As I write this, it is an unusually cold and wet May day here in Chicago. The weather seems to have traveled back in time to March. Our heat is back on, and I wore a heavy coat to work this morning. Spring in the Midwest is nothing if not unpredictable. As such, the drastic temperature swings have been wreaking havoc on my immune system. I suffered through chills and a fever last night, and even though I’m looking a little better today and even managed to work a full day at the office, I am still suffering that achy feeling that is my body telling me to go to bed already.
While I am going to listen to those signals tonight, I’ll admit that I haven’t had the best relationship with my body over the last couple of years. I wrote a while back about my brush with death due to blood clots in my legs and lungs that stuck me in the hospital for nearly a week. Just when I thought I was getting over my initial “my body is constantly trying to kill me” mentality, I visited a cardiologist and discovered that not only did I have a pulmonary embolism, but I also had a heart attack. You might be shocked to hear that I never knew that had happened – but the docs at the hospital never made that clear to me. I never had any of the chest pain that normally accompanies such a thing, but once they went over my symptoms: the flow of blood to the heart was cut off and the heart was damaged… textbook description of a heart attack. We were focused on the other thing that was about to kill me (the blood clots) as opposed to that thing that had already tried to kill me (the heart attack.)
I have spent the last couple years with this low-level buzz of fear in the back of my mind, wondering when the next episode will be. Will I know it’s happening? Can I prevent it in time? And the more I find out about what actually happened on that day, the more I realize just how incredibly lucky I was to survive, because the odds were severely stacked against me. The last few months have been filled with what I can only describe as an extreme sense of fragility, and I have never been a fragile person. This is an unfamiliar sensation for me.
Fast forward to this week, when I picked up my practice of a daily Tarot draw after a hiatus of a few years. A friend recommended using a journaling app that allows you to take photos and add descriptions, and that has been working extremely well for me. I take a photo of my draw in the morning, and then make notes about how the day went before I go to bed.
Yesterday, I drew the Queen of Disks in the Crowley-Harris Thoth deck. I find her to be the most intense of the queens. She sits on a pineapple of all things, huge curving horns extending out of a helmet, holding a shield and a staff. This is a woman who has earned her position. She is incredibly powerful, and knows her place in the world. What I love about this card, however, is the fact that she’s turned away from the viewer. She’s looking back over this barren desert landscape – and to me, that speaks of her reflecting where she’s been and where she came from. She survived a lot to get to this abundant and powerful place she is now, and she’s not going to forget it. Knowing where you’ve been tells you quite a bit about what you’re becoming.
On a day where I felt miserable and rotten, crawling into bed with a fever and chills as soon as I walked in the door, this seemed like a weird card to have pulled for the day. And really, they don’t all have to make sense – right? But, as I lay awake for a while longer, I thought about her message and how it might help me reframe my own story about my body. Instead of feeling fragile and afraid that I could break down at any moment, what if I focused on the fact that I survived against some pretty impossible odds? What if I looked at my body as incredibly strong and resilient for pushing through the ups and downs of both the healing process and the after effects that will likely never heal completely? What if I looked at my experience as a queen, rather than as a helpless victim?
I’m not saying this kind of reframing will work for everyone. And I don’t necessarily know if it’s completely working for me yet – but I do know that words have power. I do know that stories have power. And I want to tell a story of resilience rather than fragility. I want to tell the story of a queen rather than a victim.
In my journal for yesterday’s draw, I wrote: My heart is strong. My blood flows freely. My body is resilient. That may become a new mantra that I say to myself every day. And, yes… I’m going to bed early tonight. This strong body needs to fight off this virus. I have a realm to rule.
This post was written by River Roberts