of shadow work
facing the darkness /
to live in the light
to live in the light
After I studied this card a bit, I see why the Most High picked it for the day before Thanksgiving.
Of course, it starts with family. The Minor Arcana card Six of Cups is the glowing love child of the Sun card (Sun) & the Death card (Scorpio). The Sun card represents the joy, optimism, protection, freedom & spiritual gifts that come with total submission of the ego to the Most High; & remember the Death card (Scorpio) represents complete obliteration of relationships, authorities & circumstances blocking a brand new day. Basically, the Six of Cups (Sun in Scorpio) is the kid destined to do big things.
Let's look at the Six of Cups literally: There are two people, both wearing red hoods. The hood is still fitting for the woman on the right, but ill fitting the dude on the left. Not only that, but if you look at his legs, you'll see that he's literally growing out of a plant. There are four plants in the foreground (including the one he grew out of), so we can assume he outgrew someone else's earlier (be-four/ before) plants (plans). He's showing off his plant (plan) to the person closest to him, but his plant (plan) is too high (ambitious). She wonders if he'll bring them down a bit...? He realizes she needs to see him as stooped (stupid). Even stooped down though, he's grown taller than her. Behind them is the wall, yes? So against her wall (will), she looks up at him & against his wall (will), he looks down at her. With her left foot behind the plant in the corner, we can assume she feels left behind & cornered. There are plants (plans) but no growth where she stands. Actually, if you look closer, her right foot is between plants (plans). She's unstable. She wears one mitten, which prevents her from putting her bare hand (helping with) his plan. She won't (one) admit it (mitten) but she can't handle his growth. She hides her other glove (hides her love) from him. We only see one side of the man's body; this perspective of him is one sided. She can't see that he is supported by a pillar that holds a higher plant (plan). Behind the higher plant (plan) is a shadow's path. The shadow's spear simultaneously rests at a dead end on the side of the wall & spears the plant (Dead inside; spirit plan).
Since this is a Cups card, it deals with emotion, or in this case, intuition. The Sun bestows the gift of clarity to Scorpio, revealing clearly what is dead. When you speak to someone who doesn't support your growth or embrace your plans, you literally feel dead inside. It is a higher spiritual plant (plan) that this be the case, that you would keep your plant (plan) to yourself. Become self-tall (taught).
Shutting the hell up is the point of this card I think, because it's impossible to explain yourself to those who don't understand you, & unnecessary to explain yourself to the folks who do. The way you feel when you discuss your plans is how you'll know the difference; if you somehow wind up feeling stupid & dead inside, like a shadow of yourself, you're talking the the wrong folks. If you feel sky high & alive, you've found your tribe. Unfortunately, your tribe is rarely found at the family table. Even Jesus said (Luke 4:24), "Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in his hometown." The shadow of energy of this card is what happens when you keep trying, even after you notice your nearest & dearest suddenly looking at you a-type-of-way. The light is accepting that everybody isn't going to be happy for your progress because for whatever reason, your growth makes them feel small.
You see how dude bends slightly to be knee-deep in the bushes? He's belittling himself because he's needy (knee deep) in this bullshit (bushes). He's grown up with it. It's all he's ever known. You see how, from this perspective, the corner of the roof will poke him in the head if he stands straight up? This means he's got to move out from under this roof, & climb up out of these bushes (bullshit) in order to walk tall on his spiritual path. Sometimes the only way to prove that you've grown is to get gone.
Why stoop in the shadow when you can stand in the light? It's crazy though because the first thing you see in the light is the corpses of half-ass, non-supportive relationships.
Dead bodies everywhere.
Here's my Six-Of-Cups story:
I was struggling to come up with a story for this energy but then I realized it's because this energy is subtle af. It's hard to articulate that Six of Cups shit, because it's not so much what people say to make you feel small, it's what they don't say or how they say the things they do say. No one comes out & says they don't believe in you or they wish you'd sit down somewhere, they say things like, "Tell me about your back-up plan," or "Is that little project bringing in any money yet?"
