Drawing the Two of Cups
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Life in the Third Degree.
Twice in the past month, I’ve drawn the Two of Cups. It’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, and—I think—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 feel…something. Something that isn’t hurt and grief and anger and betrayal and devastation. Something I haven’t felt in a long time.
I call Vicki to tell her what I’ve discovered, but she already knows. Apparently, I’ve mentioned this man to her once or twice, and my eyes have sparkled and betrayed what even I didn’t know. She tells me I sound like a teenager, and she just loves it. She’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 I’m in love, but she doesn’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 I’m ahead, but I don’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 don’t finish my dessert, but I feel stupid and childish, and I cross their company off my list. They tell me I’m being too sensitive and shouldn’t be upset with them.
None of it changes the way I feel. I’m totally and completely besotted with this man and didn’t know it. I can’t tell him this, not yet. I have to know if there’s a spark there first or if I’m the only one who’s smoldering. I don’t want to make the mistake of confessing to someone who isn’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 I’ve had that I wasn’t “allowed” to have during the course of my adolescence and later my marriage. I’m not allowed to feel anger because, I’m told, it’s morally wrong. I should be forgiving instead. I’m not allowed to feel joy because too many people see that as bragging or selfishness. I should feel selflessness instead. I’m not allowed to feel grief or despair because then I’m accused of needing anti-depressants or even, as one friend hinted, a suicide watch. I should feel calm and rational. And I’m not allowed to be in love because it’s too soon, too childish, too…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 won’t go down and won’t come up. I can’t breathe. The doctor says I have an infected trachea. I’ll be out of work for two weeks, and I’ve lost my voice in the meanwhile.
With a raspy, barely-there voice, I talk to my counselor but by now I’m distraught. “I had feelings come up for this man,” I tell him.
He laughs at me. “You say that like it’s a bad thing.”
“Yeah, well, everyone else seems to think so. And I don’t know what to do about them, so they must not be good. I’m expected to have all the post-divorce anger and grief and everyone wants to know if I’m having those and well, good, now swallow them and get on with your life. But these feelings are different.” I describe my affections and the reasons for them, and he stops me.
“Aw, honey, it’s okay to have feelings. Feelings are good. And these are good feelings. Just enjoy them. You don’t have to express them to this man or to anyone else. Just enjoy them for what they are.”
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.
“It’s been so long since I’ve felt this way,” I tell my counselor.
He laughs again. “I can hear it in your voice. It’s like you’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. It’s very sweet and wonderful. Just enjoy that feeling.”
Before I can say anything else, he adds, “Honey, don’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 you’d lost forever. You don’t have to say anything to him or to anyone else. Just breathe through your feelings and explore them.”
And now I have tears in my eyes again because my counselor has pinpointed the revelation for me: that I’ve reclaimed an innocence I thought was dead.
I’ve found a part of myself that I locked away a long time ago.
And I’ve fallen in love when I least expected it.