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 BrenĂ© 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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewngFnXcqao

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.