The Pleasures and Perils of Possibility
Hello dear ones,
Happy Cancer season and almost Summer Solstice! I am writing to you from LA, where I am taking my first vacation in….I don’t know how many years. During my trip, I have been in conversation with friends about pleasure, relationships, and possibility and how scary it feels to try to trust another again, after we have been hurt. And so I feel called to share some reflections on my investment in possibility.
A few reminders before we dive in:
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And: make sure to read to the end for news about my upcoming sabbatical!
THOUGHTS & FEELINGS (I)
Yesterday, I sat on the grass with a friend in LA, eating our soft serve ice cream. They are a Sagittarius sun with a Cancer rising, and I am a Cancer sun with a Sagittarius rising. We are both humans who see possibility in everyone and everything (hello Sag!) and we love to nurture and care for others (hello Cancer!). And so it makes sense that we both find ourselves confronted with the perils and pleasures of possibility.
For as long as I can remember, I have romanticized the love story that goes something like this: girl finds sad, broken boy who wants to be open to love. girl invests all of her time and energy in loving this boy, reminding him of his possibility, and of their possibility as a couple, ignoring all of the red flags along the way. Eventually, boy bails and girl is left heartbroken. Now, neither of us are girls and the humans we fall for aren’t necessarily boys — but this is the gendered dynamic that we see again and again in pop culture. And my attachment trauma LOVES IT.
I have played out this dynamic again and again throughout my life. During the last Venus retrograde, I made a commitment to myself to break this pattern. I was no longer interested in instilling all of my hope into a human who wasn’t actually ready to do the work. As I sat with how to do this, I convinced myself that the real issue here was trust. I trusted too easily. When people told me that they were committed to their own growth, I believed them. Full stop. And so clearly the solution here was to armour up and become more skeptical of new humans.
Now, as trauma responses go, when we break a pattern, we can swing from one end to the pendulum to the other. If my M.O. before was to trust everyone, then my new M.O. was trust no one. You can imagine that this didn’t feel super great for that powerful Cancer + Sag energy that lives within me. I needed to find a middle ground. When I called my Scorpio bestie to ask for their advice, they told me (and I paraphrase): “Well, I don’t think it’s about not trusting anyone. It’s about waiting to see if their actions match their words. It’s about letting that trust develop over time, rather than locking it away or giving away for free.” Mic drop moment.
What they had offered me was a different orientation to possibility. Instead of instant fireworks of yes!!! and possibility!!! this was more of a slow burn of maybe!! and let’s find out!! This was the in-between space, in which possibility, peril, and pleasure could all co-exist. In other words, this was a space of uncertainty. Just because something is possible, doesn’t mean it’s actually going to happen.
When I chose my word for 2022, a yearly ritual in which I pick a word to embody my intention for that year, I picked the word mystery. I wanted a word that could help me reorient towards uncertainty, something I have struggled with throughout my life thanks to #Trauma. My life was stable and certain up until my mom’s death, an event that turned my world upside down, dramatically shifting my relationship with my father into one of uncertainty: what mood would he be in today? would he be upset with me for x? I made myself believe that I would be okay so long as I remained in control. And as I grew into an adult, I had to reckon with how much pain I was causing — to myself, to others — because of my need for control.
I do not want to become a jaded human, or even someone men might call “rational.” I want to be filled with hope and possibility. And I honestly don’t see how else we can survive the horrors of the present without a belief that something better is possible — if not in our lifetime, then for the next generation or the generation after that or the generation after that. I do not want to shut myself down in order to protect myself from the possibility that another person will let me down, will not show up, will be unable to put their words into actions. I want my commitment to be one of my greatest strengths, not my Achilles’ heel.
So here’s what I’m learning:
Just because something is possible, doesn’t mean it will actually happen. How can I welcome in the possibility of success and failure, of joy and disappointment at the same time?
It is okay to have doubt, to be uncertain, amidst the possibility. One does not need to cancel out the other.
There is still agency and choice in the unknown that is part and parcel to impossibility. To borrow Lindsay Mack’s words, in their discussion of the Tower card: I can let go or be dragged.
You don’t have to give your trust away immediately. You can let someone earn it. When we do that, we build the foundation for secure attachment.
Your investment in possibility is what makes you beautiful. Do not trade possibility for protection. There is a way to have both (see #4).
THOUGHTS & FEELINGS (II)
I have been reading so much on this vacation and wanted to share the books that are giving me all of the thoughts and feels:
Fully disclosure: am only 50 pages into this book, but Jones’ meditations on beauty and disability are blowing my mind. Jones blends memoir and criticism together in a way that is accessible and engrossing.
I devoured Chou’s book in two days. This is the story of an Asian American graduate student’s awakening to racial oppression and just how fucked up the world of academia is.
Not only is this one of the best book titles ever, Emezi is one of my fav contemporary writers — and this book did not let me down. Emezi’s first foray into the romance genre was a 12/10 hit for me.
I’ll be spending some time today doing this tarot spread from Lindsay Mack, as it feels VERY on point re: possibility, uncertainty, the space in between:
Today is Juneteenth, the day celebrating the abolition of slavery. This is a great day to send your money to Black folks. Here’s one person you could support:
In case you missed the announcements on Instagram, I am going on a writing sabbatical at the end of this month!!! From July 1st -September 1st I will be working on finishing my book. This means I will not be on Instagram and I will be closing my shop for the summer!! Don’t worry: I will, however, continue to write this newsletter.
If you want to stock up on my webinars, zines, workbooks, and other goodies before the end of the month: