Welcome to the first bump in the road on my spiritual journey.
I had intended this post to be on my relationship with my body. I was working on body positive concepts and had an experience last night that is completely relevant. I’ll use them when I do that post. But something happened early on in the week with two of my close relationships that just ripped the carpet out from under me, required some deep soul searching, and left me staring into a mirror I really didn’t like. Less like a bump in the road and more like the time I jumped a HEMTT off a “speed bump” (concrete poured over tank treads and sand bags) and caught some air time between an up-armored Humvee and a pile of rusted metal. Nobody died, but, man, we were all shook up.
I’m not going to go into the incident right now for two reasons: 1) it’s a little too fresh at the moment and I am still processing some of it; and 2) astrologically, it involves 4th and 5th House stuff, particularly where my Pluto and Saturn are hanging out. Silver lining – their placement makes more sense to me now, even if it is troubling. Instead I’m going to summarize what I saw in the mirror and how I shifted gears this week into a more independent frame of mind.
I have serious trust and control issues. In all fairness to myself, it makes sense. I was molested at a young age by a grandfather figure and, for a long time, blamed myself not only for my own experience with that, but also for the fact that it happened to my sister, who I should have been protecting. I felt I should have noticed all the little signs and listened to my gut. I have been carrying that around for a long time, forgiving myself and letting go in small bits and pieces, which has only been complicated by further assaults and an emotionally, sexually, and borderline physically abusive relationship. The trust issues I’ve known about and acknowledged for years.
The control issues came as a punch in the face. Knowing what it has been like to be in situations where I wasn’t in control of what happened to me and knowing that I can read situations and people in a way that makes it easy for me to be manipulative, should I ever choose to be, I shy away from exerting control over other people. And I thought I was doing a good job on that front.
My reaction to the incident this week was partially understandable – there were multiple reasons not to trust the situation based on how he has behaved in similar situations in the past. But he has made progress and, when I took a moment to step back and ask myself what would have made me comfortable, I realized that I wanted full control over the situation, to insert myself into a relationship that isn’t mine in order to be sure that I could know what it was, that everyone else is being honest about all the things. Logically, I know that’s neither fair nor practical, but it has raised some serious questions for me on how to proceed. The amount of hurt and anger I felt, the absolute sense that I was right and anyone who disagreed with me didn’t have all the facts, the ache of betrayal and abandonment, and the way that I couldn’t even follow my own directives to let him initiate working it all out were all way off from the person I want to be. There are definitely things we need to work on together, but, in all fairness to him, trust is an uphill battle with me in an arena that’s not his strong suit.
I also realized this control issue goes much deeper. I don’t like getting drunk*, I’ve never experimented with anything beyond marijuana (which I don’t like – that loose, floaty, spin-y feeling? HATE it!), and I don’t even want to take certain medications, because they all constitute for me a danger of losing control. I absolutely hated when I shattered my ankle, because I needed help and had to rely on other people. I want to experiment with BDSM, but I don’t trust anyone enough to let them top me and I don’t trust myself enough to top others. I can’t guarantee that I could step out of that space or that I would even want to.
I don’t follow my dreams, because I can’t guarantee needed outcomes for my security. Sure, I tell myself it’s because I have a little boy, and while I could live on Ramen and out of a backpack if I had to, I can’t do that to him, but, really, the closest I got to pursuing my dreams before I had him was to go to a monthly writing group. There was nothing holding me back and instead of striking out on my own and having an adventure, I chose to go home and hide. It’s been an ugly and sobering mirror to look into.
My biggest fear right now is I don’t know if this is something I can change. There’s some evidence that control issues as a form of security may be part of my make up, but, well, you never know until you try. (Yes, clichéd as hell, but I’m feeling it.)
