reclaiming my masks

today is the beginning of the last quarter moon, a time of releasing burdens, acknowledging struggles, and forgiving ourselves. i've been reflecting a lot on the challenges of last year, and the cards i drew today feel very encouraging, both in light of 2017 and in the face of a new year. IMG_2883.jpg

what to accept: three of pentacles. cooperation is not a dirty word. finding a community, learning from and leaning on others, discovering strengths and weaknesses - combined power is how we get shit done. collaborating with friends and neighbors, strangers and new acquaintances, gives us fire and energy and passion. it can give us that push towards a new goal, and help us actually reach it. this is a time for finding others with similar passions, and seeing how we can work together.

what to forgive: ace of swords. there's so much potential in this gorgeous, powerful card - but truth can be brutal sometimes, can cut through what we think we know to the beating heart of the matter. this past year brought a lot of difficulty, but it also forced me to be honest with both others and myself about what i need. i may not flawlessly execute every idea, and i may not always express my truth well, but i'm trying - and i need to forgive myself for the mistakes that were made.

what to learn: five of cups. there is a place for grief. there is a place for sadness. there is even a place for loss. but learning to let go is something i've struggled with my whole life. as a scorpio (and a half, honestly, i'm such a scorpio it's ridiculous) i find it nearly impossible to put hurt aside and forgive graciously and fully. my sadness and pain and anguish run so deep, they're a part of me. but honestly? maybe that's okay. maybe i can find strength in it. maybe the pain will make me better, more empathetic, more kind.

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like so many others, i felt that 2017 was an intensely difficult year. i vacillated between checking the news obsessively and working to ignore it, finding myself constantly drowning in the political horrors that seemed to occur by the minute. it was a tough year for all of us, but especially women, people of color, lgbtq+ folks, immigrants, muslims, the disabled community, the lower classes - basically anyone that wasn't a rich, straight, white "christian" man woke up with a feeling of dread each morning, wondering who would be on the chopping block.

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personally, 2017 was also a major struggle. i worked hard last year to open myself up, to shed some of my protective layers, to be more honest and real with the world. i came out to friends and family, even those that i worried would shun me. i attended my first pride, and pushed myself to find a place for myself in the queer community. i began working with a therapist, had several sessions with a psychiatrist, practiced yoga, started a tarot instagram, and gave myself permission and space to find new ways of healing that resonated.

but being open comes with a heavy cost. i've worn masks my entire life - not out of choice, but out of necessity. growing up bisexual in a very conservative church plant, with a pastor that was vocally anti-homosexual in our church and community, meant that i had to hide in plain sight. navigating a lifelong chronic sleep condition means pushing myself daily to perform normal activities, to stay alert, to remain focused - often while simultaneously accepting advice and judgment from well-meaning friends and strangers about a form of insomnia that most don't really understand. and suffering from major depressive disorder means i face a daily battle between being honest about how hard things are and locking the darkness up inside, where it can only hurt me.

in 2017, i pushed myself to remove some of the masks. not all the time, not with everyone - just with a trusted few, when it felt safe and right and accepted. and at times, it felt amazing. when my conservative family members accepted my bisexuality with open arms, when i walked into queer public events and nobody told me i didn't belong, when i opened up to my therapist about the Things i never talk about - it was such a relief to stop hiding, even for a few moments.

IMG_0296unfortunately, i also learned a devastating lesson in 2017 - my masks are absolutely necessary almost all of the time, and especially when dealing with my depression. reaching out for help is hard, but stretching out a hand and finding that no one is there? it's impossible. i made the mistake of being honest about how tough my depression was, and it scared friends and family away to the point that i thought i'd lost everyone. when i finally emerged from the darkness, i found myself terribly alone. and if i'm being perfectly honest, i still feel that way. i've apologized, made amends, acknowledged my errors, but i know now that i can't be my whole self with anyone, that i have to wear masks to protect others, that i don't have a safety net to fall back on. maybe i never did.

