This blog post might be a little witchy, and a little real. Okay, really real. Just fair warning to those of you who aren't into that. (For instance, Donald Tr*mp should not read my blog.) Last week, I pulled the three of swords for my future. In my deck, the swords are bound by a red ribbon, and it looks painful, and my first impression was, almost spinal. “Betrayal, heartbreak, turmoil” it said. “F*ck,” I said. On Wednesday, this card finally started to come to fruition. To understand what it all means and why it’s a big deal, I have to give you a little bit of backstory.
In 2013, I got in a car accident just outside of OCC, where I was going to college. It happened in my first semester, first month, and just four days after my 18th birthday. I will maintain to my dying day that the accident, though I technically rear-ended him, was not my fault, as the asshole in front of me (and he WAS an asshole, or at least an assHAT), stopped so quickly that I hadn’t even previously known he was in front of me. At the time of the accident, I was recovering from back spasms that I’d had the two weeks before.
Long story short, I came home from school one day with my back in immense pain, nearly unable to breathe because my muscles were so tight they felt like stone. I made it through the evening and went to bed. In the middle of the night I woke up, again in incredible pain and unable to breathe. I swore and cursed until my dad finally came into my room, as I was unable to even get out of bed to tell him what was going on. Painstakingly, he sat me up, and we determined that he’d get me to the bathroom and then we’d evaluate whether or not to go to the emergency room. At which point, the pain caused me to hyperventilate, and I blacked out. According to my dad, I fell back, convulsing on the bed, trying to make myself sick. I woke up in the hallway, propped up against the wall covered in sweat with no memory of any of it, and the ambulance soon arrived, they put an oxygen mask on me, strapped me to a board, and shuffled me in.
At the hospital, they just tried to keep me stable, and gave me Vicodin for the pain. They didn’t X-ray me to see what was going on in my back, because I couldn’t stand up. They just gave me meds and suggested physical therapy. My parents decided we weren’t going to do that, so I just took the medicine and tried to do yoga. I relapsed the morning after my birthday, again almost throwing up because of the pain. Three days later, though, I was "ready" to go back to school. ("Ready" is in quotations because literally no student is ever "ready" to go back to school. Ever.) The pain had become manageable, and had almost subsided. It was a Tuesday. I drove to school like normal, and bam.
For better or worse, the accident changed my life. But I stopped believing that everything happened for a reason. “Everything just happens,” I’d say, quoting Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.
The accident led me to make a series of choices that led me to where I am today. It led me to say, “F*ck you” to school, because I hated OCC and couldn’t drive back there anyway. I took some online courses. I made a lot of YouTube videos. I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote. I watched movies and read books and, eventually, made a web series. I made incredible friends from making that web series, one incredible friend in particular. I met Eli. We started dating, and fell in love. Or fell in love, and started dating. I don’t really know when I fell in love with him, because at that point I still kind of thought love was when you kissed. I had just turned 20 when we started dating.
Flash forward to now. I’m 21, and I get these constant headaches. I also have constantly purple hands and feet “from bad circulation and lack of exercise,” I’d always been told, though I've been doing yoga every day for two months and they're still purple. I still have back pain sometimes. Eli’s parents are both chiropractors. “Chiropractic adjustment could help with that!” they’d say cheerily. Eventually (three weeks ago) the headaches get to be too much. They happen five, sometimes six times a week. All the time. For no reason. Stress or no stress.
I get X-Rays. My parents want me to see a "regular doctor" before I go to see Eli’s dad, because they kind of think they’ve pressured me into it. This is a point of tension. I want to go, because I believe it will help. Also, I don’t trust regular doctors. They never diagnosed me with a concussion after the accident, gave me Vicodin instead of physical therapy right away, and try to give me anti-depressants and birth control, all things I don’t want. I make a regular doctor’s appointment for April, to appease my parents.
On Wednesday, I meet with Eli’s dad. He tells me that my low spine is severely curved, to adjust for the fact that my right leg, apparently, is significantly longer than my left. My pelvis is severely tilted, which would account for the crippling period pain I experience every month. My upper spine, my neck, is also dangerously curved the wrong way, putting intense pressure on my spinal chord. My back muscles, we realize as he puts pressure on my back, are in a constant state of tension as they desperately try to hold my spine the right way and prevent it from getting any worse. I’ve just learned to live with all of this, but it isn’t okay. He adjusts me, and it’s kind of scary but I’m mostly traumatized from the news. When Eli and I get in the car, I burst into tears. At first I thought it was because I got adjusted and my parents would be mad at me. (Sidenote: they weren't. They were just happy that I found this out and am on the road to healing now.) But then I quickly realized: it’s because my entire life, I’ve lived with this extremely scary thing as my unknown truth, and it felt like a betrayal to not have been told this knowledge about my body that was inherently mine. My body has been accounting and adjusting for it my whole life, but it wasn’t enough. And then, I started to see my entire life laid out in front of me.
I got the back spasms because of my spine. Because of the way my muscles had to account for the incorrect curve of it. Directly or indirectly because of that, I got in the accident. The accident led me to quit school, pursue what I wanted, and eventually make a web series. The web series led me to the right school, and to Eli, which led to our relationship which led, seemingly inevitably, to going to the chiropractor. The worst thing that ever happened to me, that I and my parents had started to think of as just “the universe putting me back on the right path,” led me directly to the person who helped me figure this out, and fix it. Without the accident, would I be happier? If I had been diagnosed with this at age 10, would I have ever met Eli?
