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.

 

stalker cards

the nine of wands keeps coming up for me - this is the third time i've seen it in two weeks. it seems to describe this move so aptly, and it feels like it's haunting me. i even dreamed about this card the other night. i can't seem to escape it. nine-of-wands

when a card is recurring like this, i think it's tempting to blow it off or find a way to explain it all - yeah, yeah, i get it. especially with a card like this, in a situation like this: we've been working towards this move for months, it seems like every stage gets more complicated and difficult, and this card signifying the end of a long journey and perseverance seems rather... obvious.

many of my resources talk about stalker cards, and the importance of giving them their due. when a card continues to show up in different readings, it's trying to tell us something important, make us see something that we're missing. and while the meaning of this card seems fairly straightforward to me, i'm also a very new reader - there's always more to learn, additional insights, new information and hidden meanings that i need to spend some time parsing through.

with that in mind, i decided to do a simple three-card spread to gain additional insight into this card, and what i might be missing.

1. what is the importance of this card in my life right now?

seven of swords. seven-of-swords secrecy, protection, remaining aware of surroundings, staying on guard - this card fascinates me. so many possible meanings, so many layers. this card can speak to deception, to procrastination, to avoidance, but i've always seen a fox under tremendous pressure, trying to remain aware of the dangers and protect herself. even in a position of rest, she's got one eye open, a sword at the ready. she knows about the swords overhead - she's looking forward, staying aware of any new dangers she hasn't seen yet.

i see a lot in this card, particularly in this position - i think i've been extremely afraid of this move falling apart, and haven't wanted to completely commit to the process in case it doesn't work out. with someone taking over our sublet, our application to a new place pending board and management approval, the owner of our new apartment also trying to get approved for her new place - it's so many moving pieces, and i don't want to be too disappointed if it doesn't work out. but being so guarded and protective of myself, being so aware of all of the potentials for this to go wrong... it's making me slow and overly cautious. i'm putting off tasks that i could easily do now, simply because it moves me closer to the end. and while protecting myself isn't completely foolish, it's also working against me.

2. what is preventing me from hearing the message of this card?

five-of-wandsfive of wands. scattered, unfocused, lost, confused, overwhelmed. this is absolutely the best card in the deck to describe my current frame of mind. i'm practically in a daze, can't pay attention to details, and feel utterly exhausted. i keep missing pieces and forgetting to do things, putting things off and never coming back to them.

i'm so concerned with what might go wrong, so overwhelmed by the possibilities and making contingency plans, that i've completely lost sight of what it would mean to actually move. i can't envision my goal. my limited energy is pointing in a million directions.

3. how can i release any blockages?

three of pentacles. three-of-pentacles focus, collaborate, find discipline. the only card in the spread with any hints of color, it seems to point to both my dealing with the nine of wands as well as how i need to make this move happen at all. by harnessing my skills, leaning on the abilities of others, and working hard, i can both understand the deeper meanings of this card and also get everything on my enormous to-do list completed.

my recent cards have been pointing to focus and structure, from the fiery energy of the ace of wands to the stable, disciplined presence of the emperor. teamwork has been the key to my tarot studies, both in relying on the wisdom of more experienced readers and also getting involved in forums and speaking more with friends about what the tarot is teaching me. by continuing to harness that energy i'll find a deeper understanding of the nine of wands, and will also be able to accomplish my goals.

overall, this was a really helpful spread. my fears of failure and my overall exhaustion are keeping me from the main message of the nine of wands - to stay calm, and to focus on one step at a time. it feels like i keep getting close to my goal only to have another setback, another complication, another delay - but if i can stay focused on each small task, rather than worrying about everything that may go wrong, and if i can lean on my husband and my friends and my family to help me get through this, this move will happen just the way it should.