Emerging from the Mist with Marbles

Preparation for the journey.

I have been traveling through a dark mist for a long time.

That’s what it feels like, being in therapy. For me, at least. But then, I am naturally drawn to analysis and drama – Virgo Sun, Leo Rising – a clear indication for those of you who follow astrology that this blog is going to be all about my critical analysis of me. Mostly. But it’s a spiritual journey I’m embarking on, so a) it should be about me and b) this world and my life aren’t barren wastelands – others will be along shortly.

But, back to the point, I’ve been in a therapy mist for the last 18 months (incidentally, shout out to my VA coverage and the lovely men and women there who have to deal with me on the regular). I’ve been in therapy for MST (Military Sexual Trauma for those of you without an advanced training in military acronyms) or, more generally, for PTSD, which is the actual diagnosis. This has not been my favorite year and a half ever.

Why tell you this? Heavens, so many reasons! Right now, though this is to set the stage, briefly describing where I’ve been and why I’ve decided to embark on this soulful transit. So, describing:

PTSD is a way of relating to the world in the absence of healing after trauma – a sort of whole life generalized and extended fight or flight response, if you will. It’s fairly rare, though not as rare as we might like and that number depends on the statistics you pull and whether you believe those numbers to be accurate (I don’t). It can happen after one event or it can accumulate over time. Mine was over time, at the ages of 8, 20, and 22. All three involved very different relationships and types of trust. All three affected my view of myself and my faith in my ability to make sound judgments in regards to other people in one way or another.

And after several years of self-imposed isolation and more than a year of therapy, all three have taught me about myself, about thinking, about trust, about power, about observation, and about healing. It has been rough, it is still ongoing, but it has taken me to a place now where I finally feel capable of connecting with my deep inner truth and connecting with other people in a deeper, more compassionate way – all of which takes trust.

The wise and always candid Brené Brown went over the Anatomy of Trust on Super Soul Sessions with Oprah, which resonated so deeply with me. She equates trust with the concept of a marble jar, trusting those who have put in small acts of trust over time with the really hard stuff. After seeing how trust played out in her data, she looked in the research on trust and betrayal by John Gottman, and the first phrase she read was, “Trust is built in the smallest of moments.” And in these small moments is the opportunity to betray as well by choosing not to connect when the opportunity is there. So she set about studying what it is that makes up trust, what are the marbles we put in our jars. It’s amazing talk that I linked below, however, I have summarized for expediency and clarity:

Trust is a big word, right? …. I found a definition from Charles Feltman… “Trust is choosing to make something important to you vulnerable to the actions of someone else… distrust is what I have shared with you that is important to me is not safe with you.” … Do I know what trust is from the data? And I think I do know what trust is, and I put together an acronym: BRAVING… because when we trust we are braving connection with someone.

B – Boundaries: I trust you if you are clear about your boundaries and you hold them, and you are clear about my boundaries and you respect them. There is no trust without boundaries.

R – Reliability: Reliability is you do what you say you are going to do over and over  and over again. You cannot gain and earn my trust if you are reliable once, because that is not the definition of reliability.

A – Accountability: I can only trust you if, when you make a mistake, you are willing to own it, apologize for it, and make amends.  I can only trust you if, when I make a mistake, I am allowed to own it, apologize, and make amends.

V – Vault: What I share with you, you will hold in confidence. What you share with me, I will hold in confidence. … The Vault is not just about the fact that you hold my confidences. It’s that, in our relationship, I see that you value confidentiality… a lot of times we share things that are not ours to share as a way to hot wire connection with a friend.

I – Integrity: I cannot trust you… if you do not act from a place of integrity and encourage me to do the same… [Integrity is] choosing courage over comfort, choosing what’s right over what’s fun, fast or easy, and practicing your values, not just professing your values.

N – Non-judgment: I can fall apart, ask for help, and be in struggle without being judged by you and you can fall apart, ask for help, and be in struggle without being judged by me. Which is really hard because we are better at helping than we are at asking for help, … if you can’t ask for help and they cannot reciprocate that, that is not a trusting relationship. … You cannot judge yourself for needing help and not judge others for needing help.

G – Generosity: Our relationship is only a trusting relationship if you can assume the most generous thing about my words, intentions, and behaviors, and then check in with me.

One of the biggest casualties with heartbreak and disappointment and failure and our struggle is not just the loss of trust with other people, but the loss of self trust. … If braving relationships with other people is BRAVING connection, self trust is BRAVING self love, self respect, the wildest adventure we’ll ever take in our whole lives. … If your own marble jar is not full, if you can’t count on yourself, you can’t ask other people to give you what you don’t have, so we have to start with self trust.


