The Hold Backs

She looked at my left palm; this is the life you were given. She looked at my right; and this is what you have made of it. You’re stubborn. Well that’s true. She told me this when she touched the heel of my right palm. The soft part that’s closer to the thumb. You don’t want it to be too soft. That’s a pushover. We love hearing secrets about ourselves.

She picks up what looks like a chopstick. Wooden. Black with a red tip and points to the lines on my hands like a professor teaching a seminar. She told me I would live a long life; probably into my nineties. Or longer. She folded my hand in half. I count: one, two, three, four, five kids. But probably two, her neighbor chimes in. That’s my best friend she says. I told her I wasn’t interested in having any kids. They don’t necessarily need to be yours. They can be stepchildren, nieces, nephews…she trails off. If that’s the case, I already have three. Four if you count my cat. Get a dog, she tells me. Her friend tells me to get a kitten. A kitten she reinforces. She told me I struggle with trust. Why? What happened? She told me I have very few friends—a select group that I have chosen to open up to. Even then, I’ve wondered about my openness. She asks me why. Again. She tells me about my work. Within the past year or so, I’ve been happier. What’s changed? I guessed. Be willing to follow that change or this line, here, will slope down, and you’re going to be miserable.

Now pick a deck. There were three of them. I stare at them. One was the traditional looking tarot deck. Almost medieval illustrations with bright colors. The second was square and bulky. I didn’t like the illustrations; it reminded me of southwestern art. The cheesy kind; like an iridescent Kokopelli that someone plunks in their front yard. The third had an ethereal woman, naked, holding a water pitcher, hair in a bun and her skin was fair. She was beautiful. I felt like I was taking too long. I picked the traditional looking deck. Interesting she says. Why? We call that the soccer mom deck. What? I’m offended by the association. It’s just traditional, she says. I told her I almost went for the other one. She said if I had chosen the other one she would’ve said that I was a spiritual person. The person I want to be. Pick six cards. I pick one, two, three, four, fivesix. Five and six come together. She told me that I did that right. Most people draw two and try to put one back and pick another one. A small victory after the soccer mom comment.

She places the cards in front of me. One card by itself, four in the center of the table in a two by two arrangement, and one card on the other side. She looks at them and points to the first. This is the death card. What are you holding on to? When did you say your last relationship was? Seven years ago. That’s a long time. No chance of rekindling? No. He’s married and has a kid now. I start to tear up. The break up was bad because he didn’t do anything wrong. We were never going to be in the same place, so we had to. You need to let that go. If you continue to hold onto it, it will hold you back and this change will not be able to happen. No crying at my table. It’s the experience that I miss. Relationships are nice. You need to let it become a fond memory and see it as a good time.

She points to the Ace of Cups. The ace is the strongest suit in the deck. This is a very good card. Why is it upside down? What do you question about yourself in your work? Oh god. Inadequacy. All the time. The cup is holding water, but it’s all spilling out. People know who you are. People know what you do. Just because people aren’t telling you, doesn’t mean they aren’t thinking it. Put the cup upright. You are enough. Until you do that, you will keep spilling.

Next, the Queen of Pentacles. You need to trust yourself. Do you worry about money? Yes. What aren’t you getting that you think you should be able to? I just get frustrated I tell her. It’s month to month and I feel like I can never catch up. Well what are your standards? I don’t think they’re high, I mean, I live at my means. She counters. Just this weekend, I made enough in readings to pay for rent this month. What matters to me is money for rent, payin’ my bills, havin’ food for my dogs, and food for me. Just keep doin’ what you’re doin’.

Seven of Cups. She taps on the card. This is interesting. You don’t do well with change. Is there a path you feel like you should be on? I guess. These cups are showing you opportunities. Options. When you can release from yourself, you will be presented with all of these choices. If you can let go, then you can pick and choose.

The Ace of Pentacles. What did I say about the ace? That it’s the most powerful suit. If you let yourself follow your joy, you will be successful. Open up.

Finally, she points to the Knight of Wands. The last card. In the next seven to twelve months, you are going to meet someone. He’s not going to be your normal type, but give him a chance. Let him take you out. Let him take you on trips. You will want to friend-zone him. Don’t do that. You’re not going to marry him. This isn’t the one. Later, I looked up the definition of this card. More than a man, it represents abandoning things that are holding you back. It’s adventure.

Now I’m 31. Has something been holding me back? What? What is it, then? Whatever it is, I know how I don’t want it to look. I don’t want it to manifest into something that is so visibly stunting. So visibly preventing me from getting what I want and what I deserve. Any success I experience I want it to be for me, not for someone else. I don’t want it to look like I’ve had to prove anything to anyone: I showed you, didn’t I? Is that what I’ve been looking for? That kind of progress where I get to say look what I can do. I already made a decision a long time ago that this was thing I wanted before I had to make any choices. This year, I want to put my hold backs to bed. I want to bury them into the recesses of my brain. If the mound wants to flower, to remind me of what it was, that’s fine. I want to be able to pass by those things. I want to be able to look at them and recognize them. They have made me who I am. They have shaped me. But they don’t get to hold me back.


The Hold Backs