Letting Love In…

I don’t talk a lot about my spiritual practices. Not on this blog, not with other people. There are several reasons for this and as most are beyond the scope of this particular blog post, but one reason is that I have always felt that my relationship to my Gods is my relationship. It’s my responsibility to maintain it and do what I gotta do to be in right relationship with Them. When I falter or triumph, it is ultimately only to Them that I must answer. And I do.

So why am I bringing this up? Well, if you’ve read my profile or a few of my other posts in the “Faith” category or if you actually know me in real life, then you know that I’m Pagan. Now, I know that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but again, beyond the scope, for now. However, if you know anything about Pagans or Paganism, then you know that Samhain is celebrated this month. I had my own celebration yesterday at home with my Ancestors. Again, how does this relate to love? I’m getting there…

At the turn of the seasons (Samhain marks the end of harvest and the beginning of winter), I do a tarot reading for myself to see what the next portion of the year holds for me. And this reading was a little…scary. As I laid down the cards, one card in particular, caused me to catch my breath.

The Two of Cups. (GASP!) In the “Future” position of my card layout. (dun dun DUUUNNN!)

What? Not scary to you? Well, before I even double-checked the meaning, I knew I was in trouble.

For those of you who are lost, let me catch you up…

First, I’ll say that my personal tarot deck is the World Spirit Tarot. I love it and it works for me like no other deck ever has. The symbols are clear and works well with my intuition. Awesome.

Next, you should know that in the tarot, cups symbolize emotions, matters of the heart. Now, couple this with the actual image on that card in my particular deck. Here is the description as written in the accompanying book:

Two people circle ’round inside a fairy ring of mushrooms and flowers, hands held high in a toast. By their commitment in cups, symbols of the emotions, they are coupled. The faces of the dancers show both happiness and trepidation for the future. The steps they take together draw the gods that bless their union…A star shines inspiration and healing down on the new couple. And at the edge of the ring, a serpent lies coiled in the shape of infinity.

Shit. If that wasn’t enough, each of the Minor Arcana cards in my deck has a theme or subtitle and this one is given the moniker “Relation”.

Do you see it yet? Do you?!?!

Background: see this short post on my summer travel blog. During the last quarter I was supposed to work on being “okay” with emotional vulnerability. This is a huge problem for me. I don’t like sharing my feelings or emotions with other people. It’s scary and I don’t like it. I’ve been burned a lot in my past and I’m emotionally scarred. So there.

When I wrote that post, I thought I was ready. Maybe I was, but I really don’t know. Frankly, I’m not sure if I’ve made any gains in this area. Sometimes, I don’t even think it’s even possible for me to open up to anyone. I just clam up and get all uncomfortable and irritated and, if possible, I escape out the nearest exit.

Knowing this about myself and understanding that my reactions to being emotionally vulnerable are unhealthy, I’ve started seeing a therapist. It’s a bit too early to know if it’s helping or not, but she’s good at asking questions and helping me talk, so that’s good. She gives off good vibes and I feel comfortable in the space, so I’m going to keep going. We haven’t really got to the “good stuff” yet. And by that I mean “the traumatizing shit that made me the way that I am”, so I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I hope to eventually move past my, at times, debilitating fear of sharing my feelings with others so that I can one day have a healthy relationship with another human being.

So, if you haven’t guessed already, the card signifies that Love is coming my way. In some form. I’m still unclear. The card could mean either I’m going to have a romantic relationship, or I’m going to learn to love myself or both. I initially read it as a relationship before I looked at the book. That possibility was a bit too much for me to handle at the time.

But that confused me because how can I have a relationship if I can’t be open with others? Also, I really don’t love myself all that much. I wish I did. I’ve been trying for years, but I often find myself disgusted and angry with myself for maybe not-so-good reasons. I used to find all sorts of ways to hurt myself and, while I don’t do that any more (much), all my choices are not exactly healthy nor do I always have my best interests at heart.

Having said that, I do realize where I have made gains and the fact that after many years of avoiding/toying with therapy, I’m finally doing it. Unemployed and without insurance no less (thank the Gods for sliding scale!). Now that’s commitment.

Still, I think I know myself (for the most part) and I have a hard time looking at myself without being upset. And it’s not all about looks. There’s something in me that’s been there for years and as hard as I try, I have yet to exorcise it. It’s dark and it’s ugly and it tells me that I don’t deserve to be loved. And the real scary part? It’s not a demon or a monster…it’s me. The only one holding me back from having the kind of life I want is me. And when you know that, when you that know that you are actually the one causing your own misery, it’s almost enough to make you go bat-shit insane.

I want to believe that the gains I’ve made in my life are real and that I am, perhaps, ready to love myself and others. Maybe.

But I’m terrified that I’m too broken and that I’m just going to screw everything up like I always do. And maybe hurt someone else in the process.

Then, I look at the other cards in the in the reading. Rather than elaborate on all possible meanings, I’ve given those that stood out most to me.

  1. Inner Self: 8 of Pentacles- Mastery/Practice, Self-Discipline
  2. Outer Self: 6 of Wands- “Glory”, high point of creative journey, inspiring others
  3. Past: Justice- taking responsibility for actions
  4. Present: Sibyl of Wands- loyal, protective, strong-willed with a sense of self-worth (could refer to qualities I possess or those of someone else in my life who will help me in these areas), finding confidence in oneself
  5. Future: 2 of Cups- learning to truly love oneself to love another, possibility of a future relationship
  6. Lesson: 8 of cups- “Questing”, a spiritual quest, need to withdraw energy from the world in order to be more present with my inner life, creative solitude
  7. Wild Card: learning to hear the earth’s wisdom, trusting one’s instincts, describes a studious person with great focus and determination (either another person in my life or aspects of myself)

Looking at the bigger picture, this reading very much described where I’m at right now and where I’m headed. I knew that at first glance and checking the meanings only confirmed what I already knew. That’s another reason why it’s scary. This is real. This is my life. It’s what I want, but I’m scared to get it. I’m afraid to be released from a prison of my own making. The world is wide and full of people and unknown variables. I know every corner of my cell, it’s close and comfortable. And even though it is hard to face the harshness of my own unkind thoughts, at least I know my thoughts. I know who I’m dealing with when it’s just me. Dealing with other people is something else entirely.