You know what I mean? Condescension. But notice it never, ever comes from people who feel good about their own growth. People who feel good about themselves tend to mentor others because life yields life. Growth fosters growth. Condescending remarks always come from the people who want to tear you down because they're jealous. You are growing & they are not. You feel alive & they feel dead, & they hate you for your happiness. So I guess the Six of Cups is the spiritual intuition of knowing who's a mentor & who's a hater, depending on how they react to your plans.
When I first started mentioning the Melanated Classic Tarot Deck to my friends & family, they didn't really know wtf I was talking about. My (used to be) nearest & dearest don't mess with tarot or spirituality too tough. It's kind of lots of Jesus or nothing. They know me as being a writer & anything short of me saying I PUBLISHED A BOOK, they feel like I'm just distracted from my path. They don't think I'm evolving, they think I'm avoiding.
About two years after I moved to Cali, an old friend of mine from Chicago came to visit. I told her I was getting into tarot, & then I showed her my closet. When I was first learning the cards, I took a small closet in my home & pushpinned every card from my first deck on the wall inside the closet, & then I would sit cross-legged on the closet floor & study them, like in a tarot chamber. It was awesome!
Anyway, I showed my friend my tarot chamber, which would obviously indicate dedication & interest, but she didn't see that. She said, "Are you writing? Because the Oubria I know is a WRITER." Y'all.
Ok so flash forward like a year from then, & I'm accepting pre-orders for the deck & its blowing up online & all that. I explained to her that I'd taken a pretty popular deck & made it black, & that people were responding well. She listened but she didn't say much.
About a month after that, a very popular singer whose music I love emailed me & told me she'd bought one of the decks & she was excited to get it. We chatted back & forth a bit via a few emails. I was OVER THE MOOOOOON. I wound up talking to my friend on the phone later that week. She's a teacher; she talked non-stop for like 40 minutes about her students, the administration, her nigga, her kids, her mama, & I listened to every single word, gave great advice, all that. Finally she got tired of talking & said, "Now what's going on with you?"
In the past when she asked me that, I always had problems to match her problems, you know? But this day, I was feeling good. My favorite singer's favorite singer bought something I MADE. So I told her the story. She was like uh huh, huh, for real, ooh girl let me call you back.
Same thing happened with my sister- I told her about the singer buying the deck & my sister said, "Oh & you believed that was really her?"
Alright, I'm done. Happy Thanksgiving. Share your pies, not your plans.
What are y'alls Six of Cups?
I once asked the ancestors in my maternal line (through a tarot reading), "What is the energy y'all been dealing with forever that you want me to break?" & THIS card popped out. Ugh there's so much I want to say about this damn card I am overwhelmed. Let me begin at the beginning, drive slow.
First, the family. The Five of Pentacles (Mercury in Taurus) is the Minor Arcana portrait of its Major Arcana Parents, Mercury (the Magician/ left) & Taurus (The Hierophant / right).
Any card that has Magician energy means shit is finna get tricky. The Magician can either mean manifestation or manipulation, depending on the day. Imo, in this card, the Magician means manipulation. I mean, let's look at the Magician- dude is able bodied & confident af, all powerful, with the four tools of creation (spirit, emotion, thought, resources) at his fingertips, so why is he appearing in the Five of Pentacles as a wounded 'lil troll? Why is he using his tools like crutches instead of being a craftsman? Because manipulation, that's why. He's following up behind the Hierophant, & something ain't right about that either. First of all, why is the Hierophant, the keeper of order, structure & faith, dictator of ritual (rich, you all) outside the church, barefoot in the cold? What in the hell is going on here??
Let's look at the card literally. There is a broken man (or appears broken anyway), following behind a woman. From his demeanor, we can assume he's losing her (a loser). If he says anything, it's likely a plea, or please. Or perhaps he's uncertain about how / when he'll get out of the cold, so he asks her over & over, "Go in? Go in?" (Going, Going) He's drawn to the church peephole, which looks so warm & pleasing. (People pleasing) She presses forward, despite her cold feet. She has no shoes (choose / choice). She is so tired. It's snowing (it's no win / it's no end).
Let's discuss the Hierophant a little further. The Hierophant represents the individual law & order within each person. We all have our own personal laws & code of ethics that we adhere to, whether we discuss it or not. Each person has their list of things they will do & the things they won't do. It's called integrity, & is the foundation of self-respect, or the ability to consider one's own wants & needs because they are consistent, ordered, law. Self-respect is the by-product of an interior landscape that does not change, that does not flux, regardless of circumstance or influence. It is the result of becoming a law unto oneself, where one's principles can safely abide.