I know that there are some areas of self trust where I am doing well, but there are others where I have an abysmal track record. Specifically, honoring my own boundaries or, indeed, setting them at all, being reliable for myself, non-judgment, and generosity. I have to give myself opportunities to put marbles in my own jar.

So I have turned to my spirituality. I’ve always been the kind of person who is much more in my Mind than anywhere else, so it’s time to take that strength and use it to connect to my Body and my Soul, to temper my reliance on it with a more holistic approach to Self. To give myself chances to set goals and boundaries, so I can reliably work toward repairing the disconnect between Feeling and Thought and the Unknown.

In delving back into all of my more New Age-y interests, I have fallen into the deep well of astrology and I think it is a wonderful opportunity to share what I am learning (as I do believe we learn best through attempting to teach it) and to use it as a method of analyzing the multiple regions of my life and setting goals within them. Most people are aware of the Zodiac in the concept of “What’s your Sign?” Not everyone is aware that the question leaves out 95% of the process, focusing only on the Sun Sign, and that not always accurate if you are on a cusp. So a brief glimpse into the madness:

  • You have a Rising Sign, also known as the Ascendent, which is the exact degree of the sky the Eastern Horizon was at when you drew your first breath. To calculate this, you need your birth time and place of birth.
  • Each Planet, loosely named, has a Sign. They are the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.
  • Each Sign has a planetary ruler (some share), an Element (known as a Quadruplicity), a Modality (Fixed, Cardinal, or Mutable), and polarity (Masculine/Feminine).
  • A star chart is broken up into 12 Houses, which are correlated with the constellations in the sky, so set on a 360 degree grid, starting with Aries. Each House represents a different aspect of life, which has a natural Sign and Ruling Planet associated with it.
  • Your Rising Sign sets the beginning of your Birth Chart, or Natal Chart, which means that each House, in addition to having a natural Sign and Ruling Planet, also has what is known as an accidental Sign and the Planetary Ruler of that Sign.
  • Aspects are the angles between Planets on the chart. Certain angles show benefits or communication between Planets, others show blockages or conflicts.

There are other points that can be taken into account for in depth readings, like points where the orbit of the moon passes the ecliptic of the Sun, certain specific stars or comets, and, of course, how your own birth chart interacts with another chart for your birthday each year or how it interacts with another persons chart. Relationships can have their own charts.

Mind-boggling and far more specific that you thought?

Well, I’m certainly not going to go into all of that, though I will bring up what I learn from time to time. If your interest is peaked, check out the resources in the widgets. Instead, I am going to commit to blogging at least once a week, on a topic in relation to the Houses. There is an order to them that is like a metaphor for the journey of life, so it seemed appropriate to use for a spiritual journey. The 1st House is in Aries, represents the Self and Identity, and is ruled by Mars, which represents our Passions and our Body. Also, as I’m starting this we are coming up on the beginning of the sign of Leo, which is my Rising Sign, so it seems an appropriate time for me to be starting this journey, especially in a public, yet self-directed way.

As with the beginning of life, I am choosing a name to use for this journey: Starshadow. It may be corny, but appropriately witchy for me and reinforces the astrology theme with the light side and shadow side of each Sign. The “Saharan” from my blog name come from my middle name, Sahara, which is Arabic for moon, also appropriate for astrology and the name my mother gave me, so represents my roots.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and for joining me on this journey, however briefly you may stay.


Not Your Basic D.I.D.

Answers the “Do you like me? Check yes or no” note by writing in “Probably not.”

Oi, the last three weeks have been full of news and realizations. This could get lengthy. So music: Love Me, Just Leave Me Alone – Jewel

First off, late Happy Pride Month! I want to thank all the LGBTQ+ people who have persevered through all the ups and downs of the last few decades, let alone the last month of bull and Justice Kennedy’s decision to retire from the Supreme Court. And thank you also for posting all the awareness and inclusion issues. You have helped me come to a new facet of my identity.

While looking up info on the ace/aro community to ensure I actually, for sure, knew what it meant (the “ace” threw me since asexual only sounds like “ace”), I found more on the spectrum of aromanticism. It’s dumb, but even though I know I am not a romantic person, I didn’t realize there was a spectrum. It has also led to some very interesting discussions with friends and lovers about what exactly constitutes “romance.” In the past, I have generally thought of romance as a “desire to find The One,” that flowers and endearments and dating are all vehicles to secure that One. That definition had evolved to include the possibility of multiple people or a more solid commitment. I’ve changed my mind on that last part – I think commitment is something different than romance. Some of my conversation partners have contended that, to them, romance is the flowers and poetry – the expression of loving relationships. I agree with that to an extent, but feel that then people use those expressions far earlier than they feel it in the hopes or intention that they will feel it eventually. Having read up on the community, pages often state that defining romance is very difficult and varies widely, and that some in the asexual community reject the romantic/aromantic dichotomy all together. As someone who is sexual, and specifically tends to be sapiosexual, but is not romantic, I find it a rather useful to delve into and understand.venndiagtriple

