How many of us have toxic relationships? If we are honest we all probably have at least one person in our lives who we feel we would rather be without yet find it hard to walk away from.
Toxic relationships can vary from that 'friend' who always has to put us down, to the overcritical parent right the way through to an abusive partner.
When we stop and look at these relationships in the cold light of day, even through someone else's eyes it can be quite saddening to see how we let these people make us feel.
I believe the tarot can show this through various cards,, firstly lets start with our old friend The Devil:
The Devil can symbolise the scapegoat, selfishness, self delusion, and a dysfunctional relationship
Are we really chained and bound by the devils chains? We are, in actuality, free to release ourselves at any time. Yes, we have that choice, although we sometimes are brought so low by constantly being put down, we fail to see it .
In toxic relationships, we usually are the scapegoat, the one the other person projects their negative traits on, and they take great pleasure in pointing out 'our' flaws to us and others. This gives them power, it makes us eventuslly believe that even though this relationship feels intrinsically wrong, by being so flawed, who else would be-friend us.
Often these toxic people are self deluded, by projecting their insecurities they convince themselves of their perfection, they portray it as a badge of honour, happy to tell anyone who will listen how they have martyred themselves to maintain a relationship with such a lowly creature as us. So we continue to keep the chains that bind us to The Devil intact, 'better the Devil you know' fits perfectly here.
I actually like the card in Tarot of the Hidden Realm's portrayal of The Devil, it is called Shadow Dance. It fits so well with the theme.
I remember when trying to come to terms with the physical and emotional scars left over from a seriously abusive partnership, I read a book called The Dance of Anger by Harriet Lerner, it was given to me a one of the Womens Aid Refuge workers.
It explained how the self perpetuated cycle of a toxic relationship worked. It is as though we take part in psychological dance, each step written as a formal move, we repeat the same steps over and over, until we have perfected it enough to win trophies. The clue in ending this dance is to change the steps, throw in a jive when the other is not expecting it, dip and heel, ball , shuffle in an unexpected part of the cycle and the toxic person loses their momentum, thus losing control.As the card itself is called Shadow Dance it is interesting to see how the other person,s shadow side is brought closer to the surface when we do the twist in the middle of our usual foxtrot.
Another card I feel fits with the theme of toxic relationships is the 5 of Swords. Who is the person with the smug look on their face, collecting his trophies as the other figures walk away, heads bowed. Does this card portray how you feel at the end of any social event when your toxic person is involved.
Does this toxic person feel good about themselves for the fact that they have, very openly upset others. Usually you find a toxic person only feels successful when they have caused maximum hurt or embarrassment to their chosen scapegoat. It may not even be noticeable by others, however when you are constantly being sniped at and little comments being made it starts to build, and slowly wears you down, then, as other people are unaware of the constant poison, you are made to think you are over reacting.
This is not usually the case though, we never 'over react', we react in exactly the right way as to how a situation makes us feel.
The 8 of Cups can be the best outcome card for toxic relationships, As the lone figure walks away from the 8 cups, head bowed and mountains to climb, sometimes although hard, to leave those emotions and ties that you feel, behind you, it is as though climbing up to that higher ground can give you the clarity you need. Those cups you left behind may be filled with all sorts of emotions but that tide is going to come in and knock those cups over and empty them all, to eventually be washed away.
As 2015 approaches, I ave been looking at some relationships that have a toxic feel to them, some I am preparing to cut loose, others I may have to take dance lessons for as cutting the ties is not viable, however if I can stop their choice of music I can stop dancing to their tune.