In my last post, I alluded to the past year having been terrible for me. The truth is, it was the culmination of a difficult period which had been going on longer than that. My decision to move to the US from Scotland in 2008 had always felt like a mistake. (And no, I don't believe that everything happens for a reason, or that any higher power has a master plan for each of us!) I tried my best, I think, to love the land - but I hated the climate, and often felt like the feeling was mutual. I never found a way to fit into the local community, and only managed to find a job after eight years. I met and fell in love with my partner, Mark, but while he was a wonderful person in many ways, our relationship was incredibly challenging for both of us, and by the beginning of 2017, I wondered whether I could continue, but at the same time didn't have the stomach for ending it, either. I often found myself wishing for something to change, even though I couldn't see what or how anything could.
In January I got a temporary job doing community work locally with a charitable trust. I found it interesting and meaningful, but at the same time, it highlighted the degree to which I wasn't accepted locally. Then, in March, all hell seemed to break loose. (Be careful what you wish for!) I was out feeding the horses one morning and something spooked them. My gelding, Bruce, crashed into me and knocked me over. I landed badly and did some kind of horrendous damage to my ankle. I ended up being on crutches for three months. This episode confirmed what I already knew in my heart about my relationship with Mark. He wasn't going to keep me safe. He didn't really have what it took to responsibly do all the things that I suddenly needed, as well as pick up the slack on the farm by doing all the chores that I normally did with the horses and land. And, almost worse for me, he just couldn't show any empathy, sympathy or affection for me in my plight.
Since I was doing most of my work from home, I was able to keep up with my job, but at the same time, I was being asked to re-interview for it, if I wanted to keep it - which I did, even though my heart wasn't fully in it. I wonder, looking back, whether I actually had some kind of breakdown during the next couple of months. I certainly know that I became more distressed than depressed, and was hysterical on a number of occasions with the stress of it all.
Then, in May, just as I was beginning to be able to walk without the crutches, Mark went off on a weekend road trip with a friend. I asked him to stay home, as I was still a bit unsteady outdoors on the uneven or muddy ground, but he elected to go anyway. On the second day of their trip, he dropped dead from a heart attack. To be honest, I'm not sure what I felt. Grief at losing my daily companion, shock from the suddenness of it all, terror as to what would now happen to me - as Mark had been mostly supporting us, financially ... relief, too ... and then guilt over the relief.
In June, I lost the job. Mark had left me nothing, and, it turned out, was in debt. I could see no option other than to sell the house and land, which meant letting go of most of my animal friends, including my beloved ponies. Without the land, I couldn't keep them, and I had no way to live, and be sure of caring for them, if I didn't sell. To my surprise the farm sold within just a few days of going on the market. I hadn't expected that, and in a way it was just another terrible shock, as now I needed to pack up and search for a new home of some kind when I barely had the energy to get out of bed in the morning.
During those months after Mark died, I would occasionally go to the cards. Feeling lost I would hope to find something which might tell me how to put one foot in front of the other. Where to put that foot, to find some solid ground. I remember getting the Cattle card."Wealth in store. Stewardship of conspicuous assets. Practicality." That made sense. Yes. Take care of things as best I could. Show off what I had to sell to its best advantage. Be practical. I could do that!
Another time it was Rooks. "Intelligence, communication and problem solving come naturally. The society of the tribe is important, and the individual flourishes within it. Loss of these qualities brings ill. Change and death may be frightening, but can also be foreseen, and guidance found to pass through." I had known for a long time that I was not among my tribe. Both the loss of my job, and the lack of community support when Mark died really brought that home to me, and reminded me that the situation was becoming untenable. To try to hang on longer in that community was not safe or healthy for me. It was time to make changes, even though it felt like jumping off a cliff or crawling into a dark tunnel.
I remember getting the River card, too. "Birth, motherhood and nurturing. Letting go. Cleansing." Again confirming that it was time to let go, to go with the flow, to take care of myself."
These occasional one card readings were a kind of lifeline. They were enough, and in fact they were more powerful for me than a spread of three or more cards would have been. I wasn't in a place, mentally, to deal with too much information at once. I was already being forced to do more than enough of that in my mundane life, and I wasn't coping all that well with it.
It was so much easier to have one simple concept to hang onto for awhile, and it served me well. First, "Steward you assets and be practical." Later, "Accept the need for change and that your tribe is not here." And finally, "Move on and take care of yourself."
The lovely couple who bought my place were flexible about the hand-over date, so in the end I looked at the calendar and decided that I wanted to be on the land for the autumn equinox. I needed that liminal hinge-time to honour the land, to let go, to prepare.
In the next post, I'll talk about how I used that time.