For me, I know that I have a distinction between “friends,” “lovers,” and “partners,” and that they operate more as a Venn diagram, with people in various places on that diagram, with no one really in the middle. It has been very difficult for me to define what makes a person more than a friend or more than a lover, but I know that I do have that shadowy distinction in my head. To make matters more confusing, my best friend and I have referred to each other in the past as “hetero life mates” (thank you, Jay and Silent Bob, for the term) and, for quite awhile, we operated like nonsexual partners or, really, like sisters who live together. But even when I am in what could be deemed romantic relationships, I have consistently prioritized my friendships over them. So far, I’ve really only been able to define my more-than-friendship interest as expectations of the following:

  1. Somewhat consistent and reliable contact
  2. A focus on emotional and physical intimacy on a more consistent and intense scale
  3. The use of endearments and Love Language (as defined in the 5 Love Languages – mine are overwhelmingly Acts of Service, then Physical Touch, and Quality Time to a lesser extent) – in other words, if I want a romantic relationship with you I will let you help me with my burdens, may actually ask for it, and may, eventually, expect it
  4. Notification of new lovers or potential new lovers

And the expectations go in that order. Aside from #4, those things may seem like pretty normal romantic expectations, however, there are a few key things that I think are different from traditionally romantic relationships and, also, I need to note that I rarely get to the point in a relationship with someone where those things are needed, or actually wanted. We would have to take time developing the relationship before I would be comfortable being romantic in it and before I would be comfortable with the other person being romantic in it. The only way a “more than friends” relationship with me would look any different than a regular friendship is the more frequent and longer lasting contact and me intentionally learning your Love Language. Anyone who has tried to date me (assuming they were paying attention) can attest that trying to give me gifts, call me pet names, initiate frequent contact or express annoyance about a lack of daily contact, profess a desire or scenarios alluding to a desire for long term or committed partnership (honestly, even desiring overly affirming or flowery relationships), wanting to take care of me, or, especially, expressions or expectations of territorial jealousy completely backfires. Seriously, trying to make me jealous doesn’t work – I’ll just assume you’ve moved on and forgot to tell me, and, in the past, I’ve only occasionally been annoyed by the lack of notice.

And, finally, the traditionally romantic thing that I just cannot do and have never really been able to do: the expectation of consultation in major life decisions. For example, one of the major stressors in my relationship with my son’s father (and this was back when I was still trying to do traditional relationships and prior to having my son) came when I decided to extend my enlistment contract in order to deploy to Afghanistan with my unit. Most alloromantic people (yes, there’s a term, just like heterosexual and cisgender) would bring that issue up in conversation with their significant other prior to making any big decisions, there would be discussion about what that would look like, and there would be at least minimal negotiations on what that decision would be. Yeah, I didn’t do that. I didn’t want to break up, really, but I brought it up more like this:

“Hey, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and I’ve decided I’m going to reup to go to Afghanistan. Are you up to doing a long distance relationship for a year or more?”

In retrospect, he was understandably upset. I reupped anyway with the knowledge that our relationship, such as it was, would end when I shipped out in a few months. I ended up not going due to becoming pregnant, which put the relationship into a weird limbo because, despite having a fierce independent streak that would not allow for someone else to take part in my personal life choices, I was now carrying a piece of both of us and, as I had made the decision to keep my darling boy (a decision making process I also did not include him in), I felt that he had the right to be involved, if he so chose. And, if I’m being brutally honest, in my most selfish moments I often wish he hadn’t. But he said he wanted to and he has been, with varying degrees of success, though in a much more healthy and stable way since he moved in with this mother. The stability since moving in with this mother and having regular visitation has been beneficial to our son and I can appreciate that while still knowing that I feel trapped by it.

Please, keep in mind there were a lot of other factors and lead up conversations I am going to leave out of the following descriptions and these are not literal in terms of what was said (most of the time), but I feel it’s necessary to boil it down to illustrate this tendency of mine to make my own decisions about what I will be doing with my life regardless of how it may affect yours. My decision making while pregnant and after having our baby went like this:

“I’m enrolled in college and will be working full time. I’ve made arrangements for care unless you have a better idea. What say you?”

“We are both going to school in La Crosse and spend more time there than here. I am probably going to move at the end of the semester, but we can discuss this in more detail.”

“Of course you can visit your ex even though we are in a rocky place right now and you have not actually planned where you are staying yet. But no, you cannot take the baby with you.”

