Sacred Space, Mental Health and the Chaos of Setbacks


Today, I rolled out of bed at 6:30. The night before, my love and I had discussed my drive for tarot blogging, and what I desire my efforts toward immersion into the tarot world to bring me. I talked about a desire for contentedness. A desire to inspire others to live wholly, and beautifully. And I woke up this morning, ready to build. I started the day with a tarot spread that I thought would be the topic for my blog tonight, but, the day decided otherwise.

When I was 13, I attempted suicide. I spent the better part of ten years in therapy, cutting myself, on medication, off of medication, swirling into deep bouts of depression and then bouncing into manic episodes that frequently caused me much dismay, and almost took my life on a few occassions. When I turned 23 my therapist, whom I loved, told me she thought that I had my borderline personality disorder pretty well dealt with. That I had learned mindfulness, and coping, and that I didn’t need to go to group DBT anymore. It hurt me. What did she mean by that?! You can’t just tell me I’m okay to do it on my own and expect me to actually be okay.

But, largely, I was. I got myself out of an abusive relationship, and with tarot as my guide, I have coped, I have healed, I have moved forward and moved through the challenges. It took a year longer before I was okay with the idea that while mental illness had been my way of defining myself for all of my life, it didn’t have to be the label I wore anymore. It didn’t have to be the definition after my name. I could have bad, hard days that reminded me that I wasn’t all the way well, but in contrast, I would remember that I am able, and capable.

Today kicked me in the stomach. It happens sometimes. I have spent roughly two years out of therapy and off of medication, and three years without cutting myself. Seems I am cured, right? Well, no. I got out of the shower today, and all of a sudden the pressure of the air in my room was heavy. Too heavy for me to breathe. My mind full of the all too familiar racing thoughts, moving so quickly, that my lips and body turn into goo, while the sharp scent of mental input quickly overwhelms me. Manic chaos confusing me, scaring me.

I looked at the man that I love, and I shouted at him, angry, and frustrated: “I just want some fucking solitude, okay? I just want some fucking peace to exist around me.” Staring at a pile of laundry on the floor, unable to move it. Perhaps this sounds like weakness to you, but the reader who knows mental illness, knows this simultaneous speeding up and slowing down of time, the heaviness of life knocking at my mental door, the crippling anxiety waiting to steal my breath from me, and the following rage which comes from a deep sense of failure and betrayal of self. I was doing so well. And here I was, doing so poorly.

I curled into the fetal position on my bed, naked, looking at my cat, as if being lost in that input would somehow save me.

“What do you want, love?” He asks me.

“I want to have my tarot and my incense in a space closer to my heart, where I can be alone if I need it.”

It’s not that he doesn’t give me space, he does, and is always encouraging- I just haven’t found or built the right sacred space for me in our home yet, and it’s been six months of feeling off kilter in a lack of the warmth and nurturing I need, while sitting in my own presence.

He helped me clear up the floor and find a makeshift space for the movement of my sacred objects closer into my soul. Where I need them, for now. He hung up my original Will Worthington piece that he so gracefully gifted me- the most meaningful gift I have ever received, right smack dab in the middle of my new arrangement. I picked up a cheap fountain because I needed flowing water. I rearranged my most meaningful trinkets that help me build my meditative space. I filled the space, our room, with love, and nurturing, and most of all-forgiveness. He held me, gently, kissed me, and said: “I want you to be happy, and if that means having your tarot upon waking, then let’s do that.”

The shame that I feel in having to be helped in that moment sits heavy in my chest at this time, but the beauty in having a friend, a love, my other half, love me so fully, so without-judgement; moves me.

Perhaps I should love myself just as much. Forgive myself a bit. Hold my soul gently and remind myself that it is okay to hurt, and to be anxious, and to not be well sometimes. After all, I’ve made it this far.

And, if you too, struggle with mental illness- perhaps you should forgive yourself a little bit more for your setbacks and love yourself just a little bit deeper. Spruce up your sacred space and allow yourself to release and heal.

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