Content note: abuse (no abuse stories, but things we are brainwashed to believe about ourselves as survivors)
Recovery is always a spiral. We heal and grow and transform, and then revisit old stories with a new perspective. Sometimes, there are fast-moving eddies in the larger slow spirals, and recently I found myself stuck in one of those eddies. That led me to another round of survivor-focused work, and I laid out cards late one night in a femme survivor spread by andi grace.
This one gave me chills, y’all. All majors, meaning the issue I’m working with is about major life themes. And all reversed, which I interpret as affirming that I’ve been feeling really stuck around this stuff.
1: The Truth
An endless string of lights drapes around a person’s head, neck, waist, and hands. Are they sorting them out, or are they tangled up in them? In the past, I worked so hard to neaten up things for everyone else, while I got more and more tangled up. Now I have the chance to sort things out for myself. I can stop bending over backwards to come up with reasons why they were doing their best and didn’t mean it. I can let go of the convoluted reasoning required to prove that they really were a good person, really, and that it was all my fault. I can see the devastating simplicity of what happened. I can look the truth in the eye and finally grieve, in calm, clear sadness.
And, grace. I can’t go back in time to protect myself, but I get another chance today. It’s over. I get to try again, every second. I am safe and free and healing; full of love and rage and glorious possibility.
2: The Lie
You should have known.
3: What happens when I believe myself
RWS decks switched Justice, traditionally number eight of the Major Arcana, with Strength, traditionally number eleven. This deck puts Justice back at eight.
So this card is not Strength. It’s not the hope that you can tame the dangerous lion if you expend enough gentle, selfless, endless labor and patience. Instead, it is weighing, deciding, choosing, setting standards; compassion tempered with boundaries. This version of Justice has no scale and no sword. They are just a person who takes themselves seriously, weighing options and making choices. Justice is the quiet space in which the tightness in my chest eases; where I can tell the whole, complicated truth, the good and the bad, the painful, the humiliating, all the things that happened. And then I can choose what comes next.