The High Priestess

Tonight, I’ve been experimenting with a handful of new tarot spreads.  It’s been a long time since I allowed myself the time for this kind of personal self-reflection.  This spread in particular, tonight, I’ve found relevant and helpful.  It’s helped clarify some of the feelings tumbling around my mind.

The High Priestess

The lower three cards (Eight of Rods, Knight of Swords, and The World) were meant to represent the deep worries swirling around my mind, that I wasn’t willing to let surface.  The middle two (The Lovers, and the Nine of Pentacles) were meant to represent, respectively, the darker side to these deeper worries, and the lighter side.  The highest card (The Two of Swords) represents how all of these thoughts come together, finally, consciously.

To me, the Eight of Rods has always represented speed.  The pace at which events happen.  And, its position in a spread influences greatly whether that pace is a good or bad thing.  The Knight of Swords is a card that I used to represent myself for a very long time, especially during periods of self-discovery when I was focused on cutting to the quick what the truth of my life was.  Who am I?  Why?  What do I want?  with no emotion or entanglements involved.  The World, of course, represents coming full circle.  To me, it is a card of sense-making.  Of finally understanding, “Oh, this is why all of these things happened: to bring me here, to this moment.”

In this spread, the Eight of Rods looks threatening to the Knight of Swords.  I see it as too many events cascading tumultuously, rapidly, violently, falling into the Knight’s lap.  The Knight doesn’t have much of a choice in the matter–whether he accepts these events or not, they are coming.  This is certainly relevant to my life.  The Knight, himself, seems to be in a protective pose in regards to The World.  In my life, currently, I am engaged in a huge event of sense-making.  The discovery that I almost certainly have Asperger’s Syndrome has changed my world.  I’ve been looking back on my life, understanding why I have felt so “Other,” so alien.  Why relationships failed, in some cases, why friendships seemed so fruitless to pursue.  Many things.  And, I have been very defensive of this period of sense-making.  I feel attacked at times, when I fear that anyone might invalidate my surety that I have autism, when I worry that it may be seen as an excuse.  And, all of the events happening in my life right now, these events that bring out the worst in me, these only make me defend this more frantically, because they give me a reason to feel attacked.  When I know that I am at my worst, and, suddenly, understand why (not panic attacks–meltdowns.  not depression–shutdown.  not dissociation–sensory overload.) I have the intense urge to share, to explain, to tell those important to me, “THIS is my experience!  This is why I feel the world in this way,” in the hopes of finding understanding and validation.  But, with that, comes the fear–what if there is no validation?  I’m not in a place to feel strong enough to pit myself and my new sense-making against the world.

Of course, when I say, “those important to me,” I’m mostly speaking of my husband.  And, of course, when I mention “life events cascading towards me,” I am speaking of the fallout of his addiction.  Court.  Probation.  Change.  Work.  My portion of his world being swallowed up, so often, by his necessary obligations to himself.  My portion of my own world being swallowed up by my fear of his potential failure, of more change, of more loss.  And, this adds a layer to my defensiveness.  My sense-making (The World) is allowing me to come full circle, and return to a period of self-discovery (The Knight) that had been left in the dust in the wake of our struggles with my husband’s addiction.  When I feel this sense-making being threatened by the events around me, my mental urge is to lash out, to save it.

In the next two cards, the Lovers and the Nine of Pentacles, I see that the role that my marriage takes in my life, the shoe it fills, will have a massive effect on how I view my marriage as a whole.  On the side of “dark,” and siding with the Eight of Wands, and all of the overwhelming change and fear in my life, is the Lovers itself.  The fact that a choice has been made in my life; that to remain in my marriage has been to make the choice to stay the course in the face of all of these events, all of these fears.  But that, because of that, so much of the focus of my marriage has become, solely, dealing with these issues.  And, my identity in my marriage has become, “Better yourself so that you can better deal with all of these outside issues that are attacking our lives.  Better yourself so that you can cope, so that you can be here to support and help to keep things stable.”

