Stuck in a Stress Spiral and Using the Chaos Rally Spread

Okay… so as if my life isn’t complicated and busy enough, my ex decides to throw yet another curve ball at me. This spikes my stress levels up once again and I’m left with trying to figure out how to pull myself out of the mess.

So first off, he has just left our home from a visit last weekend after threatening me to take me to court because I won’t give him overnights with Little Bear. Now the thing that gets me with this is the visitation order explicitly states that he doesn’t get overnights unless he has legal residence within 70 miles within Little Bear’s legal residence. I’m not violating anything here by refusing to allow this man to take this child with Conduct Disorder that is still trying to run away from public school and have him spend the night in a motel.

Who in their right mind would allow this? And what blows my mind is his lawyer writes a letter stating I’m violating the order and when I call him up and ask him to read the damn thing to me, he started back pedaling and points to the clause in there that if we’re no longer in agreement we can go back to court. Yes, we can. That clause is in there. I don’t have a problem with that, but that doesn’t mean I have to do anything that isn’t written in the agreement that his lawyer drafted, we both signed, and the judge approved during a divorce that never left the pre-trial phase.

Then the lawyer tried to butter me up while also trying to insinuate I was accusing my ex of being unfit by bringing up all kinds of shit from before we got divorced. Seriously? None of these things are the problem now. So I told my ex that I would be happy to go to court and change the visitation order with him, but it also means I would like to add that he will have to notify me in writing of his visits and plans at least two weeks in advance so that I can accommodate his visit. I know for a fact that this is something the judge will give me without any problems since Little Bear has special needs.

You know it’s funny, he got real quiet in response to this and I haven’t seen a court summons yet even though this whole business with the lawyer was an entire month before he came to visit.

But we’re not done yet. Of course. It hasn’t even been a week since he’s left and first thing yesterday morning he informed me that he wants to bring his new fiancé and her daughter up to our place for the entire week of this school Christmas vacation. They will stay at a motel of course, but he wants for us all to spend the holiday together.

Now full stop. Where is any of this okay? Now before anyone jumps my shit let me explain:

  1. The boys and I do not live in our own home. We live in my parents’ house.
  2. This man is getting married to the woman he was having an affair with at the time we got divorced.
  3. This woman is perceived as a home wrecker – and not just by me.
  4. This man is perceived as a home wrecker – and not just by me.
  5. We haven’t been divorced a full year yet.
  6. I’ve already stated in a previous post I’m seeing his pattern of behavior repeating with her.
  7. My father keeps saying a leopard can’t change its spots.
  8. This is a potentially highly volatile situation with young children involved.

That last point has me seriously concerned. I grew up in that shit. I don’t want that for my children. It’s why I chose not to get married to and left Scholar Owl’s dangerous and frightening father (I mean the man was nailed with felony charges of assault with a deadly weapon shortly after). It’s why I wanted to divorce Little Bear’s father.

My parents struggled with adultery my entire life. This is a hot button issue from hell for my family and he wants to throw this shit right in everyone’s face. He tries to do this and I just know that my dad will tell him that he can’t come to the house. Then my ex will sick his lawyer on me again even though no where in that visitation order does it state where and how he gets to visit Little Bear.

And this is the part that pisses me off in all of this. He comes to visit in one or two week blocks. I had to put my foot down and tell him that he couldn’t show up before 9am and that he had to be out of the house by 7pm. Otherwise, he was at our door as early as 5am and he would stay as late as midnight. So now, he is there for the entire block 9am-7pm in our home and claims that I am unreasonable and unfair because I don’t allow him to have overnights on top of that even though the visitation order says he can’t.

Yes, I would like to meet this woman… but I’m not entirely sure it’s wise to do so at this time. And certainly not for what I suspect he wants me to meet her for. But honestly, it’s not my circus and I need to disentangle and disengage myself from his shit. I really do.

