Okay, deep, dark revelations time – my childhood was pretty dark much of the time. I know I’ve alluded to some things and outright stated others but to say it was a clusterfuck would be an understatement. My family was poor – I mean Mom sold blood for money poor. My parents were underage when I was born (16 & 17) and by the time they were 22 there were four kids. My father was an immature ass and bully for most of his life – at least as far as his family was concerned. We put the “fun” in dysfunctional. Only it really wasn’t funny.

I was battered and bruised physically, emotionally, psychologically and sexually. For many years I believed that this was my fault; that I had done something or said something to bring this on me. Even most of my friends had no idea what went on in my house because who the hell wants to be the freak at that age. All I wanted to do was fit in and believe me that was already difficult enough without all of that shit being exposed. As a result of these experiences, I engaged in some very risky behaviors. I drank a lot! In fact, while in high school I had a few incidences of black out drunks and can’t remember anything. I was smart enough or scared enough not to try drugs more serious than the occasional joint but I took enough risks and chances to ensure that I could have easily become a statistic.

My parents had no clue how to handle me. Even my father, who was quick to beat the crap out of me should he feel the need, didn’t know how to stop me from going in the local bar. One night, after learning that I had been hanging out in the bar (I was about 15 at the time), he brought me back down to “prove” to me why it wasn’t safe. When we walked in my father was greeted by a number of patrons (including some who were rather criminal). When they learned I was his daughter they assured him they’d keep an eye out for me. So, I pointed out to my father that I was probably safer in that bar than anywhere else in the neighborhood. The fact that he accepted my statement and started playing darts rather than outing my true age to the bartender gives you a good idea how clueless he was as a parent.

Why am I bringing all this up? Simple, because one of the epiphanies I had at the 2016 Readers’ Studio is the fact that I was carrying the shame and guilt for events that were not mine to carry. I did nothing wrong. I was blameless in what was done to me. I was a child, powerless and defenseless. Even admitting that now is giving me palpitations. I preferred to take the blame on myself because it gave me the illusion of having some control, some power in this situation. What a load of crap! I was a child. I should have been protected by my parents not needed protection from them. Even as I write this I can feel rage flood through me at how bruised and beaten that poor little girl was. It took me a long time to realize that I was still that bruised, beaten, traumatized little girl.

Those experiences made me feel weak and made me determined never to feel that defenseless and weak again. Instead, I became aggressive – each offense resulted in a physical response. That often mean I got into fist fights with boys I knew. I eventually acquired the nickname “The Nutcracker” because I did not appreciate being groped by adolescent males. Believe me, taking punches from those boys was nowhere near as painful as taking them from my father. I probably would have continued down this path of aggressive, self-destructive behavior and binge drinking but I met my husband. I realize how amazingly lucky I was in meeting the hubby. I was 16 at the time and he was 24. He could have easily controlled and abused me – I was already primed for that kind of relationship. Instead, he defended me, protected me and made me question some of my more self-destructive behaviors. He encouraged me to do things for me not because of the expectations of others.

So here I am at 50 (facing 51) and I’ve finally been able to accept that none of that was my fault (well okay the binge drinking and aggressiveness but I’m giving myself a break because I had poorly developed coping skills). I don’t need to bear any of the shame or blame for those situations. I did not ask to be abused or molested. There was nothing inherently “wrong” with me that drew these types of people to me. Who knows, maybe my light was so bright that they felt jealous and had to dim it, tarnish it in some way. I cannot understand their motivations and no longer care. All I know is that I have shed myself of the blame and shame I carried for years. I feel lighter and more hopeful. I’m a survivor; I’m strong and resilient and I won’t let those experiences define or defeat me anymore.

I have a tendency of finding some people irritating for no apparent reason. They’ve never done anything to hurt me in any way. In fact, in many cases they are more than pleasant to me and some I would even describe as close acquaintances, maybe even friends. Yet there remains something that makes me grit my teeth when I’m in their general vicinity.
This bothers me. Disliking people is fine. That’s how the world works. There are people we will dislike and people who will dislike us in return. I’m the first to admit I’m an acquired taste and I’m sure I irritate some people like a speck of sand inside a clam. I understand that. What I’m referring to is when I can’t find any reason for this dislike. Why does this person set my back teeth on edge without even trying?

