Blessed day of Ôstarâ, pagan goddess supplanted by Easter. I hate Easter. I didn't always, but I certainly do now.
When I was young and my parents were still married, the only things I remember from Easter were baskets of candy and the stuffed bunny I received one year. I kept that bunny well into my adult life. It was a link to what were happy times for me.
After my parents divorced, almost all holidays were stressful. I missed my father dearly. I didn't blame myself in the slightest for the divorce like some children of divorcees do. Instead I grew angry that factors beyond my ken had worked behind the scenes to destroy my family.
If I was able to see my father at all on the holidays, it was in spurts. I never blamed him, ever. I knew he didn't have control over the situation and that others could have helped, but didn't. They always cited that they didn't want to get involved. I may have been a child, but I listened and I wasn't stupid.
When I lived in Linden as a child, Easter became more... vengeful. The VFW hall next to my mother's house did an Easter egg hunt every year. My step-brother, sister, and I took our hostility out on the holiday by sneaking into the park and collecting as many eggs before the hunt started as we could. Being from broken homes, we felt entitled to some form of normalcy had to wrenched from society by our wits and bare hands. We eagerly awaited when the "egg hiders" went back into the building to give us our brief window of opportunity.
We still had our own baskets of candy, which we hoarded as we did our Halloween treats to scrape by on our sugar addiction as long as we could during the barren year. Growing up never changed the mindset of rationing our dwindling resources in anticipation of lean times ahead. This philosophy seems lost on most people now until the lean times are actually looming above them.
After I moved in with my father, Easter remained a holiday I primarily celebrated with my mother. His "Frisbeetarian" beliefs didn't incorporate most traditionally religious holidays. I liked that he still tried and even learned to appreciate and come up with customs for our family. A can of olives on Christmas, for example, has always been very dear to my heart.
At my Mother's there was an attempt to make me Christian through church attendance and church camp. I knew it wasn't my thing just about since I learned about the whole concept as a child. It didn't make sense and there was too much attempt to gloss over things that weren't covered in the philosophy presented. Again I was a child, but I wasn't stupid.
I went through the motions, practicing heretical beliefs on the side alone or with my sister. I didn't know what it was I was doing, just that it made sense and felt right. Church didn't feel right. It was just the place we went to get food, money, or something else we couldn't afford. It made me feel uncomfortable every time we walked in one. The old tingling sensation would return as we crossed the boundaries of the sanctified grounds and I felt like Death was standing behind me and pointing over my shoulder, echoing the scriptures in a hollow rasp.
It was were Death seemed to be celebrated and worshiped in every manifestation. I wasn't interested in Death. I wanted to revel in life, not constantly be reminded of it's end. It was when I found a book depicting an "Air-Clad" ritual in the library that I knew where I belonged.
Oh yes, this was my path. After all, they had hot naked women, tasty foods, holidays that were attuned to the living world. It was also older, original. It didn't gloss over explanations. If they didn't know, they said as much. There was no round about attempt to quell my curiosity with the mantra of Faith. Over everything was the hedonistic celebration of all life, the diametric opposite of the church I knew.
Paganism clicked with me, telling me to live and seek happiness and fulfillment. Its cores presented themselves to me as survive and improve yourself, learn everything you can, and indulge when the opportunity presents itself. Punishment was reserved for hurting yourself and others, not punitive clauses that had no relation to the here and now.
With that in my heart, I attempted to meld it with the whole concept of Christianity as I had been exposed to. Going through the motions became a game rather than a menial task. I had a secret that sheltered me and gave me a different view point. I reread the scriptures and came to the idea that if Jesus did exist, he would have been disgusted with the church. I liked him.
I didn't come out of the broom closet fully until years later, but I didn't go through a lot of effort to hide either. I was flagrantly Pagan. I was arrogant in my analytical and hedonistic beliefs. Perhaps I shouldn't use the past tense on that. I still am.
Time passed as time does and the hard lessons of life beat down on me. I've picked myself up from the brink of total ruin more times than should really occur in a life as short as mine has been. I learned how to survive, press on, and prosper after losing everything. I was always preparing for living off the land if everything I knew collapsed again. I'd say it was inspired by my parent's divorce, but even before then I would rather sneak off and eat whatever I could find growing and identify as food than wait for a meal to be given to me.
When I married, I had to suppress all of my beliefs. My wife was Christian, though only so in title, and her family was very religiously conservative. Every aspect of family life had some mainstream pseudo-religious political agenda that was meant to brainwash you to be the same poser-christian as them. I hated it.
I resented every moment I had to bite my tongue to not make waves. Every conversation was a verbal power play to prove who was a better Christian, and therefore a better person. The better Christian was always correct, even if they were factually inaccurate.
Azalia claimed she didn't like it either. They would frequently browbeat her for all of her life choices, why she wasn't at church more often, how she could look the way she did and hang out with the people she called friends. I loved her and it pissed me off whenever it happened. Those were the times I didn't suppress myself. I rose up and defended her. I gave tongue lashings of an intellectual nature that rendered her family members to red-faced embarrassment over their ignorance and intolerance.
Back then, she appreciated it and even defended my actions when accosted later. There were no hastily worded apologies or attempts to placate people in order to maintain relations. I defended her when she was attacked and she loved me for it.
