In my recent Tarot reading, the fourth card represented my key strengths and abilities that I should apply to my life. This card position was held by the Knight of Swords.
Kelly-Ann Maddox stated that this card represented the Warrior archetype. She continued by saying that this card signals that I should strive for what I want, stand up for what I believe in, and move ahead. She also encouraged me to think back on the obstacles in my life that I have overcome and thrived as a result of.
I grew up in the glorious city of Willard, Ohio. I’m sure it wasn’t the worst place to grow up, but you couldn’t win that argument with 16-year-old me. Willard wasn’t the most accepting town, especially when you are gay and Pagan. I dealt with everything from bullies and rumors to acts of violence and vandalism.
Despite the intolerance I faced, I think it made me a stronger person. By the time I left Willard, I was self-assured and stood up for myself. People stopped victimizing me because I stopped allowing myself to be their victim. They learned quickly that I would defend myself. I may not win the fight, but I wouldn’t go down easy.
By the time I reached my mid-twenties, I had developed a “fuck-it-all” attitude and rarely tempered my words. When someone said something I disagreed with, I told them exactly what I thought about their opinion with no restraint. It made creating a career for myself difficult to say the least.
With this in mind, I began the long road to self-discipline and learned how to quiet my roar. Yet, I overcorrected. I began holding my tongue so tightly, people began to walk over me. It started slow enough with coworkers, but it later extended into my circle of friends.
Recently, a few close friends of mine began to show some disrespect for me. I mentioned this in previous blog posts, so I won’t elaborate. Things came to a head a few weeks ago when a friend-of-a-friend said some vile things to me.
It started friendly enough, but as Drake, the font of vileness, drank more, his demeanor changed. He immediately was angry and combative that I was invited to our mutual friend’s 30th birthday before he was. “I mean, why would Garrett invite a gay dude before he invited me?” he slurred angrily. I didn’t know how to respond. This was the first time in years that I have been openly discriminated against for being gay. Later in the conversation, he referred to me as a faggot. Now, 16-yearold Joe would have interpreted this as a challenge and decimated him. 30-yearold Joe decided to take the high road and leave gracefully.
When I recounted the situation to our friend Garrett, he simply suggested that I only attend the first night of his party, since Drake would only be there on the second. In retrospect, I understand that Garrett was trying to accommodate each of us, without causing drama. At the moment though, his statement really hurt my feelings. I felt as though Garrett was absentmindedly condoning his friend’s behavior by avoiding the issue.
I went to the birthday party as planned and stayed the entire time. Drake was mostly cordial, but did toe the line with me on a few occasions. Garrett intervened during these moments by casually saying “Don’t be a dick.” This momentarily stopped the behavior, but ultimately did nothing to stop Drake. Finally, I had enough and had a quick conversation with Drake. I said “You don’t have to like me, I’m not for everyone. What I need you to do is to stop being a jerk. Our friend doesn’t need to deal with this on his birthday.” This worked. Drake stopped his behavior and the rest of the weekend went on without a hitch.
On the drive home with Garrett, I explained that I didn’t hate Drake, I just didn’t like his behavior. I realized that Drake makes bad decisions, has terrible friends, and probably needs people like Garrett and I in his life to demonstrate responsible behavior. I was willing to give Drake a chance, but would not cater to his belittling behavior. I didn’t want Garrett or our friends to exclude Drake, I just didn’t want my friends to value his comfort or acceptance into the group over my presence or my dignity. His behavior was the problem and their blind eye to the situation wasn’t acceptable as my friends.
I stood up for myself and it felt good. I embraced the warrior archetype and confronted the issue head on. The result was that my friends understood the situation and knew what I needed them to do to support me in the situation. Despite what happens next, I know I will get through it, one way or another. That is my message from the Knight of Swords.