Grieving the Death of an Abuser

What does one do when one learns that an abusive ex has died?

A sigil to Mnemosyne for help with memory loss

In January 2020, an abusive ex of mine, whom I’ll call Tya Morgan, died. I didn’t wish her harm, but I did want her to stop contacting me. Her death affected me more deeply than I was expecting. It got to the point where I needed to take some time off for myself. So I used some vacation days from Tuesday, 18 February, through Friday, 21 February 2020. That Monday was already a holiday. I spent two nights and one whole day at the Marin Headlands, staying in the Hostel there, as an informal retreat of sorts.

I created the sigil to Mnemosyne above to help with my failing memory, and with the conflicted memories of Tya, setting it as the home and lock screens on my phone. While on a walk near the Hostel grounds on Tuesday night, it occurred to me that the phrase, “You can remember,” could have two meanings. First, it suggests I have the ability to remember. But also, it says I have the permission to remember, both The Good and The Bad.

In addition to the memories of abuse, I have fond memories, too. I think Tya genuinely loved me. But I also think she wanted to be taken care of without having to do any care-taking in return.

After dinner that night, I took out The Spiral Tarot. I saw the Nine of Pentacles when I first took the cards out. The imagery of this particular card always looked like lamenting the past while time creeps forward. I think it’s because of the expression on the figure’s face and the snail creeping across the path in front of her. The guidebook with the deck offered the following meaning: “It’s taken a long time, but you are now successful and can enjoy the fruits of your labor.”

The actual card I drew was The High Priestess. The figure in the card looked both relaxed and intimidating. According to the guidebook, this card means “insight, self-sufficiency, using your intuition, feeling isolated or alone.” That felt rather accurate.

As I dressed on Wednesday morning, I included my Serpent bracelet and peacock-ish earrings, saying brief prayers to His Infernal Majesty and Melek Ta’us respectively. But most of that day I wasn’t really thinking about Tya or my relationship with her. Well, I wasn’t thinking about her intentionally. As thoughts of her would arise, I’d consider them but not dwell on them.

But also on Wednesday, I decided I was going to dispose of the ashes of the Jezebel notebook I ritually burned at the Goddess Temple in early 2018. It was a notebook where I’d been keeping track of resources as I was fleeing the relationship in 2016. I called it Jezebel after the song of the same name by 10,000 Maniacs. I felt awful for leaving Tya, but it was something I needed to do for my own sanity. My friends assured me I wasn’t a “Jezebel” for taking care of myself. So, I ritually burned the notebook and a coven mate gathered some of the ashes, which had been mixed with the ashes of the wood used for the fire, putting them in a small glass jar for me. I’d felt I’d held onto those ashes long enough, and it was time to let them go.

Thursday morning, after checking out of the Hostel, I headed to Battery Mendel to take some pictures. As I approached the Battery, a raven flew over me and into the west. Part of Tya’s magical name was Morgan and it was for the Morrighan. Taking this as a Sign, I decided to dispose of the Jezebel ashes there at the Battery.

The Raven circled back to land on a little patch of grass and look at me. I took this for another Sign and decided to leave the ashes where the bird was standing. The raven stayed there longer than I thought it would as I approached.

As I poked a hole in the ground with my cane, I asked the Morrighan about forgiveness. I didn’t ask Her about forgiving myself because, well, I struggle with that. It seems so easy to say, “I forgive myself for the harm I’ve caused,” and Tya wasn’t the only problem in that relationship. I never should have married her in the first place, as I was not ready for that.

But in the burying of the ashes and thinking of forgiveness, I realized something about grief, letting go, and forgiveness: These are things that don’t necessarily have definite ends. They are processes that could go ever on, depending on the person. There’s no one right way to do them.

As I left the Battery, I uttered the following prayer, based on the one Liet Kynes said in DUNE (1984):

Bless the Morrighan and Her way. Bless the coming and going of Her. May Her passing cleanse the world.

Amen, Blessed Be, and Hail Satan.

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