Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree and Rising.

You know how things from the past suddenly bubble up when least expected? Things you’ve long ago forgotten but they surface at the exact moment when it all makes sense?

The Long-Awaited Honest-to-God Secret to Being Happy

In the shower today, I got an unexpected flash of something from almost two years ago. I have not once thought about this since then.

I was standing there, all over again, in Jeaneen’s kitchen while she was in the next room. I was reading a text message meant to soothe me, though it rather gently admonished me for kicking myself and basically for the Southern Baptist self-flagellation techniques from my past.

I had said something completely from the heart, completely within my ethics, in all earnestness and adoration. I had no idea—quite the opposite at the time—when I said it that it would infringe on someone else’s ethical code. There are things in my Government career that other career fields consider ludicrous when it comes to ethical behavior, but it is so ingrained that I cannot act otherwise. And there are things in others’ career fields that seem just as ludicrous to me. I didn’t know and I didn’t mean to put anyone else in a situation of ethical struggle.

Worse, I didn’t want anyone else to think I wasn’t ethical just because I didn’t have the same frame of reference in my career path and I beat myself up over it mercilessly for the next couple of weeks.

So in the shower today, I took a sudden step back in time and re-read that text message in my hand that night where I was told to stop getting pulled under by the guilt of my former spirituality, to stop beating myself up, that I was still believed in.

And then, “You don’t get to be a high priestess without a high level of integrity. It’s because you’re different that I like and respect you.”

I’d felt better then. I’d stopped beating myself up over the fear that I’d be thought unethical for something earnestly said. I knew I was being soothed with the references to high priestesses having integrity.

It’s only now that I think about it. The message was wrong. There are indeed women who become high priestesses without a high level of integrity. Though it is my ideal, it just isn’t necessarily so of every high priestess out there.

This is something I’ve known for several years though I’ve not really thought about it. But for someone who believes this, really believes this, Gods, what a path to ruin that would be!


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