As frightening as it is, I think that self-love and the possibility of a relationship are where I’m heading and where I’ve been heading all along. I recognize I’m screwed up and I want to change (really, I do).

Slowly, but surely, I’m making moves. Every week I practice talking about very personal things with a complete stranger. I’ve nearly cried twice in session. I stopped once while writing this post so that I could cry and some (not much) tears came out. It’s been a really long time since I’ve cried. I used to cry all the time and I can’t really pinpoint when I stopped. Sometime in the last year? I only noticed it because I keep having these moments where I want to cry and, need that release, and…nothing.

So, tonight I cried. A little. And for a moment, I felt both really horrible and really good. Progress.

Sometimes, I think, maybe (only just) I’m a little too hard on myself. I have high expectations of myself (good), but I have a tendency to rip myself a new one when I don’t live up to my own expectations (bad). Perhaps as a step on the road to self-love, I will try to be a little kinder to myself. I am only human after all. Painfully and beautifully flawed.

So, yes. Maybe I am ready to love; myself at least. One step, one day, at a time.

Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

About fenifuego

Just trying to make sense of myself and the world.
This entry was posted in faith, life, love and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Letting Love In…

  1. Darín says:

    Aw, I’m so happy for you! I’m glad you have the support of a therapist to help you with this journey. Having always been a helpless romantic at heart, I found comfort in this quote after my last big heartbreak: “If you’re really listening, if you’re awake to the poignant beauty of the world, your heart breaks regularly. In fact, your heart is made to break; its purpose is to burst open again and again so that it can hold ever more wonders.” I don’t know who Andrew Harvey is, but I it nonetheless.

  2. Sophia says:

    I’ve always thought one’s spiritual/religious beliefs to be such a personal thing. I still don’t know quite how to define my faith, and I think it changes depending on the context or in the way it is defined. I can be that hardened and cynical atheist at times, but at other times, or at the same time I guess, I can be strongly drawn to the Mexican Catholicism of my grandparents and say ‘yes, I believe in god’, and if they were to ask me, I would tell my grandparents that ‘yes, I am a Christian.’ I wouldn’t dare to say otherwise. Does this make me a contradiction? Perhaps. It depends. But again, faith, for me, is a complex and fluid thing. But I do believe in spirit, in positive and negative energy, whether it radiates off people or whether it is found in the peace of nature. I see the love my dad has for his garden and backyard and I see beauty in that. There is spiritualism found within that I think.
    And I remember taking an Ethics class with my best and most amazing professor ever several years ago A central theme of our class was this: “Teaching someone to hate themselves is an act of violence.” And that class forced me to confront some of the traumas and abuses that I’ve suffered through. It wasn’t an easy thing, seeing the ways I’ve been scarred, this struggle against events and forces that threatened to choke the life out of me. These walls, this being guarded at times, is what has allowed me, in the past, to survive, to get by. And I had to respect that. But at some point I had to choose, make a conscious choice to find ways to love myself and find healing and believe that I have a right to happiness. (this wasn’t just from the class, but years beforehand). I wanted to truly live, not just survive. And it was a fight, always. Against myself, my past, my depressions. I’ve earned these battle scars, is what I tell myself. But at what point do I stop being consumed by this anger and sadness, which will always be a part of me, it’s just a matter of managing it. I was shut down for years, emotionally, I wouldn’t have survived otherwise. And I tell my aunt that I’m not supposed to be here. That me simply being alive, breathing, walking, is an accomplishment, a testament to my self-determination and resilience.
    So how do I not get overwhelmed by the reality of my history? How do I not let anger, sadness, and depressions inhibit me from finding inner peace and happiness? I think that darkness will always be a part of me, it’s just a matter of managing it. And there is always that fear of stepping outside of that comfortable zone that has oftentimes trapped me and shut me down emotionally in the past. And so how do you heal from these traumas I ask myself. For me, I’m always looking for different ways of healing, different outlets. Whether it is with family and friends, that one little cousin who I absolutely adore, being plain silly, whether through journaling, music, movies, my cats, my books, anything that gives me joy and a sense of inner peace. I have allowed myself to cry, to mourn parts of who I was and all the things I had to go through. I have tried not to be too hard on myself and I know that this process, this struggle, is never really over. What IS different now from then is that I have support networks around me. I can feel such joy and happiness because most of my life has been such darkness. No, I was never “broken”, even if that’s what it felt like. I just needed the right kind of help and support I desperately needed. It wasn’t easy, but I think I’m at a place now where I can just step back and be amazed for all that I’ve survived and just enjoy the present. I can love and give of myself because of everything I’ve gone through and have overcome. And one of my best therapists gave me a bookmark with a quote by Anais Nin that says, “Life shrinks and expands in proportion to one’s courage.” And it has been courage, this risk and pain of looking inward and trying to find meaning and inner peace in my life, that has saved me.
    I wish you the best in your journey dear friend. Know that you are not alone, and while our experiences are sure to be different, I can try my best to listen and understand.

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