And yes, I admit that I did call him out on all this. There are those in the camp that say you should never call out those who are high conflict people. However, me having Bipolar Type I, GAD, and PTSD, one could say that by default I am a high conflict person as well. Sometimes my brain refuses to let shit go. I’m working on this. I promise.

I asked him to consider what these kids really need emotionally. I asked him to step back and consider what he was truly asking of me and both families. And then, I stopped. I withdrew. I left the ball in his court.

This last part was insanely hard. I think I used every damn spoon I had for the day to beat back the anger beast. It left me exhausted, stressed, and in a near panic.

Now in the past, these types of ranting posts would end here. I would go on in private to problem solve or wallow. I would later come back with another rant because whatever I tried didn’t work or I would come back to share what did work.

One of the reasons I stopped writing personal posts – particularly my rants – is because even though I feel my rants are part of my productive process, it was giving my blog an overall negative connotation that I don’t want.

Yes, right now I am bitter and negative in my expression. It comes with the territory when you have PTSD and you’re just beginning your recovery process. I don’t like being this way. In fact, I hate and resent it. I miss being the bright, happy, and optimistic person I once was. It’s something I struggle with and it’s something I just can’t fake.

I’ve always believed in being honest with my thoughts. Either share them or don’t, but don’t lie about them. So how do I get around this? How do I share my journey in becoming well and managing the chaos in my life without being overwhelmingly negative?

Especially since, quite frankly, I believe that I won’t be in this bitter negative place forever. Let’s use plants for an example here. Very often the roots are bitter while the fruits are sweet. We all grow in cycles. Right now I am in a root phase in my life. There will come a time when I will bear sweet fruit again. Look at maple trees and the way their sap flows. Depending on the time of year, it will be more or less sweet based on the needs of the tree. It is the same for people. The flow of my sap, my spirit, may not be as sweet right now but it will be again. I have faith in this as long as I don’t give up.

The only thing I came up with to be less negative on my blog right now is to start showing you how I actually brainstorm, problem solve, and approach things after I’m done ranting. Ranting is only the first step for me – it’s never my end game. It’s how I identify what the problem is and how I feel about it. The next step is to ask myself what do I need to do about it.

So in this particular case, I am feeling very stressed out about something I have no control over. I can’t control what my ex does or what my father does with this visitation thing. I just can’t. These two men are the just type that like to do whatever the hell they feel like doing. And right now I’m stuck here feeling like I’m trying to teach them both how to be decent human beings and how to treat others with common courtesy.

I can’t allow myself to stay in this stress spiral. To do so will only trigger another Bipolar episode. I’m just now coming down from a manic episode. I don’t need another one. I don’t desire dive bombing into a depressive one either.

This brings me to the magic question of the day:

What is the best way for me to pull myself out of this stress spiral right now that’s been triggered by my ex’s request to bring his new fiancé to my home for Christmas?

And if you think I’m going to use tarot for this to help me think outside of the box on this one, you’re right.

Before I begin, allow me to set the mood with some music. A person favorite of mine for relaxation and thinking is this one:

I’ve mentioned earlier this week how the Chaos Rally spread has evolved as I scheduled out posts for the year. It has since become a wellness challenge spread for me. Given what I’m dealing with right now, I think this spread is a good fit.

So allow me to show you an image of the generic layout of the spread as it is now:


Character images from and edited by me

So Mr. Monday Button is still the first card, but now he presents the challenge you should be working on. Mr. Grim Lee teaches the lesson you need to be learning from your challenge. Mr. Murphy Law faces you with the inner lie to overcome through your challenge and lesson. Finally, Mr. Wise Toad shares his wisdom to keep in mind as you undertake the process.

Here are the cards I got for this question:

Deck: Steampunk Tarot by Barbara Moore (Author) and Aly Fell (Artist) © May 8, 2012

The Challenge: Four of Swords
The Lesson: Page of Cups
The Inner Lie: King of Wands
The Wisdom: Two of Wands


Images provided by the Orphalese Tarot program

The first thing I notice with this spread, before I even begin to interpret the individual cards here, is how each person on the cards aren’t actively doing anything. There’s no dynamic action here. Everyone is in a state of rest and contemplation.

