reaching for freedom

i’m finally feeling more like myself, after a very long period of darkness and depression. rather than marinating in it, i’ve been trying to get back in touch with nature, with the world, with the people i care about. it’s been a time of healing, of reconnection, of mending some of the damage i caused while drowning in mental illness. but i want to spend more time in this space again, allowing myself room to sit with the lessons of tarot and learn from the wisdom in the cards.

instagram prompts have been helpful in challenging my practice, and today’s guidance was simple: something i should do for myself. i pulled the eight of cups, a card that popped up yesterday as well under a similar prompt (what could make me feel better right now?)

IMG_2353the eight of cups is walking away, rejecting something that isn’t working, breaking up with a person or situation that’s been detrimental. we leave behind our current reality, aware that something about it is broken beyond repair. there is nothing left to salvage, no way to turn this ship around – we have to find a new path, move into the unknown, and embrace the mystery ahead.

this card is challenging right now, since i finally feel more whole after my depression. i hope i’ve been able to repair relationships that were damaged, and i’m trying not to harbor any hurt or resentment over things that happened. but perhaps this card is speaking of something larger, something that i haven’t let myself dwell on too long. i asked for a clarifying card.

the five of swords, a card of self-harm, damage, humiliation, abuse, or a victory that IMG_2355pleases no one. some battles cannot be won by any party, and when we fight ourselves, we always lose. sometimes we have to find mercy, give ourselves a break, and work to move on from these self-destructive patterns. i wrote about some serious self-harm issues in september, but left out the phrase suicidal ideation. what i didn’t say is that i made a plan, wrote a will, chose a date, and constructed to-do lists to make my choice as easy on those left behind as possible. it broke me to do it, but i couldn’t seem to stop. and in the aftermath, the plan still exists, whether i followed through or not.

the date i chose was yesterday, and it passed without much fanfare. both my therapist and my partner inquired about my plan in general, neither knowing the actual date i had picked, and i felt seen, recognized, and loved in a way i haven’t in a long time. someone had remembered, someone cared. i didn’t go through with my plan, and that was the right choice.

combined with the eight of wands, it feels clear that i need to work to abandon these dark thoughts that keep creeping in, leave behind my self-loathing, and work to find the good in things. i am not a failure. i am not worthless. i am working hard on my recovery.

IMG_2356how do i leave all of these shadows behind? judgment, one of my favorite cards in the major arcana. the fountain tarot’s depiction especially speaks to me, as she rises forcefully out of a deep cup, overcoming adversity and challenges and pain and darkness to stretch her fingertips into the light. my scorpio heart and watery soul feel emotions so very deeply, and often my struggles are internal, self-inflicted, and feel so big i drown in them before i can even identify them. judgment asks us to be brave, to forgive ourselves, to give ourselves the chance to be reborn.

i am trying to find joy in my life right now. i’m running outside and practicing yoga, caring for my physical self. i’m meditating and reading and taking long walks, giving myself mental space. and i’m trying to be positive, to be kind to myself, and take an emotional break from all the darkness. it’s difficult, however, to not continue to beat myself up for things beyond my control. i know that i didn’t intend to hurt friends and family with my depression, never meant for them to take on responsibility for my mental illness or personal safety, but that happened anyway. i tried to ask for help, and things fell apart. and i can accept that bad things happened in spite of my efforts and release it, or i can keep stewing over the past, feeling guilty and hurt and misunderstood and abandoned, and never let anything go.

i want walk away from the pain, stop hurting myself mentally and emotionally, and show myself enough mercy to pull myself out of my shadows. i can only be responsible for so much – some things are beyond my control. planning to take my own life may have given me a sense of power, but choosing not to go through with it really is power. i am not a slave to my depression. i will not let it take my life from me.

i have overcome two suicide attempts and one period of suicidal ideation. and while i know that depression is a strong, all-consuming beast, one that i will certainly struggle with again, i also know that i am strong too. i am learning to wield tools that help me fight back. i am learning to speak my truth, and embrace real honesty. and i am learning that what feels real in the darkness looks very different in the light of day.

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i don’t know what will happen next time. given this last experience, i am more afraid to ask for help than ever before. but i hope that i can find the strength to overcome this demon, and learn to love the light again.

