#ChattingwithTarot – 10 of Pentacles, Ace of Cups Rx + Knight of Cups Rx (#Dreamkeepers #Tarot)

Today I enjoyed a cuppa Harney & Sons Malachi McCormick blend while chatting with my ancestors. We had quite the chat.

Their message, “Nitwit! You’re missing the point! Instead of looking at the whole picture you’re focusing on details. Open your eyes, look inside your heart. What you seek can’t be found without but only within.”. This was followed by a metaphorical smack upside the head.

So, clearly, I was misinterpreting my ancestors’ message as far as the 10 of Pentacles is concerned because it kept coming up. So I did something I rarely do, looked in the companion book. The first sentence was “Honor the endowment of your roots.” D’oh! šŸ¤¦ The author then goes on to discuss how we need to connect with our roots so that we can then move forward and express that energy in our lives; ground ourselves so we can soar.

That makes do much sense because one of the motivating factors that influenced my taking on a caregiver role for both my mother-in-law and brother-in-law is that’s how my mother’s family did it. That’s what I saw growing up. In her later years, my great-grandmother suffered from some type of dementia and I watched my mother’s aunts and uncles rally round and take care of her so she could stay at home. My great-grandmother wasn’t relegated to the sidelines either. Despite her inability to fully comprehend what was going on, she sat at the dinner table with us, she was there when we sang Happy Birthday, she was there for holiday celebrations. So my experience growing up was that when family members were in bad shape those that could picked up the slack. That is how I continue to live my life.

My ancestors are reminding me that this is my inheritance but it doesn’t have to be my jail cell. I can still find ways to enjoy my life; find things that bring me joy and make my spirit soar. Right now, I’m restricted to things that I can do within the house and with limited flexibility and freedom but that doesn’t mean I can’t try. The key is looking within myself and changing my perceptions. I understand that focusing on the negative just enhances it, but sometimes I forget. So, what I need to do is focus on the positive; retrain myself to fully embrace the little things in my life that make me happy. I can also be a little more patient with myself when I lose sight of this.

#TarotDaily – 10 of Cups Rx + 10 of Wands (Grand Luxe)

Tarot Hunter’s Salt Rounds:

  • It is challenging to find emotional fulfillment, have a happy home life, when one spends too much time burdened by job obligations. As the saying goes “Work to live, don’t live to work”.
  • Perhaps you feel an inner sense of emotional satisfaction and fulfillment when you help others with their burdens. Be careful not to weigh yourself down in the process.
  • Past emotional damage or an unhappy home life can become burdens we don’t even realize we’re shouldering. Take the time to work through and heal from that emotional pain before it buries you alive.

When Othala is reversed

I’ve been working with the runes lately to try to gain a deeper, more personal understanding of them (so don’t have to keep referring to the books). In the past week I’ve drawn Othala reversed three times. The first time it was paired with Perthro so I focused on how the lots cast at one’s birth, one’s orlog, worked with ancestral inheritance and home. The second two times Othala reversed was paired with Elhaz/Algiz. This puzzled me because clearly I wasn’t understanding how their energy worked together. Then as I was watching a movie it clicked – in this instance Othala reversed represents having an unsafe, dysfunctional home life and upbringing. Elhaz is often described as representing self-protection, shielding or sheltering oneself. That’s when it clicked! Elhaz and Othala reversed were telling me that when one’s childhood or home life felt unsafe then the need to feel protected and shielded grow even stronger.

In my own life I’ve seen this come into play quite clearly. My parents might have loved me but for a variety of reasons my childhood left me feeling unsafe and unprotected. This has resulted in the adult me creating very strict rules and boundaries for myself. I cannot abide hypocrisy or lying. If I find that a friend has lied about something (even if it wasn’t to me) it makes me question their integrity. For many years I viewed marital infidelity as the ultimate betrayal and tended to avoid anyone I knew who had cheated on a long-term partner (I’ve managed to become less judgmental about this but not much). I find it very difficult to separate unethical behavior from my feelings and judgments about someone. For example, if I learn that a Hollywood actor, director, etc. has engaged in a behavior that I find unethical (such as Elia Kazan betraying his friends and colleagues to the House Un-American Activities Committee), I cannot enjoy their work anymore. I will not knowingly watch an Elia Kazan movie because I find his behavior in that instance so reprehensible that I believe he deserves to be stripped of any accolades he has received. I cannot separate his work from his behavior. I have the same problem with Roman Polanski, although the woman he raped as a teen has forgiven him.

