As many as 64% of women emerging from domestic violence are diagnosed with or exhibit signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. (National Institute of Justice)
For many, it’s a scary name pasted over the walls of a prison.
In the middle of a perfect day, someone will move in a certain way. Suddenly they are your abuser, bearing down on you, and your world is shattered. You have no control over what triggers it. It says you will always fear that the person, who hurt you so deeply, on so many levels, will someday reappear in your life and find you, your partner, your family. It means that no matter how far away you move, how strongly you disassociate, you may never really get away. A part of you is so rooted in that fear that you can’t escape it, because that part of you is still trapped there with your attacker.
I’ve had many people ask me why I honor Loki. After all, he’s a Mad God. Parts of Him are terrifying and completely insane. It’s His release that cuts the red ribbon on Ragnarok. His wrath heralds the death of every living thing on Midgard, save two humans who are sequestered away in Yggdrasil. At least, that’s how the myth goes. But, if our ancestors saw this God as a force so devastating, how could He possibly be an ally to humanity? To anyone?
I understand the confusion. There really aren’t words to describe how I feel for Him or why. Even with all I’ve written in this blog, I feel that I just scratch the surface of explaining and illustrating His influence in my life. Yet, I still love and relate to The Breaker of Worlds. I’ll try to illuminate a little of why here.
When Loki was bound before Ragnarok, He was bound with the intestines of his child. Odin had turned one brother into a wolf and set him upon the other, so that Narvi was ripped apart and his brother fled in madness. I’ll liken back to one of Raven Kaldera’s writings of his own gnosis, where Angrboda comes to Loki and Sigyn and tells them that the ropes holding Loki cannot be broken by another: the magic holding them binds Loki with His own love for His son.
It may seem like a great leap, but it’s truly not all that different coming out of a domestic violence situation. While there’s certainly a strong element of fear, you are bound by this bond of love with your partner. You may confuse possession for endearment and suffer from a whole variety of illusions, but that doesn’t change how you feel. The types of people who engage in partner abuse are of a distinct personality: they don’t start dropping the venom until they’re sure the ropes are tight. Then, once the pain begins, you’re willing to lie in it. Of course, when you’re being beaten, molested, or put down, it hurts. You writhe. You cry. You think of how desperately it is that you want it to stop. But when you’re not in those moments, you think of how that person made you happy, about how at least some part of you felt loved or fulfilled, and once more you want to stay. This is how the cycle perpetuates.
It takes a lot to truly sever that bond. Loki goes into Ragnarok knowing He’s going to die. You leave an abusive relationship fearing that you might. But you do it, because you’ve reached the edge of your survival instinct. You might die leaving, but you’re already dead if you stay.
And it does break worlds. Whole families come apart over those brave escapes. It’s not at all uncommon for family members and friends to have had no idea about what was going on. They may even take the side of the abuser, testifying that this person is a “nice guy/good woman” and that the victim is horrible for making such accusations. Many survivors feel extremely isolated, because they find themselves leaving more than just their partner behind.
It doesn’t even stop there. Trust? Intimacy? Other relationships? Forget it. It takes years for many abuse survivors to be able to approach a relationship again, and even that often assumes a partner patient enough to unwind years of fear and knee-jerk reactions. Some survivors never attain that, and spend the rest of their life perpetuating the cycle because they can’t really break the chains. It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s just nigh impossible to do alone, and even if they escape, many survivors feel that they can’t seek help. Even if there are resources available in their area, it’s a hard topic to broach with the nearest of friends, let alone a strange therapist or volunteer. It’s a dangerous slope, and hail to the ones who crawl out of it.
During that journey, it’s reaffirming to have a deity who understands that desperate need to incite change, to end wrongs so badly, that He was willing to shatter the world and even his own life for it. If nothing else, the lore alone shows that Loki truly understands the sacrifice and necessity of starting over.
While Loki had not made Himself overtly known at that time in my life, I know He was with me. Whenever something horrible happened in that relationship, He saw. When I decided to leave, and David was kicking the dog and breaking furniture in an effort to scare me into staying, He pushed me where I faltered. That day is still stark in my memory as the most terrifying day of my life. If you’ve never been absolutely convinced that someone is going to kill you or at least do a damned good job at trying, it’s a terrible experience. He was my strength when I had none.
I was diagnosed with PTSD in February of this year. For me, it was actually kind of liberating to put a name to the disease that had taken up years of my life, making it hard to focus or have a stable relationship. It filled me with a sense of strength and direction. Just like how mysticism tells us we have power over a spirit in knowing its true name, now that I knew the name of my demon, I knew how to attack it and where to go for help.
Of course, this was a battle Loki and I had been fighting together for years. Loki, unrelentingly, had seen through the fear and tempered me like a fine blade. He dredged up old emotions and tore scabs time and time again. Not because He is cruel but to clean out the infection and allow them to truly heal. I was brought to understand the reason for much of my behavior, especially where relationships are concerned.
Even before I took my vows to Him last August, I expressed that I didn’t want Him to be my only partner. I didn’t want Him to be hurt by that, but I wanted that companionship in a more physical aspect and I wanted children someday. But, furthermore, I felt that such a relationship was crucial to my healing; that it filled some hole that my relationship with Him, for all its greatness, could not. He would just smile that me and say nothing. (You know, the infuriating, knowing grin He gives when He has something planned and plotted out but won’t stay a damned thing.)
Finally, now I understand.
I know that I would not be receptive to my current relationship without Him. Loki tore my life apart: my neuroses, my fears, my defense mechanisms, and my poor expectations were all pieces on a chessboard that was plainly inspected and then up-ended in the trash. I’ll testify that it was painful. I had everything from my friendships, to my love-life, to my finances turned upside down by Him. Even when it hurt most and I wanted to curse His name, I knew that He did it with the best of intentions.
One thing that Loki has made perfectly clear is that He is not concerned with your personal comforts and illusions, He is concerned with your best possible outcome and what you can become.
For this, and so many other things, I am deeply grateful to Him.
Hail to The Breaker of Worlds!
1: National Institute of Justice, . “Practical Implications of Current Domestic Violence Research: For Law Enforcement, Prosecutors and Judges.” National Institute of Justice. Office of Justice Programs, June, 2009. Web. 14 Jul 2012. .