Does it even matter? No. I’m here and I’ve finally learned the truth of this whole thing. It feels like an immense release. It feels like, and this is going to sound like some spiritual bullshit but I swear to you it’s true, the past two years has been building to this. It feels like it’s all finally been released. As my therapist said when I texted him from Eli’s bed, crying, eating ice cream from the carton, and watching The Mindy Project, “Your body knows the story & adjustment led to release, however, you have choices in terms of how you “write” the story. That is, it is up to you to find meaning & it’s your “meaning” to make.” Or, in my own words, “Life is weird and then you die.”
But that's not even the whole story. As I mentioned above, the card was the three of swords. "Betrayal, heartbreak, turmoil." On Friday, my best friend Kelsey got engaged. There's something final and heartbreaking about your best friend getting engaged. And by heartbreaking I mean-- your heart opens so much, and is full of so much love, that it kind of breaks. As unbelievably happy as I am for Sam and Kelsey, I am admittedly also nervous about this. Like the Virgo I am, I'm worried about the timelines. When will they get married? When will I have to find somewhere new to live? I know we'll all figure it out and she would never leave me hanging, but as we all know I'm a professional worrier. And I'm sad, because I love living with her and I'll miss it. But I know I'll love what comes next just as much. Living with Eli and the cat we'll most likely get, the life we'll start together. It's simply a little bit sad and scary to see your youth begin to come to an end, and adulthood begin. This feels like that. A wonderfully terrifying beginning.
Finally, the third sword. My Grandfather has had prostate cancer for a few years now. I don't honestly think that any of us ever thought he would die from it. Just as no one ever thinks cancer will actually take their family members from them. But Saturday we were told that if we wanted to say goodbye, now was the time. We all piled into the car to go to the hospital in Auburn, and lined up in his room. My brother and sister were visibly upset-- my normally stoic sister crying uncontrollably. This isn't right, I thought as I watched and tried to comfort her. I'm supposed to be the emotional one. In his hospital room, I kept staring at him, waiting for some final, enlightening wisdom from my dying Grandfather. Some love, something, anything. But he just kept repeating "good luck," to me. In the 24 hours before, and even now, I felt sure he was going to die. To be honest, I have no idea how I feel about that, but I know, instinctively, that it is going to happen very soon. There's the turmoil.
My theme card for the year was the Daughter of Cups. (This is all going somewhere, I swear.) In The Wild Unknown tarot, this card signifies creativity and emotion. A swan glides through water, but instead of seeing her reflection, she sees a rainbow in the water in front of her. She is creative, but emotional confrontation is too much for her. As the guidebook says, "Conflict of any kind is very disturbing to this gentle creature."
This card came up again yesterday when I was doing a New Moon reading, trying to make sense of and process everything that happened last week. It came up for "what is holding you back and keeping you from growing." Here's the thing. After every new upheaval last week, I got sickly excited. "Shit," I thought," that's gonna make a great blog post. Or memoir. Or something. It's gonna make great art." I am definitely this card right now, and I don't know how to fix it, but I just thought I'd be honest about it. I am channeling my betrayal, heartbreak, and emotional turmoil into my art, and sure, it's making great art, but I also have no idea how I feel. Admitting that this is the case is the first step in the right direction though, right?
On Thursday I took a personal day to process the news of Wednesday night, because I started sobbing into my tea that morning. "I need time to process this," I told myself. And yet with my Grandfather, I haven't said that. Maybe it's because there's such a muddy and complicated backstory there. Maybe it's because I'm having a hard time discerning my mom's feelings from my own, and my own from the events of the past few months, like when he told me at Christmas that I was his "favorite."
"My favorite," he said as he hugged me on Christmas Eve.
"What?" I said. "Ha. No I'm not." I don't play sports, I'm moody and don't play the emotional games the rest of my family sometimes plays. For better or worse, I tell the truth. Sometimes it's conscious, sometimes my face does it for me.
"Yes, you are. Have been since you were this big," he said, lowering his arm a ways.
"What the f*ck?!" I thought, marveling at the fact that I had somehow missed this incredible grandfatherly love my whole life. "Was I at fault? How did I miss this?" I wondered, feeling guilty. I now realize that I hadn't seen it because I had never been shown it, even if he had felt it, so it's not my fault that I didn't know. How was I to know? I'm not a mind reader. When my siblings cried as they spoke to their last words to him, I felt angry. Don't get me wrong, I feel sad for him, and for my Grandma Nancy, and my siblings have every right to feel their feelings, and to express them. I want everyone to get their feelings out, however they need to. I simply felt like they were crying over a relationship they never had. A normal, emotional relationship with their Grandfather. Maybe that's why I didn't cry.
But sitting here today, on the other side of all this, I'm left wondering: what does it (all) mean now, this late in the game?
P.S.- I don't mean for this blog post to offend anyone in any way. But I'm processing a lot right now, and I realized that I can't censor myself about it. This blog is for me, and I'm so glad that so many of you read it, but I can't write it for you. I hope that's okay.