Today my mind is a huge tangle of crazy knotted thoughts, and try as I might, I cannot find a single thread to begin with. I guess this particular weekend is an anniversary for me. A death anniversary. A life anniversary. A year to the day since Lilith rose up within me and the screech owl flew free, creating a chaotic end to the life I had been living, and almost killing me in the process. To those of you who are familiar with Her, or are curious, I give you warning now: this Goddess is truly, unconditionally Wild. There is nothing subtle about Her, and if you call on her, if She rises up through you, expect the extreme. She is the one who will destroy all that is not true, but then it will be up to you to sort through the wreckage and see if there is anything left worth picking up and taking with you into the next day.
This time last year I was in bed, unable to move, to hold down even a sip of water, or to even call for help. There was no-one home anyway, just my beautiful cat sitting by my side, silently keeping watch over me. I was in the Underworld, suffering from extreme alcohol poisoning and just wanting to die. Life seemed utterly pointless, a futile and endless calendar of days that led nowhere to nothing. I was sick with wanting a love it seemed I was to be denied, and my very hope in ever finding it had gone. The man I had been in a relationship with for almost five years seemed to not hear, understand or care about me at all, and this was the strong undercurrent that had caught me and taken me out into the dark, tumultuous waters of loneliness. Like Lilith, I found myself in the outer darkness. I wasn’t at all sure whether I had chosen this myself or whether I had been cast out. It was me who had delivered the ultimatum, me who had drawn the line and left in a rage of fury, despair and deep sorrow. Me who had got in my car and driven home in a blackout, stumbled inside blind and thrown up over my bedroom floor.
Drifting in and out of consciousness over the next two days and nights was hell. I was aware that this was my time of reckoning: that I could no longer escape from myself, my pain and my longing, through drinking. I could either die, or face the devastated landscape I had woken up to. There was no turning back, not this time. For so long now, I had tried to find ‘home’ in him, to feel safe and warm and loved. In my deep yearning to feel loved and to love, I had failed to see how I was all the time abandoning my self. Over and over again, running away from my own life and my own soul, and the more I sacrificed, the less I felt any sense of worth. I felt unappreciated, unseen, unheard, as though I was just a ghost of a girl long gone. And it was far from love. It was a desperate tumbling from one day into the next, hoping that somehow, things would change. That he would see me, and in being seen, I would start to feel whole again, to feel real, to be nourished and find peace in being loved. Instead, I felt like a flower slowly withering, petals fading and curling, gradually falling away.
This last year has been a time of coming home. It wasn’t like I found it straight away. All I had in the beginning was a vast, empty landscape. I remember clearly lying on my floor one day and feeling like the only respite I could find was in the thought of death. I didn’t actually want to kill myself, I just wanted not to be caged in my own head, my own body any more. And as I lay there, I became just my skeleton. A breeze blew through my bones, and it felt wonderful – the absolute nothingness of me. No ‘me’ at all. No thoughts, no pain, no desire, no heart, no flesh, just complete emptiness. Finally I was free from all the craziness of wanting and yearning- there were no regrets, no past and no future. I still give thanks to Death for this profound experience which showed me true freedom.
But of course, Death is not the end. Just like in the cards, it is not the final trump – not by a long shot. It is merely a stage that each one of us is required to pass through, the journey into the dark depths of our own soul. It is a magical moment when Death transforms into peace, when you find yourself in the light embrace of Temperance. This is when I was able to look around me and see all the beauty and love I already had in my life, and decided to honour it. I began to truly appreciate my family and friends, my work and my home. To slow down, to take care of the little things that do matter. To stop rushing around looking for love in all the wrong places, and to just start loving what was right in front of me. I spent more time with my children, realized how I had been given this gift of time with them now before they left home. Finally, I was able to be present, I wasn’t trying to run away or escape in the myriad of ways I had for so long. Being sober, I became present and conscious, aware of others rather than just myself. I stopped going out so much, and just stayed home, putting my energy into those everyday little things like gardening, cooking and eating together. Slowly, my home felt more welcoming to me, I warmed it up with love, and I found a new appreciation for the Earth element. Earth is home. Without this grounding, there is no foundation for anything.
