I have a lot of feelings about today’s card of the day draw. A lot. A lot.
When I first drew the Ten of Wands, and sat with the card, I felt such a strong resonance and sense of encouragement. My initial thought was that this card means “if you do the work, it will be okay.” She’s building that whole beautiful city up there! It’s gorgeous. All those little people, they’re living in such a lovely space because she’s supporting them. (Dude, I can’t even type this shit without recognizing how bad it is… because, what is she getting from that??? Where are her needs being met?)
I saw myself in the Ten of Wands, and I thought, yeah. The world should be on my back, because I can support it and then everything will be lovely and good and glowing and look at that! That’s right.
And then I read the companion book about it.
This dryad bears the weight of what seems to be a miniature world upon her back. Her branches are weighed down, bent beneath the heavy structures. The support and welcome of the beings who inhabit those towers are hers to nourish with the flow of life’s safe through her branches and leaves. … But the gray cold seeps into her roots, and it is a hard burden to bear. She pushes and strains upwards, reaches towards the sun for the fire that can help to sustain through dark times.
Overextending, taking on far too much, burdened with overwhelming responsibility, being held accountable, doing things the hard way. Perhaps those little beings who live among her branches do no need the constant watchfulness and nourishment that she believes must be her duty.
I struggle with codependency. The way I enact my codependent tendencies is to prioritize other people’s well-being over my own, to give more than I can afford to give, to pay closer attention to others’ needs than to my own and to be most comfortable when I am meeting other people’s needs rather than meeting my own. Lest that sound like a good thing – “oh, boo hoo, you’re kind and generous and empathetic” – it’s not. Because I don’t do it to be kind or generous or because I’m empathetic (I am all of those things, I think. But when I’m acting out of codependency those positive traits get twisted.) When I’m acting out of codependency – out of fear – I do those things because I am trying to control the situation. I am trying to make sure that I won’t be abandoned. I am trying to make myself indispensable so that I won’t be dispensed with. I am trying to manipulate my friends and lovers into needing me.
It’s all about need.
It’s all about wanting to know that I’m needed, because you can’t get rid of something you need.
But that’s bad. It’s bad on so many levels. (And it’s also not true. The sense of control is false.)
It’s disrespectful of my friends and lovers. It’s disrespectful of myself. It treats the people that I love as incompetent and it treats my needs as irrelevant.
That little city that the dryad is holding on her back in the card – there’s nowhere else for those little beings to go. That city is contained to her branches. And if I am honest, there is a dark part of me that wants that. That is willing to make that trade. I will give you every drop of my life, but you have to need me. You have to need me. I need to be needed.
Admitting it is so gross.
But as I work through this codependency stuff, and learn how to observe my motivations for behaviours and when I’m acting out of fear, pause and maybe choose another action, and when I’m acting out of my generous and empathetic nature without the strings attached, celebrate those moments… as I work through this, I’m also working with Brenè Brown’s research and insight into shame resiliency and vulnerability. So even though admitting this feels gross, I can do it. Because I don’t have to be ashamed of these maladaptive patterns, I can just choose to see them, turn a compassionate eye inward, accept that these behaviours, at one point, kept me safe, and let them go.
She can put that city down.
She can let it put down roots for itself, and she can stand up. She can stretch. She can trust that those little beings she loves so much will choose to stay close, and that if they don’t, that’s still okay. She can offer help without offering herself. She doesn’t have to always do it the hard way, she doesn’t have to always drain herself, overextend herself, hurt herself.
It doesn’t have to be so codependent.
(Edited to add a link to this post – More Joy, Less Shame – Ten of Wands from Little Red Tarot. Yes! Yes. More joy, less shame. Yes!)