Nothing is What It Seems

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I worked too hard to get here to Just Change Everything, I want to be in this pit of toil and despair.  I want to finish writing this book and be published by Llewellyn.  I want to have a successful career and a successful small business.   So until we come back as housecats, we need to look at the lives we’ve actively chosen for ourselves.


I’m struggling post-book as a more public figure figuring out what I’m “allowed” to say and “not allowed” to say.  It was easier when I worked in careers where no one knew how to use the internet because they were toddlers or uninterested elder baby boomers.  I’ve been struggling with depression pretty hard lately because my coping mechanisms haven’t really worked lately.  

I have plans.  I have ideas.  But as I get closer to the point where I can make some changes, I keep doubting myself.  And part of that is my workplace because this place has wound up to be a dangerously seductive combination of perfectionism, silent emotional undercurrents punctuated by sudden outbursts and no space for downtime along with very strict expectations that include very restricted access to the outside world for eight hours + a day.  Like, I would never be in this relationship with a person.  Ever.  For so many reasons.  But because it’s a workplace, I keep making excuses like one does for a shitty partner.  I was the girl who wrote her book during tax season.  I could work an eighteen hour day as a nanny (no exaggeration) and then do a show the next day.  I was fucking invincible.  Now . . .I don’t know.  I don’t know.


I have always been one of those girls who thinks that if she buys the right lipstick, the right dress, or the right necklace, everything will change.  My life will be exactly the way I pictured it, there will be no anxiety, there will be no difficulty.  I will magically become thin and able to do my hair correctly unsupervised, I will have time to bake bread, I will have an amazing yoga practice, I will write all the time and read even more and everything will be okay.

While Jow was looking for a nursing job (which he has now acquired) and I was seeing how arduous a process this actually is as I assisted, I realized my neat little timeline for my life had completely gone off the rails.  I also realized something else and I’ve been so hesitant to talk about it because I worry I will sound like one of those people who take abuse and reframe it to excuse staying.  Or that I’m somehow suggesting you do that.  At the same time, for many people, the attitude of, just leave him!!!!!!  Oversimplifies a complicated issue that is fraught with emotional and financial entanglement.  If it was always that easy to untangle yourself from a crummy job or relationship, we wouldn’t need self help books.  What I want to say is that I respect your difficult choices and I hope that you will respect mine.

For me, it’s not Jow thankfully.  Jow continues to receive excellent Yelp reviews at home, with my family, with my friends, with the goddesses themselves and almost everyone ever making him a complete Spoiled Child of the Universe along even if he does have Secret Complete Pain in the Ass Traits (which he does).

But it’s always been this fucking*

Lordess, I miss the days when I could swear with impunity and just say everything that ever crossed my brain ever.  I’ve struggled most with that since my book.  By far.  It was so freeing when I thought no one was watching and now it’s like . . .either no one is watching still because they are busy having a life and eating baked goods and watching Netflix and I can just scream into the abyss that is the internet or everyone is watching from my real life friends to family to peers to strangers to people who may consider me a frenemy to people I work with for all I know and now know deeply personal things about me but not telling me specifically in most cases.  And I never know which it is. 

So if you ever want to know what it’s like to be Homecoming Queen of a Very Rural School/Witch Famous, thus far I would describe it as GossipGirl Levels of Paranoia because you never know when you are out and about who knows who you are, who doesn’t know who you are, who knows who you are but isn’t saying anything and is just silently observing you to report back to whoever later and who is sweet to your face and talking shit behind your back.  If I was every other boy witch writer I know, I would have exactly (0) fucks to give about all of this.  But like if you are an actual reader/friend of mine, you know that shit is never ever happening for me.  So it’s hella uncomfortable along with having to give a five page dissertation to 75% of the people in your life who aren’t very witchy or have to deal with being HQoaVRS themselves on why x or y is a very big deal.  It’s disheartening and exhausting af.  The silver lining is becoming closer friends with other witchy writers who know exactly what you mean and will whine with you about the very real trauma of no longer being able to be Publicly a Bitch.   

FUCKING current career choice of mine.  I stepped forward into a dead women’s shoes and it was as grim of an event as anything Oz ever had to offer a witch ever.  For years, my sole motivation was getting the fuck out.  When Jow’s transition into nursing wasn’t completely effortless and smooth and followed my timeline exactly (though, retrospectively, it will have been smooth enough – he passed the NCLEX the first time, he got licensed, he got a job pretty fast but living it was garbage for me).  Like once I got published, that was my sole reason to live – gtfo.

