Parenting Teens in Quicksand: Why I Thought I Was Lucky My Parents Illegally Grew Pot and My Best Friends Ditched Me #parentingteens #deathcard #tarot #unconditionallove

Rider-Waite Tarot

When my children began approaching the dreaded years of adolescence, aptly marked by the death card in Tarot, I began to count my blessings. Look what I avoided, I thought. And, look what I saved myself from…

Like my own children, I wanted to be popular. I wanted to be liked and admired, and I was, until I wasn’t. One dance changed my life forever, and like many teenagers who plunge from the peak of popularity into the grimy sludge at the bottom of the social ladder, I thought my life was ruined forever.

Who doesn’t want to be popular? Who doesn’t want to be liked? Even as adults, we can struggle against the ideal of the outer, while neglecting the inner. Forgetting that to be liked for some superficial ideal does not fill the fountain of unconditional love.

Last night I found myself struggling for words to show my sixteen-year-old daughter that there is a freedom that can be found when you shed the desire to be admired for some outer ideal that someone else has defined for you. That when you strip away the layers of makeup and pretense, you allow your true self to shine through. I struggled, in part, because when I looked into her eyes, I saw a part of myself I still recognized.

In the reflection of my daughter’s tears, I saw the familiar face of fear. How could I show her, I wondered, that beneath fear there is strength, when I had not wholly found it within myself? As I sat opposite her on the couch, I began to call into question my own beliefs. Suddenly, I was not so sure that I had been fortunate to have found and walked, early in my adolescence, the path of the straight and narrow. I wasn’t sure I was lucky, because instead of following my own inner compass, I had followed the road-signs of rules defined through fear.

Sure, it was true I had, in the process of walking this path, avoided the clutches of promiscuity, drugs, and alcohol. I had avoided STDs, teenage pregnancy, and the wild loss of control of being drunk. Yet, as I looked into my daughter’s eyes, I realized that in that process of avoidance of the forbidden, I had held on tighter to fear than my truth.

I feared so greatly my world falling apart while growing up, that the only thing I could do was follow rules set by someone else in order to feel a tenuous steady state of security. Every time I started to veer off the course defined for me, I feared the rage of my stepfather and the loss of love of my mother.

My childhood was not conventional. I grew up in homes where marijuana was secretly grown, smoked, and shared under the radar of the law. I lived in a constant fear of the discovery of my parents’ many secrets to such a degree that I had no desire to break the law myself. Or most rules for that matter. I never really and truly played the role of the rebellious teenager because of fear.

Conditional love comes with great costs. My daughter has already discovered this. When I began speaking up to my parents when my children were young, she learned the rules of conditional love. She has lost a step-grandfather and a grandmother, not through death, but through conditions. I finally broke the rules and began speaking and living in alignment with my truth, and she, along with others, suffered the consequences. Many who read this will recognize how this pattern works. Truth often comes at the cost of great loss. As I looked into my daughter’s eyes, I understood the pain that she struggled with. How much she wanted to avoid losing the social foundation she had built under her feet. And, I also understood, in that moment, that although I was disappointed with my daughter’s behavior, I needed to set that aside and remind her that I loved her. Now, and always.

As I try to navigate the role of mother to teenagers, I call into question whether my “straight and narrow path” saved me from anything aside from danger to my physical body. I now walk on quicksand, unsure. How can I truly understand the need or desire to test the limits of freedom when I chose, early on, to hold myself in constraints?

I find myself in the role of parent, but also child. My daughter, seeking guidance from me, while I learn through her. She is living the role that I never did. Bold and defiant. Daring to break rules and stretch limits as she seeks to find out who she really is. How can I tell her not to break the rules if I don’t wholly understand the feeling of freedom?

What’s Left Behind #tarot #death #rebirth

What's left behind

Three days ago, on the 6th of January, I had an impulse to cleanse so I grabbed a pad of paper and a pencil and wrote each fear as it rushed to the front of my brain. With each rush of words, I ripped the paper, allowing each item its separate place. I stopped, I believe, at nine. Nine fears my soul asked for release as I begin this New Year in the quest for the balance of inner harmony and fearless creation.