The last couple days I’ve been working on self-compassion exercises. I’m not entirely sure why it never occurred to me to look into this before as I’ve known forever that I judge myself way more harshly than I judge others, but for whatever reason it didn’t occur to me and it was one of the first things to come up as a tip for getting past control issues. I did find some comfort in the fact that the symptoms of my control issues, as they put it, are pretty mild (probably because I actively mitigate them), but it doesn’t change the fact that not being in control still causes me a lot of anxiety and it is definitely affecting trust levels and intimacy in my relationships.
I have spent a couple minutes several times a day recalling instances where I have had extreme anxiety over a lack of control issue, allow myself to feel that, then remind myself that I am human, everyone experiences a lack of control and may react poorly to it, and that I will get through this. I am enough to get through this on my own. The “I am enough” is kind of key, because I also realized that I seek a lot of validation when I am experiencing these stressful situations. Do I have the right to be stressed? Is it fair of me to be upset? I mean, really, take a second and marvel at how ridiculous these questions are, and yet I ask them all the time. I always have the right to feel what I feel, but it’s what I do with those feelings, how I express them that really matters. The self-compassion exercises have been very helpful for me in allowing the space needed to identify healthy steps toward rebuilding trust rather than “sham” steps that don’t so much rebuild trust as control anything I perceive as an attempt to abuse “trust.” I need to cultivate an actual willingness to trust others rather than spend hours studying CIA and psychology videos on how to detect lies and in various formats (an actual thing I did this week, like I could inoculate myself against trusting the wrong people by turning every relationship into a careful and thoughtful interrogation. I promised to share the dark crap.)
So, the astrology bit. I really thought this was going to be the easiest House. I’m starting something new – I’m good at that! The House of Identity and Self – pssh, I got this on lock! I know me and how I express, I could write books on this. I don’t even have any planets in this House. I’ll focus on body stuff, spend time looking in the mirror, appreciating my fabulous self – look at me, I’m doing a thing. But that’s Leo; confident, warm, optimistic, a little self absorbed. I did not expect to have the heavy shit front loaded.
But this is Aries’s House, the Ram. You are going to get gut-checked and, if you’re not paying attention, it’s going to take out a couple ribs. Aries is a Cardinal Sign, the initiators, and Aries doesn’t just initiate, he initiates HARD. I asked for a spiritual journey and Aries is blunt, direct, and combative. So, in addition to the self-compassion, it’s time for me to rely on the lessons of Aries: bravery, self-reliance, independence, the confidence and ability to go out and do one’s own thing without regard for what others think of you. The Tarot representation for Aries isn’t The Hermit going inward living in the wilderness for a spiritual search for individuality, but The Fool, going outward, enjoying the ride, and not just running the risk of falling off the cliff, but probably doing so. I hate the idea of looking, or worse, being foolish, but it’s time to test it out.
For the rest of this House and probably beyond, I want to commit at least an hour a week to going out into the world alone to do something I’ve always wanted to do. Whether it’s going on a hike at a park, taking in a class or lecture, getting a glass of wine, going to goat yoga, or enjoying the theater, the point is to do it without waiting for someone else to go with me and without the purpose of meeting new people, but to do this strictly for me. To let go of the sense that I can control what anybody thinks about me and the sense that they should care what I think about them. To remember that, right now, I need me and, yes, of course, I have obligations, but not as many as I pretend and I’m ignoring what I need to feel whole and alive. And that’s me. Just me. Healthy and happy and ready to be seen.
*Soap Box Moment: You can still get assaulted even if you don’t drink. You know how that happens? Trusting the wrong person. There’s about 7 reasons I have extreme difficulty with trusting people in general, but guys in particular. Just wanted to clarify, I don’t dislike drunkenness for fear of sexual assault. I don’t like it, because I like having full control over my limbs and faculties. The only way it links to sexual assault for me is that, should someone attempt something, I want to be able to fully kick that ass. It’s the intense feeling of betrayal and stupidity, mingled with the fact that it’s hard to flip the switch from liking/trusting someone to wanting to murder them that has held me back from inflicting some serious damage in the past. Yes, I’m bitter. I’m working on it.