“Since we are moving to La Crosse and you are not reliable with our son, I’ve run the idea of moving in with us past my friend and her boyfriend and they said yes. Here are a couple of places that are options. Clearly, you need to have some input on this, but quite frankly, I will not be isolating myself with you.”

“You’ve decided not to move in with us. Ok, I understand. We’ll discuss visitation next week. I love you and will miss you. Please, let me know if you change your mind.”

“I’m going to Korea for a semester and I’m taking our son with me. Are you going to sign for the passport or do we need to look at custody?”

I’m being overly harsh about my approach to these conversations, but that doesn’t change the fact that, overall, that is my attitude and approach to life decisions and it has caused problems, not only in my romantic relationships but, sometimes, with roommates as well, although I try very hard to give as much notice as I can and will uphold any financial commitments. I also, generally speaking, don’t even consider arguing with a partner’s major life choices, regardless of how I feel about them. When I was dating in Tennessee, my then boyfriend informed me he was moving back to California, even though I was only still in Tennessee because I had signed lease for him (like, literally, in his stead – he was supposed to take it over and never did). It never even occurred to me that I should try to talk him out of it or ask to go with him. Now that I am in less traditional relationships and am living in my own place, there are fewer problems, but this tendency towards romanticism in other partners and even in guys who may or may not have been thinking of dating me has sometimes caused some kind of comical conversations.

Actual footage of me in a romantic situation



Him: *dating me, meets me at the dance, sidles up with a single red rose*  Me, at 14: *runs away and hides in the corner*

Him: *clearly drunk* “I love you.” Me: “No, you don’t. You’re drunk.” Him: “Oh. Why you gotta call me out like that?”

Him: “I’ll come out and visit you while you’re in training. I love the East Coast.” Me: “Yeah, I’m sure it’s great. Don’t do that though. I mean, visit the East Coast all you like. It’s just that I’ll be busy and focused and I’ll only be gone a month.”

Him: “I would love your opinion on this house I want to build.” Me: “Um….. But, like, I’m awful to ask about that kind of thing and would make completely different decisions than you. But check out ondol flooring. It’s awesome and should be used more.”

Me: “Yeah, I really want to go back to Korea someday. I’ll probably try to teach there after my son becomes an adult.” Him: “That’s great. I would love to come with you.” Me: “Uhhhh…. I mean, visiting would be cool.”

Him, a guy I was deeply in love with: “We should get married.” Me: “What?? Why?” Him: “Who would be better together than us?” Me: “This is not a reason to get married! And, also, literally, almost anyone.”

After meeting my partner, the first time they had heard of him – Me: “I’m applying to grad school for the fall.” Stepmom: “Oh, but what about your partner?” Me: *stares at her in confusion* “…. He’s not. Is… was there another question there? I’m lost.” Her: “No, that pretty much answered it.”

Him: “Everybody wants someone to grow old with.” Me: “But do they, though? Maybe we’re just afraid of being left alone.”

In addition to all of the above, I don’t even allow for the trappings of romance except under some very limited circumstances. It feels fake to me and always has. The weird thing is I can recognize and appreciate it in other couples – like, I understand the significance, importance, and even think it’s very sweet. I get excited when I see expressions of sincere romantic love… as long as it isn’t directed at me. It’s probably very telling that one of my favorite romances involves robots (Wall-E) and the other has the partner in it for 10 minutes before she dies (Up… and actually Deadpool 2). However, lately I have fallen into some romantic tendencies with one of my partners, but that seems to be only because there is absolutely no pressure that he is ever going to want to move in, have children, follow me if I move, ask me to follow him, get married, or even ask that I be a primary partner (he’s poly, I’m…. fluid). For that reason, I am classifying myself as somewhere between gray-romantic and demi-romantic, which means “experiences romantic attraction infrequently or rarely” and “only experiences romantic attraction after developing an emotional bond beforehand” respectively, although, actually developing the right kind of emotional bond is rare and infrequent, too. I would interested in trying it out with Shim Changmin from TVXQ – I miiiiight be able to accept roses from him without gagging.

But, I mean… Look at him. Aaaand I just love the way he thinks. At least, in interviews. And this is probably what his expression would be if I told him I would allow him to give me those flowers.

It has taken me a really long time to figure out and accept this incredibly obvious thing about myself, which probably could have helped me through a lot of stupidity. I spent a lot of time in relationships where I was forcing myself to behave in ways that were romantic, which left me feeling extremely uncomfortable and wondering what the hell was wrong with me. It caused significant misunderstanding about where I was emotionally and, in some cases, led to me staying long past the point that was healthy for the relationship. I have spent a lot of time contemplating whether my aversion to romance is really emotional scarring and fear. I know some people would argue that it is, that this isn’t a valid identity or that I’m really just selfish because I don’t want to share the most important things in my life.

