the stories we tell ourselves

today’s card is a perfect reflection of how i’ve been feeling about a situation in my life: the eight of swords. and while this is not an easy card to see, it does offer a number of challenges for me to process as i work through this problem.

eight-of-swordsthe wild unknown depicts this card as a butterfly, curled up tightly into herself, dangling from a sword and surrounded by many others. she has no space to fly, no room to breathe, no obvious escape route. this card speaks of powerlessness, feeling trapped, and crippling self-doubt.

but those swords represent mental energy and conflict, that double-edged blade of creation and destruction. how much of this situation is real, and how much of it is in our minds? are we so busy seeing ourselves as the victim, drowning in feelings of fear and isolation and pain, that we can’t see that these bindings have been built only in our minds, and not in reality? if we can find a way to step back, see clearly, and reevaluate, would a solution for escape become obvious?

for the last few months, i’ve been struggling deeply with changes, anticipating a loss that feels inevitable. i see no way forward that does not lead to this suffering. and i’ve been mourning this loss, though it hasn’t yet happened. it feels completely unavoidable to me, like the wheels were set in motion long ago and now i simply have to follow this unchangeable path. there is no obvious solution, nothing i can do to alter what will happen, and i hate feeling so out of control when i can see what’s coming.

but what if my mindset is wrong? in her meditation on this card, carrie urges us to reconsider the stories that we tell ourselves, to look deeper at the situation and evaluate the personal power that we might be unconsciously surrendering. and i’ve always found it fascinating, the ways that we view ourselves versus how the world may see us. i have a very specific view of myself, that probably completely contradicts how others see me, and the complete truth of who i am lies somewhere in the middle.

but the narrative i’ve built around this particular situation could be a carefully constructed trap. i know how i think this all plays out, but perhaps by seeing this future and feeling that it’s inevitable, i’m limiting myself only to that outcome. what if there is a way out that doesn’t involve loss? what if i’ve spent so much energy crafting my own bonds that i’ve missed an obvious solution?

we need stories, narratives, a way of viewing the world and our place in it that connects us. those threads are essential, and how we see ourselves and our paths can impact everything. but focusing on only one outcome, viewing those threads as set it stone rather than flexible and shifting, can be incredibly limiting. if we can’t grow and change and learn, can’t be broken and rebuilt to be stronger, then what is the point of any of this? and if i can alter this situation, can shift my path to go somewhere new, why wouldn’t i try?

hard truths

while this blog is named after the daughter of cups, a card i hope to grow into and evolve from, today i pulled a card that i identify with very strongly: the daughter of swords.

daughter-of-swordsfrank, observant, insightful, detail-oriented, and judgmental, the daughter of swords doesn’t miss a thing. this owl is watchful and honest, careful and clear, with no room for bullshit. she’s surrounded by the night sky, with glittering, colorful stars behind her, but her grip is on the blade of the sword rather than the handle. perhaps she’s not comfortable wielding it just yet, but this could also be a warning that the sword of truth can be sharp and double-edged. she’s a student of justice and truth, prefers to keep things simple and straightforward, and deals with situations head-on, though she isn’t unkind. she relies on her intellect and her powers of observation to get through tough situations, and those around her trust her to be truthful and strong.

paired with yesterday’s card, today’s drawing feels like it’s showing me how to approach the world again. i’ve been withdrawn, hesitant, unsure of how to shake off the last of this long-lasting depression. my legs are a bit wobbly. my head is still spinning. it’s so very tempting to continue to hide, to rely on others to tell me what to do, to pull that cloak of darkness back around myself and shy away from the light. but that’s no way to live, and it’s not the person that i want to be. i am stronger than that.

this daughter may not have all the answers – but she’s looking for them, and she isn’t afraid to be herself at the same time. she knows she’s not as adventurous as her older brother or as wise as her more experienced parents, but she also knows that her wide eyes and hungry mind will go a long way towards reaching her goals. and if i can lean into that hard truth, and not shy away from what’s in front of me, i can reach mine too.

days go by

and again, weeks and weeks have gone by. i’ve been drowning in depression, and every time i think the tide is coming in and i think that i might be able to reach dry land, another current catches me and i’m pulled back under. depression ebbs and flows, but my compass has been completely shattered in the storm – i usually have a better sense of how long i’ve been treading water, when i’ve reached the eye of the storm, if i’ll get a glimpse of the horizon soon. but this time around i spent so much energy pushing it away, trying to hold it back, that now i’m utterly lost at sea.

