Ace of Swords, processing, perspective

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I suppose it was inevitable. Many of us, myself included, saw it coming. But when you want so bad for something to work out, when you’ve embraced the idea of holding tight to faith against increasingly bad odds, when you want to be the one who finally makes it work and you really believe you can, you’ll turn a blind eye to all kinds of signs. Even the ones that (figuratively) smack you in the face.

In an entirely predictable twist in the tale of Em and I’s journey to Skye, to making a home in the Highlands, we’ve left the place we were staying. The crazy-beautiful forest garden, wild, overgrown, surrounded by crystal-clear blue sea and filled with birdsong, trees and wildflowers, a place so stunning that it had me under its spell. And a place so filled with pain and anger, bitterness and rage, that it seems impossible to live with integrity and warmth.

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The practical stuff: We’re out, three short van trips to a new friends’ house, a spare room, barn space to store our lives while we land and get our heads around what the heck just happened and what happens next. I don’t know where my clean clothes are, but I know that I’m safe, and I haven’t slept so well in months. There’s peace, perspective, love. There’s no phone signal, internet is sketchy, I feel isolated, but safe, held. There’s freedom. Space to breathe.

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So what the heck did just happen? By all accounts, something that has happened over and over. As we have gradually come to realise, Em and I were the latest in a long line of folks who were sold the idea of creating a home in that magical-seeming place…yet within months of arriving, found that the vision crumbled to dust, that the promises were hollow, that masks were worn and heavy, heavy issues hidden. One by one, stories have emerged, of others much like us who were invited in, who tried and eventually were driven away by the the anger, the tantrums, the violence, the impossibility of working with the owner.

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Of course, I heard these stories from the other side, from her side, stories of the terrible people who had come and taken advantage, made the most shocking mistakes, behaved in all kinds of terrible ways. I went along with those stories, shook my head in disbelief, vowed that Em and I were different, felt the weight of inheriting such a sad legacy.

Eeesh. We were no different at all.

I drew the Ace of Swords this morning. Truth. Justice. A new perspective. Tough stuff like that. I decided to get it done, wrote my truth in a rough half-poem and stuck it on my blog. That’s only today’s truth. Emotions shift, anger, love, sadness, next week’s truth will be different, lessons will emerge over time. It’s easy to say what was wrong with someone else’s behaviour. Harder to turn that round to myself. My shadow work is long overdue.

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It’s drizzling, warm and damp, white mist closing in this valley, holding me. I walk and walk in the soft rain, letting thoughts flow through my mind, watching where they go, watching my heart speed up and slow down, what hurts, what doesn’t.

I feel like I’ve spent the past few months deluding myself. Coming to the almost-truth, but wanting so badly for things to be different that at each crunch-point, I ran away from what was staring me in the face, pretending it might actually be okay.

I look back over recent blog posts, such as this one: tarot cards telling me to be strong, to be brave. Tarot is a game of interpretation, we all know that. I interpreted those cards as the strength to stay and pour more love in, because that is what I believed I should do, before I even picked up my tarot deck. Now I look at Strength and Death and see ‘find the courage to get the hell out’. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

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The Ace of Swords is a hard card, but it gleams bright. I flinched when I saw it. I don’t want a sword. I’ve seen enough violence, especially the violence of words. But as Mary Oliver says, you don’t have to cut with the hard sword of truth, you can point with it too.

I’ll use my sword of truth to point the way, at a time when everything is, yet again, in flux.

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16 comments

  1. Melanie says:

    Beth, my heart goes out to you and Em….so much admiration for having the courage to ‘get the hell out’ and more importantly for having the courage to follow your dreams to start with. Sending much love as you both realign your dreams with your hearts and souls xxx

    • Suzanne says:

      Sorry couldn’t find a link to comment. Thanks Beth for being so honest and open about your hellish experience. Your writing is still lovely even when describing a horrible situation. I hope that you both find peace in escaping this frightening situation and know that good things will come your way. By sharing you’ve given me a reminder to listen to my gut instinct and to not try to fit myself into situations that aren’t good for me. Hope you can take some time to heal. X

  2. Caroline says:

    Hi Beth, I am so sad to hear of your situation. Please try and get away from the “I should have known” self-anger if you can. You are a warm-hearted and open person, and you expect others to be the same, so you continued to try to make it work in a difficult situation, by continuing to give the other person the benefit of the doubt.

    When I get down about someone who has treated me like crap, I try to remember that it’s better to be the openhearted positive-thinking person who gets taken advantage of, than to be the asshole who is always taking advantage of others. In the long run my life is going to be a more fulfilling one, even if it means I get hurt sometimes.

  3. Francie says:

    I see you. I’ve been in similar situations, and I remember, viscerally, the embarrassment of hindsight and the relief of getting free. But, of course, the truth of the situation only seems obvious in hindsight because you have so much more information now. And I think it’s super hard to find the right boundaries with which to temper compassion and empathy, because those two qualities are real, true resistance to systems of oppression. It’s so complicated. So glad to hear you and Em are in a safe place, and good for you for getting out!

    • Beth Maiden
      Beth Maiden says:

      Thanks Francie. It’s hard not to be embarrassed, not to feel like a fool, I think I will for a while, and it’s comforting to hear from someone else who knows that feeling. And yes, to all you write about the place boundaries and compassion and empathy meet – I have always struggled with this and with what ‘assertive’ really needs to look like for me. The work goes on :)

  4. Folks who feed on your pain–who need to control you–will find ways of acculturating you to their demands so gradually, so sympathetically, that what looks obvious in hindsight is essentially impossible to see in the moment. I am so grateful and honored that you are willing to share this process with your readers, and I hope that whatever guilt and responsibility you feel quickly fades into self-compassion.

  5. syrens says:

    Hindsight is totally 20-20. I’ve done that kind of desperate, hopful/deluded interpretation too many times. (And I am SO glad that you two are out of there!!!)

    That said, it also sucks when you start going into readings – or anything else, for that matter – only trusting the Bad Stuff and believing anything good you feel or pick-up-on is wishful thinking. How do you find the balance between the two?

  6. John in Brooklyn says:

    Beth,

    to echo what others have said, I’m glad to hear that you an Em have extracted yourselves from a rough situation that you were really invested in. Best wishes for respite and healing in the near future and for planning your next moves going forward.

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