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.

grief & release

though i'm very new to the fountain tarot, it's remarkable how different it feels in my hands. when i was trying to choose my first deck, i kept coming back to the wild unknown - it felt like i had an immediate emotional connection to it, like we could have a long and fulfilling relationship, like it had wisdom and knowledge and power that it was just waiting to reveal. it felt like water, deep and dark and full of magic. but the fountain tarot feels like air to me, crisp and light and honest, ready to cut to the heart of the matter. perhaps that's why it's taken me so long to begin working with this deck, in spite of the fact that i bought it months ago - i had to be ready to deal with this new feeling, a new element in my readings. true to form, my new deck is clear and concise, sharing its wisdom and waiting for me to catch up. today's cards are judgment and the five of cups.

IMG_1852my single card draw was judgment, a card of release, reconciliation, and forgiveness. it's looking directly at our past, understanding the pain and struggles and loss that may be there, fully acknowledging mistakes and heartache and difficulties. it's accepting our role in those trials, honestly owning what has happened (along with what hasn't) and our part in it, and then setting it free. i find it feels so much easier sometimes to hang on to that pain, to let it fester into bitterness and anger and frustration - but all that dwelling on the past actually takes so much energy, changing the focus from what's in front of me back to what's already happened. this shift isn't always an elegant or lovely process - rather, this type of self-assessment and openness is often ugly and messy and terrifying. but setting that pain free, letting go of the past, and allowing ourselves to move on is the only way to go forward and begin to heal. there's such intention in this card, a joyous leap up and out from that stifling cavern. she's finally free, able to rise up and step into a new, more open future.

i don't often acknowledge cards that jump out of the deck while shuffling, at least not beyond a quick glance, a nod, and incorporating it back into the deck. but the five of cups leapt out of the deck when i was cutting it, about to draw, which has never IMG_1854happened to me. and seeing these two cards together, i can understand what the cards wanted me to see. the five of cups speaks to grief, despair, an emotional storm. while not every cup is overturned or broken, there has been a significant loss, and it must be mourned. there is a time for sadness, and trying to ignore the sorrow can be a recipe for disaster. it can be so tempting to get lost in that suffering, to let the pain become the only thing that feels real - the man in this image is mourning those spilled cups, but there are two full ones right behind him, waiting for him to turn around and grasp them when he's ready to move forward. we cannot get so lost in our grief that we forget that all is not lost, that we overlook that which we still have. but taking a beat to feel that sorrow is necessary - this card gives permission to feel that sadness, to move inward, to feel what we feel even when it's dark and difficult. sometimes, we just have to sit with the despair.

 

IMG_1843together, these cards have a powerful message. the shadows are real - there has been loss, and struggle, and pain. a period of mourning is natural, normal, and acknowledging pain is an important part of moving past it. but without intention, without purpose, this grief cannot be overcome. even though i'm good at putting on a brave face, can play the role that's required of me at times, my depression will not simply disappear just by ignoring it. and the pain of my past and present cannot be shed if i don't acknowledge it. i have to face those demons, thoughtfully consider where i've been, and find a way to feel and release this pain without drowning in it. freedom is on the horizon, but i have to reach for it.