My Talismans

It’s entirely possible that “amulets” is a better word for this quintet of things I wear around my neck, but I like the word “talismans” better.

I’m nearly at the end of my journey through The Dark Hole at The Bottom of The Abyss (caps out of respect!). The latest cocktail of meds seems to be working, and I feel well enough to be excruciatingly bored. I can read and write and watch films, so I’m guessing my brainpower is at least back to 85%. In all likelihood, unless I go completely cray-cray again between now and Friday, I will return to work effective Sunday.

I’ve picked up some symbolic “talismans” along the way.

I should explain one thing: I don’t especially ascribe any of these objects with any specific power, beyond that of personal symbolism.

The first one of these I acquired is the St. Dymphna medal (top center). St. Dymphna is the patron saint of mental illness, ADDICTION, abused women, and a few other things. While I was in “that special resort πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ ;-)” seven years ago, I ordered two of these. One was for me, the other for my friend Monica. We both still have them, and both still wear them. When I was deep in the Black Hole, I literally wore a dent into my right forefinger from rubbing this medal. I wasn’t expecting St. Dymphna to pop up in front of me, or smite my Crayzee to one Divine Cornfield or another. It was kind of a reflex. It calmed me a little, and that helped.

Next was St. Jude (top row, right). St. Jude is the patron of completely messed up and seemingly impossible situations and people. Danny Thomas was destitute and unable to find work as an actor. He despaired how to care for his family. He prayed to St. Jude, and said that if St. Jude interceded with God, and did him a solid, that Danny Thomas would see that St. Jude’s name was celebrated. Thomas’s career took off. He honored his prayers by building a hospital for children. You maaaay have heard of it. Aaron Neville, who went through some truly horrible stuff, did the same thing. To this day, if you check the CD liner notes (if anyone has CD’s anymore), the first name under “Special Thanks” is St. Jude Thaddeus.

Anyway, St. Jude made the team, because I have never felt more completely screwed-up and beyond repair than I did a few months ago. The symbolism is this: this was MY seemingly impossible situation, right up his alley, and if he helped, I’m grateful.

Next, we come to Eshu (aka, Eleggua, Eshu Eleggua, Papa Legba, etc). Eshu? Not a Catholic entity, although he comes from Santeria, Catholicism’s Afro-Caribbean cousin. Here in the Tampa Bay Area, we have stores devoted to Santeria and “alternative Catholicism.” You can buy roots and herbs and talismans and amulets and probably chicken-feet (not kidding). This is where I live. I’m not a Santeria practitioner. (I’m not technically Catholic either, but I’m way closer to that than to Santeria). Eshu is “deity of roads, particularly crossroads, the deity with the power over fortune and misfortune, and the personification of death, one who leads people from this world to the next.” He’s also a trickster, and kind of a harsh teacher. I won’t go into that. The point is, I felt like I was on a shitty road, and that my life was approaching a crossroads. Also, some fortune would be good. Death? There were points a few months ago where that wouldn’t have bothered me, either, so he’d get me on the right boat, hopefully.

On the lower level, representing Hindu, we have Kali. Depending on which Hindu sect you’re going by, Kali can be anything from the destroyer of worlds to goddess of time and change, to any number of other things (pudding, perhaps). I came to have Kali through an interesting series of events. If you recall, a few weeks ago, we had the debacle of the ER visit, where your narrator had a swollen left leg, and was cajoled to visit the ER to have it examined. The diagnosis was “your left leg is swollen.” Anyway, before I acquiesced and allowed my parents to take me to the Emergency Room, I popped three migs of Xanax and one mig of Klonopin. By the time we got to the hospital, I was verrrrrrrry calm. This was good, because the ER waiting room was filled with such loud, annoying people that even with four migs of benzos inner-tubing through my bloodstream, I was still feeling a little smitey. Using the DorkFone, I was texting with Christina <3, and I said I wanted to smite me some bitches. Somehow, that led to a discussion of Hindu smiters. She–who knows more about Hindu than Idu (grin)–came up with Shiva and Kali. They’re sort of like Bonnie and Clyde, only goddess and god, not gangsters. I thought it was great that they were smite-capable, and–being stoned–I sat in the Sarasota Memorial Hospital ER waiting room, and ordered a Shiva pendant and a Kali pendant from etsy. The Shiva arrived, and was definitely “pretty.” I sent that to Christina. The Kali pendant seems very chaotic and sort of violent to me. This appealed to me, as I wanted something chaotic and violent to smooth the way for me. (Ahhh, may the Universe/The Whatnot bless you, Ms <3: pantheology expert and pen pal, extraordinaire.)

The final item in the bottom row is a 9 mm bullet.

Don’t worry: it can’t be loaded or fired, ever.

This item made the team for one simple reason: to remind me never EVER to take a bullet again.

Let me explain. I have a sort of system in my head, whereas people/entities are divided into two camps: those for whom I’d take a bullet, and those for whom I would not. Most people, I wouldn’t swerve to miss in traffic, so it means something. Like my friend Basher (Ashley). I’d totally take a bullet for her. The world is far better off with her in it.

But some shit happened at work five or six months ago, and basically, I ended up taking a bullet for something. This, er, situation fucked me up, big-time, and took way too much brainpower, psycho-spiritual energy, and misery for me to process it.