Trigger Alert: But like panties pushed aside even though you said no a thousand times, the Hierophant can be lured from her sacred inner riches into a life of moral bankruptcy with a single fucking word: PLEASE. & Lord knows these Magicians love to say please. Please baby can I borrow your car, please can I take the condom off, please let me hold $20, please let me fuck one more time, please suck it, please suck it, please do this for me (its the last time, I promise) please understand, please take me back, please don't be mad, please don't tell, please don't yell, please don't cry, please don't go, please have my baby, please have an abortion, please hang up the phone, please pick up the phone, please come back, please trust me, please forgive me, gimme one more chance, please, please, pleas, pleas, pleas.
It's literally exhausting, you know? It wears a bitch down. But what are you gonna do? We sympathize, empathize, rationalize. We're GOOD PEOPLE. We don't leave folks (especially broken, needy folks) behind. It ain't right! We weren't raised to say no! We were taught to say yes, to be agreeable, pleasing. (Peep-hole / people pleasing.) We were taught that should someone pay attention to us, even if just for a moment (a peep!), they better see someone warm & inviting. Though we hesitate (cold feet), we have no shoes (choose). Please. You have to. It's the magic word (Magician's word).
Yes, please is the shadow energy of this card, but the light is right there on the flip side. The midget Magician motherfucker has successfully switched our reality by turning our kindness against ourselves, & all we gotta do is switch it back. Look at the church behind the Hierophant; this is the Hierophant's home, yes? This is the place where her principles can safely abide, the kingdom of heaven within her? So all she has to do is go in. Not keep going, going with the bullshit but stop, say NO, & go abide within her original morals & decisions, effectively leaving him out. Simple. Dwelling inside your self-respect is heaven & living outside your integrity is hell. Do you want to be in hell? HELL NO. And the fun thing about saying hell no is you can always say it no matter how many times you've already said yes. You might feel guilty but that's manipulation, don't forget. Everybody is able bodied & equipped with their own ability to manifest & do for self, ESPECIALLY a freaking Magician. No one is a loser here. Everybody can go in (Go, Win!).
Here's my five of pentacles story: (Disclaimer: This story is uncomfortable for me & I use the n**** word a lot. I am sorry to whoever that offends)
When I was like 20, I worked for a telemarketing company up north (Chicago). One of the supervisors was 36, kind of cute, & hella flirty with everybody except me. I felt left out, so I started going out of my way to be noticed by him, even though I wasn't that attracted to him. But the fact that he didn't automatically like me & try to fuck me, bothered me because he tried to fuck everybody else. If you grew up in Chicago (or anywhere for that matter) you know that by a certain age, you measure your self-esteem against a nigga's thirst. (If he ain't trying to holla, I must not be cute...) About a week into us flirting, he told me he was married, so I backed way the hell off. I was so young that it hadn't really dawned on me yet that niggas really be out here cheating on their wives, because I'd only had boyfriends my age. I thought somehow my morals would make him feel convicted, & he'd stop flirting so hard - not just with me, but with everybody. But it didn't work that way- he kept flirting with all the other girls but stopped flirting with me & lowkey called me a prude/unrealistic. I felt left out, so I started flirting with him again. Now I'm still thinking shit is innocent or whatever, because I was young. I did not recognize that I was playing with fire. The job would have these payday parties at a local lounge with food & hella Tequila, & one day he asked me if I was gonna go to the party (please?). I felt included & I liked that feeling, so I said yeah. Then he asked me to wear a skirt to the party (please?) & I said yes to that too. I had taken the bus there, but I needed a ride home (please?). About an hour before the party ended, dude offered & I was grateful.
We had been in his car a few blocks when he started touching on my thigh. I wasn't ready for all of that (although I did wear the skirt like he asked) but I didn't know how to say stop, no, so he kept doing it. His hand went higher & higher & when I didn't stop him, next thing I knew he had pulled the car over & was on top of me. Like, in seconds. & I kept asking myself if I'd agreed to this but I knew I hadn't because I was on the last day of my period & I was still wearing a tampon, so I was in no way prepared. But instead of screaming my head off I literally tapped him on his shoulder like he was blocking the restroom- ahem...could you move please? Before he stopped, he told me he loved me & called me his wife's name. Somehow with my skirt around my waist & the seat belt bruising my ass, I pitied him.
