Making oaths is serious business.
People cast them aside quite often, making promises they don’t intend to keep, going back on their words, lying. It all happens; everyone does it.
When I was young, I lied to my mother. I was about six or seven and I lied about going to the park across the community we lived in, a collection of apartments and town houses in a St. Louis suburb. I lied and said my friends and I hadn’t gone there after she expressly told me not to, lied about seeing the mysterious forest of toys and clothing scraps in the middle of a strange wood around the property, lied about swinging on the swingset and laughing down the slide.
She caught me. My friends ratted me out. I got grounded.
I didn’t enjoy the consequences of lying.
After that day, I did my best not to lie. Not to my parents nor my friends. Lying got me grounded, my books taken away, the things I loved hidden where I couldn’t find them. I developed an intense hatred for liars.
As I grew older, I learned the flexibility of words. I read more and more, learned their meanings, learned about double speak and lying without telling nothing but the truth. I practiced wordplay and punning and the lie in the truth. One of my best was tricking the boy in my Spanish class my sophomore year, telling him that if he did better than I on the next Spanish test, that I would give him five bucks. He didn’t realize that “buck” is another name for a male deer and was quite angry with me the next day after our test when I handed him five very carefully cut out photos of antlered deer.
Words are important to me; always have been. I’ve developed an intense fondness and love for words. Languages feel like wine in the mouth, a rich and complex flavor but bitter until you become accustomed.
I know the power of words.
And that is why I do not oath. Or, at least, I avoid it at all costs. I avoid promises if I can, knowing that if I forget, I’m liable for my words. And I do forget. I forget quite often. Especially lately.
Perhaps that’s why I’m writing this entry now, today.
I made a promise today.
Lately my anxiety has gotten quite bad. My OCD has gone rampant and my panic attacks have gotten to a stage where I can no longer handle them, not on my own. I start therapy on Thursday. I’m scared and I feel alone. I worry if it doesn’t help, or if it does, will it help soon enough. I can see the pain it causes my friends and family and my beloved partner-in-time, my boyfriend, to see my mind slowly abandoning me.
As I walked to the grocery store today to get a few things, I began to feel that familiar urge to scream and the panic building up. And as I chanted my mantra under my breath, the new trigger words that I am trying to coax my brain into calming down, I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk. Tears threatened to fall and I raised my hands to chest level and begged the gods for strength. I begged them for the help to get through the week and next, that I did not want to spend my birthday in a mental ward, to help me get through The Boyfriend’s parents’ visit next week and give me the strength to get through my first session of therapy on Thursday. I swore on my hands, my mind, my body that once I could, I would give weekly offerings, sing their praises, and do anything that I could do for them. And I named them: Persephone, Hekate, Odin, Thor, the Stag Queen, The Morrigan, and my lord and patron Anubis.
I felt a little better after that. I got through my trip (and the return trip since I forgot something important) and got back to my apartment without a freakout, though I felt stressed and nervous and on edge the entire time. But I got through it. And I can get through tomorrow and Thursday and all the way up to next Friday.
I do not oath. Not usually. Not unless it’s important enough to warrant it. And my mind is important enough. Finding the strength to move forward is important enough. My gods are important enough.