She was in and out of the hospital up until I turned fifteen, when she passed away. With her death, my entire world fell apart. I blamed myself because I had occasionally wished for it to happen. I was tormented by guilt, feeling responsible for her death as well as feeling guilty for feeling relieved because she was gone. My beloved tormenter was gone forever.

What I didn’t realize until years later was that she had left me with incredible emotional scars. I couldn’t trust people properly – I went into relationships expecting them to fail. I was defensive, scared that people could see the me underneath – the broken, flawed me. The one who felt like she was falling apart. I pushed people away in a twisted effort to test their ability to handle my brokenness. No matter how successful I was at what I did, no matter what accomplishments I laid claim to, I always felt hollow. Empty. Because being successful meant nothing to me if I wasn’t the most successful. My mother succeeded in turning me into a perfectionist, incapable of appreciating my own success without feeling inferior for not being the best. And I hated it because I knew that other people would be happy doing the things I’d done. They would appreciate them. And all I had was this bitterness towards not being the best, about failing to win the best and most impressive awards.

To say that I don’t still contend with these feelings today would be dishonest. I still struggle with maladaptive perfectionism. I still struggle with the double-bind thinking that was dumped on me by my alcoholic mother. And I still sometimes feel that I will never be good enough. Not for myself, not for other people. But now, rather than have them define my life, they are just the bad days. The ones that fall in-between the mostly good ones.

Because Loki, when he came into my life, he made me face my past. He made me own up to myself. He forced me to stop minimizing the damage that had been done because wounds left untreated tend to fester. Facing my past wasn’t an easy thing to do. Learning to trust wasn’t an easy thing to do, especially because I had to learn to trust the world again. I learned to distrust it as soon as my mother started drinking. Started being afraid that everything I saw and felt wasn’t real, that there was an illusion separating truth from fiction because in no real world would my mother become what she became. I stopped trusting myself.

And self-trust is the first step in self-knowledge. How can you know yourself if you can’t trust yourself to distinguish reality from illusion, truth from deceit? I still struggle to trust myself. I may always struggle with that, but that’s okay. I’ve learned that it’s okay not to be perfect. That it’s okay to have wounds, as long as you are actively seeking to close them (festering wounds do no one any good), and I have learned that there’s a strength in me that few people can match because I had to go through hell to get to where I am today.

So when I say that the biggest group of people who are drawn to Loki’s path are those who have been abused, please understand that I say this with the understanding of someone who has gone through hell and come out the other side. You can’t come out unscathed – you come out scarred and battle-hardened. Lokeans are some of the fiercest people, some of the hardiest warriors, on the face of the planet because we’ve all lived through our share of wars.

When other people point to Loki and make claims that he isn’t a god, that he’s a Norse devil, or that he only finds purchase among the weirdest and fluffiest of people, it infuriates me. Because I’m not a fluffy person – no one who goes through what I’ve been through comes out of it and becomes the happy-go-lucky rainbows-and-unicorns kind of person that “fluffy” implies – and none of the Lokeans I know are very fluffy either. Scared, yes. Vulnerable, sometimes. But being willing and able to admit to fear and vulnerability isn’t a weakness – it’s one of the greatest strengths that we possess because being honest about fear? There’s no greater courage.

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12 comments on “A Lokean Type of Courage

  1. What a terrifying subject, but what an awesome post. I am glad you met Loki and that He helped you become a stronger person; that’s the greatest kind of magic right there. And as someone who also worships a so-called “devil,” I am empathetic to the experiences of your people. May you continue to taste victory through your tribulations.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This post really hit home for me, because our stories our similar. My mother didn’t drink, but she was struggling with a LOT of shit (and still is) that has been dumped on me. I identify with your feelings and your thoughts, both with your reactions to your mom (guilt, feelings of responsibility, achieving perfectionism in attempts to make her happy) and with your struggles and triumphs with Loki.

    I have been having a really hard time with Loki because I am dealing with years and years of shit that I have forced myself to forget. He is helping me to return to those painful memories, revisit that anger, and then take control of that anger/rage/sorrow/agony and begin to work through it/let it go. It has been a difficult lesson in realizing that I have been gaslighting myself and have been making my history/troubles a lot less serious than they actually are. I have people telling me how brave I am to be dealing with all of my heavy shit, and I don’t believe it; this post helped me understand that facing our demons is truly courageous. That the shit in my history IS serious. That I have the right to be happy, to go forward from my past, to let go of my rage, and to make boundaries. I am very grateful for Loki cracking me open, but I will also not say that this is painless, or enjoyable, or easy.

    I needed to read this. Thank you. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, it can be incredibly hard to see yourself as being strong or brave, and I remember how incredulous I used to feel when anyone used those words to describe me because all I ever felt like was broken or like I was in the process of shattering. One of the things Loki has taught me is that it is impossible to shatter completely – that there’s a resiliency inside all of us that will allow us to go through the most horrendous of experiences and still be able to recover.

      And I’m glad my post helped you – it warms my heart to know that my words have reached someone who needed them. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for posting this.
    While my dysfunctional family issues are not the same as yours, I can definitely relate to this post.
    I agree with you that Loki teaches that it is OK not to be OK. As well, He has done much to teach me how to love myself, and has guided me toward tranquility and sanity rather than anger and madness on more than one occasion.

    Thank you again for this thoughtful and well-written post!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Month for Loki, Day 18: Lost…and found. | bloodteethandflame

  5. Thank you for sharing your story. I feel for you, and understand how that must have made you feel. I can relate. My dad was never around, and my stepdad was emotionally and otherwise abusive, finding my distress to be hilarious. I had this image of the father I wanted, and I feel now I was always drawn to Odin – his magic, wit and strength. But there are those who think Odin and Loki may just be two sides of the same coin – the socially accepted, respected leader, and the socially ambivalent outsider. They both use magic, know hidden truths and manipulate events for certain ends. They were both called “ergi,” but proved powerful. Maybe I need both sides.

    Liked by 1 person

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