Eight of Swords card from the Lubanko tarot. A pale, nearly naked person lies on their back with eight swords around them. Their legs are wrapped with black ties, there are red flowers and petals around them, and what looks like a rib cage to their right. They are taking off or putting on a mask in the shape of a dog's head.

Hope?: Journal the Third

I’m feeling distant and isolated today. Exhausted because it’s still only four days since I got my booster and flu jab, and my ME/CFS automatically means several days of exhaustion, pain, weakness, brain fog, and so on after an activity like that. The isolation is probably related, too. So much harder to take things in when I’m this fatigued. So much harder to formulate replies, to follow a conversation. I feel useless and lumpish.

Still, I’m really trying to do this journalling thing, so I pull a tarot card to see if it dislodges any loose thoughts. Today I use the Lubanko tarot, which is beautiful, dramatic, and a little bit dark, and find myself looking at the Eight of Swords. This is such a busy version of the card, showing a pale, nearly naked person, lying on their back with eight ornate swords plunged into the ground around them. There are black ties around their legs, red flowers all around them and red petals flying around. What appears to be a rib cage lies to their right, and they are either taking off or putting on a mask.

The Eight of Swords is all about feeling trapped, particularly feeling trapped in one’s own mind or thoughts. This particular rendition of it really fits well with the frenetic way I tend to think when I’m feeling this way, darting around, trying to get out, all the while knowing there is no escape – or is there? Do I take my mask off or put it on? If I move too much will I end up injured? My dreams lie dead on the floor beside me, and I have no idea how to get out of this situation, this spiral, this feeling of hopeless helplessness.

This card also tends to come with a message that there are escapes available. The figure’s legs are somewhat tied up, but their hands are free, and there are no swords to their right. They haven’t realised it yet. Perhaps there’s a whole lot they need to work through before they even feel able to try sitting up. But when they’re ready, when they’re able, there is an escape available.

Hope is a difficult thing. Hoping for my situation to change is foolish and fruitless. The only thing I can hope to change is myself, not into a different person, but a different sort of me. A me who… what? A me who feels some sort of satisfaction and pride in their life? A me who… well. Perhaps that’s something to think about. What sort of me do I want to be?

I do feel trapped now. Trapped and in pain and flailing to cope with it all, unable to find escape. But I don’t have to be trapped forever.

I hope.

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