Thus, I have a shiny 9mm bullet as one of my Talismans. If called upon to take another metaphorical bullet unjustly? My response would be something like, “FUCK…YOU!” I’d turn off my computer, grab my mug, and walk out.

If my supervisor or our department manager asks why I have a bullet around my neck? I’ll answer with 100% honesty: “THIS is the one bullet I’ll ever take for you. You used it on something stupid. Don’t do that again, or I’m gone, and I’ll beat the shit out of anyone who tries to stop me.” (note: That’s one of those great lines we come up with, but would never say)

So that’s it. On a cord around my neck, five of what I call “talismans.” They mean different things, and they come from different backgrounds. But to me–in my twisted little world–they represent healing from my past, and moving forward with courage and strength.

This has been one long, hellish summer. I’ve been through ten different brainmeat-grinders, and I feel like I can see the exit sign. Thank you, friends. Thank you, talismans. Thank you, Universe.

I only wish I had a giant shark’s tooth on there, in case I need to shark’s tooth a bitch. (just kidding! (I’ve sent out probably a hundred sharks teeth over the past few months. I don’t need one to smite anyone (I now have a sort of crazy glare that causes people to move with no sharktoothing necessary (especially whilst wearing a bullet around my neck πŸ˜‰ (or going cray-cray with parentheses (let’s see if I can stick the dismount))))))

I’m cured!


17 Responses to “My Talismans”

  1. This is well said; it occurs to me that I’ve taken some work-bullets in recent years, and they have caused far more mental misery than they are worth. No work is perfect, but if I’m taking bullets, something is seriously hosed up. Stay strong and keep that exit sign in view.

    • Thanks, phantom.

      Some things are worth taking the odd bullet. This job had one: I took it, and that’s it.

      I hope you become bulletproof in your endeavors.

  2. I love your talismans and you.
    I am happy beyond words that the exit sign is in sight.
    When my old Calli dog died I wore a necklace with a small circle with her name stamped in copper. (my daughter-in-law sent it my way, she’s a gem). When I would start to hurt I would touch that tiny disc. Talismans really can help.
    Happy hugs.
    I was a bit worried seeing the bullet…but I got to that part of the story and all is well. πŸ™‚

    • Yeah…I imagine the bullet will be a bit off-putting to some people. There may be times I have to wear that inside my shirt. πŸ˜‰

      Thanks for being part of team-tom. Have a happy Thursday in the poo lab. πŸ˜€


  3. Last year, I took so many metaphorical bullets from our compliance officer that I think I might be bulletproof now. Metaphorically, I mean. I don’t need or want to be literally shot. Fuck that shit.

    I really like that Kali pendant! I love Hinduism. It’s so interesting. (They just need to do away with the widow burning and caste systems and perhaps I could get on board.) Also, when you’re in an abyss, you need a little destroyer on your side. πŸ™‚

    St. Dymphna is legit. She kept me calm when I had to return to work and I was all worried that some crazy bastards were going to rob our bank next. I still worry, so on my most worrisome days, I wear her near my heart!

    • Ye gods, Ms <3, I nope we both complete our journeys unshot. Tell Shiva that Kali says hi. Just in Hindi or something.

  4. I love you Tom. I’m sorry I haven’t been a bigger support to you through all of this, and I’m just so happy to hear you sounding… like you again. πŸ™‚ Hugs!

  5. I am so glad to hear that you’re coming out of your Summer of Discontent. I like the idea of having reminders/talismans in our lives — to give us a reminder, a tap-on-the-shoulder and a chance to center ourselves when we get caught up in teh craps.

    • I like that: The Summer of Discontent.

      I think you’re right, too, about Talismans, even if it’s just a palpable reminder of where we were and how far we’ve come. That’s what St Dymphna has been for me: just something I can touch and remember where I was when I got it, and where she and I have been together (Fournier’s hell, e.g.).

      Thanks, Dr. Betz.

  6. Having taken a two-day trip to The Abyss when Tux Cat was missing and it was my fault (it really was), I slightly feel your pain. It is a bad, bad place and the exits are badly marked.

    I too own one bullet. I write the name of whoever I am most angry at on a stickum and place said name on it. Then I can literally say I have a bullet with their name on it. The sticky paper means it isn’t permanent.

    • I like that–a bullet with a sticky-note on it. My bullet doesn’t have any go-boom powder in it. This guy in Montana collects brass from a police/military shooting range, puts a post in the striking end, so that it can never be fired again, then fits a nice shiny bullet on the end. I like the symbolism, though: this is the bullet I took, and it can never be fired again.

      I’m glad TC is home. Wind sends his debonair regards. (The patron saint of Tux Cats would have to be St Cary Grant)

  7. The talismans are good. Remind you of places you need to stay away from and feelings you need hang onto.

  8. Tom, I am so happy that you can see light at the end of the tunnel, whatever touch stones helped you hang in there, good on them. Big hugs.

  9. (It is a truly special day when a Tom and a tux at both come back from the Lost Places.)

    • a tom and a tux would be an omen, I think. A harbinger of something good…or the end of the world as we know it. πŸ˜‰
      (Thanks for the welcome home hummingbird!)

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