I have come to realize that sometimes there is no clear, rational explanation. It’s instinctual. I’ve heard theories that sometimes another person’s scent or pheromones trigger something in us that reacts with hostility. I suppose that’s possible – I honestly try not to go around sniffing other people. However, I realize that the majority of the time I’m reacting this way to a specific trait the person possesses and it invariably is one that I possess as well. Surprise!

Sometimes I am reacting to a trait that I share with the other person. Seeing my irritating traits in others is apparently just as irritating to me. I believe this is a common reaction. What surprised me more was when I realized that what I was reacting to was/is a trait that I enjoy about myself and feel the other person is “stealing”. For example, let’s say I’m the type of person who presents a boisterous, outgoing, sometimes outrageous persona to others (just an example clearly). I have moments where I will observe something doing something similar to my “schtick” and garnering positive responses and I feel a flash of jealousy followed by a flash of dislike. If this person takes my niche then where will that leave me? Wait a minute, what did I just write?

Yup, it turns out that in about half the instances I “dislike” someone, it’s really simply that I’m jealous of them on some level. I’m afraid if they can act the same way I do then I will become redundant. I want to be the center of attention; the Sun in my universe. I will fiercely defend my position (see my previous post about my 7 of Wands approach to relationships); guard my niche. Of course, now that I realize this is my proclivity, I try to catch myself before I say or do anything embarrassing or rude. Overall I’ve gotten pretty effective at it. Sometimes I feel like an observer watching my behavior and then catching myself before I make any major faux pas. It’s not easy and I still fail spectacularly on occasion but I’m trying. At the end of the day, I guess that’s the best any of us can do – make a genuine effort to change.

Just take the freakin’ compliment

While at Readers’ Studio, I was chatting with Elinor Greenberg and Diane Wilkes. During out chat Elinor turned to Kooch Daniels and commented that several of my blog posts incorporating Tarot and psychology were some of the most insightful writings on the topic that she had read. I immediately made a self-deprecating comment along the lines of “knowing my own bullshit”. Elinor commented “Just accept the freakin’ compliment”. That stopped me dead in my tracks. Like a lot of people, I find it easier to take criticism than praise. Why? What is there in my soul, my ego, that cringes at compliments?

I wasn’t always this way. As a child I was very much a solar baby – soaking up all the attention and praise that I could get. I was a very good student and relatively well behaved child. In fact I was often embarrassed by teachers telling my mother they wished they had a “classroom full of Debbies”. Looking back now I realize that I began shying away from praise when it began to cause mocking by peers. One incident in my junior year of high school is still seared into my psyche. I took typing and steno (because why the hell not?). During one class the teacher asked for volunteers to read the transcription we had just completed. I can’t remember if I volunteered or was selected but as I was reading it I could hear a voice from behind me mimicking and mocking me as I read aloud. I felt so hurt and defenseless. I started tearing up and knew I couldn’t let them see me cry because (as I’m sure many of us remember) high school can be quite a dog eat dog environment. Another classmate sitting next to me realized I was close to losing it and told the mocker to cut it out. I will always appreciate her defense of me. I managed to finish reading without breaking down but it really took the joy out of that class for me.

Looking back I realize that kind of thing happened a lot to me. Not as cruel as the mockery and mimicry but being teased for being a brainiac, egghead, using $100 words. Even friends would make comments about my vocabulary so instead of feeling proud about it, I ended up feel embarrassed, shamed. Even in my family I’ve heard comments like I “think too much” or that I’m the “smart one” as though it makes me an outsider. I sometimes joke that I’m a Lisa Simpson in a Bart & Homer kind of world. It’s funnier to say than it is to experience.

This is just my roundabout way of explaining why I resist compliments – because I always assume they’re actually backhanded insults; ways to mock and tease me. I hate feeling that vulnerable and exposed so I go into an offensive position – I make fun of myself before they can do it. I treat it like a joke so they won’t realize how much it truly hurts me. It’s amazing and sad to me that after 30+ years that incident still causes pain. It’s not as painful as it once was but there is still tenderness and soreness attached to the memory. It’s ironic that when I was on FaceBook I got a friend request from the same person behind that incident. Just another reason I prefer to not be on FaceBook.