The conclusion I have come to is that these romantic standards are really only in my head because that is the societal default. Go back to Elizabethan England and we see a very different prioritization of relationships – at that time friendship (platonic love) was considered the highest form of love (granted, it was because men considered women intellectually inferior and, therefore, unable to meet them on their level, and Shakespeare’s plays, which showed romantic love as a worthy in its own right, changed a lot of that – the reason is problematic, but the shift in societal importance of relationships is what I am getting at). Also, I DO share my life with people, lots of them. I just don’t feel like anyone should be making major decisions about my life except me, and there are very few exceptions. And, you know, maybe it is selfish, but seeing as finding romantic love has never been high on my priority list and I don’t believe in soul mates, and now that I know how to express this when I am dating or, really, friending, well, then, does it really matter? Can something be selfish if the only person you are affecting is you? It’s not like I think I am depriving some obscure future soul mate from the love of his (or her, or their) life. I’m still more than willing to do as much as I can for those around me and, especially, those I care about and I can still promise to be there for them any non-romantic capacity they need, which includes intense emotional support.

Even earlier this week, I wasn’t sure if this was just good information for me to know or if this is something I am going to actively identify with, but now that I’m writing it all out this is probably the most solid aspect of my sexual identity. I am annoyingly hetero-ish – I wish I were more fluid in that regard – but even that distinction varies when androgyny and polyamory are in the mix. This tendency towards aromanticism is the most consistent thing about my sexuality and has been in place for a long, long time. Even in middle school and high school I had a cynical view of dating because I knew I wasn’t going to be sexual with the people who were interested until I was at least 18 and having just the romantic component didn’t make any sense to me. Looking back, not knowing about the aromantic spectrum is actually what caused me to wonder if I shouldn’t be identifying as a man. Much of my gender questioning has come societal stereotypes about women and their approach to sex and romantic love. In that regard, I thought I behaved a lot like a stereotypical man. Now that I have a more nuanced understanding of gender, sexuality, society, and psychology, it is much more clear to me that I am a heteroflexible, sapiosexual, non-conforming female, and a whole lot of that identity stems from being demi-romantic. I’m willing to bet that part of why I am less flexible than I would like is because of the societal push on women to be more romantic and that perception has ingrained itself enough in my psyche that it shuts the possibility of sexual attraction off early, which is something I can work on. So, with that, I’m going to fly my little pride flags and embrace my other half: me.


Savoring the Solstice

Introspection interrupted….

The Summer Solstice recently passed, leaving me in a state of reflection. Astrologically, this day marks the passage of the Sun into Cancer, which I find interesting as Cancer is ruled by the Moon. All the other solar festival placements make sense to me:

  • Spring Equinox – Aries, ruled by Mars: Everything is waking up and aggressively looking for resources after the scarce winter.
  • Autumn Equinox – Libra, ruled by Venus or Ceres: The Sign of the Scales already speaks to the equal nature of night to day in an Equinox and, depending on the ruler you pick (astrologers differ), we’re looking Venus, a receptive planets as the Earth starts her final stage of harvesting and prepares for winter, or Ceres, a harvest deity.
  • Winter Solstice – Capricorn, ruled by Saturn: Saturn was once considered the outer reach of our solar system and is one of the coldest planets, Capricorn reflects the winter hardy qualities of  hard work, discipline, ambition, and a reserved nature.

One would think that the Sun would rule the day where the Sun stays longest in the sky and that the Sign ruled by the Moon would be in place during the longest night. Like the star chart should be flipped and the darkest part of your chart is not during the brightest time of year (granted, I know it isn’t everywhere, but it was in the place tropical astrology developed).

But, when I really think about it, the Moon reflects the Sun and the Sun represents the Ego. In terms of personality in astrology, we look at the Sun, the Moon, and the Ascendant. As the Ascendant is our projection of ourselves, which we often tailor to the specific people we are projecting to (ourselves included), this intersection of just the Sun and the Moon represents who we are at the most basic levels – the Ego, telling us what we need to nurture in ourselves to grow, and the Spirit, telling us what we need to nurture in our relationships to grow. The Sun is our need for individuality, the Moon is our need for connection.

If Leo or Aries were in this position at the height of the Sun’s power, the Ego would be overwhelming. Here Cancer reminds us that, even at the height of personal abundance, we need to nurture our relationships with the Earth and the people in our lives or that abundance will be short lived. Immediately the days begin to shorten and, while it is easy to forget that winter is coming, it will, inevitably, come.

There are many lessons one can glean from this. Share your abundance. Remember your relationships. Everyone has an individual lesson they can take away. The one that I am working on incorporating is remembering that our connections are brighter when we are at our brightest. Yes, coming back to that same old self care, but it’s a lesson that I am thick headed about.