i’ve been struggling in particular with my history of self-harm, and have gone down the terrible rabbit hole of comparing my struggle to that of others. any therapist, self-help book, or rational human will tell you that this is a terrible idea, that recovery is not a race, that everyone copes differently. but when i see the love and support given to friends of mine, whether they’re surviving sexual assault, dealing with crippling anxiety, recovering from eating disorders, or learning how to embrace life after a failed suicide attempt, i can’t help but feel ugly and lonely and wrong. why is it easy for me to extend kindness and sympathy and generosity to others that are struggling, and yet impossible for me to offer myself the same courtesy? my laundry list of issues are long and growing longer by the day, and yet when i see someone that has but one item on my own list, my heart aches for them. why can’t i ache for myself? why do i constantly listen to that nasty voice in my head, the one that says that nobody cares about me, that i have to be strong and not burden anyone else, that people only like me because of what i can give them?

my therapist is kind, my husband is supportive, and the few others in my life who know the ins and outs of my struggles have been wonderful. so why this need for me? why does my heart swell with envy when i see a friend post about her suicide attempt and get endless comments and notes of support, of love, of encouragement? people telling her she’s brave, she’s strong, she’s a fighter, she’s powerful, she’s an inspiration.

i tried, and failed, twice. what does that make me? (the voice in my head says, “it makes you a failure.”)

i brought all of this to the cards today. and they didn’t let me down: i pulled the tower.

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not for the faint of heart, this card. and though the instinct is to recoil, to cower in fear, to weep and beg and sorrow, perhaps this card and this depression are markers of real, internal movement. the tower signifies a permanent evolution, irrevocable change, a deep, significant transformation. there’s no going back to what we were before – we have to move forward into that wild unknown, whether we like it or not.

and perhaps the cards are simply urging me to learn from my darker past and stop being so afraid. step into the light. reveal the scary. shed that skin. if support is what you need, stop being afraid of rejection and simply ask for it.

naturally, steeped in fear and desperate to be wrong, i pulled a second clarification card: the nine of cups. a card of satisfaction, of pleasure, of contentment. it’s all about enjoying what’s in the present, reveling in stable, calm energy, and indulging in the things that give us joy.

could there be a stranger pair? i’m not sure. but what i see is that upheaval is necessary, that change is a’comin’, that the very foundations of my world are altering. and yet, there is peace to be found. there is serenity in knowing that this evolution is extremely necessary, and that i have been stagnant for far too long.

there’s a lot to process here, with many truths that i’m not sure i’m ready to see. but i’ve let the cards be silent for far too long, and i know in my bones that it’s time to listen. maybe that means that there are others in my life who are ready to listen too.

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let’s the cut the bullshit

the news is distracting today. i’m not sure why – every single morning, checking social media and reading through whatever fresh horrors this administration has unleashed is always difficult and distracting. but today i feel unfocused, confused, and completely fuzzy. even shuffling the cards was a struggle. perhaps this morning’s daily reading is trying to give me a simple directive today: simply, pull the emotion out of it and focus on what’s true. today’s card is the father of swords.

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fair, analytical, responsible, perceptive, careful, deliberate, thoughtful, intelligent, decisive. this king cuts to the heart of the matter, sees through complex issues, lives in absolutes. he can release himself from strong emotions, allowing him to consider the facts in a clear, considerate manner, and come to the conclusion that is true and just.

i, on the other hand, seem to be drowning in a sea of emotion, constantly pushed back and forth by indecision, confusion, and utter exhaustion. i’m not working through any major decisions, there’s nothing looming on my horizon or demanding a serious choice – i’m simply trying to get through the days with my sanity intact.

perhaps this is simply acting as a card of assurance – we may have men in power right now that embody none of these characteristics. our president and his cabinet are rash, power-hungry, self-serving, greedy, short-sighted individuals who care nothing for truth, justice, compassion, or any of the citizens of our country. this clarity of mind, sound judgement, and decisive ability to cut through bullshit that i see in the father of swords is energy that is sorely needed in the white house at this moment.

and while we may not have a man in power that we can respect, i take courage from the strong leaders emerging in our communities, that aren’t afraid to stand up for what they know is right. we cannot let this administration continue to twist the truth with their “alternative facts” and unwillingness to acknowledge the reality of the world we live in – we must be stronger, and better, and more resilient. i have to be stronger, and better, and more resilient. 

there’s no room for fear, not now. we have to continue pushing back, protesting, writing letters, calling, and protecting each other.