On barrenness & lying fallow.

ranunculus in the morning

Listen to me read the below here:

 

Queen of Wands, Empress reversed. So said the cards when I blearily examined them. (I am, suffice it to say, a nascent Tarot reader.)

The Queen of Wands is a Court card that I associate with who I can be–or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that I associate her with who I was before I became sick: never low on energy, warmth, or generosity; playfully enthusiastic; seen as intimidating and/or inspirational by many; in love with life.

The Empress reversed, on the other hand, represents infertility, anxiety, dissatisfaction, and uncertainty. On hard days, I embody this reversal. I’m preoccupied by how I’m not producing enough money, enough writing, or any children. I’m frequently anxious about what I perceive to be my barren state.

Researcher and author Brené Brown’s concept of “hustling for your worthiness”—and the damage of this common belief—is especially challenging, I believe, when living with chronic illness. The window of opportunity to do and to make and to produce becomes small, slim, or altogether absent; when unwell, it becomes difficult–or impossible–to contribute to society in the socially sanctioned ways. Still, I do my best. These days, I’m doing book-related stuff as we ramp up to the publication date; I just turned in what should be the final, copy edited version of the novel last week. I work with a low client load of wonderful people (more news on how to work with me when the site relaunches on February 28). I take on freelance gigs. I try to bring joy to those I love. I try to be of service.

spoonie with a tiny spoon as a gift

And yet it rarely, if ever, feels like enough. There are days when even creating a to-do list is beyond me, let alone ticking anything off of one. On better days, I might get a handful of things done before I wear out entirely and curl up in bed, frustrated and furious. On the best days, I feel almost normal, and revel in the satisfaction of being able to say that I had a good day–a productive day–a day that resembles the days I had before I fell ill. To even categorize these days is a kind of self-punishment, because I can’t control how they happen. There is no magic formula for having a “good day” versus a “bad day.” I have a chronic illness. It doesn’t answer to me; I answer to it.

Perhaps the truly good days are the ones in which I succumb to that understanding, instead of fighting it. It does me no good to rail against the unfairness of it all when my body refuses to let me do what I want it to do. Anger is normal, but I doubt that it’s healthy when it builds and boils and nudges me closer to despair.

Today I drew a card of the day: The Empress–upright. Today she represents creative possibility. Right-side-up, she’s benevolent and fertile.

Yet I plan to remain in bed for most of the day. I’m speaking on a panel about writing and publishing later this afternoon–a risky time of day for me to be doing anything–and I hope that doing very little will allow me to do more later. I am allowing myself to lie fallow (while my mind whispers, lazy, lazy, lazy) so that I can hopefully bloom later.

The conservation of energy doesn’t always work that way. But I hope for some kind of sense to this. I invent rhythms and seasons, consult my Hormone Horoscope, and cross my fingers that I’ll be okay.

 

With love,

Esmé

 

 

 

 

Addendum—a photo from the panel. I was nauseated and sick all the way there, but it turned out well.

esmé weijun wang speaking on a panel

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