I believe I develop such an unyielding approach to these matters because ethics and morals were so malleable and porous in my childhood. I felt so unprotected and at-risk (Othala reversed) that I developed a personal security that would allow me to feel a measure of security and protection (Elhaz). Realizing how this trait developed can now enable me to relax it a bit. I’m no longer that at-risk child. I don’t need such strongly defended shield walls anymore. I’m much better able to defend myself. Seeing this pattern will hopefully help me change it where necessary moving forward and allow me to recognize similar patterns in others. I may not be able to change this behavior in others (in fact there are certainly going to be occasions where it would be dangerous to do so) but at least it helps me understand what type of situation I’m addressing.

Caregiver to the dying, Handmaiden of Death

I have spent the last six years caring for my ailing mother-in-law. In that time I have seen her deteriorate from a semi-independent woman who needed assistance such as preparing meals and handling other household tasks to someone who needs help with the most basic facets of life. It saddens me because in her prime my mother-in-law was a fiercely independent woman. Despite the fact that she has a developmentally disabled son, she never asked for help. Now she is unable to walk without assistance. What makes it both sadder and a relief is that she is unaware of how helpless she is. She is like an infant – knowing only that she needs something and relying on someone else to provide it.

Dark Goddess Death

I feel like Death’s handmaiden. I am not in any way contributing to this process (although dealing with this has given me a new appreciation for euthanasia). My task is to calm her, provide what she needs (to the best of my ability) and try to ensure she’s not alone if/when her time comes. Having said all of this, I cannot help and will not justify the resentment I feel about this situation; the rage that flares up inside me at unexpected moments. The desperate wish I have that it would all just be over and I could reclaim my life again.

I am no saint or martyr. This current situation is intolerable to me. I detest it with every fiber of my being. Sometimes I practically vibrate with it. Every effort made to find assistance from external sources (government agencies, visiting nurse services, etc.) has either proven to be a dead end or beyond our financial means. I’m not willing to put this woman, who spent much of her life caring for family members, into a nursing home where she will be strapped down and drugged until her body can take no more. I may hate the lack of control and independence I have in my life right now but I would have that situation even more. I also don’t think I could forgive myself for it.

Well-meaning friends and acquaintances have spouted various platitudes about some divine being who does not give us more than we can handle. Generally my response is either a pained grimace or a colorful rejoinder which includes various profanities (depending upon how well I know the person). I bitch and moan to anyone and everyone who will listen, including the indifferent gods whose existence I honor. I get it – this will end when it is meant to end. However I must reiterate that it sucks beyond measure.

The main take-away I’ve gotten from this experience is a fierce determination not to find myself in a similar situation. I have no one that I can count on to care for me if I end up like my mother-in-law. I’ve also seen the various nursing home facilities available for elderly people in this condition and the reality is that if a family member is not a regular visitor and if one’s health coverage doesn’t provide enough benefits, the patient/family member ends up ignored, neglected, and even abused in some circumstances. That thought gives me nightmares.

Wheel of Change Death

I don’t believe we deal well with death in our modern culture. We fight it with a desperate determination that often results in circumstances like this one. The body keeps going because medical technology can maintain the status quo but it can’t do much to stop the progress of diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. So the body is kept alive and as healthy as possible while the mind continues to disintegrate.

Support services for caregivers who are tending to family members in this condition are minimal and (in my experience) woefully inadequate. It’s wonderful that there are support groups, but if I cannot leave the family members alone how exactly do I attend? Home visits from doctors? Oh sure they still happen, just not in this part of the county. Home care assistance? It’s available but not to my mother-in-law because she’s not on Medicaid. My brother-in-law (who is deaf and retarded) is eligible but services cannot be activated without a doctor’s approval. No doctors make home visits in this area and he will not leave the house without a serious fight. It’s a Catch-22 that leaves you bitter, exhausted and defeated. I hate it!!! In fact, I cannot stress how much I hate it. The only thing I would hate more is to have to institutionalize these two people that I love. I accept that. It’s the trade-off I make in my life. I’ll put things on hold to tend to them and I can still face myself in the mirror and sleep at night. It’s not a perfect situation but it’s the best I can do right now.