The next day, my lungs shut down & I went to the hospital for a couple of days. I remember it was finals week at my junior college & I missed taking my exams, + a week of work. When I got back to the job, he looked stressed because I'd been gone so long (maybe he thought I'd quit??) - idk- & I felt so bad that I'd worried him that I stopped being mad about what happened. He started inviting me to just drink tequila & fuck in his car after work & I accepted because I knew if I didn't, somebody would. I wanted to feel special or... something. (Not trash...? Not thrown away...?) I really started to hate that nigga though, because he was just a terrible person & I couldn't articulate why I kept spending time with him. Just before all this started, I'd begun the application process to transfer to a Liberal Arts college in New Mexico. I didn't recognize myself at all when I was dealing with him (yes there's more, no I'm not finna tell it), but receiving the acceptance letter to go to my little art school in the desert saved my life because it helped me see... ME again. I'd finally (finally!) accomplished something worthy of my own respect, that reminded me of the person I knew I was but had forgotten I could be. (Go, win!) That, plus knowing I was about to move cities to pursue my goals & hone my talents helped me start saying no to him. As a complete sentence too, with no explanation. Just nope. Hell no.
I don't know about y'all but this one was heavy af for me.
What are your Five-of-Pentacles?
P.S. I read EVERY COMMENT. I may not be able to respond yet but I read every single one. THANK YOU ALL.
I just want to preface this post by saying y'all are showing up & showing out for each other & I'm in deep appreciation of your vulnerability. I think I might ugly cry a few times before this work is done.
Once again I shuffled & I was surprised (but not really) that the Five of Cups came out. Just like the Nine of Swords, the Five of Cups carries Tower energy. Even though I've taught this card a bunch, I prayed for discernment before writing this post & I feel like I was today years old before I fully understood it. The Five of Cups is a Minor Arcana card & carries the energy of two Major Arcana cards: The Tower (Mars) & Death (Scorpio). If the Tower & Death are the parents, the Five of Cups is the child.
This energy is actually in my birth chart because my natal Mars is in Scorpio, so its a bit of a blindspot for me. I've always looked at it like the liquid spilled out in the first three cups wasn't even love, so there's no use being upset about it. in the tarot, love is represented by clear water, not whatever tf this red & green goo is. I figured the card was indicating that if you could muster the strength to turn away from your loss, you would see that there was another opportunity for love & happiness right behind you, as represented by the two upright cups. But today the Most High was like nawl boo that's backwards af.
These cards always reveal themselves literally tho, that's what trips me out. The truth is staring us right in the face. This dude is concentrating very deeply on a loss, right? And what's behind him? A GAIN. Behind him, is an opportunity to gain back two of the three cups he's lost. But what do the words A-GAIN also spell? AGAIN. Which is the card's way of telling us that whatever is in those two cups, this person has already experienced in the three cups. This person has already been disappointed & depressed by what was in those cups so why in the world would he turn around & do it again??? It appears as though this cycle is the only option, though, since the cups are at his front & his back. He appears stuck. Which is true, but the card is trying to hint that in order to become unstuck, this person would have to MOVE ON. There is no clear path around the pain. There's no way to avoid the loss. The only thing to do is to pick up his feet & get over it.
That resistance to getting over it, moving on, accepting the loss without searching for a way to risk it again, is the shadow energy of the Five of Cups. Much like the Nine of Swords, the light of this card is hidden in darkness, because the only way out is through. Therefore the shadow of the card is lurking in light, in the optimism that somehow the same drink that poisoned you, can heal you, or that the same feeling that broke you, can fix you.
Let's talk about why there's only two cups behind dude anyway, since it was three that he lost. To explain that, we have to talk about this card's parents. Remember, the Five of Cups is a combination of Mars & Scorpio energy. Once again, with Mars we have the Tower (on the right). With Scorpio, we have Death (on the left).