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weekly reboot

i have a very busy week and a half approaching: theatre photography, pre-event work for an upcoming festival, a friend’s birthday, a few fun evenings out, a half marathon, and my parents coming into town for the weekend. with so much going on, i wanted to do a spread for the upcoming week, to help me know how to approach it and carry me through. i don’t anticipate having time for my usual daily readings, though i hope that i can fit in a few here and there.

with that, i chose a simple three-card spread from jessi huntenberg, called the reboot spread. the spread is designed to help find ways to integrate self-care and make useful concessions when you’re overwhelmed or coming through something difficult. i found my cards challenging and not as clear as i would’ve hoped, so if you have additional insights i’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

1. what’s the most important task for me to prioritize this week?

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at first i was a bit startled to see the eight of cups, but in the context of my fading depression and the long few months i’ve had, this card actually seems pretty empowering. representing moving on, changing direction, and abandoning what’s broken, i think this card is giving me permission to set aside my depression and hurt feelings and focus on what’s in front of me this week. it’s time to chart a new course, leave those broken cups behind, and find a new path.

this isn’t always easy, and even with something dark and unwelcome like depression, it can be hard to move away from it completely. you get so used to living with it that finding the strength to push it away and walk back towards the light feels completely impossible. but i know that i’ve been finding my way back, and this card encourages me to keep going and pushing myself.

2. what task can i drop or put off until i’m feeling more up to it?

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the son of pentacles isn’t a card i’ve worked with before, and i’m always delighted to get to know another card in my deck. incredibly hard-working, steadfast, focused, calm, and quiet, this son is known for his stamina and determination. he trusts his intuition, pushes through trials and struggles, and chooses work that he deeply believes in. he is utterly focused on the road ahead, his eyes unwavering, his goal fixed.

this card is beautiful in its imagery and its message, but is a bit confusing to me in this position. perhaps it is simply telling me that it’s okay to not know the final destination or every career and life goal, but instead to focus on these next few steps. every job i take, every event i work, every image i create helps make me better and more experienced at what i do. and though this week will be hectic and possibly overwhelming, everything keeps me moving farther down the path. i might not have a “fantasy job” or a super specific dream for my career, but all of these things are bringing me in the right direction – and it’s ok for that to be enough this week.

3. what self-care practice do i need to engage with to help me get back to center?

four-of-cups

the four of cups might seem like an odd form of self-care, but it does resonate with me quite a bit. fours are inward-focused, offer structure and stability, and can encourage us to act or break free. the wild unknown guide defines this card as greed and selfishness, but it can also be viewed as self-preservation, protection, or finding that oh-so-necessary emotional stability.

i have a tendency to overexert myself when it comes to helping others, and it can get me into trouble. it’s easier for me to focus on assisting my friends and family than dealing with my own problems sometimes, but that’s not always a healthy instinct and can later fester into feelings of isolation, frustration, or being taken advantage of. focusing on my own emotions or needs does usually feel selfish to me, but only when it’s me doing it – when i encourage my friends to do it i am positive that it’s warranted, healthy, and useful. i believe this card is encouraging me to focus on my needs this week – a lot of what i’ll be doing will be working for others, helping others, or doing kind things for others, so it’s important for me to take time out to care for my own needs, rather than seeing self-care as selfish.

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and don’t look back

so many of my emotions lately have centered around feeling left behind. i may not consider myself someone that craves control, but i do believe that no one wants to feel helpless, like all of their choices have been taken away or that they have no say in what happens next. raising your head and realizing that everyone has moved on without you, that you’re alone and perhaps don’t even know how long you’ve been that way, is a terrible thing.

but making the choice to stand up, assess your choices, and move on alone can hold such power. there’s tremendous strength in knowing when to leave something behind. and while the eight of cups can often denote sadness, isolation, or even despair, i was glad to see it in today’s daily reading.

the wild unknown depicts a different scene than other decks – dark mountains loom eight-of-cupsunder a grey sky, while a group of cups lies abandoned. this is a card of revolution, of transition, of changing direction or perhaps even changing the journey, and many decks include a figure leaving these cups behind and moving away with purpose. what i love about this card, and what differs from other interpretations, is that these cups are completely shattered, unusable, broken. there’s nothing left to salvage, no way to repair or reuse them. the only thing to do is to leave them, and perhaps to find new cups to fill.

the cards often surprise me, because i feel that someone in my current frame of mind might find this card discouraging. there’s nothing left for me here, everything is broken, i’m beyond repair. but instead i see courage, strength, and resolution. the cups are worthless, the journey has gotten off-track, and it takes purpose and fortitude to know when to stop, adjust, and restart. why would i keep holding on to these damaged cups? they’re useless to me. isn’t it better to set them aside and seek something that i can use?

yesterday’s card was all about action, control, awareness, and knowing your strengths. today i see where i’m to channel all of that readiness – it’s time to leave all of this behind.

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