Incoming rant

This blog has been derailed by an insensitive comment overheard on a five minute conversation with my ex. I’m bringing it up because it’s messing with me finishing my post, it pissed me off good and proper, and it is illustrative of some of the issues you run into while trying to do self care.

The situation: My little boy is 9 today! Celebration is only partially planned because someone isn’t great with communication and I finally gave up several years ago on trying to make that a thing that happens. It’s a lot of ineffectual work on my end (see, self care happens sometimes). The plan is still a little up in the air, but an ending time of 7-8 was suggested to which I said, “Ok, but then I will need to leave for a bit to get some things done.” To make a long story short, some things were said that make it clear that they believe me leaving during this time is just so rude.

And if this had been the first time what I do with my time had been commented on, I’d let it go as a one off. But it’s every time that I ask if they would take him for anything non-work related or -family related (which is really rare – maybe twice in the last 2 years) and sometimes when it’s actually their time to have him, but I’m not going to work, which happened the week before last. The implication is that the only acceptable reasons for me to be away from my child is work or a downer family event. It’s just a little extra social and emotional crap to deal with when it’s already hard for me to take time off for self care, which, much as I love my little boy, being with him does not qualify as self care. It’s hard enough to remind myself that I am allowed to take a day off and to use that day for fun and relaxation without being told that I’m really not allowed and I need to justify the use of my free time.

So, I was planning on spending some of that free time on practical things, but instead I am going to do some guided self love meditation and relax. I’m going to do my best to feed my soul, so I have the energy to not be destructive to some of the above mentioned relationships. I’m going to try to be active about this for the week and come back to partnerships later on. What can I say? I’m a work in progress.

The Rough Stuff

I actually thought I had published my last post the week before last, not realizing I had held it for editing and proof reading. I’m feeling right now like that was a blessing. I don’t really go back and reread my posts much, unless someone asks a question and I’m trying to remember the context. Today it was helpful because I’ve been in a depressive spiral for the last week and I needed to read the AC/DC thing again to really remind myself that, while I like to present the best of myself, the people closest to me will still love me if I struggle and keeping my struggles to myself makes me seem more detached than I really am.

Plus, this is a blog about my spiritual journey and this House is about what we keep in the shadow and push away. So, here it is:

I am exhausted. My little boy is having some behavior issues tied to all the changes and maybe even the medication he takes. I don’t want to do anything. I don’t have the money to do anything. I barely have the money (or more accurately, I don’t have the right amount of money when it is needed) to meet all the obligations I have. A lot of my ego and pride is tied to my ability to meet my money-related obligations (Sun and Mercury in 2nd House). And, like I said in my last post, when this happens my self care goes out the window, I buckle down and work harder.

An actual picture of me asking for help or extensions.

Part of why it is so hard to break this cycle is that so much of my identity is rooted in being dependable, hard working, and true that anything outside of that feels like a complete failure. Trying to be ok with being late on bills, not being able to join friends for nights out due to money, or asking for money is like kryptonite, no matter how willing I am to do that for other people without hesitation. Sitting at home and seeing all the things I need to be doing and not having the energy to do them or the money to buy the things I need to build what I need to finish my home just stresses me out more. Having to ask people to watch my child so that I can go to work just kills me, no matter how practical it is.

And it doesn’t matter that I’m almost there – I’ve spent the last 5 months paying both a rent and a mortgage and double utilities. The fact is that over $400 of my monthly income (or 1/4th of my full time job’s wages) has been going to a house I have not really lived in since last January. I know things will get better now that the lease is up on the other place. I’ve already made peace with the fact that I probably will not get any of the deposit back due to a problematic roommate’s treatment of one of the rooms (although there is that slight Virgo worry side that is worried they will demand more money to address that – I’ve even looked up carpet pricing). I should be letting out a big sigh of relief.

But I have put so much energy into working and negotiating and being positive over the last 5 months that, now that I can breathe, I’m too tired to. All that stuff about dealing with my emotions as they come and not putting them off… yeah, I still did that. I’m worrying my therapist, which I feel bad about, but then that feels dumb because I shouldn’t feel bad about worrying the person that I go to talk about the stuff that bothers me – I mean, really, shouldn’t the fact that she thinks this is all legitimate stuff be sort of validating?

For today, and probably a few more days, maybe even the next month, I am just allowing myself to wallow. Not in a self-pitying, everything sucks, why me way. Just in a, ok, fuck everything for now, whatever I get done, I get done, what I don’t will still be there, it’s fine – prioritize only what I have to do now. I’m gonna let myself have my little kid curl up time, take things one crisis at a time, and take baby steps. I will get stuff done here and there, have some actual fun this month (I, like, actually scheduled time off that isn’t for being sick or appointments or obligations – me, I did that), and take stock again when I’ve had a moment to recover financially, physically, and mentally from all the stress.