And I was doing this thing for like. . .almost two years where it was such a convenient excuse for everything.  Haven’t started the next book yet?  No prob.  I’ll do that after I leave This Fucking Place (TFP).  Gained a lot of weight back?  NBD, I’ll manage that after I leave TFP.  Depressive fugue state because stepping forward is scary?  That will all go away once I leave TFP.  Not traveling enough?  Not spending time doing things I care about?  Not managing my stress well?  Not doing much for my glamour?  Not practicing magic?  Everything will be amazing once I leave TFP!!!!!!  All fixed!  All healed!  All debts repaid!  Best life!

In a copy room revelation while I was grimly contemplating what it was going to look like being off track, I realized something for me.  This may not apply for you.  Get your own revelations.  So, the plan had been I leave TFP and I work somewhere part time so I still have my own money and can do whatever the fuck I want.  Hey, so, I remember working in retail.  You know who isn’t known for not being total assholes?  The general public.  You know what I won’t have if I go back to the safe, familiar struggle of working part time?  A big continued contribution to my personal 401K, buckets of paid time off, weekends off, buckets of money (. . .for us, relax), working mostly at a desk, reached competence in my current position, assholes I’m used to working with, a lack of social anxiety in the workplace, a better reporting structure as of the last year, the option to go to my fancy spa gym during lunch if desired, the list goes on.

My point for myself is it’s not like working part time is going to definitely going to be this promised land of awesome behavior in clients and coworkers along with a lowered income bracket.  So I started to sit with the idea of what it would look like to stay.  I’d get to go to the gym during my lunch, I wrote a book at this place before so I could do that again, I could chose to spend time writing and reading instead of being a zombie, I could make time to do more magic, I could focus on the things I enjoy both in the workplace and out of the workplace, I could make it a priority to spend time with people I like, I could adopt a Siamese cat, I could fix up my bathroom so the shower and fan don’t make horrible noises . . .

And I’ve been sitting with this.  I don’t know that this is a forever answer.  It might be a for five more years answer.  We adopted Bellatrix Lily Peepingston II and she’s doing pretty okay here so far on day two.  We lucked out and she was available very locally for a very reasonable adoption fee that included her first kitten shots and being fixed.  She’s five months old so she is a smol.  She and Max II are slowly starting to warm up to each other. I was previously waiting to leave TFP before I got a kitten but once I decided to not do that . . .here she appeared.  I’m not sure that I would call this a really bang up omen about my path from TGUH right now as I’m watching them hiss at each other over my suitcase, but she appeared nonetheless and she left the carrier so. . . progress.  I’ve been spending a lot of time at the gym spa doing yoga and elliptical stuff and pretending to be a fancy spa lady.  I’ve started writing again.  I’m teaching a second class.  I’m nesting at home.  I restocked my shop fully for the first time in forever.  I’ve been working on my magic and my glamour.  I’ve been spending time with people I like, including a really nice road trip.  I’m changing my eating habits.  I got a fairly significant raise at work.  I’m spinning again.

It feels really good.  I haven’t slid into my usual Solstice Despair.  I’m giving myself space and time to change and evolve and see what my root structure does.

And maybe space is the answer to my previous scream into the void.  Space to do magic.  Space to breathe.  Space to use your body.  Space to bake bread and make bone stock.  Space to yell at the television and drink wine.  Space to create.  Space to love.  Space to see what it’s like to be where you are.  See what it does for you, see what manifests.  Hold space for yourself.  And maybe, light every tealight you have in your house after you breathe into the dark of the early night in your home.  Set your intention in that dark space.  Then light it on fire.

All that could happen is everything.

Deborah Castellano
Deborah Castellano's book Glamour Magic: The Witchcraft Revolution to Get What You Want is available for purchase through Amazon, Llewellyn and Barnes and Noble.
Her frequently updated catalogue of published work is available on Author Central.

She writes about Glamour Magic here at Charmed, I'm Sure. Her podcast appearances are available here.

Her craft shop, The Mermaid & The Crow specializes in old-world style workshop from 100% local, sustainable sources featuring tempting small batch ritual oils and hand-spun hand-dyed yarn in luxe fibers and more!

In a previous life, Deborah founded the first Neo-Victorian/Steampunk convention, SalonCon which received rave reviews from con-goers and interviews from the New York Times and MTV.

She resides in New Jersey with her husband, Jow and their cat, Max II. She has a terrible reality television habit she can't shake and likes St. Germain liquor, record players and typewriters.  


One Response

  1. I dreamed of you last night. Most of the dream has evaporated – although you were wearing a very fancy braided-crown-style up-do and were looking kind of Queen Of Pentacles, if that’s relevant – but you seemed happy and enthusiastic about where your life was at.

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