Have you ever held a passionate conviction? You know the type – a Knight of Wands, I am furiously, powerfully convinced that my position on this topic is correct kind of belief? A conviction that you hold so firmly and unshakably that it divides people into “us” (those who share your belief) and “them” (those who hold an opposite opinion. The most visible example of this kind of belief is the pro- and anti-abortion camps. The anti-abortion activists demonize reproductive health care providers sometimes even to the extreme of advocating the assassination of doctors who provide abortions in order to save the “unborn”

Original RWS Knight of Wands

I still have a few hot button issues which I will defend vehemently and passionately with no attempt at objectivity, open-mindedness or thoughtfulness. When defending these beliefs I would charge forth like a Knight of Wands, beating all foes into submission. There was no attempt at reasoned debate or peaceful negotiations. I was confident in my beliefs and held the courage of my convictions. I was in the right and was morally obligated to defeat those who disagreed. Thank goodness that I’m reaching a point in my life where this passionate conviction is giving way (slowly, oh so slowly) to tempered thoughtfulness.

Original RWS King of Swords

I am reaching a place where I am more open to hearing the other side’s arguments. I don’t feel such a strong need to beat down foes as much as open a dialogue with people who hold differing opinions. I a able to hear their viewpoints with objectivity and genuinely hear what is being said rather than listening and merely waiting for my turn to speak. It has helped me understand that intelligent, passionate people who hold different perspectives from my own are not delusional and wrong. They simply have different priorities and have reached different conclusions after examining the information presented. I’m moving away from my Knightly passion towards a more Kingly consideration and thoughtfulness.

Secret Forest Knight of Wands

There is something very comforting in having a Knight of Wands approach to things. There is little room or doubt or second-guessing. Instead we act from a place of moral certainty and superiority. We are wrapped in a cloak of self-righteousness and confidence. Of course I’m right and as a result I must sally forth and correct the mistaken viewpoints held by others. It is my duty to carry the message of rightness to them! This viewpoint leaves very little room for debate or discussion. We don’t really care why they believe what they do, we merely want to correct their wrong-headed beliefs.

Druid Animal Oracle Owl

Thanks goodness most of us move passed this phase. We eventually learn that we are not always right. Even when we do believe we are right, we often lose the need to proselytize and convert others to our viewpoint. We learn and embrace the fact that we learn more by being open and listening to the views and reasoning of others who hold different perceptions and opinions. This often allows us to expand our horizons and our world view. Respectful debate and open-minded discussions can lead to less parochial, entrenched mindset. Perhaps if we can moved beyond this attitude in our own lives we can eventually learn to expand it to encompass national matters too. I can always hope.

Losing sight of my dreams

Dark Goddess 2 of Water

 

Over the last two weeks, during my Dark Goddess labyrinth journey with Arianrhod/The Moon I’ve drawn Lorelei/2 of Cups three times. This makes me realize that there is a subtlety to her message that has been eluding me. The majority of the cards I’ve drawn along with Lorelei have been either Cups or Majors. This tells me that one of the challenges she’s pointing out is that the next major shift/life lesson for me will involve my dreams and emotions; two things I’ve lost touch with over the years.

When I looked over these cards they forced me to reflect on the fact that I truly don’t know what my dreams are anymore. I had dreams when I was a kid, although as with most childhood dreams they were mostly vague, nebulous and unrealistic (like wanting to be a princess). As I grew older my dreams became more practical and less connected to what my soul desired. I wanted a job that I enjoyed that paid me well. I wanted things – computers, clothes, etc. I wanted to attend college. I wanted to be the director of the recreation center I attended as a child. Of these goals, only the last one felt connected to my spirit. The rest were either to prove my worth to others or so that I could silence my spiritual ennui with stuff. It worked for a while but eventually cracks appeared. Even achieving the last goal was ultimately not as satisfying as I had hoped, a;though I was glad I manage to accomplish it.

Considering the Lorelei’s appearance with The Moon, I realized that I haven’t even tried to connect with my dreams or my inner desires in a long time. Feelings of betrayal and disappointment had caused me to dismiss them as worthless and pointless. Of course this left a huge hole in my soul. I didn’t realize it until I sat down to write this. It began to occur to me that without dreams we have nothing to look forward to in the future. Instead it becomes a vast, desolate wasteland; an endless barrenness that one tries to avoid at all costs. It explains my rigid and stubborn resistance to change. At least if things are familiar they offer a certain level of comfort and consistency, even if we don’t feel a sense of excitement or joy. Unfortunately this very sameness makes it difficult to get up every day. Who really wants to live a same shit/different day existence?