2014 is a year of balance. When you look at the cycle of life reflected in Tarot, the number 14 typically symbolizes balance, or temperance as seen in the images below taken from the decks in the order below:
Universal Waite, Winged Spirit, Goddess and Thoth Tarot.

Temperance in Tarot

When you look at these 4 cards, you see different, yet similar representations of balance being sought. In the first card, from the Waite deck, an angel stands in human form, somewhat precariously balanced between the elements of water and earth. S/he holds two cups, representing the emotional and creative element of water, defying the force of gravity as s/he pours the blue water of truth between the two without a drop falling. I see this card as not only a balance of emotions, but also the peace that comes from finding and accepting one’s soul’s truths. It’s a gentle, yet powerful fulfillment. You can hardly miss those mighty red-orange wings lifted, ready for flight.

In the second card, from the Winged Tarot, a less serene image of balance is depicted. Here we see more of the temperance aspect of card 14. The angel-like figure in this card literally pours her emotions in the form of water onto her face, catching them, again without spilling them over, in the cup below. She is literally cleansing her face as she dances, almost impossibly balanced like the previous card, in the air.

When you turn to the 3rd card I have shown, from the Goddess Tarot deck, Yemana, the goddess of the sea/water, is seen emerging from the waves with sheets of the element falling from her hands. In the final card, from the Thoth deck, we see a figure of duality with two heads performing alchemy with the elements of water and fire/wands. A more active rendition of creating balance.

Back to my impulse to cleanse three days ago. I had a fire raging in my wood stove. It was, after all, a cold winter day. I took each ripped fear, and one by one, tossed them into the orange flames. I called upon the fire dragons and salamanders, asking them to burn away that which I no longer need, and watched as my pieces of paper were quickly consumed. All, except one, which partially transformed, becoming a curl of gray, stuck stubbornly to the top of a log with one word still etched firmly on its surface. “Guilt.” (Unfortunately this did not show up in the photo.)

This is what remained, that emotion that comes after rage,  bursts of anger and words we later regret after our fire is spent. It’s the charred remains of the fire element inside of us, and, I have found, it’s not so easily released. It’s no secret I have my share of lingering guilt. Some of it still carried over from childhood when I absorbed guilt from pain that was not mine to take on.

There’s the more freshly layered guilt too, that comes from motherhood and the seeking to find a strong, balanced voice that is not laced with fear (i.e. anger) in those moments of trial. Healing a silenced voice, I have found, is not easy. Fear tends to linger, and so does its aftermath, guilt.

We have just emerged out of the year 2013. The year of Death or Transformation in Tarot. I have placed the corresponding Tarot cards for 13 over the 14 cards in the figure below. Take a moment to note the symbolism.

The Death and Temperance cards in Tarot

What was the year 2013 like for you? I know for many, including myself, the last year or so has marked a stage of transformation. A calling to shed the aspects of self that are holding us back from living our true selves. Death, in this sense, is about ridding ourselves of the burdens we have too long carried within us. Note the skeletal figures in four of the cards, which are labeled “Death.” Look beyond their grim forms. In the first card, we see the promise of rebirth in the form of the family kneeling in supplication below  Death armored upon the white horse. The promise of new beginnings is just beyond those sun-filled gates in the background.

In the second card, Death appears as the Grim Reaper, yet look inside his tattered cloaks. This is where the angels reside. Here is the true, divine self, wrapped, yet emerging, from the wrappings of Death. In the last card, from the Thoth deck, the struggle is more forced and active (as it was in Thoth card for Temperance or “Art.”) Here we see the active struggle to get rid of the old and start anew.

The act of transformation is literally seen in the Goddess deck with Ukemochi, who is rebirthed from death into a fertile supply of life. She is the symbol of life transformed from death. She represents what many of us are feeling inside of us right now.

What new life will you call forth this year? What fears have you already shed? What still lingers within, stubbornly seeking transformation? What will you do to let it go? How will you find temperance and balance this year. What will you create from your soul’s truth?