Drawing the Two of Cups
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Life in the Third Degree.
Twice in the past month, Iâ€™ve drawn the Two of Cups. Itâ€™s one of the most beautiful cards in my Arthurian Tarot deck. A man and woman stand together aboard a dragon-faced ship, locked in a deep embrace, her head against his chest, his hand curling around her head. They are in love, andâ€”I thinkâ€”so am I.
I step out onto this thought, just bare toes on thin ice, and wait to drop into numbing waters and feel nothing again. I am jittery, hopeful, terrified, and elated, all at once. But I am alive, and I feelâ€¦something. Something that isnâ€™t hurt and grief and anger and betrayal and devastation. Something I havenâ€™t felt in a long time.
I call Vicki to tell her what Iâ€™ve discovered, but she already knows. Apparently, Iâ€™ve mentioned this man to her once or twice, and my eyes have sparkled and betrayed what even I didnâ€™t know. She tells me I sound like a teenager, and she just loves it. Sheâ€™d been afraid I would become bitter toward all men, given my marriage, and she gets a kick out of hearing me describe what I like about this man and the way my voice softens and lilts when I say his name.
Thinking this news will make my mother feel more secure about my new and independent life, I tell her I think Iâ€™m in love, but she doesnâ€™t want to hear it. Why would I be interested in another man and so soon after my divorce? Would this stop my ex and me from getting back together? Maybe it would be better to let my ex remarry before I fall in love with someone new, she says. Disappointed, I tell her nothing else.
I should quit while Iâ€™m ahead, but I donâ€™t. This new feeling is exciting and I want to talk about it. I tell two work-friends over lunch because they want to know why I keep smiling to myself. They want to hear all the dirt, so I describe this man and his sense of integrity and the way he makes me feel all shiny and new. They note the lightness in my voice, even a giggle, and then rip into me, teasing me until I have tears in my eyes. They take a happy moment and shred it. I donâ€™t finish my dessert, but I feel stupid and childish, and I cross their company off my list. They tell me Iâ€™m being too sensitive and shouldnâ€™t be upset with them.
None of it changes the way I feel. Iâ€™m totally and completely besotted with this man and didnâ€™t know it. I canâ€™t tell him this, not yet. I have to know if thereâ€™s a spark there first or if Iâ€™m the only one whoâ€™s smoldering. I donâ€™t want to make the mistake of confessing to someone who isnâ€™t ready to hear that I have emotions in his regard.
So I tamp down the feelings. I swallow them. I choke on them. Along with so many other feelings Iâ€™ve had that I wasnâ€™t â€œallowedâ€ to have during the course of my adolescence and later my marriage. Iâ€™m not allowed to feel anger because, Iâ€™m told, itâ€™s morally wrong. I should be forgiving instead. Iâ€™m not allowed to feel joy because too many people see that as bragging or selfishness. I should feel selflessness instead. Iâ€™m not allowed to feel grief or despair because then Iâ€™m accused of needing anti-depressants or even, as one friend hinted, a suicide watch. I should feel calm and rational. And Iâ€™m not allowed to be in love because itâ€™s too soon, too childish, tooâ€¦whatever.
I choke and sputter and drown in my feelings, and they settle into my fifth chakra, right at my throat. I swallow them but they stick in my throat and wonâ€™t go down and wonâ€™t come up. I canâ€™t breathe. The doctor says I have an infected trachea. Iâ€™ll be out of work for two weeks, and Iâ€™ve lost my voice in the meanwhile.
He laughs at me. â€œYou say that like itâ€™s a bad thing.â€
â€œYeah, well, everyone else seems to think so. And I donâ€™t know what to do about them, so they must not be good. Iâ€™m expected to have all the post-divorce anger and grief and everyone wants to know if Iâ€™m having those and well, good, now swallow them and get on with your life. But these feelings are different.â€ I describe my affections and the reasons for them, and he stops me.
â€œAw, honey, itâ€™s okay to have feelings. Feelings are good. And these are good feelings. Just enjoy them. You donâ€™t have to express them to this man or to anyone else. Just enjoy them for what they are.â€
These feelings do feel good. I could get lost in enjoying them. I could want to drag them out and make them last a long, long time.
â€œItâ€™s been so long since Iâ€™ve felt this way,â€ I tell my counselor.
He laughs again. â€œI can hear it in your voice. Itâ€™s like youâ€™ve become a virginal maiden all over again. You get all giggly and feel like a teenager around him instead of the calm, cool, and collected businesswoman that nothing fazes. Itâ€™s very sweet and wonderful. Just enjoy that feeling.â€
Before I can say anything else, he adds, â€œHoney, donâ€™t you see? You might very well have written off all men after your marriage, but instead, here is a man who has touched you deeply and rekindled an innocence in you that you thought youâ€™d lost forever. You donâ€™t have to say anything to him or to anyone else. Just breathe through your feelings and explore them.â€
And now I have tears in my eyes again because my counselor has pinpointed the revelation for me: that Iâ€™ve reclaimed an innocence I thought was dead.
Iâ€™ve found a part of myself that I locked away a long time ago.
And Iâ€™ve fallen in love when I least expected it.