I usually like to start my weekly shadow work by looking back to my childhood, but as my shadow work card for this week is the Queen of Pentacles reversed, I really don’t feel like I was exposed to anyone in my childhood who withheld resources, security, or nurturing from me. However, after giving it some more thought, I was exposed to several female caregivers who made it their entire life’s mission to raise their families and to always put others first at the expense of their own happiness.
For example, my great granny was married with her first child by the time she was 14 years old. By the time she had reached age 20, she had already given birth to 4 children, one of which passed away from SIDS when he was only 3 years old. She lived in the Appalachian mountain region for most of her life, so life was never easy for her. I believe that both her and her husband had to farm to make ends meat. My great granny’s time was also consumed by her kids. My great granny’s husband was abusive. I have heard stories of him physically abusing my granny, not to mention he was a hateful drunk. He eventually died in a tractor accident, which I think came as a blessing in many ways to my great granny. However, his death made surviving even more difficult. You would assume that she would be able to reclaim her life after her children were grown, but this wasn’t the case. Like my granny, my mema started having children early. However, she didn’t have my granny’s dedication to family in her earlier years. Not to mention, she was also kind of a woman about town if you know what I mean. I don’t know the whole story, but from what I have gathered my mema left her first two kids to be raised by my granny while she went off with a married man and had two more kids. When things didn’t work out in that situation, she and her two youngest kids moved back in with my granny and her two oldest. At this point, my mema started to settle down a bit, though she did end up having one more child with a different man. Like my granny, my mema had a habit of going after abusive alcoholic men.
My mema worked to pay the bills while my granny took care of her grandkids. Again, you would think that this cycle would end when my mema’s kids were grown, but it didn’t. Both my mom and her youngest sister struggled to take care of their kids on their own. My moms relationship with my brother’s father didn’t work out, and my dad was a married drug addict alcoholic. My aunt’s husband at the time was a bum who couldn’t take care of the kids or hold down a job. Therefore, they all entered into another unspoken agreement where my mom and aunt would work to pay the bills, my mema would work when she could, but otherwise my mema and granny would watch and take care of all of us kids. I can still remember my granny, though I wish I had happier memories of her. She had lived such a difficult life, abused and by the end of her lifetime having had a hand in raising 15 kids. I remember her on her death bed dragging her oxygen tank with one hand and a basket of dirty laundry with the other. She seemed so unhappy to me. I wonder what kind of dreams she once had for herself.
None of the women in my family have ever had the chance to take care of themselves. They all somehow keep getting stuck raising generations of babies because we all have a habit of getting involved with damaged men too young in life. We had to do this, along with living together piled into small living spaces, for survival. Even today, my mema is still caring for my aunt’s youngest child. I don’t blame any of us for this, because to be honest, none of us have ever had a healthy marital relationship to look up to.
Though I tried to break this chain, I have only ended up married to an addict at a young age, dependent on my mother-in-law to help me. I always had big dreams and big plans for my life. However, it seems that from the moment I had kids, I somehow knew that that was all there would ever be for me. All of my possibilities were gone. I know now that this sounds ridiculous, but looking back on the examples that were set for me, it was all I ever knew. I tried so hard to be different only to end up in the same damn situation. I thought that the key was to get married, to actually lock down my man instead of ending up single….but that didn’t help me at all!
How can I turn a new page and make my future different than my past? First of all, I think that I need to work on understanding that I am a full person on my own. I feel that my children should always come first, but I matter too. Additionally, being a mother is a big part of who I am, but it isn’t all that I am. My life isn’t over because I have them. There is still room for me to grow and have experiences on my own. I think that I may be able to get started on making myself a priority by taking an inventory of where I am right now, and what areas of my life and wellbeing need attention. I think that a big part of this for me is going to involve therapy.
I am a bit confused about how needing to put myself first could be accomplished through the 5 of swords reversed. After all, that card is all about being in a disagreement with yourself or someone else about what you want. It is about trying to get your way in a lose lose situation, and having to wonder if what you are fighting for is worth the outcome. It is about trying to figure out how you can approach things differently to turn the situation into a win win. I am still trying to figure out how all of this fits together. As I said yesterday, I think that some of this may have something to do with how I feel like Ross and I are in a lose lose situation and are unable to communicate our way through it. I think we would really benefit from some marriage counseling. However, I think that my integration card could also mean that I need to evaluate if where I am putting my energy is worth the cost to my personal wellbeing. It may mean that I need to reevaluate how I can dedicate time to myself while still taking care of my responsibilities rather than burning myself out to the point that I can’t take care of myself or anything else at 100% capacity. I’m still figuring it out. Hopefully things will become more clear as the week goes on.
These shadow work posts are truly intended for my own self discovery and development, but I thank those of you who took the time to read this. I will continue to work with my shadow aspects surrounding the Queen of Pentacles reversed for the rest of the week OR until I feel that it is time for me move onto another card/shadow aspect.
Love Always, AnxiouslyM