So immediately my thought is I need to spend more time resting. Honestly, that should be a no brainer but sometimes we need to be reminded of this. Sometimes, we need to be given permission to rest without feeling guilty. Sometimes, if you’re like me and suffer from mania you just need to be flat out told to take a break and rest because the brain doesn’t recognize the need.

I had reached this point. Again. I had just I came to this conclusion before doing this reading and had a conversation with the med clinic about it. Hence, a PRN has been added for anxiety to help me sleep. The reason for this is anxiety triggers lack of sleep, which triggers mania, which triggers anxiety, which in turn creates a spiral chain that needs to be broken. Two days in, and it’s helping. For now, but I still need to put in my effort and do the work.

Now, with anxiety overthinking is a problem so what is it here should I be contemplating? What should I be focused on? I don’t want to be mired in circular thoughts that do not move me forward. And I most certainly don’t want to create an emotional chain that’s going to work against and override my meds either. That’s totally not productive and non-functional. This is where the work and effort comes in on my end.

So let’s look at the cards individually.

Four of Swords

2018-53I’m being challenged with the Four of Swords, the card of mindfulness and quiet preparation.

The suit of swords is very much about challenges as a whole and this card intellectually for many people might not seem like it should be, when it is.

Consider the soccer mom who suddenly has the day off from her kids when she normally never gets that day off. Suddenly she is completely beside herself and at a loss. It feels unnatural to her to have this time to herself.

So why would this time of rest and mindfulness be a challenge to me? Dude, I just had my neuropsych done and the lady there told me that I scored so high on the anxiety scale that what I consider normal – what I would score as a 0 – other people, neurotypical people, would score as a 10.

In other words, my day to day life is in a constant state of “the sky is falling” and if the sky were to not be like that, I would have no idea how to operate or behave.

I need to relearn how to function in lower states of being because I have lived for so long in such a high crisis state. I have allowed my anxiety to hijack my brain and run my life. For too long I have chosen not to fight back against it.

This card is challenging me to practice living in a lower state of stress by being prepared ahead of time and using mindfulness in my day to day life.

Page of Cups

2018-46I am to learn from the Page of Cups through my challenge from the Four of Swords.

The Page of Cups is a messenger. This page speaks of creative beginnings and encourages one to explore that. Really, pages are about taking the seed that is the ace of the suit and planting it. Just grabbing onto the promise the suit holds.

At the heart of the cups suit is emotion and creativity, but most importantly the expression of these. Emotions and creativity are nothing if they are never harnessed and expressed.

So in context of the Four of Swords, I think it means I need to start considering what it is I really want to express and be more mindful about it. I need to start exploring more ways to give my creativity an outlet. I need to give both more function and purpose. I can’t do any of that if I’m not approaching my expression with the proper intent.

The lesson I need to learn is I must allow myself to be more authentic not just in my creative work, but also in my daily life.

King of Wands

2018-35The inner lie I’m faced with to overcome in all this is the King of Wands.

This card is rather interesting for me to see here in this position since it came up in my as part of my Alter Ego when I did that spread for myself.

And at some point I really ought to share with all of you the full results of that reading. It took me several days to get through it as I went over it with my mentor and my therapist. It was really deep and hard work. I came out of it with a greater understanding of myself. It was enlightening.

This is a part of me that I do fear to some extent. This is the part of me that likes to be in control. The part that likes to dominate and likes to shape the world around me the way I think it should be.

So why is it here? One of the things I have learned about this position is that the card itself isn’t always the lie. Sometimes it’s a truth you are refusing to see.

For example, several weeks in a row I kept getting the Four of Wands in this position for myself. My personal key phrase for this card is “Routines and Rituals” and I thought that it meant I needed to break free from them. Then I realized I was manic and my family’s sleep cycle was completely out of whack. I realized this card was trying to tell me that my everyday life and routine was not fine even though I thought it was and that I needed to look closer at it.