We already know the Tower is the finger of God tearing us apart in order get us together. Death is the energy of total transformation & renewal regardless of the upheaval caused by the change. If we put these two energies together, we can see the Five of Cups is God being intent on ruining anything that stands between us being born again. I don't necessarily mean in the Christian sense either, I just mean that people have a tendency to unconsciously perpetuate fucked up family patterns & cycles, even though they suck. When God is tired of that & ready to wash us off, freshen us up & do a new thing in our bloodline, we'll find every door to those specific ancestral behaviors either slammed shut or filled with misery. Sometimes the generational curse is supposed to stop with us, but we resist bcus we love cursing. Its hard af to quit cursing.
Ok, back to the three spilled cups. Certain cards in the tarot reveal their meaning with the help of other cards. In this case, the three spilled cups represent the one cup in the Ace of Cups (on the right) + the two cups in the Two of Cups (on the left).
The Ace of Cups is a giant cup of love from the hand of the Most High, for you to do with what you please. The Two of Cups shows a couple exchanging their cups with each other. Their cups represent the intention to love each other based on how they themselves have been loved. However if these people have not been loved properly, then the cups they give to each other is not love, but poison. This is why the finger of God (Tower) strikes in the Five of Cups & causes the true contents of the exchange to be exposed. Since pure water can't mix with dirty water without getting dirty, the Ace of Cups from the Most High has been tainted as well.
Now that's a hard pill to swallow though, because it means accepting 1) the love you've been giving wasn't love, 2) the love you've been receiving wasn't love, & 3) all that stuff that wasn't love poisoned the purity inside you (God's love). To cope with the loss, which feels like a death (because no one is who you thought they were, not even yourself) you turn around & say this time I'll do better, this time I'll be sweeter, this time... & you do it again.
Ok yeah, God is not the author of confusion, so the Most High doesn't put His cup in that mess again. Hence there only being two cups upon turning around, instead of three. I've learned from experience that when you remain in a relationship cycle where you're trying to give & receive love from a space the Most High refuses to replenish, you stay losing, diminished, dark, depressed, sad, stuck, lost, drunk in love (wasted).
I'll give you an example-
Technically this story starts with my mother, may she RIP. I'm finna tell her business which would have mortified her when she was alive, but now that she's passed on, she's always nudging me to share her mishaps if they can help somebody. DON"T JUDGE MY MAMA, THO.
The love of my mama's life was a married man. Somehow (Five of Cups) they never officially ended up together, but they remained tight af until the day she passed. Once we were both adults & could speak freely with each other, we had several conversations about the nature of their relationship. Mostly, she expressed regret that she'd never found someone who wasn't married to openly love & support her & give her the honor she deserved. When I asked her why she didn't (bcus my mama was fiiiine, ok?) she explained that in her head she wanted to, but her heart was just... stuck on dude. She couldn't properly be with him but she couldn't get over him either. She said she would try to be with other men & tell her Mr. Married to quit calling, but ultimately she'd always go back to him because, love. My daddy turned out to be one of the other men she briefly tried to be with. The crazy shit is, during the year she was pregnant with me, Mr. Married finally divorced his wife & was willing to help her raise me, but she turned him away trying to do the "right thing," by my daddy. When I was around one years old she tried to go back to Mr. Married because things with my daddy wasn't working, but when she called, Mr. Married was literally one day away from wedding to wife #2. He married someone else (had to do "right" by her, you know?), & him and my mama were just heartbroken as hell & pitiful af for the rest of her life.
Now for my part. When I was in high school, I dated this one dude, but over time I fell in love with another dude who was a mutual friend of ours. When I realized I had feelings for our friend, I didn't know what to do, & I did everything wrong. I cheated on my bf with his friend, then broke up with my bf. But my bf felt so bad about the breakup that I got back together with him, kept cheating with his friend, got caught & ruined my reputation & lost a lot of friends & respect (esp. self-respect). The relationship with me & the dude I fell in love with did not work out no matter how hard we tried, & we desired each other madly so we tried up until two years ago, all throughout our other relationships, including my marriage & his engagement. We called it being friends or whatever the hell but truly, it was an emotional affair (& at the very end, a physical affair too) that lasted for 22 damn years, & every time it ended, it ended in a huge tower moment that came out of nowhere because God ain't finna bless no mess, PERIODT.