On the other hand, the Nine of Pentacles represents, I think, what I wish that my marriage could be.  For me, the Nine of Pentacles has always been the “bird on a string.”  It represents sheltering, at times negatively, but in this case, I think protectively.  Huddled over The World, for me I believe this card represents the fact that my marriage could be a protective, sheltering force in my life, during this period of personal understanding.  That, yes, we have events going on in our lives that are scary, intimidating, and out of my control.  (My husband’s legal issues, sobriety.)  But that, in my heart, I feel that it shouldn’t be my role in our marriage to be always stepping up, pushing myself, to use all of the energy that I can muster to combat these issues and fears in our lives.

I have this wish that, while we are dealing with these intimidating issues, our marriage could shelter me from this.  That my husband could take the moment to grow and naturally, finally, become a support person for me as well; that I could stop feeling like a human shield.  And, lately, I feel that I’m not only having to shield my husband and family from the shrapnel of my husband’s old decisions.  I feel that, like the Knight steadfastly eyeing the Eight of Wands, torpedoing towards both him and the World that he is defending, I am here having to defend even my ability to learn and grow as a person.  I have a wish that, instead, my marriage could be a safe place, where I am encouraged and sheltered, myself, when learning and growing and sense-making.  If everywhere else in the world is frightening and overwhelming, my home, my marriage, my husband, I should be able to find solace and understanding there.  Not, “It is time for you to be able to learn to feel better, so that you can be here for our marriage more.”  Instead, “It is time for our marriage to grow and function better, so that it can finally begin to meet your needs as a wife, and as someone who is loved.”

This has been an important understanding.

At the top, the Two of Swords represents what I had known.  The feeling that I had noticed, but had had such a difficult time finding words for, prior to interpreting these other cards.  This feeling, seen in the Two of Swords, is stasis.  Paralysis.  “What do I do?”  “Why are things like this?”  “How do I make a choice?”  “Where do I go from here?”

And, it’s true.  I have been feeling paralyzed, and have not known precisely why.  Now, I do have a better idea of that.  What to do about it?  I am still not entirely sure.  But, I do feel that I have one thought which has helped me to find more understanding and validation:  That, it’s okay that the positive changes that have been made in my life and marriage recently are not enough.  That is something that I have struggled with; it is hard to see my husband finally begin to try, to learn, to grow, but to still be–myself–unhappy.  I was uncertain about whether this was some personal failing of my own, or a sign that my marriage was doomed.

Now, I don’t see it as either of those things.  I now understand that it is okay to want what I want.  It is my right to need what I need, in terms of support, in terms of feeling loved, in terms of what I need my marriage to be in my life.  It is okay to recognize that, while my husband may be trying his hardest right now, the fact that he is neck deep in his own struggles mean that he will not be able to be here for me in the way that I need him to.  Yes, we are in a state of uncomfortable stasis.  But, it is okay to wait it out, while also not accepting “positive change” as “perfection,” as “enough.”  Admitting that his best, currently, for me, for our relationship, isn’t “enough” doesn’t make me a bad person.  And, it doesn’t mean that he is doomed, either.  Instead, it is a question of, “can I be okay with this stasis, this waiting, while things slowly, painfully slowly, change?” and, for now, I think that I can.

Secret Room

Today, I was wondering, what am I missing?  Lately, I feel this gape, this want.

Some of it, I know, is marital.  My husband is in his own world.  First, it was addiction.  Now, it is sobriety.  Better than addiction, of course, but it still doesn’t count as being emotionally available for me.  (Relevant link, addiction and emotionally unavailability)  No, it’s not the same.  But, lately, he’s improved.  Maybe turning more into the man who will bring me orange juice when he sees I have the sniffles, who will dim the lights when I cover my eyes.  So, I know that this isn’t the only cause for this feeling of -want-.

I think that what I want is me.

I look around my home, and I regret nothing that I see.  The dishes, the little pink pup tent.  The breast pump.  My husband’s socks.  Tinier socks.  The dusty board games, the less dusty ones.  My tarot cards, only recently taken down from their high shelf.  But, I look at that shelf, where I banish some of my more precious possessions, and, there, I know what I miss.  I miss that interrupted state of “being me,” or rather, “learning to be me.”