So now I know that I need to take a look at this King of Wands closer and not automatically assume that it means I can’t control anything in my life. I know that’s not what this card here means.

I know that it does not mean I’m powerless and I should just lay down and take whatever crap comes my way. I also know that it does not mean I should just let my anger beast rise up out of its moat breathing fire and trample everyone. Both are very bad things to let happen.

Now I love art and I love letting it speak to me. Let’s take a look at this card and just see what’s going on in the image. Allow it to tell us what’s happening here.

What I find interesting here is even though there is a throne, and it’s very lush and comfortable looking, he’s not sitting in it. Instead he’s behind it. He’s leaning over it as though he’s watching something closely. And, just as importantly, his cane is claiming that throne. The only thing he’s controlling here is that throne. He’s not doing anything else. That’s his space.

So three things come to mind as I look at this:

  1. Serenity Prayer
  2. Stay in Your Lane
  3. Boundaries

No, I cannot control everything and I should not even try to. That’s a complete lost cause. What I need to do is focus on the things I can control and own my shit.

I also need to hold people accountable for their shit. Even though I can’t control other people’s behavior, I certainly can control how much of their behavior blows up my life. There is no reason for anyone to remain in the presence of someone being toxic. I have power over that. I can politely and quietly leave. There is no need for me to give them my space. And like the King of Wands on this card, they don’t need to sit on my throne.

And this still lines up with the Four of Swords and the Page of Cups. I need to be mindful of how I go about express my boundaries with those around me. I need to speak with proper intent. This is about giving and receiving respect, dignity, and compassion in all relationships. It goes both ways. You can’t demand it and then not give it. I need to make sure that I convey this in my interactions with people. That I am giving and not just taking, and I expect the same in return.

The inner lie I need to overcome is that I’m not powerless, I am in control, but I do need to choose my battles and shape my world wisely.

Two of Wands

2018-23The wisdom to keep in mind during all of this is presented within the Two of Wands, the card of choices and plans.

This is a time for me to keep in mind of where I want to be and how I intend to get there. I need to be focused on the choices I make and start building the plans that will bring me closer to the future I want for myself.

I want to be well and stable. I want to launch my online tarot business. I want to start publishing my fiction. I want to continue working on this blog. I want to be a better parent and friend.

Every moment I spend worrying about what someone else may or may not do, is a moment wasted in my life. I do not need that. Ever.

The wisdom I need to keep in mind here is that the choices I make every day matter, so I need to make sure they bring me closer to the future I really want.

So here’s the take away from the entire spread:

The best way to pull myself out of this stress spiral is to just not focus on my ex or my father and instead focus on the things I need to be doing to move myself forward in life.

To accomplish that I need to:

  1. Rise to the challenge of being mindful and resting so that I can be more relaxed daily.
  2. Learn the lesson of being more authentic and intentional in my expression and creativity.
  3. Overcome the lie that I’m powerless by choosing my battles wisely as I set my boundaries with care.
  4. Hold onto the wisdom that my choices matter and make sure they lead me to the future I want for myself.

And there you have it. My Chaos Rally spread in response to one of my own rants. A real life situation in need of problem solving. Now I have something to work on. Something I can do. Something other than being miserable and wallowing.

I suppose you’re wondering what I plan to do with this reading. Well, this morning I woke up with a name for my online tarot business actually. I intend to spend the rest of the day working on designing a logo for it. Stay tuned!

I will make a separate post later that will feature and explain this spread all by itself. No worries!

2 thoughts on “Stuck in a Stress Spiral and Using the Chaos Rally Spread

  1. Pingback: Toad’s Weekly Assessment #27-2018 | The Art of Chaos

  2. Pingback: Meeting My Alter Ego – A Tarot Spread | The Art of Chaos

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