I’m not shattered, I’m a mosaic

While pursuing my MA in forensic psychology, I read a textbook entitled The Shattered Self. It was offered case studies of people suffering from PTSD, which the authors argued should be considered a dissociative disorder, not an anxiety disorder (I may be oversimplifying this, it’s been a long time since I read the book). As I read the book I had very mixed feelings; very personal feelings. I could to be objective about the material covered in the book. In fact it made me a little angry. As I read the cast studies many of them resonated with me on a deep level; their experiences often mirrored my own. What made me angry was the concept that these people were somehow damaged because they had found a way to pick up the pieces of their lives and move forward. Why did the fact that they had shattered make them defective? To me, they were strong, brave, resilient people who managed to endure what many could not. Yeah, okay, there might have been some projecting going on there.

In retrospect I realize that the reason these folks had become case studies in this book is because eventually their coping mechanism felt apart and they re-shattered. They were suffering and trying to hold it together as best they could but failing. So, in theory, counseling or therapy would be beneficial. Of course because I am a stubborn bitch, I resisted even the idea that being shattered was harming me. I felt like a piece of safety glass – sure I was shattered but I was still holding it together. I hadn’t lost any pieces.

As I gain more experience and wisdom, I realize that I have also made myself into a mosaic. I replaced some of the shattered pieces with new ones that are brilliantly colored and uniquely shaped. I wear these new tiles with pride because they’re proof that I have the strength to endure and the will to keep moving forward. I don’t think I’m so special (or at least no more or less special than anyone else) because clearly the case studies in The Shattered Self prove that others have the same resilience that I do. At the same time, I am proud of the fact that I am resilient and even if I’m shattered I don’t fall to pieces on the floor.

Transformational Tarot Moon

Transformational Moon

Transformational Tarot
Created by by Arnell Ando
Published by US Games (2006)

The Book says: A cycle of change; solutions to present questions can be found in the symbols of dreams and intuition rather than logic and reason. Trust your hunch; an important time for meditation. The moon rules the rhythms of life; of tides, menstruation, and other natural cycles. This card suggests that you acknowledge and respect your own natural biorhythms, moods and cycles and those of nature. The moon is metaphorically seen as the womb which both gives and takes life, so this card also stands for being sensitive to the inner knowing of when to bring something into your life as well as letting something go when the learning or spiritual process is complete. When one’s natural cycles and biorhythms are ignored or suppressed, a feeling of listlessness or even depression can emerge. Pay attention to your emotional state.

TarotBroad’s Buzz: This card sends a message of serenity and calmness as well as one of loneliness and loss. It is both peaceful and sad. The Moon’s calm, almost distant, expression brings to mind times when I felt alone and lost but looking up at the moon somehow brought a sense of peace and protection.

I hadn’t actually thought about that until now but that was my connection to the moon. I always felt as though it watched over me and protected me from harm. I love the night and revel in the darkness. It always seems so soothing and mysterious. Yet at the same time I adore the daylight hours (I just hate waking up ;-D). I was not a creature of the moon but any means. As I’ve often told friends, I do not feel the same connection to the moon which many of them experience, and yet I love the moon.

The moon is a magical, mystical protector who guides me through whatever darkness surrounds me. Maybe I see the moon as more masculine than feminine (a product of reading a lot of Norse & Irish mythology as a child). The moon cut through the blackness of the night and was a beacon of love and acceptance.  This Moon’s face might be feminine but I get that same sense of guidance and protection. She seems to be watching the empty boat to ensure that it makes it safely through the rocks. I can connect with that because heaven knows there have been moments in my life when I have felt adrift and alone but that something watches over me and protects me from ever getting truly lost. It guides me back to myself and helps me to look deep within and find my true course again. Is it The Moon? Well perhaps not the celestial body in the sky, but certainly the energy we have often associated with it.

The Moon reminds me of the song “Somewhere Out There” from the animated movie An American Tale (Tail). The Moon reminds us that we are not alone, that many others stand beneath the same moon making similar wishes and experiencing similar hopes, dreams and doubts. And maybe, just maybe, the moon helps us all work through them and move on with our lives.

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?

Shadow Side Saturday: Soul Sickness and Child Sexual Abuse

Warning:  This is not a pretty subject

I asked this question because I just learned a shocking and disturbing fact about Marion Zimmer Bradley – not only was she married to a convicted pedophile, she allegedly sexually and physically abused her daughter.  It made me sick to my stomach when I read the daughter’s poems about the abuse.  Then to read the deposition given by MZB in which she acknowledges that she knew of her husband’s sexual relationship with a teen-age (13?) year old boy and did nothing to stop it or protect the boy shriveled my soul.  I wish I could scrub ever word she ever wrote that I read out of my brain.  That is how repulsed I am by this revelation.