The Lorelei’s song is luring me to a land of dreams and desires; a world of hope for the future. That is a scary, unfamiliar world indeed. I don’t know what I’ll find there but just making the decision to follow it is encouraging me to decide to plan for the future. It is making me feel more alive and creative and excited. That terrifies me and exhilarates me at the same time. I want to dance to her song but not get crushed on the rocks. Of course the truth is that nothing in life worth doing is without risk. I’ve been avoiding risk for a long time (or at least telling myself that I”m avoiding it) but the reality is that I’m deluding myself and it’s time to stop.

Tarot Epiphanies

I love when I have epiphanies while doing something Tarot related. The other day I was reading a post on a FaceBook group about spirituality and Tarot. For some reason my brain clicked into overdrive and I suddenly realized something – one of the reasons I’ve been so resistant to establishing myself as a professional Tarot reading is because I do see Tarot as a spiritual tool. Charging money for spiritual work has always seem vaguely wrong to me, as though I’m prostituting a gift (just my opinion and no comment on anyone else’s choices). Or at least this is what I’ve often told myself.

While thinking about it I realized that I have invested as much time and effort into improving my Tarot skills and knowledge base as I did into completing both my masters degrees. Investing that much time, effort and money into something and then not using it is ridiculous. However this has been my pattern in the past, but no more! I feel a new determination to change my mindset about this issue. It’s time to at least make an attempt to create a successful career for myself as a professional, paid Tarot reader.

So instead of struggling with feelings of inadequacy as a reader or feeling that charging for readings is somehow sacrilegious, I’m going to start working on a plan. Right now I think email readings are the best option for me. It allows me flexibility to do readings when it’s convenient for me (usually late at night or early in the morning). I also don’t have to worry about one of the in-laws having a freak-out moment in the middle of things. Phone, instant message or Skype readings would be problematic for that very reason. I can do this, I know I can. My focus now will be on revamping my web site so that I have a page from which potential clients can learn a little about me and order a reading if they’re so inclined. It’s a baby step in the right direction.

Wildwood 7 of Arrows

It’s such a gorgeous day outside that I changed my focus a bit.  Instead of focusing on the Shadow I decided to look at soulwork issues.

Looking at the image on this card and its keyword (insecurity), what strikes me is the arrows piercing the woman’s body.  Are these the arrows of self-doubt?  Of inner demons and critics?  Despite the arrows embedded in her body, the woman’s expression seems melodramatic.  It’s almost as though she isn’t truly wounded but is acting as though she’s wounded.

That made me wonder about the nature of insecurity – at least in my case.  There are times when I claim to be insecure or self-effacing about something but in reality I’m just fishing for praise.  Have you ever found yourself doing that – seeking reassurance and reaffirmation that you are good at something (or at least not as bad as you fear)?  That’s the message I’m getting from this card today.  Her pose is so contrived and her expression so overly dramatic that I want to say “just get over yourself!”  And there are many times when I want to say that to myself too.

In relation to this question, I think she is telling me that I need to stop letting myself get held back by self-doubts and insecurities.  They can only hold me back if I allow them to do so.  They can only hurt me if I make them reality.  They are phantasms; illusory weapons that can only wound if I give them the power.

I often see this card as representing the reclaiming of one’s own power.  That can certainly apply here.  By not allowing the slings and arrows of self-doubts, negative opinions and inner critics to wound me and hold me back, I am reclaiming my power.  I am standing up and saying I can achieve anything as long as I believe in myself.  What a great message for such a beautiful day.

Tarot of Prague 8 of Swords

Yesterday I over-indulged somewhat on wine.  Between my excitement about trying out my new accessory (a wine aerator) and the my desire to drink some of the new bottles of wine I’ve acquired., I had more to drink than was wise.  On the plus side, my new aerator is cool and does what it promises.  On the down side, I drank too much too quickly and ended up crashing and burning.  A few drinks also loosens me up and I end up calling people I haven’t spoken to in a while (this is both good and bad).  Last night I called two friends I haven’t spoken to in about a year for a variety of reasons.  It was nice to speak with them and I remember the conversations so I know I wasn’t too embarrassing but this is a nasty habit I sometimes have.  There are times when I drunk dial people and end up making a ass of myself (well a bigger ass then I might have without the influence of alcohol).  This then leads to beating myself up and castigating myself.  So I decided to ask the Tarot what lesson I can take away from this experience.

