looking for a way out

it’s been a difficult few days. after worrying about shifts in a particular relationship for months, i finally spoke up – and didn’t get the response i was hoping for. my fears about losing this relationship feel like they’re mine alone, dismissed and overlooked. and rather than experiencing love and reassurance, i feel abandoned. perhaps this relationship isn’t what i thought it was. is there any solution to this problem? is it time to walk away? can i resolve this without losing myself?

time for the way out spread.

1. the matter at hand

six-of-cupsthe six of cups, a card of memories, stories, roots, and experiences. this card popped up in a spread just a few days ago, where i was thinking about the same situation – but here, it’s a perfect representation of my concerns. the beginning of this relationship was so lovely, felt inclusive and honest and raw in a beautiful, soothing way. i could be myself, share my fears, receive love and support no matter what. this relationship helped me find myself, helped me come out, helped me develop confidence. and while the affection is still there, while there is certainly still love and caring and support, it doesn’t feel the same anymore. intimacies have shifted, other relationships have eclipsed us, and i no longer feel the same unconditional companionship. i miss the past, though i know it’s impossible to rewind. the root of the relationship is still there, but we’re in a new season, and i’m having trouble with the change. i remember how things started, how we grew together, and i’m mourning the loss of it. i want to go back.

 

2. the blockIMG_0326

this card may seem like a strange one in this position, but it makes sense for me. the nine of pentacles is a card of satisfaction, comfort, plenty – a happy, healthy home. there’s safety, togetherness, a sense that all needs have been met. and while this is a card of contentment, for me, that’s the problem – i’m not part of it. it sounds selfish, but the relationship in question formed in part because we each craved something. we needed each other, needed support, love, someone to listen. we gave that to each other, loved each other, provided unconditional comfort and support. but work and living situations have shifted, and what brought us together now separates us. needs are being met on a daily basis, which is wonderful – love is provided, problems are solved, everyone is safe and happy and healthy and satisfied. except that i’m not helping, and i’m not heard. i’m outside the unit, living far away, working nowhere nearby, having to put in so much effort to be involved with anything. that wonderful happy job, the great home life, the parties and inside jokes and mutual friends – i’m not part of it anymore. and it breaks my heart to be so left out, especially when others are so content.

that barricade of feathers, keeping the pentacles safe and warm, clustered together, intimate and safe? i’m outside of it. 

3. the hidden jewel

eight-of-cupswhat’s the underlying truth here, the piece i don’t see? it might be time to walk away, and that’s terrifying. the eight of cups represents moving on, seeing what’s broken and leaving it behind. it’s an incredibly difficult card in this position, because this relationship is one of the most important ones in my life. it’s given me such joy, such comfort, such a beautiful feeling of belonging and love that i’ve rarely experienced in my thirty-one years. and yet… things have changed so dramatically. i’m uncomfortable in ways that are new, unsure of my words and actions, unclear if i still belong. those cups are shattered, irreparable, but i keep trying to put them back together and make them functional. is it time to set them aside, find cups that work the way they should? is it possible to leave the broken bits of the relationship behind, without abandoning it completely? my emotional energy is so drained, i feel despondent and heartbroken, unsure of my place. is it time to find a new path forward? this card seems to say so.

 

4. a shift in awareness

seven-of-swordsthat clever fox, always keeping one eye open – the seven of swords represents a needed change in perspective, adjusting my point of view in order to break through and see the way forward. this card speaks to secrecy, trickery, self-preservation, deceit, hiding from threats. it’s a card that reminds us to act consciously, to be aware of our thoughts and actions, to assess who and what we’re protecting.

i tried to act consciously a few days ago, bringing up my concerns and honestly confessing my fears. but when i didn’t get an immediately supportive response, i retreated, held back, stopped talking. my instincts for self-preservation, my fears of being hurt further, my desperation to hold onto this relationship almost certainly made things worse – without even necessarily revealing everything i needed to say. did i say enough? were my concerns even clear? was i as honest as i could’ve been, or did i hold too much back?

i’m my own worst enemy. i’ve been dreading this shift for months now, worrying and stressing, sure that my intuition was right and that my predictions would come true. and it feels that way right now, absolutely – but is this simply a self-fulfilling prophecy? am i truly trying to protect myself from further harm, or am i making things seem worse than they are?

so many questions. so how do i escape them?

5. the way out

IMG_0290representing heartbreak, betrayal, and sorrow, the three of swords is hardly the card i’d hope for in this position. the only way out is pain? must i abandon this relationship completely, leave it behind, accept the despair and regret as my due? does every way out include suffering?

this card is a still-bleeding wound, a scar that has not yet healed – but it’s also a reminder that pain can shape us, make us stronger, force us to grow. to suffer is to be human, but we can learn from the pain. in this position, it’s hard not to see this card as instructing me to just lean in – embrace the misery, accept it, find a way to get through it. abandon the relationship, try to heal, move on.

but perhaps, this card could simply be telling me to stop obsessing about the change, and instead accept it for what it is. relationships evolve, people grow closer and apart, and most friendships don’t actually last a lifetime. there are seasons for everything, and perhaps the door is closing on this particular connection. it may not be necessary to completely end everything, but i do need to accept the changes that have come, and mourn appropriately.

IMG_1597.jpg

this is a painful, challenging spread. reality is cruel. friendships are not easy. my mind is a dark place, and has made a difficult situation even worse. but the cards are wise, and while they haven’t pulled any punches, i don’t think they’re wrong. what’s done is done, and being sad won’t change anything.

the only way out is to accept where the relationship is, and try to stop obsessing over where it was. perhaps then i can build something new, and look forward.

pausing to breathe

i’ve been pulling a lot of joyful cups lately, reminding me to give love, to seek happiness, to experience the full range of emotions that my heart has to give. today, however, is the day for a few of those darker feelings to come in: the five of cups.

five-of-cups

this card is a bit sad, true – the poor horse looks lost and beaten-down, and stares morosely into the darkness around her. she’s so deeply entrenched in her grief and pain that she completely misses the five cups hovering overhead, full of light and comfort.

but while this five can signal challenges in emotions, difficult feelings, and disappointment in relationships, it also seems to give permission to just be sad for awhile. so often when we’re dealing with something painful, the first instinct is to say “buck up! don’t be sad! look around at everything wonderful! it’s not that bad! get back to regular life!” but i’ve found that pushing away dark feelings and pretending they don’t exist doesn’t actually make them go away – it simply allows them to hide and fester, eating away at any positive ground until they become so strong that they cannot be ignored any longer. i think acknowledging our emotions, whether they’re positive or negative, is such a difficult but important part of being human.

as someone that deals with depression, i don’t always have a choice – depression is synonymous with genuinely sad emotions like grief, regret, or sorrow. it’s painful and impossible, and it comes from a different place that’s outside of relationships and circumstances. but while it’s not exactly the same, my depression has taught me that giving myself permission to be sad, no matter where those feelings come from, can be a gift. sometimes we just need to retreat into the darkness, mourn and cry and scream, and release all of that pain. we might channel it into art or music or writing or beauty, or we might simply let it go. and when we’re ready to come back to the light, all we have to do is look around and see those bright, overflowing cups  – that previously were just out of reach.