And I would like to thank my inner critic in advance for shutting up about it.

zip it

Peering into the Shadow

“When it applies to the human emotional experience, there is no such thing as drama… You always act in perfect accordance with the reality that you are perceiving.”
~Teal Swan, spiritual leader in the Authenticity Movement

Delving deep into your dark side and swimming around is never a fun or easy task. It isn’t pretty and it can, if viewed with all the negativity we’ve associated with that side of ourselves, destroy our sense of identity, the fragile ego that we work so hard to build. And just like all signs have a light side and a shadow side, the projection of the Self into the world via the Ascendant has a shadow side in what we project onto Others via the Descendant.

In my case, my Ascendant/Descendant axis is on the Leo/Aquarius axis. It’s an interesting axis as Aquarius is considered one of the most confusing and complex signs and Leo, really, isn’t. Not that people with a lot of Leo in their charts can’t be complex people, just that Leo, the Sign, is seen as pretty straight forward – mostly because Leo is conscious of controlling what other people see about them. Being straight forward is actually something that I tend to pride myself on – I am, for the most part and particularly in my expression of Self, very straight forward, so much so that those who know me well can tell when I’m hiding something simply by whether I’m skirting details or specific statements. Additionally, in my case, Leo and Aquarius occupy the cusps of 2 Houses each (at least according to the most general settings on chart generators), so 1/3rd of my total Houses are devoted to this polarity. With that in mind, I thought I better spend some time looking into the general commonalities and contrasts that exist between these signs.

To start, both Signs are Masculine in expression (projecting outward) and Fixed in Modality. In brief, the Cardinal Signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn) initiate action, which is why they rule the start of new seasons, and are known for drive and focus, the Fixed Signs (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius) build and fortify, and the Mutable Signs (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces) adapt and blend.

Some astrologers say that the Fixed Signs are known for being very dependable, but I think that’s really only true of Taurus and Scorpio – Taurus in the literal sense of being there in a very material and physical way and Scorpio in the more metaphoric sense being there emotionally and through your really dark times. One astrologer I have been watching lately, Canary Quill Astrology, says they are Fixed in their element, which I think makes more sense – they manifest things in the area their element is concerned with: Taurus is Earth (the practical and material; the body), Scorpio is Water (the emotions and the unconscious), Leo is Fire (life, Soul, and drive), and Aquarius is Air (the intellect and invention). In that way, you can definitely count on Leo to build up and put energy toward those things that make them feel alive, that are fun, and/or express the way they want you to see them, their creative pursuits. You can count on Aquarius to evaluate everything in front of them and to give you their unique and (at least to them) objective assessment, which is likely to account for things you probably missed. Both are dependable in the sense that they will cheer you on in your own self expression, whatever that may look like as long as (and this is very important) you aren’t telling them they need to be just like you.

Another thing about Fixed Signs is they know they are right. Not think. Know. It manifests in different ways and different areas for each Sign, but the bottom line is you aren’t going to change their minds. Only they will change their minds, if and when they feel like it. Such a decision takes a lot of reflection.

So I’ve been doing a lot of reflection. One thing that has rattled around in my head before but I have never really put succinctly is that, with a Leo Ascendant, I’m very good at knowing how to perform an emotion in a way that it can be both believable and palatable (watch me do mime sometime – my face is EXPRESSIVE). This doesn’t mean that I don’t feel things and feel them deeply. It just means that my feelings and thoughts automatically get filtered through acceptability and consequence lenses before they are expressed, if they are expressed at all (Libra on my 4th House – a lack of harmony can feel like an unacceptable consequence).

In some ways, this ability has been very helpful. I don’t panic in emergency situations. It allows me to remain calm in arguments or when others are experiencing high levels of stress. It very often keeps me from saying things I would regret later. It allows me to be eloquent and logical a lot of the time.

crowley houseplantsIt also allows me to distance myself from my feelings so much so that sometimes I know I am feeling something…. but putting my finger on it is difficult. Now, part of that is probably from having Virgo on my 3rd House cusp – words have very specific meanings for me and nothing less than the precise word is acceptable. I have a big vocabulary because I need it to function. This quality led me to severely over analyze a self care questionnaire I was recently given by my therapist (I literally put 1.5 as one of my answers and spent 20 minutes with a friend going over the definition of “being tough on myself” – he came to the conclusion that my approach to my flaws and virtues is the same approach Crowley uses for gardening in Good Omens – terrify them into growing  into luxuriantly healthy plants).