When she wanted to know more about my Pagan beliefs, I faltered. She was not Pagan. She was a baptized bible-totting Christian with the same mindset as her family. It was written all over her. Anything I told her was confronted with the same old arguments I had heard all my life as she rejected what she couldn't absorb. I eventually told her no. She was a Neophyte and didn't even have the mindset established that would allow her to conceive the ideas I was trying to explain. The viewpoint was an impossibility for her.
Besides, I got a little thrill of the idea of corrupting a little Christian girl every time we had sex. It was a turn on, I'll admit. Knowing that our religions were so opposite yet watching her reach a shuddering orgasm through my vigorous attentions made my own climax that much better.
The addition of my children gave me such joy as I couldn't hardly begin to explain. There was nothing I wouldn't do for them. I saw them as beautiful vessels of potential which I could pour the best of the world into and allow them choose which ideas floated to the surface and which dwelled deep within their core. I love and miss them beyond words.
Troubles began when Azalia realized she could exert control over me through them. I began suppressing myself further to give my children opportunities through connections easily severed with a wrong word. These connections were frequently Azalia's, and had little concern for anything other than doing charity towards us. Azalia played the martyr and gobbled up the attention and I saw how I'd been used since the beginning. That was her shtick all along. Poor me, poor me, give me consolation and attention.
It sickened me, but I put up with it. I felt there was still something in her that was worthwhile, otherwise I wouldn't have married her. Additionally, I now had my children to devote myself too.
We moved to Tennessee for the lower cost of living and job opportunities. Job opportunities for Azalia, that is. All of the attention seemed to fixate on what she wanted regardless of what we as a family unit needed. I stepped back into a supportive role and worked on low or no-cost ways to provide more for my family. I worked when Azalia's schedule allowed for it and spent most of my time raising my children, cooking, cleaning, keeping house, paying bills, arguing with collections agencies to clean up our credit(Azalia's first, of course), extensive gardening, landscaping, and researching more. Everything was devoted to her, and she was ungrateful.
Every waking moment was consumed with anxiety due to impending arguments over why she wasn't getting more of this or more of that. Why didn't we have more money to devote to her projects? Shouldn't she be able to spend the money we brought in however she wanted because she worked for it? Explaining the non-monetary savings of my habits and research bounced off of her mule-head like rubber balls. Convincing her that spending a few hundred dollars on her project a month that may have no tangible return versus spending postage on first class stamps and growing supplies that provided above and beyond the food we needed as a family when she was laid off multiple times never seemed to filter through her mind.
Even when it came to us returning to school, Azalia was first. She couldn't even do the majority of her school work on her own and her grades were wretched in certain subjects. We had to take out loans because Azalia picked an online school that was more expensive than the aid she could get even after her employer started reimbursing her for the classes. It was stupid and selfish.
When she was laid off were usually the times I was happiest. The fights were reduced. Azalia listened more because she was desperate and I could prove my ideas worked. We spent more time at home as a family rather than Azalia playing martyr to others for self-gratification.
When we moved again to a house of our own with enough land to support a large garden and chickens, I was nervous but joyful at the opportunities that started coming our way. We were able to start building equity and give our children stability. I was able to go back to school once we had the children in school.
I flourished. The educational environment has always been dear to my heart. Not school itself, but learning in general. I didn't need help with my schoolwork, but I included Azalia in a few things so that she didn't feel bad coming to me for help still. If I had a research project, I would include the whole family in learning about it and make it something functional. Teaching the children how to make bread for instance, or teaching them companion planting through our garden. It was usually material I had already built up prior to re-entering school, but the smiles on my children's faces were always fresh.
My grades were spectacular. Dean's list and honor roll as well as accepted into the special honors program. My tuition was paid for above and beyond through grants and scholarships. I never had to even consider a loan, as I actually brought income into the house just for going to school.
Azalia never said it to me, but I could see it and people told me what was said behind my back. She was envious, maddeningly so. Every accomplishment I made on my own was like poison to her. When she was laid off the final time, our savings, my Pell grant, and my scholarships pulled us through. I was the bread-winner and I wasn't even working. She had unemployment and rocky ability in her academic pursuits. Her hobbies that she did for fun became more of a source of income and therefore work and she resented it.
She became more active in the church, playing up her martyr routine to the fullest. It sickened me further and I distanced myself from it. The church once again became the place where we got free stuff because we couldn't afford it ourselves. I couldn't stomach living off of charity.
I started volunteering at the church out of a sense of giving back, working off the debt I felt we owed to them, and Azalia just suckled that tit for all it was worth. I had to suppress myself more and more to remain there and give back what I felt Azalia had wrongfully manipulated out of them.
She continues to do so. I worry for my children. Their future morals will be so skewed due to Azalia's manipulative, conniving, and self-serving attitude that I've no doubt the scars will alter their psyches irreparably.
After all that has transpired with the divorce and such, I lament the wasted effort I put into those years. The following is what I told my best friend today when she asked why I hate Easter:
It is a Christian celebration usually revolving around visiting with Christian family. I tolerated it during marriage for Azalia and the kids because I loved them. My memories of it now revolve around a lot of uncomfortable conversations with her family that I didn't know well and biting my tongue or suppressing myself for appearances. The memories I thought would be the best in my life are now poison to me now because of what happened. So everything I put up with and suffered through is like ash in my mouth on days like this.