When I met my husband, I had my own bare little apartment.  He told me recently, when I ask what he’d thought of my little place, that it was so bare.  He searched for a word, and found, eventually, “Minimalist.”  Looking back, I can agree.  There was a mattress.  A scratchy little couch.  Some dishes.  Some clothing stuffed in a shelf.  Shampoo.  A bag-lined bin to throw my soup cans in.  The table with the computer.  My little bird box, holding most of my sentimental things.  Little scraps of notes I’d kept from the few people in the world who still write notes.  A handful of photographs, none of them older than a year or so.  Sentimental receipts.  An offer written on a scalloped maroon napkin (from an older couple. to adopt me.  I don’t remember their faces.  I ran from that, but still wonder, when I pass by the home I think is theirs, what would that have been like?)

When I think of that place, while it was spare, I don’t think of the absence of things.  For me, it was a place of creation.  Of slowly building.  Then, suddenly, intensely, after meeting my then-future-husband, after becoming pregnant, all of that building spiraled out of my hands.  The needed baby things.  The consolidation of households.  My few little things, they were swallowed up into “Other.”  Of course, not bad “Other.”  But, the “Other” of people you love, of husband, of children, of well-meant hand-me-downs, well, that is still “Other.”  At least, to me.

I miss that old feeling.  That feeling of long, quiet afternoons, spent looking for the one thing that felt “right” enough that I’d carry it a mile to get it home.  That’s been so swiftly replaced with the flurries of hurried shopping, the, “Quickly, pick up any little trinket that will catch the little one’s eye and make her smile!  Bring it home!  Add to the pile!” and I look around, just feeling swallowed by it all.  There is still love.  There is still happiness, seeing them happy.  But, it’s the love of seeing your child eat, while you, yourself, pick at some peas.  (Know that this isn’t me saying that I am jealous of the things my loved ones have.  It’s that I can be happy seeing them having things that sustain them or make them happy, without gaining sustenance in a personal way.  The difference between feeling good as a mom, and feeling good as an individual.)

Maybe that is silly, to feel that way.  But, I do.  And, today, I catch myself daydreaming of the day we own our own home.  I want to find a place with a tiny room, with a tiny door.  A room with a small, high window, too high to see into.  A door hidden by a bookcase that can swing outward.  A little place to hide, a few square feet that are just mine.  A corner to squeeze a soft little love seat into.  A table for my coffee, a safe place to leave a book open for a day or a week or a year, without the page being lost.  A place to spend a spare moment musing over tarot cards.  A place to retreat when I’m so overwhelmed by the lights and sounds and social demands of life that my choice is hide or shout; so often, I’m pushed to “shout,” when that is not who I am, because I have no place to retreat.  No place to hide without being followed.  No way to obscure the unhappy place I go to when I am overwhelmed by life and approaching meltdown.  No place to slowly, quietly, build the little castle that, secretly, is “Me,” whose construction has been interrupted by other projects called “Loving” and “Mothering” and “Watching” and “Worry” and “Trying to save him” and “Hoping” and “Working” and, mostly, “Other, wonderful, people.”

How do I take that back?  The time, the ability to find out who this person is who is building my life?  I was 19 when I found out that I was pregnant with our first daughter, Nadya.  At that moment, “I” paused.  It had to be about her; there was no other way.  And, I have no regrets in that regard.  She needed me more than I needed me.  At times throughout the past three years, my husband also needed me more than I needed me.  Our youngest, Iris, has needed me more than I needed me.  But, still, that does not negate that fact that, at times, somewhere, pushed deep down now, I need me, and I’m not sure where I’ve gone.

I’ve been able to find some identity lately in the discovery that I likely have undiagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome.  Reading about women on the spectrum, following blogs by other women, it has been a moment of enormous validation in my life.  Suddenly, so many of my struggles have been put into perspective (but, that is another post.).  Still, I feel like I have this danger currently of falling into a  pit of allowing this new realization (that I am an “Aspie”) define me, and have it be simply that.  Then, it falls right back into the old, “I am a mother.  I am a wife.  I am an Aspie.”  While those things are all true, enormous, important, unchanging, they still, I feel, should not define me.  While having Asperger’s Syndrome has an enormous impact in how I go about being who I am, it is still not who I am.  Just like being a mother does not mean that I am like all mothers.  Being a wife does not mean that I am like all wives.  Being an Aspie does not mean that I have the life of all Aspies, it just means that I experience my world in a similar way.  Who I am?  That is what my world IS, in the first place.

I’m feeling somewhat lost and worn out at this point, so, I think I will take a breather for the day.