I am not saying for one minute that this was an easy transition, nor that it happened overnight. Far from it! My lovely bones still held a heart… and my skull still contained a rather overcrowded, restless, un-systamized and fragmented mind. I found it much easier to start taking proper care of my body than I did to take control of my mind and emotions. I could eat well and exercise and feel good, but then I’d suddenly be assuaged by anger, sorrow, regret, jealousy, fear, despair – and whatever else thrown in the mix. What the fuck!!! Realizing that these attacks come from within oneself is perhaps the hardest thing of all to deal with. Very little the outside world could do to me could compare with this inner self-sabotage. I was totally outraged by my own mind doing this to me! Rationally, I wanted to move on, to keep creating this new stage of my life, to let go and all the rest, but emotionally I was totally retarded. Stuck in a loop of destruction that seemed to feed off itself, to enjoy the memories that brought pain and suffering. Not only memories, but worse, my mind seemed to get a real kick out of creating new scenarios, cranking up the imagination to feather the nest of pain. Birthing black eggs of hate and fantasies of revenge. Earlier, I would have just poured myself a glass of whiskey or wine to shut it down, but now I couldn’t escape it. I smoked. A lot. I ran a million miles on the treadmill and willed it away in my sweat. I wrote epic volumes. I couldn’t paint. Every time I tried I just kept painting the canvas black. I talked, I listened, I read, I tried to hypnotize myself into a better state of being. Do you know how stubborn the mind/emotional being is! How deep the grooves go, that we so unknowingly create by our thoughts? Reprogramming the grid is no easy task, my friend. I realized I was in the company of the Devil, chained in a masochistic dungeon of my own design – and worse, that it was all me. Hello, Me! (Accompanied by an appropriately wicked Devil’s grin). Fuck.
Ahhh, the taking of responsibility for one’s self. Gotta love that one.
All the while I worked, kept reading Tarot and taking my Aphrodite’s Temple workshops. Each day, one step at a time. There were moments when I would sit on the tram, staring numbly out the window and wonder, who the hell am I to be helping anyone with anything? I know nothing! My mind would fire poison little darts into my consciousness telling me I had no right to be reading the cards when I hadn’t sorted my own shit out. But, in Gloria Gaynor’s famous words, “I grew strong, I learned how to get along!” and my will to survive kicked in and refused to lay down and die (best break-up song ever). Some days it was literally, just put one foot in front of the other and move. And once I was there in my beautiful little room, I would be okay. I was so grateful to sit there and immerse myself in other people’s stories, forget about my own for a while. Work provided a much-needed structure, and made me see once again, how order is required just as much as creative chaos. I definitely began to have a much deeper respect for cards like the Emperor and the Hierophant as I moved slowly but surely into this more stable and responsible aspect of myself and my life.
I think one of the hardest things is accepting that there are not answers to everything. When there is no satisfying resolution to a situation. After I broke up with aforementioned boyfriend, there was no contact at all. I knew deep inside me that I could not have gone on like that, and indeed I could see that I had been given an opportunity for so much more, but there was still a very real part of me that was screaming inside for answers, to know the truth, whatever that meant. It was only over time that I came to realize there was no such ‘truth’, that we human beings change all the time, that there are a million different ways of perceiving things and that the ‘truth’ , if it exists at all on the emotional plane, is something so complex that to put it into words is a feat beyond most of us. That is the great tangle where even if you do find a thread, it doesn’t unravel neatly so you can wind it all up into a ball and put it away. Most of the time, we are only aware of such a miniscule part of ourselves, that to try and uncover the truth is a quest beyond futility. I observed myself, how I could switch from feelings of love and forgiveness and compassion, into anger and pain and hate, and how if I was to try and come up with the truth from all of this, I would be utterly lost. Still, I felt I deserved at least an effort of some sort, after so long and so much in the relationship. To have nothing, not even a word, was hard. I think it is human instinct to want to DO something in situations like this, and the lesson to learn to do nothing, to let go of situations you cannot change or control, was perhaps my greatest one of all – but the one which has taught me dignity and grace.
So, this anniversary of mine marks one year of amazing change, of insight and learning. I am lucky, I have a strong spirituality that has never doubted the existence of a higher power (whatever you want to call it) which I see as Love, and my life’s mission is to be absolutely immersed in it and filled with it and be connected to all the sea and the stars and the everything. I have had moments like this, and there is nothing to compare – it is pure bliss, absolute ecstasy. It is the little light that keeps me going through all of this madness within and without. I am far from through it all, in fact I no longer even view life in terms of reaching a destination, it is much more about adapting and being flexible in terms of whatever happens – of realizing I am not in control of everything, and that the landscape is forever changing. Different cards for different days, deepening my understanding of the Tarot, which is Life. May blessings explode like fireworks in the deep, dark night skies over all of us.