2018 offers so much promise. i have new goals in mind, new things i want to accomplish, new ways i want to push myself. but i'm also giving myself permission to lock certain things back up, to smother them in heavy blankets, to hide again. my depression is a dark, scary part of me, and while i wish i could find relief in sharing it, i know that it's too much of a burden for anyone to bear. i have to hope that the practices i've put into place, and a lifetime of experience wearing masks, will keep me safe this year.

in the meantime, i will greet this new year with strength, humility, and a hope for something better. and if you're reading this, i hope you find those things too.

 

spreading fire

today's card gave me the courage to finally do what i've been talking about for weeks - post about my (bi)sexuality on facebook. and while it is just the start (and in many ways the easiest step of project: finish coming out), i'm hopeful that this will give me courage and strength to take on what's next.IMG_0315 thank you, mother of wands.

fiery, proud, vibrant, determined, courageous, independent, strong, charismatic, and inspiring. this queen is a force of nature, fierce and self-assured. she is not afraid to fight for what she believes in, is confident in who she is and what she stands for, and is deeply grateful for the people around her. i love these lines from carrie mallon"she holds her values dear to her heart and isn’t afraid to live in a way that lines up with her moral code. she doesn’t do anything halfway – she’s in it to win it. she pours all of her love, originality and unique energy into everything she does."

i so often talk about the court of cups and the high priestess, but i deeply admire the mother of wands. she's so brave, so bold, so fearless - not reckless or inconsiderate, but sure of herself in a way that gives her power and strength in the face of adversity. and of course she's not perfect - she can be prone to stubbornness, and her intensity and determination can be off-putting sometimes. but that's the kind of fire i need right now, and i'm grateful for the positive energy and the mentorship of this beautiful woman. i'm also thankful for this powerful piece on queering the queen of fire.

this is a step that's just for me. i don't anticipate hundreds of comments or thousands of likes - as of right now, my little status only has about 20 likes, and that is completely okay. i needed to know that i was strong enough to stand alone, to speak my truth, and to own my identity.

and i am.

protect yourself

i've been seeing a lot of swords and cups in my reading today, and i think it's a perfect (if very on-the-nose) representation of my current mental state - my emotions and fears at war with what my mind is telling me i must do. today's card is the seven of swords. seven-of-swords

like the four of swords, this clever creature is completely aware of the swords over her head - but unlike the lamb, channeling her power and setting boundaries for herself, this fox keeps an extra sword hidden, waiting for something big to happen. perhaps she's aware of a threat in her midst, and doesn't trust those around her - or maybe she's the one with the secret, and is wary of being discovered. either way, she is on edge, keeping an eye on everything.

this card often reminds me of the seven of cups, another card that can speak of secrets, illusion, and deception - both speak to internal issues, whether they're mental or emotional. and having seen both suits so many times in recent readings, it seems fitting to mediate on them both.

IMG_0338last week i wrote a post about coming out, and struggled with whether or not to share it on social media. this blog is not private, and i rarely write secret posts, but it also doesn't get a lot of traffic - i write mainly for me, and while i occasionally send posts to friends, rarely share it beyond that. as i work through how to come out to some remaining family members, i've been wanting additional support from those that already know, along with those that don't but will be strong allies. but i've been putting it off, worried that no one would care, that it wouldn't mean anything. i'm out to almost everyone in my life - surely posting that on a site like facebook, where my connections are friends and real people i've met, shouldn't be that scary. right? if i can write things that are available to strangers on the internet, surely people that care about me are less intimidating?

but oh, the fear is palpable. just considering posting this publicly (along with writing this post, right now) feels self-indulgent, self-involved, self-serving. sharing a post about my sexuality, as brief and broad as it is, feels like a huge personal step for me. and perhaps it's the seven of swords speaking - this secret i have is impacting so many relationships, so many decisions, simply because i haven't shared it yet. but the seven of cups looms too - is my brain pushing my heart to do something it's not ready for? do i only think this is an important step, when it actually wouldn't matter to anyone? will i feel better when it's over, or simply obsess about likes and comments and fear nasty private messages?

i'm honestly not sure. but the phrase i keep seeing in blogs and forums about this card is act consciously. what's more important - feeling calm and at peace with myself, or getting attention and support from others? do i want to tell people for them, or for me?

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