Now for his part. The dude I fell in love with & tried to be with for 22 years (who I think is my twin flame tbh if you believe in that sort of thing) has a bit of family history that plays into this as well. His father was married for a long time & had five living daughters but no living sons (two died in infancy). Towards the end of his marriage, he met my dude's mom, who was mad younger than him. He had an affair with her, & wound up divorcing his wife & leaving his daughters. Not long after, my friend's mom got pregnant with my friend (his father's first living son), & the rest is history. They are still married to this day, even though their marriage still carries a great deal of energetic resentment & anger from my friend's father's first family. The irony is not lost on me that I have five children & I was super pressed to leave my husband to be with my friend, meaning I was "loving him" by emulating his father & trying to turn him into his mother. Eventually I had to accept that I was appearing toxic af in his life story. I thought it was "romantic" to choose him at all costs, but realistically, what do I look like ruining his friendships, relationships & my marriage in the name of "soulmates..?" & What does he look like breaking up his engagement & my family in the name of "destiny?" No. Just... no.
Also, what are the odds that I was born to my father instead of my mother's long time love? What are the odds that my friend was born to his mother instead of his father's first wife? Clearly God was ready to do something new with both our generational lines (born again), & the Most High was not willing that we should eff up a brand new beginning by repeating those same toxic patterns with each other.
Thank you for reading all of that if you did, even though it was super messy. That also is the lesson of the Five of Cups- its MESSY. We can't clean that up, no matter how hard we try. We can't put lipstick on a pig. We can't go back in time & fix it. We can't repeat the same mistakes, only better this time, I promise. That's crazy.
All we can do is ask the Most High to help us move forward into our a new story, where His grace is the focal point & not this bullshit. We look at this card & we see something "wasted," & yet the Most High is saying Baby, waste it. Its basura. Come get something better.
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
What's y'all Five of Cups?
I shuffled the deck good & plenty while asking the Most High which card should begin our shadow work & I was surprised (but shouldn't have been) when the nine of swords popped out.
For those of you who don't know, the Nine of Swords is what's known as a "Minor Arcana," card in the tarot. Most Minor Arcana cards are a combination of two energies from the Major Arcana. In this case, the two Major Arcana cards that create the energy of the Nine of Swords are the Tower (which represents the planet Mars) & the Lovers (which represent the astrological sign of Gemini).
Therefore the Nine of Swords is also known as Mars in Gemini, or the Tower in the Lovers. The Tower card deals with moments of divine intervention that appear destructive & unsettling but are actually meant to keep us from continuing to strive in the wrong direction; The Lovers is about choices, whether in relationship, business, artistic endeavors, etc. - that reveal the naked truth of who we are. When you put these two energies together (Tower + the Lovers) the Nine of Swords depicts what happens when the Most High keeps sending destructive & unsettling events meant to shock us out of our poor choices & re-direct us towards our personal truth & highest path- even if it tears us away from the places & faces where (if not for the damn towers) we feel comfortable.
In the Nine of Swords, we've made our bed, therefore our first instinct is to lie in it. The tarot is literal & therefore "lie in it," has a double meaning. Since swords represent air (thoughts/ speech), the nine of swords represent the things we say to ourselves & others in an attempt to tolerate an intolerable situation. Not only do we continue to be complacent (lie in it), but we also pretend (lie in it) that everything is fine. It's only at night when we're alone with ourselves that we reveal the depths of our discomfort & admit the truth that we just can't take this shit no more. This feeling of despair is actually our blessing, because it's divinely sent clarity that we can't keep going like this. No matter the cost, changes must be made. What felt right at one point has turned out to be really, really wrong. If we could just admit that we made a mistake, we would be free to choose again.
Yet it is here, in the midst of our confusion, exhaustion & desperation, right when we're (thank God!) ready to admit defeat, that the damn Devil enters the chat. You weren't wrong, he says. Are you really going to give up so easily? Can't you figure out a way? What about the people who love you & depend on you? Would you really abandon them? Won't you fight for them? Don't you love them? Doesn't love bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things?
And then instead of accepting our misery-as-healing & taking up our mat to GO, we lie back down in the bed we've made, somehow convinced that if we only try again but harder, something will change. This is how hope (which should be a wonderful thing) becomes the shadow energy of despair, because it pressures us to hold on when the Most High is doing everything in His power to make us let go (or be dragged).
I'll give you an example-
When I first got together with my soon-to-be ex-husband, there were nine significant red flags (read: tower moments) early in the relationship. However we committed to each other very quickly (moved in together after two weeks & I became pregnant within a month), so instead of seeing these red flags as the screaming exit signs they were, I felt obligated to double down & barricade the door. The first flag was his inability to hold a stable job. He told me he was trying / looking for work, yet I kept finding half-filled, crumpled job applications in the trunk & backseat of my car. Instead of stepping back to observe his behavior, I told myself he needed a cheerleader to motivate him harder.
The second red flag was his temper. The smallest rebuke or suggestion would set him off. Instead of recognizing I was tying my life to someone with an angry, combative spirit, I told myself he needed to be loved harder & understood more. The third red flag was the fact that he never had money, & if I handed him money, he never brought me my change. Instead of admitting to myself that I was being used, I convinced myself that love was more important than money. The fourth red flag was the discovery that he was still emotionally & sexually involved with his ex-wife. Since I was already pregnant & desperately unwilling to be a single mother, I convinced myself that because I'd never been married, I was naive to the difficulties & complications of emotions post-divorce. The fifth red flag was the fact that my friends & family gave the relationship a huge HELL NO. Instead of admitting I should listen to those who loved & knew me best, I convinced myself I'd been changed by love & they just didn't understand.
The sixth red flag was the fact that he rarely cleaned the home we shared, even when the small children from his first marriage were visiting. Instead of seeing I was setting myself up to be overworked, I told myself this is "just how it is when you live with a man." The seventh red flag was that he didn't have a car of his own, yet was irresponsible with mine, including filth, several parking tickets & a couple of minor accidents. Yet I told myself I shouldn't care so much about material things, & that I should be more forgiving. The eighth red flag was that he had no concrete plans for his future (a litany of complaints about his life tho!). I told myself he'd never been taught to plan (poor baby) but that I would teach him. The ninth red flag was that he signed up for school (upon my insistence) but was soon begging me to complete his overdue assignments. I told myself I needed to quit being so mean & use my smarts to help my man.
Y'all! All these tower moments occurred within the first six months of our relationship. Soon I'd gone from being a single, independent, focused, happy college graduate, to being a pregnant, overworked (three jobs!), broke, depressed, stressed, battle-tested, alienated, humiliated, frustrated baby mama, in a dirty apartment, with dents all over my car, increased auto-insurance & blunt guts & weed crumbs always on the floor mats. Before long I hated my life, & funded it at the same time. It was like going bankrupt buying handcuffs & a noose. Every single tower moment was the finger of God's love illuminating the fact I needed to admit I was wrong, cut my losses & move on, but the longer I stayed with him (& convinced my family and friends I was right to do so), the longer I trapped myself with my own excuses, codependency & shame. Instead of waking up to the clarity that it was all fucked up, I rocked myself to sleep for 12 years (& birthed five children) hoping the situation would magically improve. Spoiler alert: It didn't.
Even now, I feel fucked up telling y'all all that. I don't want you to see my almost ex-husband as the bad guy, or me as a big dummy. I want to tell you that I'm not perfect, & that his mama abandoned him & his grandma died & his daddy was mean. What I'm saying is that I still want to make excuses, even after all this time. Even though I've had to part ways to keep my sanity, my heart still wants to hope, believe, bear, endure, because that's who I am & that's how I love. Still, I'm through letting my love be used against me. Sometimes the only way to heal & restore ourselves is to ignore glimmers of hope & embrace the darkness of despair. It's hard to admit that it will never get better, but that's the only truth that sets you free.
Still, leaving felt impossible. It has been a series of baby steps forward & giant steps back. I have had to overcome my fear of being alone in the dark, & control my instinct to run towards the tower simply because it lights up the sky.
Ok, that's my story. Please share your Nine-of-Swords stories in the comments, even if yours is exactly like mine or someone else's & you don't want to be redundant. Please, let's be redundant. This is a truth that needs to be spoken again, again, again.
I'm so glad y'all are here!