Pagan Thoughts: Carrying What You Can

It has been interesting, since I’ve been living here, trying to figure out how to contribute in ways that make both our lives better, while trying not to beat myself up about the fact that I can’t carry an equal share of the load financially. It’s been enough of a stress on me that I actually did a tarot reading for myself the other night, trying to get some insight into how to strike that balance.

The card I drew was the Star, which is pictured in many decks as a woman either in the water or kneeling next to it, pouring water out from two pitchers. The message I usually tend to take from that card is to make sure that I don’t get so busy giving to others that I forget to take care of myself.

I was raised in a family that valued hard work and “pulling one’s weight” above anything else. My sister and I were doing the bulk of the housework by the time we were in our teens, because even children weren’t allowed to be “freeloaders.” The message with which I was raised was clear: any net cost incurred because I lived there wasn’t worth it, and I’d better provide enough labor to cover it. That was a toxic mindset to grow up in, having to earn the love of the people dearest to me. It taught me to agonize over the ways I am not always able to pull my own weight, instead of being able to give everything I’ve got and then accept my limits gracefully.

I have long believed that the lesson I’m supposed to be working on as part of my devotion to Aengus is about learning to love myself, and not forgetting my own value in a world that has told me for years that I have none. For someone who started mowing yards and babysitting to pay for my own clothes at 14, and who started paying my parents full market rent on my bedroom when I was still in my teens, it’s hard to forgive myself for not being able to pull my weight financially. But I’m trying very hard to remember that self-care is a service to the gods too. If I am to be a tool in the hands of my gods, then I have to keep myself in working order, and that means respecting my own load limits. If I insist on taking on burdens so heavy that they break me, how useful will I be later? So I’m learning–slowly!–to balance doing all that I can with forgiving myself for the things I can’t. It’s a slow process, but I’m getting there as best  I can.

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