So if there is anyone else out there who has found themselves in similar circumstance, please know that you have my respect and admiration. It’s a thankless task that is fairly unappreciated by the wider society. Make sure you keep in touch with friends somehow or else the isolation with warp you. Take care of yourself. Even if all you can do is spend 10 minutes every day one yourself, treat that time as sacred. I’ve done the “giving my all to the relatives” trip and burnt out quick. I have found the work of Jennifer LoudenĀ and SARK to be inspirational and helpful in dealing with all of this. I still find it difficult to balance time for me with their needs but I’m stumbling along and finding ways. And if your choices are different than my own and you had to make the agonizing decision to institutionalize your loved one, please know that you have my sympathy and support. No one else can understand what you went through and how difficult it was for you to make that decision. Don’t allow anyone to shame you because of it. We are all just doing the best we can in this life and shouldn’t be held to someone else’s standards or expectations.

The shadow side of The Hermit’s Journey – madness at the fringes of the mind

Greenwood Hermit

 

For some reason today I’ve found myself pondering the energy of The Hermit. I can certainly see the challenge of forging ahead and searching through the unknown to find a path. However recently I’ve begun to see a shadow aspect of The Hermit – the madness of solitude. I’ve come to realize that solitude can provide one with an opportunity for deep insight and self-discovery, or it can push you past the breaking point. It can produce a situation where madness licks at the edges of your mind because the solitude has become unbearable. There have been times recently where that kind of madness has brushed against my mind.

Secret Forest Hermit

It has made me appreciate the sense of isolation and aloneness felt by caregivers of various stripes from stay-at-home parents to those caring for ailing family members. When the circumstances are such that socializing or time alone are just not in the cards, that’s when the wings of madness flutter close. Social networking can help relieve some of this sense of isolation and aloneness but it really is not substitute for human interaction.

Thoth Hermit

Of course I speak from personal experience. My life over the past few years has been a long example of the madness of isolation. In caring for my in-laws, a situation has been created in which I am usually alone with no adult interaction (as much as I may love my in-laws they are not capable of adult conversation at this point). I rely on phone calls and instant messaging to keep in touch with friends but sometimes it’s just not enough. Even when I’m talking or texting with friends I’m still in the same crazy-making environment.

Wildwood Hermit

Perhaps madness caused by isolation is also initiates creativity. I have certainly had moments when I become very creative trying to find ways to alleviate the solitude. History is littered with tales of creative geniuses who isolated themselves in pursuit of their goals. There can clearly be times when isolation and solitude produce a positive result but when it is the result of external forces I have a feeling that is when madness comes to call. The relentless, oppressiveness of forced isolation can push us over the edge. We might indeed be exploring uncharted territory and forging a new path but eventually all our efforts at distracting ourselves and alleviating the aloneness fail and we’re left lost in the woods with no recourse. Howling at the moon may be fun with a pack but when you’re alone in those woods you can feel a prickle of fear as worries of impending madness assail you.

Shadow Side Saturday: When death’s embrace is welcome

Have you ever wished for someone to die? I don’t mean that quick thought that flashes across our mind towards someone we hate or who has hurt us; that “I wish you were dead” moment. I mean hoping for the death of someone you love; someone who is suffering? I’m in that position right now.

Someone I care for deeply is nearing the end and there is no making her better or improving her condition; merely a slow, steady deterioration. On a daily basis I find myself hoping that that she just won’t wake up one day. The reality is that her death is inevitable (aren’t all our deaths actually inevitable?) and probably much closer than I realize. Unfortunately the lingering slowness of her departure is draining me and my hubby and can’t be fun for her either.

Every time this thought crosses my mind I feel awful. I’m starting to consider myself a horrible, heartless person but the reality is that I completely understand why some people believe in euthanasia. People babble about quality of life and how we don’t have the right to take someone’s life. Why? If someone is going to die anyway (and once again, death is inevitable for us all) then why not limit the suffering and misery such a lingering process brings?

Modern medical technology can extend the body’s life span but it can do very little for the mind. Alzheimer’s and dementia seem to be even more prevalent now because people live longer but not necessarily healthier. Perhaps this is the end result of our relentless pursuit for longevity. We refuse to accept that we are meant to die, ignoring the fact that very often the extension of our lives often results in lingering, miserable existences in our old age. As a result of this tendency, I am left in a position of hoping that someone I love will go to sleep and not wake up.

This makes me feel awful, hateful and horrible. What kind of person must I be to hope for such a thing? My opinion of myself is not exactly very high right now. It’s not that I want her to die, it’s simply that I realize she’s going to die eventually and if the remainder of her life is in this miserable, dependent state I’m sure even she would prefer it end. This is not who she was when she was 5 years ago and that woman would not want to linger like this. I realize I may not have this choice but if I do, I will gladly accept a shorter life span in exchange for being in control of my mental faculties. Is that too much to ask from life?