I drew the 8 of Swords reversed and looking at this bronze figure wearing a blindfold and with her hands restrained behind her back I was struck by the concept that when I drink too much I apply restraints on myself.  As a result of these chemical restraints I don’t have a clear view of my behavior and I end up becoming angry at myself because I might have done something stupid or insulting.  I end up regretting my behavior and avoiding the people I’ve called.  I also don’t have any wine for a while.  Then I end up repeating the cycle again because I feel lonely and disconnected.  It’s a ridiculous pattern and one I can easily break from if I simply exert a little sense.

So the lesson for me here is that I need to stop restraining myself and repeating this pattern.  There is nothing wrong with having a few drinks but I need to pace myself better and make sure I eat something.  I also need to accept I will call folks because there are times when I want to talk to others but I don’t need to wait until I’ve had a few drinks to do it.  Most of the people seem happy enough to hear from me.  The only thing that stops me is my own self-doubts – another self-imposed restriction.

So I need to remove the restraints and get a clearer look at the reality of the situation.  If people don’t want to talk they won’t answer the phone.  If I want to have a few glasses of wine, that’s great but I don’t need to finish the bottle.  Very simple lessons now let’s hope I can actually learn them this time.

Blue Rose Fool

The Fool
Blue Rose Tarot
Created by Paula Gibby
Produced by Soul Guidance, 2001

Looking at this card gives me a sense of exhilaration and freedom.  It reminds me of the sensation I get when rising up the first hill on a rollercoaster.  The excitement builds and I’m eager to start the journey down but at the same time there is a hint of fear – what if something goes wrong?  Even the safest amusement park ride has the potential to derail and so does life.  This card reminds me that if we never take chances and let ourselves jump headlong into new experiences, we might live a safe life but how unexciting it will be.

This Fool seems confident that everything will be just fine.  In fact he seems to be taking that “foolish” leap to extreme levels.  Even if he crashes he will walk away having learned something valuable; a lesson that will take him to his next great experience.  How often have I taken the safe path in life?  Even in my career choices I favored jobs at which I was skilled rather than passionate.  Passion and excitement can be wonderful things but they may not always pay the bills.  It is often said that if you do what you love the money will follow.  I’ve seen many people who have managed to achieve that goal in their lives and yet I’ve been afraid to take the leap.

One of my biggest obstacles is my own fear and self-doubt.  If I can’t do something very well I prefer not to do it at all.  How I’m to learn whether I’m good at something if I never try it is something I’ve not quite determined.  Ironically as I get older I’m becoming more accepting of risk.  In fact I’m embracing it.  I think the experiences of my childhood made me crave stability and avoid risk.  Now that I realize you can never truly avoid risk and that nothing in life is ever stable, I’m more open to embracing change and taking that leap of faith.  I don’t know where I will land but from the expression on this skateboarder’s face the journey will provide quite a thrill.

The Dreamer - Transformational Tarot

The Dreamer
Transformation Tarot
Created by by Arnell Ando
Published by US Games ISBN:1572815396

The Dreamer (called The Fool in more traditional Tarot decks) speaks to me of innocence, faith and trust.  The haloed infant on the card implicitly trusts that the bird overhead means her no harm.  The bird (an eagle?) and the sphere hovering above the dreamer child seem to connect her to the spirit world; the soul.

The dreamer child’s focus is on her own feet.  She is watching where she steps but does not seem concerned about what is around her.  She seems secure and trusting that the environment around her means her no harm.  How often do we still feel that sense of faith and trust as adults?  It is indeed a rare commodity.

The Dreamer reminds me that in order to achieve our dreams we need to connect with that inner child who embodies innocent faith and implicit trust in the Universe.  She isn’t afraid because she hasn’t been taught to fear.  I think we sometimes become so burdened by fear, regret and self-doubt that we lose the connection to this innocence, faith and trust.  The Dreamer allows her spirit to soar with the eagles because she doesn’t worry; she simply moves forward.  There is a saying that god watches over fools and drunks (or babies and fools depending upon the source)  The Dreamer embodies this adage.

When we grow up, mature or just lose touch with our under dreamer and fool, tapping into this energy is tricky.  How many of us are comfortable looking foolish or making mistakes?  I know that I hate it.  I want others to see me as knowledgeable and intelligent.  Unfortunately this often comes off as arrogant and know-it-all-ness.  When IK look back over my life I realize I could have learned so much more from others if only I was willing to admit my ignorance;  to look foolish.  This Dreamer child reminds me that the only way to learn is to make mistakes and admit that I don’t have all the answers.  Right now that is an especially appropriate message for me.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers:

%d bloggers like this: