Tuesday, August 15, 2017

August Challenge: Emotional Check-In (Day 15)

Today's emotional check-in was to draw a card from only the Cups. I grabbed my cards this morning, sorted out the cups, and merrily shuffled away hoping for the 9. I didn't get the 9. I got a card that really brought me pause and forced me to deeply contemplate my emotional state.

The Llewellyn companion book defines the 5 of Cups as:
Disappointment. Being held at a disadvantage and manipulated by emotional strings. Unfulfilled dreams. Feeling an energy drain. Spilled milk. Suffering over one's suffering. Difficulty accepting a loss. Disbelief. Senseless loss. Lingering gloom. Being limited by the haunting of past experience. Weight. Slow healing.
Essentially, grief. The thing about grief is this: sure, you can move on. You're still alive. You still have people around you who love you, but you can never bring back what was lost. And grief takes many forms and can be over many things. You can grieve everything from the loss of a life to a loss of self. However, grief has an unfortunate empathy curve.

You lost a close friend, loved one, or pet? Were they such an integral part of your life that those around you can instantly assimilate understanding your pain into their own world view? Then the people around you will understand for a time, but there is still a clock set by how deeply they understand your grief, and once you pass the time they anticipate for you to grieve, empathy begins to wane.

When they don't understand your grief, no clock is set, or if one is set, it's for an aggressively short period of time. "Why aren't you over this yet?" "Just let it go. It's not worth it." Most people struggle to understand that not being able to relate to another person's turmoil does not invalidate how they feel.

In my case, approximately one out of eight women should understand my grief, and at the very least, the close friends and family of one out of eight women should be familiar with the process. Unfortunately, I think I still fell into that second group mostly due to my age. I was way too young to experience the disease I suffered through, and in tandem, too young for many of my local peers to have much experience with someone close to them going through it. The clock was set for the moment official treatment ended. Never mind that someone took a piss in the two cups remaining as well.

When you've set aside your emotions for over a year to deal with life's curve ball as well as the expectation that you leave as little emotional imprint on your peers as possible, it's damn nigh impossible to stop the onslaught of feeling as the dust settles and you gaze over the decimated landscape of your life. Pair that timing with the buzzer indicating the empathy switch can now set to off, and you've got a long, slow, and tediously angry recovery.

It's taken me a long time to get here. Most of the strides I've made are due to the work and study I've done with tarot. I've been running again, counting my calories, forcing myself to find social groups to take part in (and not just online). Things are looking up! I'm not grieving any longer, right? I'd like to set my own self-empathy switch to off. Hasn't it been long enough? But emotions really don't work that way, and most days I don't need to engage in tedious emotional self-care. Then, I see some old picture from before what seems like an apocalypse, or run into someone unaware of what the past couple years have been for me who comments on how much I've changed. I've got to play it chill, but really, I want to shout at the world to fuck off.

At this point, I've moved away from the cups. I'm on the bridge, and I'm heading toward the safety of the castle, but I keep stopping to glance back at what I've left behind. And along the way there, I want to witness to as many people as possible on how to keep the empathy switch set to on.

For those of us who are tarot readers (or even seekers), I discovered a helpful spread based on the Ring Theory of Kvetching. It's a great way to stimulate mindful consideration of how you can help someone close to you cope with illness or provide support to their loved ones.

To sum it up, be kind, be considerate, be mindful. Everyone defines their own emotional path, and it is not for anyone else to judge how many detours or track-backs or rest stops someone takes before they reach the other side.


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