What is wrong with our society?  Why do we allow celebrities or well-known public figures to engage in such behaviors without comment or criticism?  Where is the outrage?  Are we like the citizens in Ursula K. LeGuin’s short story “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”?  Do we accept the suffering and misery of the innocent because of the fame, talent and skills of the abuser?  Does whatever benefit he/she brings to the equation offset the brutalization of an innocent?  I hope not because that is a world of which I want no part.

I see people defend Woody Allen’s work despite the alleged sexual abuse of his daughter and his creepy and nauseating marriage to his former stepdaughter.  He is praised as writing wonderful roles for women – as though that makes his behaviors acceptable.  Roman Polanski plead guilty to having sex with a 13 year old girl (as a way to avoid a multitude of other charges associated with this act) and when he realized his potential punishment might be more severe than anticipated he fled the country but still managed to direct movies to wide acclaim.  The fact that Angelica Huston was present in the house at some point and did nothing to protect this child is just as repugnant and nauseating.  What the hell are these people thinking?

The fury that I feel about these instances and the many others that occur every day is almost overwhelming.  There is little I can do to protect these innocents.  However I think we all need to reassess our own moral compasses.  If we suspect something like that is happening to a child we should take a deep breath and report it.  I’ve had to make those phone calls in my life and it’s very difficult.  In one instance the mother actually confronted me and I told her why I called.  She was ultimately cleared and came to understand why I reported the incident.  I won’t say she forgave but she appreciated that I was looking out for her daughter.

If we want to stop this kind of behavior we need to hold the offenders accountable no matter who they are.  This is not a question of moral and ethics – for example perhaps you feel abortion is immoral and I don’t.  The is a value judgment and something each individual need to decide for him/herself.  However I dare anyone to justify or rationalize the sexual or physical abuse of a child.  That should never be a gray area.  It is a black and white issue – wrong is wrong.  I don’t care how the offenders try to rationalize, intellectualize or justify their behaviors, we cannot let them get away with it.

To try to help me focus on a way to deal with this, I asked the Tarot “How can I deal with my feelings about the revelation about Marion Zimmer Bradley? ”  I drew the 3 of Cups reversed from the Norse Tarot.

Norse Tarot 3 of Cups

Pulling this card today I realize that the answer to my question is that I need to mourn for those hurt and damaged by these cretinous individuals.  Maybe we need to hold a day of mourning for the children who have survived such horrific experiences.  It might not stop the abuse but maybe it will start the healing.  Maybe it’s also time to do some work with the energies of some of the dark goddesses to call on them to punish such offenders.  I would not go so far as to “name names” simply because I could be wrong.  However I’m confident the dark goddesses will know who to seek out.

What message do you have for me today? 9 of Swords (Transformational & Gaian Tarot)



When I first drew this card I wasn’t sure what it was telling me.  I toyed with the traditional meanings involving nightmares, inner demons, etc. but none felt right.  Then at some point during the day when I was doing something else a thought flashed in my brain – the piercing light of hope.  That was this card was reminding me – that even in the darkest, most frightening times of our lives there is a piercing ray of hope which lights a path through the darkness and allows us to continue moving forward.

Looking at the image on Arnell Ando’s Transformational 9 of Swords I can see it represented by the sword-like object held in the man’s hand which seems poised above the blindfolded maiden’s throat.  On Joanna Powell Colbert’s Gaian 9 of Air I can see it in the eyes of the wise face that is hovering above the seemingly frightened woman.  In both cases these objects offer a sense that hope is near if we are able to open our eyes and face the reality around us.  In some ways it reminds me of a mini Tower experience.  It is perhaps not so earth-shattering but still offers insight and illumination.

Lately I have been feeling as though my life has been one long 9 of Swords experience.  Things have seemed rather hopeless and depressing.  On some occasions I have mourned the loss of my life.  Due to circumstances beyond my control, my full-time job has become caring for my elderly mother-in-law and disabled brother-in-law.  On the one hand I am glad that I am able to do this for them – putting them in a facility would be extremely detrimental to both of them.  However it is relentlessly exhausting and has no end in sight.  There are days when getting up is a huge chore.  All of this is certainly reflected in the 9 of Swords.

However what I sometimes lose sight of is that piercing ray of hope – family and friends who do offer support and help when possible.  Unfortunately some of the people who perhaps should have stepped up to help have not but we do have family and friends who are there for us.
What I have come to realize is that if I allow myself to focus on the situation it depresses my spirit and causes a sense of gloom and oppression.  Focusing on those piercing rays of hope and light allow me to see there is help available and that the darkness is not permanent or irrevocable.  It might not be an easy process but as long as I keep moving forward and don’t let myself get sucked into that sense of darkness and hopelessness, I can make it through.  Perhaps we all need to spend more time focusing on those rays of hope and light in our lives.  It may not diminish the fact that there is darkness and gloom around us but it can lessen its impact on our spirits.