Additionally, in a roundabout way this ability has led me to negatively judge people who are capable of the same intellectual approach to emotion, but who will not use it to temper their words (an Aquarian trait). In reality, my frustration with people who do that is also a frustration with myself because I rarely temper the words I keep to myself, especially those I direct at myself. The few times I have felt comfortable sharing those words with another, the responses have invariably been, “Oh, ouch. Harsh… but accurate.”

This Self Love-Self Care thing is something I’ve tried to tackle a couple different times in a couple different ways. It’ll work for a little while, then I’ll get stressed about something like money or my son’s behavior or love life stuff, and all that care will go out the window with either overtime, if the stress is financial, or binge watching something, if the stress is people related. And sometimes both.

So that’s a work in progress.

In an effort to make this time a little different, I have subscribed to something called the Total Goddess Workout. I’m not sure about it yet, but it does focus on a combo of meditation, active self love, exercises for better sleep, yoga, and removing as much processed and inflammatory foods from your diet as possible. I figured it was $10 to get the courses and at least some of the principles mentioned are things I’ve already been trying to incorporate into my life.

Probably the biggest factor that has prompted me to buy this is fact that she makes Self Love the primary focus – she gives you a guide as to what she feels are the most important parts to incorporate and states that judging yourself for not committing to the entire program is pointless and counterproductive. Instead, take the baby steps, honor your body where it is today, and that any Self Care and Love is better than none and far better than beating yourself up about not doing everything the “best.” We’ll see how this goes.


Random Observation 5/16/18

So, my Mars and Uranus are conjunct in Sag in my 5th House, ruled by Scorpio. I’ve always known that social justice and equality issues are hot button topics for me, which makes sense with the Uranus influence on my Mars, but I realized today that even the way that I process anger is very Aquarian – I either detach completely or it’s sudden bursts of basically electric energy. And it has the Sagittarian/Leo bent of me trying to balance it with positivity in other areas.

I literally described my state after engaging in a topic today as “wired.” And my therapist has noted in the past that I looked like things were going ok after I got worked up about something because I looked energetic – and I was. The anger gave me a burst of adrenaline and an intense need to Do Something Now.

Not sure what to do with this info, if it will have an effect on how I process things in the future, but throwing it out because it’s interesting to me.

Random Observation 5/16/18

So, my Mars and Uranus are conjunct in Sag in my 5th House, ruled by Scorpio. I’ve always known that social justice and equality issues are hot button topics for me, which makes sense with the Uranus influence on my Mars, but I realized today that even the way that I process anger is very Aquarian – I either detach completely or it’s sudden bursts of basically electric energy. And it has the Sagittarian/Leo bent of me trying to balance it with positivity in other areas.

I literally described my state after engaging in a topic today as “wired.” And my therapist has noted in the past that I looked like things were going ok after I got worked up about something because I looked energetic – and I was. The anger gave me a burst of adrenaline and an intense need to Do Something Now.

Not sure what to do with this info, if it will have an effect on how I process things in the future, but throwing it out because it’s interesting to me.

Exploring Other Opportunities

“How can i be substantial if I do not cast a shadow? I must have a dark side also if I am to be whole.”
~Carl Jung

I have finally finished up (mostly) the 6th House and, thus, the southern hemisphere of the chart, which is primarily concerned with the self. It is time to move into the northern hemisphere and the concept of the Other.

Jung fits right in with astrology – there’s even the duality of Libra hanging out at the bottom of the Shadow Side.

This starts in the 7th House, known usually as the House of Partnership and Marriage, but it also covers such Others as enemies and, especially with the Descendant (the cusp of the House), even our own shadow side – the parts of ourselves that we consider not ourselves, but something Other. It’s the mirror we resist looking into and can’t help looking into. We are attracted to an opposite, not because it is truly opposite and opposites attract, but because we see parts of ourselves that we haven’t accepted and, deep down, long to embrace. The House is traditionally ruled by Libra, the Sign of fairness, justice, and balance, which is in turn ruled by Venus, planet of pleasure, romance, manipulation, and values.

I have no planets in this House, but it is ruled by Aquarius, known as the Friendship sign and whose keywords include independent, unique, detached, scattered, humanitarian, rebellious, thoughtful, unpredictable, and tolerant. I’m attracted to people who are different, both in appearance and, especially, thought processes, but who are still good friends and focused on humanitarian, scientific, or occult things. Aquarius is also the sign associated with eccentricity and, even, a little madness. Which, yes, in some ways, I am both attracted to and do attract people with these qualities.

In all honestly, I’m not sure where I want to start. On the one hand, it makes the most sense to me, logically, to start with the Shadow side stuff. But on the other, I have recently made some progress in the area of partners as well as some realizations in the area of enemies. So, for now, I’m going to put out this basic intro to the House and do some ruminating on these subjects, maybe start each of them and see which one I have the most coherent things to say about.

Until next time.